A white Christmas in the Philippines?
A multitude of stars blanket the Northern skies of Batanes at night.
Not reallyâ€”but in Batanes, it’s close enough, where temperatures dip as low as seven degrees. And there’s no place on the face of the globe where the possibility of winter is more enthusiastically welcomed than in the tropics.
Located at the northernmost tip of the Philippines, Ivatans, as the Batanes locals are known, experience a seasonal phenomenon foreign to Filipinos: winter. Straddled by Taiwan and Mainland China, November ushers in the cold, winter breeze from both countries to Batanes, prompting a rare winter experience for locals and tourists right here in the Philippines.
A Batanes winter typically lasts from November to January, and during this time the island is transformed into a frosty frontier that lets tourists explore a new facet of the Philippines. In fact, Ivatan houses are made of at least one-meter think walls made from stones held together by lime and a foot-thick thatched cogon roofs to protect them during winter, with temperatures that dip into the single digits.
Reaching Sabtang or Itbayat, two islands that make up the province, one notices the distinctly rustic feel inherent to Batanes, with panoramic views often compared to the Scottish Highlands or the Emerald Isle of Ireland. Composed of lush hills, wave-cut cliffs and surrounded by cobalt waters where the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean meet, the island is truly breathtaking. The fact that it is one of the few places in the Philippines that can give even the most intrepid travelers new and unique experiences defines Batanes as a one-of-a-kind destination.
What Batanes has to offer is beyond anything culturally and geographically familiar to the Filipino. To indulge in this tropical winter phenomenon, one only has to hop on a plane (Asian Spirit regularly flies tourists 5 times week) and discover why Batanes is defined by experiences that go beyond anything expected.