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New figures reveal surge in Southeast Asia travel in 2023, say Direct Ferries

Ferry bookings are up 110% as gap year travellers and backpackers flock to their favourite bucket list Southeast Asian destinations of Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia in 2023.

Latest booking data has shown that travel to Southeast Asia is exceeding pre pandemic market conditions. Direct Ferries, leading ferry booking site report that ferry bookings in and around the region are up 110% YTD on the same time period in 2019.

Reports reveal that Google searches for student gap year travel are up 49% year-on-year. While backpackers, ‘grey’ gap year and ‘revenge’ travellers are also making the most of the freedom to travel once more, post pandemic.

Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia are the most popular destinations for ferry travel, report Direct Ferries, which operates a total of 300 ferry routes in the region.

Direct Ferries data found that 93% of searches are for groups of 4 or less and that couples make up the most popular searches: 55% of searches were made for sailings with 2 adults.

Top Southeast Asian ferry routes (Source Direct Ferries, May 2023)

  • Phuket (Rassada Pier) – Koh Phi Phi (Tonsai Pier)
  • Koh Samui (Mae Nam Pier) – Koh Tao (Mae Haad Pier)
  • Koh Samui (Nathon Pier) – Koh Phangan (Thong Sala Pier)
  • HarbourFront Centre – Batam Centre
  • HarbourFront Centre – Harbour Bay
  • Tanah Merah – Bandar Bentan Telani

Niall Walsh, CEO at Direct Ferries said: “While we expected a natural return to pre pandemic travel numbers in the region, the 110% increase in ferry bookings demonstrates the vastly increased global desire to discover and explore the regions of Southeast Asia by sea. We expect this uplift to continue as more and more travellers, of all ages, feel confident and able to travel to long haul Southeast Asian destinations from Europe and within the domestic regional market, cost effectively by ferry.”


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Tatiana is the news co-ordinator for TravelDailyNews Media Network (, and Her role includes to monitor the hundrends of news sources of TravelDailyNews Media Network and skim the most important according to our strategy. She holds a Bachelor degree in Communication & Mass Media from Panteion University of Political & Social Studies of Athens and she has been editor and editor-in-chief in various economic magazines and newspapers.