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Boracay back without fare bargains

BORACAY: Boracay’s fans can cheer as their favourite island will reopen to tourists 26 October after phase one of the island’s rehabilitation comes to a close.

Friday 21 September 2018, 09:30AM


Aerial view of Puka beach in Boracay Island, Western Visayas, Philippines. Photo: AFP

Aerial view of Puka beach in Boracay Island, Western Visayas, Philippines. Photo: AFP

But be warned, work is still on-going improving roads, constructing sewage systems and some beaches still remain in a critical condition.

The fares are not such a bargain either from gateway cities Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok, while travel time can reach an unbearable 21 hours.

The Philippines president, Rodrigo Duterte, surprised the island’s travel industry back in April when he called Boracay a cesspool. He ordered an unprecedented shutdown closing the island to tourists for six months to clean up the sea and end the practice of pumping raw sewage into bays where tourists thought it was safe to swim.

Airlines stopped all flights to two airports, Caticlan and Kalibo, both on the neighouring Panday island that served visitors to Boracay. Kalibo, which is 68 km from the Caticlan ferry port has more international flights, while Caticlan airport, just a short distance to the ferry port, is served mainly by domestic flights from Manila, Cebu or Clark. Travellers take the ferry across the narrow 2 km straits between Panday and Boracay islands.

The first flight, courtesy of Cebu Pacific, will land at Caticlan airport 26 October from Manila, 315 km to the north.

One of Boracay’s beaches, appropriately named Bulabog, remains on the not-safe-to-swim list as work on the beach’s sewage system falls behind schedule. But most of the other beaches are back in business although with fewer hotels.

Before you head off to Boracay note that the “Party at the Beach” tagline, adopted for the island’s advertising campaign, is no longer valid. Beach parties are banned. No drinking, no littering and take your cigarettes elsewhere. Officials say they will strictly enforce the beach code.

But we are told White Beach is ready and waiting for the first tourist footfall to get economic recovery for the 35,000 island residents back on track.

Government officials confirmed that around 90 resorts of the 296 properties registered would be compliant with new regulations on sewage treatment by 26 October. It should give the island around 5,000 rooms down from the 15,000 that were in business last April.

By April 2019, the full room inventory should be back online and the rehabilitation complete including road construction.

Caticlan (MPH) is the most convenient airport for the land and ferry transfer to Boracay but it requires a change of plane in Manila, Clark or Cebu. The alternative is Kalibo, 65 km from the ferry port serving Boracay.

Out of Singapore, Cebu Pacific’s best fare is USD289 on Skyscanner compared with USD345 if you book direct on the airline’s website.

The downside is the 0330 departure from Singapore and the prospect of 10 hours and 10 minutes of end-to-end travel that requires a change of plane in Manila. You get into Caticlan airport at 1340 (local time).

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The return flight is shorter at eight hours and five minutes with a change of plane in Cebu. The flight departs Caticlan at 1535 and gets you in Singapore at 2340.

Out of Bangkok, AirAsia has the best deal to Boracay at USD279 roundtrip, but the trip is a long-haul trek of 13 hours and 50 minutes departing Bangkok at 2115 and arriving at 1200 on the following day at Caticlan. There’s a change of plane in Manila.

Cebu Pacific offers a USD437 roundtrip fare and the travel time is much shorter at seven hours and 20 minutes on the outbound leg. The flight departs Bangkok at 1025 and arrives in Caticlan at 1845 with a change of plane in Manila.

But before you hit the book button on Skyscanner the return trip looks like a marathon with an end-to-end travel time of 13 hours and five minutes. You depart Caticlan at 2050 and arrive in Bangkok (SWB) at 0855 on the following morning.

There is another slight hitch. On the return trip, you have to self-transfer in Manila re check your luggage and pass through passport and security checks.

From the other major gateway Hong Kong, the fares and flight times are just as daunting.

Cebu Pacific delivers the cheapest roundtrip fare from Hong Kong to Caticlan (Boracay) at USD278, but both ways it’s a drag time wise. The 0945 departure from Hong Kong has a change of plane in Cebu to get you in Caticlan at 2025, with a travel time of 10 hours and 40 minutes. The return leg departing at 2050 has a change of plane in Manila and arrives in Hong Kong on the following day at 1805. That’s a grand travel time of 21 hours and 15 minutes.

If you are time starved then the best option is a flight combining PAL and Cathay Pacific. The roundtrip fare is USD675 and the travel time both ways is five hours and 30 minutes. On the outbound leg, entirely on PAL, you depart Hong Kong at 0750, with a change of plane in Manila to get into Caticlan at 1250. The return flight departs on PAL at 0740 with a change of plane to Cathay Pacific in Clark to get you back in Hong Kong by 1310.

 

Read original story here.

– Don Ross


Don Ross is the Managing Editor of TTR Weekly. Email donr@ttreport.com

 

 

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