Laoag Transport. Philippines. by Bernard Spragg. NZ via Flickr Creative Commons

Philippines Taxis and Car Rental

Yellow cabs are a reasonably convenient way to get around the larger cities of the Philippines as long as you insist that the meter be turned on, keep small change handy to pay the exact fare, and ask for a receipt. It is common to tip about 10 pesos in addition to the metered amount. MGE (+63-2-364-8260) and EMP (+63-2-293-5960) are known as two of the more reliable companies in Manila. Three-wheeled motorbike taxis are an alternative that can be hailed on the street, although passengers should agree on a set price before getting in.

While the presence of international companies such as Avis, Europcar, Hertz, and National mean that car rental can arranged simply enough, actually driving around there can be a bit more of a challenge. The roads in the major cities, towns and developed areas tend to be reasonable though often crowded and poorly marked. Conditions quickly deteriorate in rural areas. Those wishing to take their car on a ferry to the different islands should be aware of the port taxes, which can be as high as airfare. A popular alternative is to hire a scooter or motorbike on arrival to get around the smaller destinations.

Philippines Ferries

The Philippines is a cluser of islands so water travel features prominently as a means of getting around. In Manila, Pasig Ferry Service has a cheap, bus-style boat that takes you between stations on the Pasig River. There are a number of operators, including WG&A (+63-2-249-2978) and Oceanjet (+63-32-255-7560) that offer inter-island ferry services at reasonable prices. Travelers should take care not to board overcrowded vessels and use common sense when deciding to travel during inclement weather, as some captains are prepared to depart regardless of the conditions.

Philippines Trains and Buses

A lack of rail infrastructure means that trains are not the most efficient way to get around the Philippines. However, the Philippine National Railways (PNR) (+63-2-319-0041) operates the Commuter Express (Commex) in the Manila Metropolitan area, as well as two inter-city services, one going to Naga, the other to Ligao.

Buses are one of the cheapest and most practical ways to get around in the Philippines. ALPS The Bus (+63-43-723-9033) is one of the largest service operators in the country, running between the Batangas, Bicol and western Visayas regions. Vallacar (+63-2-995-0192) has a huge fleet of modern air-conditioned buses running rural transit around the regions of Bacalod City, Cebu, Davao, Dumaguete, Iloilo City, and Manila.

Jeepneys are converted WWII US Military jeeps that serve as an alternative form of transportation. They are cheap and tend to run set routes along major thoroughfares. The destination will often be marked on the side of the vehicle and passengers can get on by flagging down the driver. Passengers should keep an eye out and let the driver know when they want to get off, which is also the time at which to pay.

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