See Manila In New Light With a Cruise Through Pasig River

Forget everything you know about the Pasig River.

(SPOT.ph) If a visitor were to ask you where to go in Metro Manila, Pasig River isn't exactly the first place you'd recommend—much less bring them to. But a new initiative is about to change everything you know about the historic channel. You can experience an entirely different side of the Metro with the Pasig River Cruise. It can take you from Guadalupe area in Makati City all the way to Escolta, Manila—in about an hour!—or vice versa thanks to a new initiative by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority and the Department of Tourism. Plus, if you're not in it for the sights then at the very least, you're guaranteed to be free from traffic on land. 

A 150-seater ferry gliding through Pasig River.
PHOTO BY Mia Rodriguez
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This new experience has been dubbed the Pasig River Hop On Hop Off Ferry Tour and is targeted to start running by March 2020. "I think if there's one thing missing right now, in terms of tourism, is something like what they have in Bangkok, the Chao Phraya river for example. So the future here is really Pasig River," said Woodrow Maquiling, regional director of the Department of Tourism (DOT) for Metro Manila. 

The Hop On Hop Off Tours

A view of the Post Office in Manila from the river.
PHOTO BY Mia Rodriguez
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For those who want to try out the cruise but can't really commit—we feel you—there is the Hop On Hop Off tour, which is tied with the normal ferry service the Pasig River has for commuters. This transport system was revitalized by the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in December 2020. There are tours that jump off from several of the ferry's 11 stations that you can check out:

Manila

  • Lawton Station - Manila tour (P1,200 each) 
  • Escolta Station - Intramuros tour (P1,200 each) or Binondo culinary tour (P1,300)
  • Sta. Ana Station - Heritage walking tour (P800)

Makati 

  • Guadalupe/Valenzuela - Poblacion heritage tour (P800), Makati skyline (P1,750), Bar crawl (P1,000)

San Juan and Mandaluyong 

  • Hulo Station - City tour (P1,550)

Tour guides will be waiting at the ferry stations to take you around town either on your legs or with an e-trike, e-jeepney, or even a tranvia for Manila. A minimum of two people are required for each tour and the experience will last around 1.5 hours to 3 hours. The tour prices are inclusive of entrance fees and a small kit with essentials.

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Chartered Tours

Along the river's stretch in Mandaluyong is the folk legend of the city's namesake, Manda and Luyong.
PHOTO BY Mia Rodriguez
The rehabilitated Jones Bridge greets you as you near the Escolta Station in Manila.
PHOTO BY Mia Rodriguez
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If you're part of a bigger group or just have a lot of family members, you guys can try booking a private trip down Pasig River with your own ferry. One of the ferry system's 150-seater, air-conditioned boats will be used exclusively for these chartered trips, said the Department of Tourism (DOT) in a statement. There are a couple of itineraries your group can choose from:

  • Guadalupe to Escolta with a walking tour of Manila and Binondo area
  • Escolta to Guadalupe with a Makati City bar crawl

These tours are priced at around P5,000 each, depending on the number of individuals, and last for half a day. 

For more information and to book a tour on the Pasig River Ferry cruise, contact the Philippine Tour Operators Association, Inc. through 8812-4513 or info@philtoa.com. 

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