Getting Around The Romblon And Palawan Islands 2018. Philippines.

For our month in the Philippines, we had planned to visit the Romblon and Palawan Provience’s. We had great difficulty in finding prices and info on transport and tips for some of these areas so we thought we’d document everything we could to give you guys heaps of info so you can pre-plan your Philippines trip!

YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE YOU GO:

  • Add a night save a flight! for example: If you are planning on taking two ferry’s and a flight in one day and the time is cutting it fine, we suggest you stay a night in your city of departure before your flight as ferry’s and flights around the islands are quite unpredictable and often cancel or delay.
  • Get to the ferry at least 30 mins before and flight at least 1 hour before.
  • If you’re in Manila, download the Grab app its just like uber. Super easy and safe. DON’T use the taxi’s in Manila! – they’re known to rip you off, drink drive and god knows what else.
  • How to get to your accommodation? There will be a bunch of tricycles, a few jeepneys and a few minivans. Depending where you are, sometimes a minivan can be cheaper than a damn tricycle! make sure you bargain! (traveling by tricycle in and around the town should only be 10peso)
  • Cash only! Many, if not all purchases you will make are cash only on these islands including your transport costs (ferry, tricycle, jeepney)
  • Use HSBC Bank in Manila to withdraw your cash. They are one of the only banks that wont charge your foreign bank card a fee. You can dispense your money in multiples of 50,000 php ($1,305 aud) from their ATM.
  • If you’re a white woman, expect to be gawked at. In most Asian countries, having white skin is “beautiful” and they don’t see many white ladies on these islands. While its uncomfortable, try to ignore them as much as you can.
  • Accommodation ain’t fancy. On some of these islands you might be paying a fair bit for a shitty room. Expect the unexpected!
  • Wifi is LIMITED. If your getting a sim card, get GLOBE. They have the most coverage and signal out of all the carriers which is still quite minimal. Even if your hotel says free wifi, it may not work. Its the price you pay for being at these beautiful destinations.

TRANSPORTATION:

MANILA TO TABLAS

BY AIR:

Tablas being the largest of the three major Romblon Islands (Tablas, Romblon and Sibuyan), it is also the only island with an airport. So to get there quickly you can fly direct from Manila like we did. We chose to fly with Cebu Pacific as it meet our date requirements, there is also Philippine Airlines and Air Asia that fly Manila to Tablas. For example, Cebu Pacific only fly Wednesday, Friday and Sunday from Ninoy Aquino Airport in Manila to Tugdan Airport Tablas. From Tablas to surrounding islands, all transport is by boat.

BY SEA:

The slower yet cheaper option is to take the over night ferry. The ferry departs from Manila’s Batangas Port every Monday, Thursday and Saturday at 5pm with Montenegro Lines for 954 php ($24 aud). This particular does Manila to Romblon via Tablas. (Confusing yes, one of the three major islands is actually called Romblon!). There are also some other lines like 2GO or Navagos that have different times and schedules. Montenegro Lines is the most frequent and popular. All are subject to change depending on time of year and weather conditions.

The daily ferry that does Tablas – Romblon – Sibuyan and back is with Montenegro Lines. Here is there schedule:

06:00 departure from San Augustin Port (on Tablas Island)
07:00 arrival Romblon Island
07:30 departure Romblon Island
09:30 arrival Magdiwang Port (on Sibuyan Island)
10:30 departure Magdiwang Port (on Sibuyan Island)
12:30 arrival Romblon Island
13:00 departure Romblon Island
14:00 arrival San Augustin Port (on Tablas Island)

SIBUYAN TO CRESTA DE GALLO

Boy Suicon is your man! He charges 2,500php ($65) for a full day return trip with your own private boat. It takes around an hour to get there. He’s two boatmen were friendly, patient and helpful. His number is 09254560588 or you can find him on FB under Boy Suicon.

PEURTO PRINCESSA TO EL NIDO

Coming from Manila, we fly into Peurto Princessa and straight off the plane, got our bags and were approached by a man selling tickets for his minivan ride to El Nido. He charged us the usual rate of 500php. Within 15 minutes we had a full van and off we went. We stopped 4 times along the way for toilet breaks and food stops. It was a little uncomfortable and the air con was PUMPING but it was the fastest option which was fit for us!

You have three transport options to get to El Nido:

  1. The Minivan – 5-6 hours | squished with 11 others | 500php per person
  2. The Cherry Bus – 7-9 hour | more comfortable | 380php per person
  3. Rental Car – 5-6 hours | very comfortable | 2000 to 3,5000 php per day.

EL NIDO TO CORON

There is a daily ferry with Montenegro Lines that leaves 6am from El Nido Port. It is a 4 hour ferry trip and costs roughly 1,760 php per person.