Monday, July 20, 2009

How to get to and from the Clark Airport

Clark Airport (CRK), or the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA), in Clark Freeport, Pampanga has become a major gateway for several international low cost carriers such as Air Asia (Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu), SEAIR (Singapore, Hong Kong and Bangkok), and Cebu Pacific (Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Macau and Cebu).

SEAIR also flies from Clark to Boracay (it's the only airline that flies direct to Caticlan from Clark).

There are flights to Incheon, Korea and onwards to the United States with Asiana. While Spirit of Manila will soon be flying to/from Southeast Asia (Bangkok, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur), East Asia (Taipei, Kaohsiung, Osaka, Hong Kong and Macau), the Middle East (Kuwait, Bahrain, Doha, and Dubai) and the Pacific Islands (Palau).

It's less stressful flying to/from DMIA since there are not that many passengers yet. The problem is the airport is at least an hour away from Metro Manila. So how does one get to/from the Clark Airport to the various tourist destinations?

Taxis from the airport can take you to Greater Clark (Clark Freeport, Angeles City and Mabalacat). But they're not cheap. Clark is a destination in itself, a culinary center and home to several golf courses, casinos and leisure estates. It's also a jump-off point for the Mount Pinatubo trek and the Mount Pinatubo Sky Tour. Also check out the Puning Hot Spring and El Kabayo. Plus there are a lot of hotels in Clark Freeport, Don Juico Avenue and Fields Avenue among many other areas. You'll never run out of things to do in Clark Freeport and Pampanga.

To/from Metro Manila, Philtranco has direct buses to the Clark Airport that leaves SM Megamall five times a day (2:30am, 7am, 11:30am, 1pm and 3pm). You can also catch the bus from their Pasay and Cubao stations. To/from Pasay, the fare is PHP350, and to/from SM Megamall and Cubao, the fare is PHP300 (schedule and fares at time of posting).

To/from South Luzon, from the Philtranco stations in Pasay and Cubao, you can switch buses to destinations in South Luzon, Bicol (Daet, Naga, Legazpi, Tabaco and Donsol), and even to the Visayas (Samar, Leyte and Panay) and Mindanao (Davao). Daet has a surfing beach, Tabaco has ferry services to Catanduanes, another popular surfing area, while Donsol is where you can swim with the whale sharks from November to May.

To/from North Luzon, you can now hop on a bus from the Clark Airport direct to various destinations in North Philippines. Partas has regular aircon and VIP buses to Ilocos (Laoag and Vigan) and Abra. If you plan to go surfing in La Union or Pagudpud, or explore Vigan, you can take these buses. If you want to go to Baguio, Partas drops off passengers at the Sison, Pangasinan station of Victory Liner. Partas VIP buses from the Clark Airport to Laoag cost PHP600 and to Vigan cost PHP484.

Genesis buses take passengers to Baguio City and Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija as well. From Cabanatuan, you could find buses to Cagayan Valley and onward buses to Ifugao (Banaue). You can also get buses to the rest of the Cordilleras (Banaue and Sagada) from Baguio City.

Update (03/10/2010): Clark Airport/DMIA claims to have a 24-hour direct air-conditioned jeepney/shuttle services to/from the Dau Bus Station and SM City Clark. It's Php45 for the Dau Bus Station, and Php30 from SM City Clark. But it seems many people say they did not see any.

In case you miss any of these buses, you can always take a cab to the nearby Dau Bus Station where buses to various destinations in North Philippines and Metro Manila (Pasay, Cubao, Sampaloc and Caloocan) depart from. Sampaloc in Manila is the station closest to Malate where most of the budget hotels and backpackers accommodation can be found. In Cubao or Pasay, you could switch buses for other destinations north or south of Metro Manila.

If you are bringing a car, you can park at the Clark Airport and catch your flight. Overnight parking is PHP90 for every 24 hours, and PHP30 for the daily rate.

Philtanco schedule to/from Clark is Pasay-Clark 06:30, 07:00, 11:30, 14:30 (except Thursday) Php350; SM Megamall-Clark 07:00, 07:30, 12:00, 15:00 (except Thursday) Php300; Clark-Cubao/Megamall/Pasay 12:00, 13:00, 16:30, 20:30 (except Thursday). Philtranco numbers are (02) 8518077 to 79; (0918) 2288831; (0928) 4768203; or (0920) 7981422.

There is now a free shuttle bus service for AirAisa guests from Clark Airport to Marquee Mall and vice versa. Buses leave Marquee Mall at 09:00, 10:20, 13:00, 15:00, 16:30 and 19:00 arriving in Clark Airport after 20 to 30 minutes. Buses leave Clark Airport for Marquee Mall at 10:00, 11:00, 14:30, 16:00 and 17:40. Another free shuttle is for Dau Bus Station, leaving Clark Airport at 21:20. For more information, contact Victory Liner at +63(2) 5597735 or info@victoryliner.com.

Update (03/01/2013): Trinoma now has the Clark Airport Lounge. Buses leave for Clark at 03:30, 08:00 and 14:45; and leave Clark Airport for Trinoma at 07:00, 12:00 and 18:30.
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