Ferries in the Philippines

This article has been translated from Russian language using an artificial intelligence-based translation algorithm. We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the quality of the translation. You can read the original of this article in Russian here, and ask questions on the topic of our travel forum in English here.

Ferries in the Philippines are one of the main modes of Transport for both locals and tourists. And this is not surprising, because the country consists of more than 7,000 islands, between which you can move only by ferry or plane. In total, there are about 200 regular ferries and high-speed boats, and there are more than 30 large carrier companies, and a myriad of small private ones.

Here's how to use them:

Types of ferries and boatsin the Philippines

There are several types of maritime transport in the Philippines:

  • Regular Ferry or Vessels. These are slow passenger ferries, the cheapest and the slowest. They are even with sleeping places, but most often only seats.
  • Ro-Ro (Roll-on/roll-off). This is a passenger slow ferry, which also carries transport. From the point of view of passengers, there are no differences from the usual slow.
  • Fast Boat or Fast Ferry. These are fast boats and ferries that can be almost twice as fast as usual, but sometimes cost many times more than slow ones.
  • Bangkas. These are small motor and sometimes even rowing boats that operate on short routes within a few kilometers of the journey.

Several of these types can operate on different lines, especially on popular destinations, so there is almost always a choice: sail slowly and cheaply, or quickly but expensively.

Ro-Ro Ferry

Ferry safety in the Philippines

Ferries of different companies differ in comfort and safety, but, unfortunately, there are no ratings of incidents and safety of different companies. In general, the Philippine ferry service by world standards is considered insufficiently safe, accidents with the death of people happen periodically.

In order to prevent new accidents and casualties, the authorities are quite rigidly monitoring the state of the weather at sea, and completely interrupt sea traffic in certain regions or in directions when the slightest threat appears. This is especially common in the Doge season from June to December. At this time, tropical storms and typhoons hit the country almost every month, and then the message stops for periods of 1 to 3 days, and this has already become the norm. Consider this if you have a flight. It is best to arrive in the city of departure 2-3 days in advance, so as not to be cut off on another island.

By the way, during the termination of the ferry service, an emergency is declared, and hotel reservation systems allow you to cancel or change reservations without any penalties.

The cabin of one of the Most Reliable Carriers Ocean Jet

Baggage transportation

Some companies set limits on the size and weight of luggage carried, especially on high-speed boats and ferries. There are even completely baggage-free flights, where, as in an airplane, you can take only hand luggage with you, and for large suitcases you will have to pay extra, or buy a larger class ticket.

Loading on bangka with luggage

The cost and schedule of ferries in the Philippines, where to buy tickets

Unfortunately, there is no single website with ferry schedules for the country and even for individual ports. Schedules need to be checked on the websites of individual companies, and sometimes they do not even have websites, and information can only be obtained on the spot at the ticket offices in the port.

Moreover, even in ports there are no single ticket offices where you can get general information about schedules and buy tickets. Each company sells its tickets in separate ticket offices, and they can be scattered in different places in the port, near it, or even on neighboring streets. Therefore, we will have to go around everything on the spot with our feet, in no other way. And keep in mind that the information needs to be checked several times, since local residents and officials in the port are not always aware of the location of all ticket offices and schedules.

Larena port ticket offices

Ferry tickets can be bought online for the most popular destinations among tourists and massive for local residents, and it's better to do it in advance, if only because you don't stand in line at the ticket office. And of course, during the holidays and high season (from January to May), tickets quickly run out, you can stay on the spot in the port without tickets.

There are many carriers in the Philippines, but there is no single schedule and booking system. Some of the most popular ferries can be searched and booked on 12go.asia. You can buy tickets to the most popular destinations on it, but, unfortunately, not all are represented. Here is the 12go search form:

As an alternative to ferries, 12Go also offers flights, but the prices here are higher than if you buy tickets on a Russian search engine Aviasales.ru, or the same Aviasales in the English version is JetRadar. So check and compare prices before you buy.

If you have not found anything suitable in these systems, you will have to check the schedule on the websites of all carrier companies or deal with the schedule on the spot at the port, because, as we mentioned, many carriers do not even have websites.

And here is a list of the most famous shipping companies in the Philippines:

Attention! Some of these sites may not open from the Russian Federation, in which case try to open them via VPN or Tor browser. Also, some companies' websites may have already stopped working or replaced with pages on social networks. Therefore, if the site does not open in any way, try to find information through a search for the name of the carrier.

What is Terminal Fee, and why pay for it

In addition to the cost of tickets after purchase, you will also have to pay a port fee (Terminal Fee). Depending on the port and flight, it ranges from 2 to 100 pesos.

Unfortunately in the Philippines at all ports passengers have to pay in addition to the ticket price the so-called port fee (Terminal Fee). Moreover, everything is arranged very inconveniently: it is paid separately in a separate window upon presentation of tickets, and it is impossible to pay for it when buying tickets at the box office or online. All this means that you always (with very rare exceptions) after buying tickets or when arriving at the port with electronic tickets need to look for another ticket office where this fee is paid. Without it, you will not be allowed to board, so do not forget about it, so as not to run at the last minute.

Is it possible to get to the Philippines by international ferry flight

Previously (until 2019), there was a single regular ferry service between Malaysia (Sandakan port) and Zamboanga port on the island of Mindanao, but it is currently suspended and there is no information about the resumption. Therefore, there is no way to get to the Philippines by water, including from Hong Kong.

The only exception is cruise liners, but they are not among the regular transport.

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