Among all the attractions in Palawan, Coron is the one nearest to Manila. However, plane tickets from Manila to Coron are the most expensive, costing at least around Php 4,000 ($80) one way, which means you will have to spend P8,000 ($160) just on transportation alone, unless you jackpot on a seat sale deal. Considering the costs of tours and food in Coron, you will definitely have to save a fortune before you can experience this island paradise. This is the reason why a lot of Filipinos keep on skipping Coron. Only a few know that there is another way! Here’s a cheap Manila – Coron alternative.
My Experience pt 1
June 2017, I went backpacking in Palawan for two weeks where I only spent a total of around Php17,000 including everything from flights, boat fares, food, tours and accommodations. That’s from Manila to Puerto Princesa to Port Barton to El Nido to Coron. I had booked tickets MNL – PPS and PPS – MNL. However, when I got to Coron, I realized that it was going to be costly and time-consuming to go back to PPS to take my flight. I know that there’s a 2GO ship that goes from Coron to Manila but it also costs around P1800. Good thing I met Alds of Red Carabao Coron operates fantastic and non-touristic tours in Coron. He advised me and my friends that we could take the Atienza Shipping Lines which only costs Php 1000 from Coron to Manila. Problem solved! Although the table below shows around 20 hours of travel time, the actual travel time was actually just 14 hours which is a great experience for me. We left at around 3 pm Thursday and arrived at 6 am in Manila Port the next day. We experienced watching the sunset and sunrise while aboard, as well as see a bunch of islands disappearing from the sea horizon as we moved on.
UPDATED June 19, 2018:
My Experience Pt 2
I took the same route (Coron to Manila) last June, 2018 after doing a 4D3N Expedition in Balabac in the south of Palawan, and 4D3N Calamian Islands Expedition. This time though, there was a tropical depression in the Philippines so the weather was not at its best. I gave up any hopes of witnessing a glorious sunset and sunrise like what I experienced last time. While waves were rough and got me seasick, the ship arrived safely at Manila port.
Advantages of taking the ferry:
1. Cheaper. You save money on transportation as well as on accommodation since you will sleep on the ship.
2. Scenic. The travel itself is an enjoyable experience given the weather is good.
1. Time-consuming. You need at least 14 hours.
2. Needs advance planning since trips are not daily.
Tips When Taking Atienza Shipping Lines Schedule
The shipping line operates ferries from Manila to Coron every Tuesday (8pm), Thursday (4pm), and Saturday (4pm), and from Coron to Manila every Monday (2:30pm), Thursday (2:30pm) and Saturday (6pm).
- If you have the choice, take the trips that leave at 4pm / 2:30pm so you can catch the sunset and sunrise while on board.
- Call Atienza Shipping Lines to confirm the schedule of departures.
Manila Office contact numbers: 09998817266, 09985326553 and 091763320090
Coron Office contact numbers: 09399126840 and 09175966450
- In Manila, you can buy the ticket from their office in Baseco Port in Manila at least an hour before the ship leaves. Please call them to verify the schedule. They don’t do advance booking.
- In Coron, you can buy the tickets at their office located just before the port entrance.
- Don’t worry about overbooking, it usually doesn’t fill up its capacity so you can be confident that you’ll get spots.
- Upon buying the tickets, ask for bed bunks at the backmost corners or sides- which gives more space.
- During off-peak season, you can get tickets by walking in. If it’s peak season, call them to reserve your slots. No online booking at the time of writing.
- You can also avail of the airconditioned part of the deck for Php1150, but why do that when you can smell fresh ocean air from the non-airconditioned part? It’s going to be windy also so don’t worry about the ventilation.
- Bring a blanket or jacket or scarf as it can be really breezy 🙂
- Your ticket includes one free rice meal!
Other Coron Tips
When I was there with my British and German companions, we were warmly welcomed by Alds of Red Carabao Coron in his Airbnb apartment. His Red Carabao Office offers amazing non-touristic tours which means that if you want to experience Coron differently, then you definitely have to talk to him. His guests are usually foreign tourists who are trying to avoid the typical tours in Coron. If you want to check out my entire itinerary in Palawan for 2 weeks, check this blog post.