Monday, April 17, 2006

Visa and Passport - Visitors Visa

Visitors with a passport from: USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada can stay in the Philippines for upto 21 days without needing to apply for a visa - provided you have a return or onward journey ticket. If possible try to get your visa at the Philippines Embassy in your country.

Transportation by Sea - Outrigger Boats, Motorboats and Bangkas

For short trips between islands, Bangkas, outrigger boats or motorboats are used. Bangkas can also be hired cheaply if you want to go island hopping or to dive around the reefs.

A Bangkas was used to go island hopping
during our trip to Boracay. Be warned on
that during rough weather, you'll easily get
splashed sitting close to the front.

Transportation by Sea - Fast Ferries

For longer trips between island, you can take air conditioned fast ferries or catamarans. Fast ferrys such as Bullet Express, Delta Ferry Ocean Jet and Supercat mainly cover routes in and around the Visayas. These ferries are quite comfortable and usually have snacks, refreshements and video on board. A word of warning - they almost always have the air conditioning turned on full blast, so make sure that you carry a good jacket with you.

Transportation by Sea - Passeger Ships

By far, many Pilippinos prefer island-to-island travel by boat.
If you're traveling on a tight budget, scan for advertisements in the local newspaper, such as the Manila Times or the Philippines Daily Inquirer which regularly post cheap shipping deals.

One way boat trips Manila-Boracay (Catician), starts at 900 pesos per person for a basic; economy room with air conditioning starts at 1300 pesos and a Travellers style room around 1500 pesos. Passenger ships such as Negros Navigation usually have on board restaurants, cinemas, disco and karoke rooms. If you want something more comfortable, there are cabin rooms with two beds, a bathroom and cable TV which can cost is roughly the same price as paying for two local airplane tickets.

Economy rooms usually contain several hundred bunk bed and shared amenities - its always a good idea to sleep on the lower bunk as they don't turn off the lights at night. Always bring an extra jacket, or ask the crew to hire a blanket and pillow as the ships often have the air conditioning running on full blast throughout the night. Make sure that you carry your shipping tickets with you as, they usually have ticket inspections several hours latter after departure.

Shipping routes frequently change after several months, and departure times can also change without notice. If you decide to travel with a shipping company, make sure that you arrive one hour before departure. Also call and check the latest shipping schedule at the ticketing office a few hours before departure time.

Popular passenger ships with good service and facilities includes Aboitiz, Negros Navigation, WG&A Superferry and Sweet Lines. Solpicio and Gothong have lesser reputations.