Update This Nov 17 2015 news article says construction of the RM8.84m Kudat ferry ramp "has commenced and was expected to be operational six months later". This other news article says, similarly, that "the service is expected to commence in mid-2016".

Anyone has more information about this or whether (or when) the ferry is up and running? If you Google you can find stories since at least 2013 saying that there'll be a ferry service "soon", so there's no knowing how reliable the above stories are.

Also, I wonder if there might be some "secret" ferry services or some way I can hitch a ride. I am considering my options of getting from Palawan to Sabah in January 2016. (Just looking at the map, they seem awfully close to each other so it would seem to make much more sense to take a ferry over to Malaysian Borneo than to go back to Manila and take a flight.)

2 Answers 2


Talk of extended ferry links and regular international ferries has been going on for years, and not just that route. I know because I've long wondered about being able to travel out of the Philippines without flying.

On that particular route it appears it is going ahead and it will go ahead soon. Note that 'soon' in the Philippines can typically mean anything from a month to a year ...

There's a Facebook post from the Sabah Palawan Chamber of Commerce & Industry that links to a video from FastCat (Archipelago Philippine Ferries Corporation) who will run the route. Skipping to 6:22 in that video and you'll hear:

Soon our brand new Fast Cat ferries will cover the routes within the Eastern and Western Philippines, as well as Central Philippines, Visayas and Mindanao. We also aim to provide a better, safer and faster connection to our neighboring countries in South East Asia.

The video shows maps with the proposed routes. Your best bet is to follow that Facebook page and that website for announcements that the route is up and running. I'd guess it'll not be ready in January, but I have no more information than what's in those links.

Which is not to say it's impossible to make the trip, you may be able to arrange transport on a cargo vessel or other ship but you'd need someone with more local knowledge of that area than I have to help.

  • Very useful. Their Nov 16th Facebook post actually has a screenshot of a news article now saying that the Kudat ferry ramp "is expected to be completed by mid-2016." So I can forget about using this ferry in Jan 2016.
    – user8803
    Dec 7, 2015 at 8:36

I think it is questionable the the Republic of the Philippines (RP) will allow a ferry connecting Palawan and Eastern Sabah.

  1. There are many, many reasons why things in Southeast Asia do not happen. Possible reasons include: corruption, mismanagement, bureaucracy, and other dynamics that exist strongly in the region.

  2. The Republic of the Philippines has dormant claim on Eastern Sabah based on the Philippines succeeding the Sultanate of Sulu. The Sultanate allowed the British North Borneo Company ownership of Eastern Sabah. Were the Philippines to authorize a border crossing (immigration, passports, entry stamps, etc) from the Philippines into Eastern Sabah it would represent de facto recognition of Malaysia's internationally recognized claim over Eastern Sabah.

Neither reason means that it won't happen. The ferry project could get managed well. The Philippines could come up with a creative way to allow legal movement from Philippines directly into Eastern Sabah. Heck, the government could just be oblivious to the ferry plan and it just happens (or gets cancelled at the last minute). I wouldn't bet on it happening though.

Here are some links for a more thorough discussion on Eastern Sabah border claims:

The Google search

The Wikipedia article

  • Interesting comment on the territorial claims, I wonder if they'd consider not setting up a border post as an implicit reinforcement of the claim. It's hardly likely to be a incoming route apart from for people from the countries on either side. As to the first point, it's true, but if there are external companies with heavy investment (like the FastCat folks) then that tends to push things along a bit more ... but, yeah, this and many other projects have been on the books for years and a lot of time it's little more than showboating. (pun not intended)
    – SpaceDog
    Dec 8, 2015 at 2:15
  • These are doubtless very interesting observations on the region's politics but I don't think they answer the question. At most these amount to speculations on what may or may not happen. In particular, these observations do not explain that recent news article saying that "construction of the [RM8.84m = US$2.06m] ramp [in Kudat] is in full swing" and is "expected to be completed by mid-2016 "?
    – user8803
    Dec 8, 2015 at 11:43

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