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.
June 2017, I went backpacking in Palawan for two weeks where I only spent a total of around 17,000 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 who hosts guests in his Airbnb property and 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 6 am at 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 move on.
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.
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 ships from Manila to Coron every Tuesday (8pm), Thursday (4pm), and Saturday (12pm), and from Coron to Manila every Monday (10am), Thursday (4pm) and Saturday (6pm).
- If you have the choice, take the Thursday trips so you can catch the sunset and sunrise while on board.
- Call Atienza Shipping Lines at 09399126840 to confirm the schedule of departures.
- 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 Php1200, 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. It was the cheapest and most homey that we could find and we did not regret staying with him! His Red Carabao Office also 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. You can find their FB page or just send us a message so I can connect you with him if you’re interested. He’s too helpful especially in suggesting cheap places to eat. The carinderia in front of his office is the cheapest we can find for lunch at 50 pesos for a rice and viand meal. Trust me, Coron is so expensive that 50 pesos for Adobo+rice is already cheap.
If you want to check out my entire itinerary in Palawan for 2 weeks, check this blog post.
Special thanks to Alds of Red Carabao for the information provided here.