Monday, November 28, 2005

Flying to the Philippines

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Boracay is where most folk want to go in the Philippines these days.

Usually travel agents try to screw you on flights to Boracay from Manila, last time I booked a flight I figured that I was being charged $300 US for a $100 US flight! Check out these airlines and book with them from your home before you fly to Manila.

South East Airlines

Asian Spirit Airlines Use Internet Explorer Only

To get to the domestic airport from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MIAA), it is a fairly inexpensive, and short taxi ride. Get a pre-paid taxi from a booth.

When you arrive in Manila go straight to the domestic airport to buy your tickets (make certain the office will be open when you arrive) stay for the night and have a great time in Manila. Sometimes these airlines have a deal so watch out for them. When I was in the Philippines in October there was a special, only $50 US for a return flight to Caticlan via Asian Spirit.

Caticlan is the closest airport to Boracay, it's only 5 minutes to the Boracay ferry. Kalibo airport is okay but you need to go on a 1.5 to 2 hour bus, van, or a 2.5 hour jeepney ride to get to the Boracay ferry!

They didn't take US$ at the South East Asian airlines so I had to make a mad dash to a local money changer where I was forced to dicker for a reasonable exchange rate.

Make sure you bring enough cash to pay for your night in Manila and the flight to Caticlan. Most places either don't accept credit cards at all or have a very hefty service charge (15 to 20%!).

I brought US dollars and got a reasonable exchange at the MIAA at a booth just before I passed through the customs gate (the rate was quite good last time I did this, better than most other places in Manila, in fact).

There are bank machines all over the place but in my experience you can't take out more than $120 US at a time. However, I was able to withdrawal that amount twice in a row at the same bank machine, on the same day.

The exchange rate today is about 54 pesos to $1 US.
There are heaps of places to exchange money at a good rate on Boracay and they all accept Korean won as well as $US so you don't need to exchange all of your money in one place.

While you are on Boracay I would highly recommend visiting a fairly new Chinese restaurant called Freckles -- amazing Peking Duck. Also, check out a great dance club called Cocomangas! Any tricycle driver will know where both these places are.

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