Batanes, the Philippines: Travel/Tourist Information Guide

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The fairly isolated islands of Batanes, in the northernmost edge of the Philippines, are home to the resilient and friendly Ivatan people. The 10 islands that make-up Batanes province, are located around 150 km to the north of Luzon. Ironically, these islands are closer to Taiwan than they are to mainland Philippines. The Batanes islands were created by regional volcanism, with the main volcano being the 1.517 m tall Mount Iraya, wich is now inactive. These far reaches of the Philippines are less frequented by the masses of tourists, and offers great rewards for adventurous explorers.

Only three of the 10 islands are inhabited. The inhabited ones are dedicated to agriculture mainly and very few people visit them. The fact that these islands are so isolated has made them have a different culture, and different traditions from those of the rest of the Philippines. Their language, cuisine, traditions and climate are different as well.

This part of the Philippines is worth a visit of perhaps 3 days or so, to experience a different type of Philippines. The Batanes Islands are reachable by plane or by boat from Luzon. This group of islands has been declared a World Heritage Group by the UNESCO. The main features of the Batanes Islands are its nice beaches and eco-tourism.

The Batanes climate is temperate, with four distinct seasons in a year. The best time to visit the islands is summer, which stretches from March to June. The green are dominated by hills, cows and goats grazing peacefully. It is a windswept area.

Batanes had a flourishing civilization early in history (about 4000 years ago), ruled by tribal chiefs exercising military might and extracting revenues and administering justice. Remnants of this civilization can still be seen throughout the island in the form of idjangs, pre-colonial fortresses in the mountainous areas, in which the islanders ancestors lived. During Spanish rule, the ivatans were forced to leave their idjangs and convert to the new government system.