Travelling to the Philippines
and going around the Philippine Islands
Getting there by plane:
From Manila to London is 14 hours 25 minutes; to Paris is 13 hours 20 minutes; to Los Angeles is 11 hours 25 minutes; to New York is 14 hours 30 minutes; to Singapore is 3 hours; to Hong Kong is 1 hour 40 minutes; to Bangkok is 2 hours 35 minutes; to Tokyo is 5 hours 15 minutes and to Sydney is 8 hours.
The metro-Manila area (which includes the cities of Manila-proper, Quezon City, Makati, Pasay, Pasig) contains the premier business, government and entertainment centers of the Philippines. Metro-Manila is in the island of Luzon; the easiest option for travel to Manila is by air.
Getting there thru the International airports
Ninoy Aquino International Airport
Metro-Manila is served by Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) which is 15 km/9-miles or less away from the business and/or government centers. The airport - MNL - has daily non-stop flights to and from Bangkok, Hongkong, Shanghai, Honolulu, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Detroit, Narita; Zurich, Amsterdam and other international gateway cities.
Flight schedules can be found on the Philippine Airlines webpage ( www.philippineairlines.com) or on webpages from Qantas, Northwest Airlines, Swissair, KLM, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific and other carriers. Flight (and hotel) information is also available from www.Expedia.Com, www.CheapTickets.com, www.AirGorilla.com.
Metro-Manila is also served by Clark Airport (CRK). This is about 45 km/28miles from Manila's central business districts. Flights to and from CRK are from regional carriers like Tiger and AirAsia and serve regional cities including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok.
Taxi services are available to the city (travel time – 30 minutes or more because of traffic). Bill and Lorna's Townhouse Hotel Manila is 2-1/2 km (1-1/2 miles ) from the airports and offers a airport pickup service from 6AM to 6PM , Monday to Saturday.
Mactan International Airport
Mactan International Airport (NOP) (Cebu Island) is 45km (28 miles) from the city centre. Hotels and tour operators provide their own coaches; taxis can be hired.
Getting there by Sea
Manila is a major seaport a crossroads of trade in the Asia-Pacific region. Shipping lines which call at Manila include American President Lines, Anline Ben Line Container Ltd, Everett Lines, Hapag-Lloyd 'K' Line, Knutsen Line, Lykes Orient Line, Orient Overseas Container Line, Scandutch Sealand, United States Line and the Waterman Line.
Schedules and rates are listed in the shipping pages of daily newspapers.
Very few people arrive in the Philippines by sea but traveling around the islands once you have arrived is a great experience.
It is possible now to take a ship once a week from Davao in Mindanao to a port near Manado in Sulwesi, Indonesia. Occasionally ships travel between Zamboanga and Sabah, Malaysia but no dependable schedule is available.
Local transportation (that is, the obscure towns near the good sites and not the big cosmopolitan cities like Manila and Cebu) is amazingly cheap. For prices that range from 5 to 20 pesos, you can travel by tricycle (motorcycles with modified side cars), jeepney (colorful highly decorated buses), or any local transport modes.
Buses and taxis have relatively higher prices depending on their routes. Travelling from any of the major islands would mean taking the local sea ferries (which could last for a few hours or even days, depending on where you're going) which can cost a bit for foreign tourists, but it can be an enjoyable experience.
One trusted name for sea ferries is the SuperFerry line, try it! Domestic flights are faster but it might take the most of your expenses. Whichever way you want to get around, it's your trip.
Domestic Flights Under U$50
Most domestic flights in the Philippines cost between U$35 to U$50 one way and can be purchased from any one of the several airlines, all with offices walking distance from the Manila domestic airport.
They include: Air Philippines, Asian Spirit, Cebu Pacific, Pacific Air (small planes), Philippine Airlines (now with their own terminal for both domestic and international flights ), SeAir, Soriano Air (only one beyond walking distance at a private terminal) and Star Asia.
Sometimes, Philippine Airlines offer specials which include several flights.
Jeepneys are unique to the Philippines so you shouldn't leave the Philippines without using them usually for short distance around a city. Often Jeepneys are used in place of buses in the provinces.
In Metro-Manila the fare starts at P4 to P6 but usually follow the most congested routes with traffic moving at a snail's pace. Bus travel in the Philippines is very cheap and usually quite comfortable with fares of 60 to 70 U$ cents per hour. A 5 hour trip would cost U$3.
Driving in an undeveloped country is a real challenge for most people from Europe, the States, or any developed country so I would not recommend it unless you have experience.
Renting late model Japanese cars are best done by the week since often there's a one day discount so cost U$250 / week.
Island Hopping By Ship
Passenger shipping in the Philippines has improved drastically in the past three years and I'd recommend it to people with plenty of time or with low travel budgets.
All of the ships arrive and depart from Manila's North Harbor from Pier 2 to Pier 14. WG&A Passenger Lines formerly three family owned lines, William, Gothong and Aboitiz has combined to provide best and the largest fleet, known as the SuperFerry and maintains a website with schedules and prices.
Another is Ramblon Lines at Pier 8 going to Boracay Island with departs Monday and Friday at 5PM.In the Manila Bulletin newspaper is a list of ships' departure. Most destinations by ship take from 14 to 24 hours after departing Manila.
The price range starts with economy at an average of U$10 to U$15, to tourist class at U$12 to U$18 and cabin class (4 to 6 beds) at U$18 to U$30 to most island towns.
At some places in the islands are Banca, large, local outriggers which ferry passengers short distances like between Roxas on Mindoro Island to Boracay Island ( 6 hours)and from Coron in northern Palawan to El Nido (8 to 10 hours).
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