Manila Madness - Day Four - Part 1 - Getting to Boracay, Philippines

McDonald's Boracay

Day 4 - Part 1 - Getting to Boracay from Manila

A little research goes a long way - Getting the Best Deal

From Manila, there are two main paths that can be taken.  You can fly directly from Manila to Caticlan (Boracay), although the lowest price for a round trip direct flight per person that I was able to find was going for $200USD in February 2013.  
Then another option came up when I searched for “Include nearby airports."  The price dropped in half.  From here, I started searching on the websites of domestic airlines within the Philippines.  I found a round trip direct flight from Manila to Kalibo for $50USD on airphilexpress.  The duration of the flight is one hour.  From there, it would take about two hours of transit between Kalibo to Boracay via van, ferry, and tricycle taxi.  This seemed like a much more cost efficient way of traveling while also being a little more adventurous.
After some online research, I found that you can pre-book the services from Kalibo to Boracay for PHP600+.  After even more research I found out it was even cheaper if you just showed up at the airport in Kalibo and booked something as you arrived in the airport terminal. At the terminal, they had a van transportation service from the Kalibo airport to Boracay for PHP250. For a little more we could have taken the luxury bus, more room but it was slower than the van.

From MNL to KLO (Kalibo)

After checking out of the St Giles in Makati, we head to the airport. In the anticipation of heavy traffic,
we decided to head to the Manila Airport 3 hours before our flight.  From Makati, the taxi ride would be about PHP200-300 with the meter.  When we entered the taxi driver decided to pre-negotiate the price for PHP250 all the way to Terminal 2.  That would be $6.25USD, so I didn’t mind at all.  

The taxi driver was driving with the emergency brake on

We arrive at the airport without running into any traffic.  A porter greets us with a SmartCart for our luggage.  We continue towards Terminal 2 to find out that we were at the wrong terminal.  Luckily it was still early, so there was plenty of time to make it to Terminal 3.  The porter takes us to a deserted “Passenger Inter-Terminal Transit” stations, runs us through a mini-security checkpoint, checks our ticket/passport, and then we get on the shuttle.  

The shuttle is a large airport passenger type bus that shuttles people from the terminal to the plane.  We were the only passengers on the shuttle, which makes it look like I’m the only one whoever makes this mistake of arriving at the wrong terminal.  

For some reason, this sign was in Korean

The shuttle ride was great!  It was about 20 minutes of riding through the outside of the plane runway paths.  Lots of great views.  I would gladly make this mistake again just for the ride.  The shuttle is also air-conditioned so it’s a good way to stay cool and fill time before your flight.  

Beware the long line of Cebu Pacific!
Picture taken from empty line at airphilexpress

We arrive at the back of the terminal and are escorted through the ground level employee zone where luggage is being transferred and all sorts of airline business goes on.  This was also very exciting.  After a 5-minute walk, we arrive at an elevator and go up to the terminal floor.  We are escorted passed security and then to the front of the airphilexpress check in counter.  We check-in with no problems and have an hour to kill until boarding time.


After walking around the airport for a while, we decide to grab a massage.  It was PHP400 ($10USD) for a 30-minute massage.  I don’t normally get massages, and this one turned out to be a little painful.  It was a legit massage situation, and I ended up getting some dude with sharp elbows.  After the 30-minutes of trying not to cry, we proceed to the boarding gate.  The gate was located a level below the main terminal.  The main terminal looked fairly modern and nice with not too many people.  

Gate - “Welcome to the Philippines!  Your flight has been delayed”
As soon as we descended to the lower level, it was like a completely different place.  The quality of the area fell dramatically and the temperature was much higher.  The gate was excessively crowded and seating was very scarce.  People were sitting along the walls, on the floor, and anywhere there was a little breathing room.  What could cause this kind of disaster?  Flight delays.  “Welcome to the Philippines!  Your flight has been delayed.”  With a boarding time of 11:40, delays were announced in English through a very inaudible speaker system, boarding didn’t really begin until 12:40. We weren’t able to get on the plane until 13:00.  

View to my left

View to my right

Once on the plane, I was able to try and relax a little.  The flight was about 70% full so there was good amount of seating space among the passengers.  After getting on at 13:00, we waited on the plane (with the plane door open) until 14:00 where flight attendants appears, closed the door, and we began to takeoff.  There were no announcements and the flight crew was missing during this hour of purgatory.  After we started flying, the captain made an announcement and apologized for the wait which was due to “heavy runway congestion” at Kalibo.

Please do not use a pager, radio, walkie talkie, mobile phone, PDA, CD player, Original GameBoy, Original video Camera, or Calculator during the flight.
They could at least update the "do not use" devices...Really? A calculator?

Anyway, the flight continues with no problems and we arrive at Kalbo after an hour.  FYI, the night before my flight I checked the flight status which did not mention any of this.  We disembark from the plane and walk from the runway to the terminal (about 10 minutes).  It was a very small airport.

Van From Kalibo Airport to the Kalibo Seaport
At the KLO Arrivals terminal, there are several kiosks that advertise transportation between Kalibo and Boracay.  After inquiring with several of these, I find the best price at PHP250 for shuttle and ferry service.  From there, it would be an independent tricycle taxi to the hotel at PHP20 (they said).  There were slightly more expensive options, the only difference in the price was the land vehicle used.  Since I paid for the cheapest one, I got to the ferry station in a small cramped van.  For another PHP100 or so, you could take a luxury bus.  It looked a lot nicer, but it moved a lot slower.  Transit between the airport to the ferry station took about 70 minutes.  There was some road construction going on which caused the drive to be more delayed than it should have been.

 We had to stop for gas.  That's the gas station security guard hanging out with a shotgun.

Ferry (Jetty) Kalibo to Caticlan
After getting dropped off by the van at the seaport.and having a ferry ticket that I’d be good to go and directly board the ferry.  That was a hopeful belief.  Once dropped off, you need to get in line to pay the “Terminal Fee” PHP100 and then move to another window to pay the “Environmental Fee” PHP150.  I forgot the actual price, but it was no more than that.  Basically, I had to purchase these two passes at two different windows, then return the passes to two different windows after walking down a short hallway.  They could cut out all the lines and windows if they sold one ticket with all the necessary charges on it, but that would be too convenient.  The place was crowded since lines were backed up due to the inefficient system of getting tickets.  There were several types of ferries that transported people between the islands.  I normally get motion sickness on water based vehicles, so to prevent this I purchased “Psibands” before the trip.  They actually worked.  They are acupuncture based wristbands that prevent motion sickness without the use of medication.  I prefer this since motion sickness medicine gets me drowsy and drinking alcohol with medication makes me sick.  The ferry ride took about 30 minutes.

Two Ferries, we rode the one on the right

Smaller, but faster ferry

Karaoke was available on board.

Jetty Port to Station 2
Once at the port, we picked up our bags and tried to hail a tricycle taxi.  It’s a PHP100 ride from the port to Station 2 (our destination).  I don’t mind the price, I just don’t like the false advertising.  But once we hit solid ground, I was happy.

Day 4 continued on next entry