Travel & Transportation

Traveling by Ferry in the Philippines

Patrick
Written by Patrick

Considering its more than 7,000 islands, and spread over 150,000 square kilometres, traveling by sea is one of the major modes of transportation in the Philippines.

Ferries are a trusted form of transportation in the Philippines.  

The network of ferries in the Philippines connects almost every island. 

Over 1 million ferry crossings occur each year in the Philippines. 

There are a variety of different ships ranging from luxurious cruise style ships to simple native island hopping passenger boats.

DIFFERENT TYPES OF FERRIES IN THE PHILIPPINES

There are 4 types of ferries in the Philippines: the Bangka, ROROs (Roll On, Roll Off ferries), Fastcrafts, and Passenger Liners.

The type of ferry you choose to use comes down to 3 factors: the distance you are traveling, the level of comfort you desire, and whether you are traveling with a vehicle. 

Bangkas

Bangka

Caption: Bangka | Image Source

Bangkas are also known as pump boats.  Bangkas are glorified water taxis made of traditional building materials like wood and bamboo.  They are surprisingly sturdy boats that can withstand rough seas to an extent.  Bangkas are the cheapest form of ferry transport and most often used for short-distances.

ROROs

Caption: Montenegro RORO Vessel | Image Source

Roll On Roll Off ferries are large ferries that are especially useful if you are traveling with a vehicle. You do not have to have a vehicle to use these vessels. These ferries are used for short to medium distances.  

Fastcrafts

Caption: FastCat Fastcraft | Image Source

These fast, air-conditioned vessels provide transport between the larger islands of the Philippines. They provide faster travel and modern amenities and as a result have a higher ticket price.

Passenger Liners

Caption: 2Go Passenger Liner | Image Source

Passenger Liners run long-distance routes around the islands. They transport hundreds of travelers similar to airplanes. Lower Deck bunk accommodation is available in the form of economy class tickets. With a first-class ticket, you can expect an air-conditioned stateroom. Traveling in the economy is fine as long as the ships aren’t too crowded.

COMMON ROUTES & TRAVEL TIMES

Common Ferry Routes in the Philippines

The length of your trip will depend on your vessel and the route. 

Bangka rides are short and range from 15 minutes to up to two hours at most. 

A passenger line ferry can be from an hour to almost 55 hours long. 

The following are the most common Passenger Line routes and their travel time.

ROUTE Travel Time in Hours
Manila – Cebu 22
Manila – Bacolod 20
Bacolod – Cebu 4
Cebu – Bohol 1.5
Manila – Iloilo 20
Iloilo – Cebu 12.5
Manila – Puerto Princesa 11
El Nido – Coron 4
Manila – Cagayan de Oro 43
Manila – Zamboanga 44
Manila – Davao City 54

IS TRAVELING BY FERRIES SAFE IN THE PHILIPPINES? 

Traveling by ferries in the Philippines is considered as safe as any other form of transportation. 

The clearer the weather, the safer and more pleasant your ferry ride will be.  It’s usually a good idea to postone ferry rides when the weather is bad or expected to turn bad. 

Mishaps are always possible, so use personal safety flotation devices, avoid overcrowded boats, and know what to do in case of an emergency.

HOW TO BOOK FERRY TICKETS

Caption: 2Go | Image Source

Booking tickets for a ferry ride is quite easy.  You can book the tickets from the docks or online. 

In certain cases, you’ll have to book your tickets in advance. This is particularly true during peak season. Certain routes require you to make a booking ahead of time. 

Bangkas – Simply buy a ticket from the dock or jetty before departure. Tickets prices are fairly cheap throughout the year.

ROROs – RORO tickets are booked and paid for in advance.

Fastcrafts – Fastcrafts offer fast travel options between the large cities. You can buy tickets from the dock before departure. It’s a good idea to bring a jacket or sweatshirt because the air conditioning on these crafts can be very cold.

Passenger Liners – Passenger Liners tickets have to be booked in advance. Similar to flights, you have to check-in at the port a while before departure. Ticket prices vary from 260 PHP – 420 PHP on short one-hour routes and 1,400 PHP – 3,600 PHP for longer routes.

The prices for ferries in the Philippines vary during peak and low seasons. When possible, check out the availability of tickets for your route ahead of time because space is limited.  It’s usually a good idea to book passenger liner tickets a week or more in advance.

The major Philippines Ferry transport companies are 2Go and Oceanjet

There are many other carriers like SuperCat, StarLite Ferries, and Lite Ferries, however, 2Go and Oceanjet together provide the widest coverage throughout the Philippines.

We highly recommend checking out further details on schedule.ph. This website offers you a comprehensive index of all ferry routes and schedules available from every ferry company in the Philippines.

NEED TO KNOW INFORMATION

The following is what you need to know when using a seaport and/or ferry in the Philippines.

  • Tickets for long journeys are usually booked ahead of time while tickets for short journeys can be purchased at the port right before the departure.  Space is limited and is on a First-Come-First-Served basis. 
  • It is required for passengers to present their valid ID upon check-in.  No ID to present, no check-in. 
  • Tickets are usually non-transferable.  Presented valid ID should match the passenger’s name as encoded on the ticket.
  • At least 30 minutes before departure time is required for passengers to check-in.
  • To check-in, pre-printed tickets or tickets bought at the port must be presented together with the check-in slips.
  • Passengers may be required to pay in cash local taxes such as terminal fee and environmental fee.
  • All passengers must go through security inspection before proceeding to the pre-departure area.
  • Each passenger is allowed to bring one (1) hand-carried baggage upon check-in.
  • Bringing of pets is allowed if the pets are securely put inside a cage. Upon check-in, a permit from the Bureau of Quarantine must be presented for passengers with pets.  This includes fighting cocks.
  • The boats, especially for short journeys, have the tendency not to leave on time and may be late or earlier than scheduled depending on the passenger situation (e.g. boat gets filled immediately).
  • Porters, hustlers, and tourist guides are normally seen around passenger ports especially targeting tourists to offer their services.
  • Boat trips may be cancelled or rescheduled based on weather conditions and happens often. Make sure your itinerary is flexible enough to accommodate possible delays and changes.
  • To protect our oceans, please DO NOT throw garbage into the sea. Dispose of trash in a receptacle provided onboard the vessel.

CONCLUSION

Traveling by ferry is a convenient and cheap option when traveling between islands in the Philippines. Many options usually exist to meet your needs. Traveling by ferry is a fun adventure. There are so many amazing islands in the Philippines to explore. Be sure to give it a try while you’re in the Philippines.

DON’T FORGET …

Booking and making purchases online almost always saves time and money in the Philippines. The following are the online resources we use to plan and book our trips.

Flights:
Accommodations:
Travel Insurance:
International No-Fee Cards:
Miscellaneous:

About the Author

Patrick

Patrick

Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

Leave a Comment