Wondering about the best ways to go around the Philippines while enjoying the sights and sounds of its bustling metro capital and the wild nature of the rural countryside? Here are some of the safest and most convenient ways to go around the country, as how the locals would have it:
1. Uber or GrabCar around Metro Manila
As of 2015, there are reportedly 2.5 million registered motor vehicles in Metro Manila alone. This volume of automobile on the road is the major cause of the endless traffic jams within the capital. So, if you need to go from point A to point B in the metro, don’t even think about getting a rental car – you’ll be an addition to the mass of metal in the highways. The safest and easiest way to travel within Metro Manila is through Uberor GrabCar. Taxicab drivers are not exactly the nicest in Manila (or anywhere else in the world, actually) and you might get hoodwinked out of your cab fare. So just install the Uber and/or Grabcar on your phone and you’re good to go.
2. Walk inside the old Spanish-inspired cities
Metro Manila is not known to be a walkable city but there are certain areas where you just need to get off the wheel to appreciate the sights. In Old Manila area, especially the walled fortress of Intramuros, there are walking tours that you can join to fully appreciate the cobbled stones and centuries-old brick walls. The walking tours are very enjoyable, even for the non-history buffs. If you’re in the northern part of the Philippines, taking a walk through the old city of Vigan is another delightful treat.
3. Ride on top of a Jeepney if you’re going north
If you want to get totally awed by nature, try to visit the Banaue Rice Terraces – considered as the “eighth wonder of the world” – and ride on top of a jeepney on the way there. Originally from the US jeeps left by the military from the World War II, the jeepney is the most popular means of transportation in the Philippines. Its colourful design and crowded seating have become an artistic symbol of the country around the world. If you want to see hanging coffins, caves, and waterfalls, definitely head up to Sagada and ride “topload” – the term they use if you want to go on top of the jeepney.
4. Cross provinces with Deluxe Provincial Buses (with stewardess)
Victory Liner offers first-class service for trips going to Baguio in the northern part of the country. The deluxe bus has a limited seating capacity compared to a regular air-conditioned bus so there is more legroom. There is a toilet, WiFi, complimentary snacks and a friendly stewardess who accommodates to your needs on board. There are also stewardess-free provincial air-conditioned buses provided by other bus companies. These are your best bet for travelling safely by land to provinces in the Philippines, whether going north or south.
5. Ride a ferry going to the islands
Planning for a beach holiday? Since most of the beaches in the country are distributed in the 7,107 islands in the Philippines, ferries are available to take you there once you’ve landed at the airport. This is most especially true if you plan to go to Boracay in the middle region of the country or Camiguin in the more southern area. Ferries are the cheaper way to travel if you don’t want to take the plane. However, try to Google which one you want to ride as some vessels are nicer than others.
6. Hop on a tricycle if you’re in the rural areas
When you’re in a small town in a rural area in the Philippines, chances are, there is a lineup of tricycles in the bus terminal, by a wet market or a church. Tricycles are similar to the tuk-tuk in Thailand or the now-gone rickshaws in Singapore – except they have three wheels and are driven by a motorbike. It’s supposed to fit only two people inside and one passenger at the back of the driver. It’s an easy and fast means of transportation when you’re in small towns or inside the city.
7. Fly with budget airlines
Airlines like Cebu Pacific, AirAsia Philippines, and the domestic flights of Philippine Airlines are the fastest way to get to one island/province to the next. Cebu Pacific is known to have great deals like “Piso Fares” in which the airline base fare is only PHP 1.00, and then you add your tax and baggage fees. The budget airlines can be really cheap and their hub in Manila is either in the newest airport in NAIA Terminal 3 or the Clark International Airport in Angeles, Pampanga.