Travelling around the Philippines

The Philippines is an archipelago bounded by the Pacific Ocean to the east the Bashi Channel to the north the Sulu and the Celebes Seas to the south. You can find us East of Vietnam, North of Indonesia The country is divided into the geographical areas of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Its capital, the City of Manila, is in Luzon. You can also enter through the cities of Cebu in the Visayas, and Davao in Mindanao.

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Getting around the Philippines

Now your here in the Philippines how do you get around or travel to a new part of the country?

Travel between areas of the Country

Being made up of so many islands and surrounded by water boat journeys are quite common all over the Philippines, the quality of water transport does however vary greatly from the high-class multi deck ferries and highly efficient luxury passenger catamarans (known as fastcraft or fast ferries) to the smallest of outriggers (called bangka or pumpboats), which shuttle between beaches and piers.

Ferry & fastcraft
Ferries have been the mainstay of travel between the islands for the local population for many years they are normally cheap but unfortunately they come in various standards some are often overcrowded old and in disrepair, every year there is a fatal sinking or overturning of one of these boats, the government is clamping down on these ferries make sure you travel with a reliable professional ferry company not just a converted freighter that fills up and sets sail across the seas....

Fastcraft are replacing the older ferries in many areas as tourists and locals who value their life (and time) demand better equipped safer modes of water transport between islands, they are faster than ferries as well as being reliable and safe.

Though service on the main routes is pretty reliable, you'll need to be prepared for changes in the itinerary. Adverse weather conditions (especially during the typhoon season) or renovation of a ferry can totally alter the sailing times and boats used for various trips.
As with planes, boats fill to overflowing during Christmas, New Year, Holy Week and All Saints' Day/All Souls' Day, as well as to the locations of major festivals.

The following are the main ferry companies in the Philippines:

Negros Navigation (02-245 5588 in Manila;

Sulpicio Lines (02-245 0616 in Manila;

WG&A/Superferry (02-528 7000 in Manila;

Small craft
Bangka (also known as pumpboats) are small wooden boats with two wooden or bamboo outriggers and are used for short transfers (Boracay island) and are only suitable in calm waters they are usually equipped with life jackets.

There are many bus companies covering the whole of the Philippines, bus travel is quite cheap and quality of buses varies enormously good reliable companies have newer safer buses but some older buses look like they are held together with sticky tape and don't get me started on brakes!

It is possible to travel all over the Philippines by bus including water transfers between islands journeys do take quite a long time though, road conditions are quite good all over the country and outside of Manila traffic is not a big issue but he buses are just slow with long distances to cover

Better (and more expensive) buses have air con otherwise it will get hot any time of year and often crowded, most destinations have several departures a day except for the long haul trips which often depart early early morning, for these turn up early as randomly drivers sometimes depart before schedule!

As always watch your baggage get loaded and unloaded and don't put valuables in the baggage hold.

Only one option here and not likely to change soon there is a route from Manila to Bicol southeast Luzon, its old slow and noisy.

There is an extensive network of flights across the country run mainly by the three local carriers Philippine Airlines (PAL), Cebu Pacific Air and Air Philippines, several other budget Asian airlines also offer flights around the Philippines at good prices but be careful and check their routings Tiger air have great fares but involve flying to Singapore and back as part of your journey.... you save money but waste time.
All the airlines have websites to keep you up to date on routes fares and special offers, remember during holidays and peak seasons flights fill up far in advance and during the rainy typhoon season flight are regularly delayed/cancelled.

Christmas, New Year, Holy Week (the week culminating in Easter) and All Saints' Day/All Souls' Day (1/2 November) are the most heavily booked periods. Wherever you go, be sure to reconfirm your flight.

Local transport

Jeepneys are the main method of transport in towns and cities for Filipinos they usually hustle between several destinations across a town or between towns shuttling back and forth all day and night, you can flag one down anywhere you see one although drivers should only stop/slow where it is safe, you will also find them parked at key transport locations and Jeepney stations, where they are going is painted on the side of the bus along with lots of other colorful artwork. Jeepneys follow a set route (though this can suddenly change due to traffic conditions) and stop on demand, but it can be hard to see where you are from inside the vehicle so keep a good eye out. When you want to get off, you can rap on the roof, call out or ask a passanger close to the driver to stop.

Don't jump into an empty Jeepney and request a destination - they will take you directly there sure but you will be expected to pay the full private bus transfer fee! as far as they are concerned you hired the whole bus.

Jeepneys like to travel when they are full so be prepared to wait for other passengers to fill up the jeepney before departure there is no schedule it goes when it goes stops and starts when it needs and you pay around P10 per journey, oh and when I said they like to be full I mean FULL this includes people hanging off the back if necessary!

Paying for a jeepney ride is easy - there's a fixed price per journey however short or long (ask other passengers if you're unsure) and you pay it.

Also pay attention to your pockets on all Jeepneys pick pocketing is common and never try and take your luggage on a Jeepney.

Taxis are a good quick (normally air conditioned) way to move around a city or transfer to and from an airport they are clearly marked and are relatively cheap for short journeys.

There are two types of taxi
The metered kind, pick up fare is Php40 (Nov 2013) and the metre runs from there depending on a combination on speed time and distance, a common practice is for the driver to "forget" to start the metre which he then makes up the price on arrival - it will always be more expensive - NO taxi driver "forgets" to set the meter, always check the meter when you get in the taxi and that it is reset to Php40, if there is no meter or they will not start it just get out and find another taxi. a 15minute ride will be around P150 to P200

All metered taxis are clearly marked do not get into an unmarked vehicle because someone says it is a taxi (usual excuses are its a new taxi, just waiting for my plates etc) not marked don't use it.

The other taxi is a fixed price taxi these operate from busy terminals such as airports and bus stations and give you a fixed price on how much it will be to your chosen destination, this method will always be a little more expensive but you will know exactly how much the trip will be! This is a good way to travel if you are arriving late at an airport and metered taxis may be scarce.

The Philippine Rickshaw either powered by a motorbike or a person on a bicycle it is a sidecar bolted onto whatever is powering them, locals use them to go home after work and the such especially in areas where Jeepneys don't go they are useful for shorter journeys around towns and villages.
Fares for tricycles though are tricky always open for negotiation in the touristy areas motorized tricycles will quote P150 for even a short journey where a local would only pay P5 ! as a visitor you will always pay more but feel free to hassle the price down as much as you can! Walking away often get the price down quickly.

Fly within the country on our local airlines. You’ll find information on flight schedules, destinations, booking, and on-line ticketing on their websites:

Cebu Pacific –

Interisland Airlines –

Philippine Airlines (PAL) –

Air Philippines –

SEA Air –

Zest Airlines –

You can also take a chartered flight to major domestic destinations and island resorts.

If you prefer traveling by boat, try the roll-on-roll-off (RORO) ships between Manila and the country’s major ports. To and from smaller islands, take fast sea crafts and other ferry services. Resorts also offer island hopping by banca (small, local boat), or fishermen and other locals offer their boats for hire.

The Visayas region in particular, has a robust network of inter-island boats. For commercial options, tickets are available through ticketing and travel agents. Schedules are published in dailies and the Buy & Sell publication.

It is possible to travel by air-conditioned bus from Manila to nearly all major destinations in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

There is also a National Railway, that, sadly, only really transects Southern Luzon. Some of the trains have recently been replaced or refurbished though, so if you’re not in a hurry, it’s a viable way to get from Manila to Legazpi.

Within Metropolitan Manila, take the Light Railway Transit (LRT). It’s the fastest and most economical way to travel throughout the metropolis:

LRT Line 1 – to go to and from the Roosevelt in the north to Baclaran in the south.

LRT Line 2 – to go to and from Recto Avenue to Santolan St. in the eastern part of the metropolis.

The Metro Rail Transport (MRT) Line 3 – to go through Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA), Metro Manila’s main circumferential road. Stations are located at major intersections of Makati City, Ortigas, and Cubao.

If there are no LRT lines where you’re going, take a bus or metered taxi. You’ll find taxis in Manila and major parts of Metro Manila, and they can usually be flagged down right where you’re standing.

For short distances within the city, try taking a public utility jeepney (PUJ) or a tricycle.

For more info on the Philippine National Railway –
The Light Railway Transit (LRT) –
The Metrotren (MRT) –

Some helpful blogs for getting around Manila -

Better yet, ask a local for directions. It’ll be fun!

If you’d like to try our roads, an international driver’s license is valid for up to three months.

There are car rental services available in major cities, just ask your hotel to assist you. It might be easier to go around with a local driver, so you won’t have to worry about navigation and local traffic rules.

Off-roading is popular in the Philippines though, so if you’re into that, there are local 4WD groups in most adventure destinations.

Underbone motorcycles are also available for rent in most of the cities. If your hotel can’t help you and you don’t spot a “Motorcycle for rent” sign anywhere, just approach any tricycle driver for a lead.

Want to know more about our 7,107 islands? Join a tour. Day trips to five-day programs will help you discover as much about the country as you want.

Go scuba diving, snorkeling, whitewater rafting, trekking, spelunking, or game fishing.

Whether it’s a safari or a round of golf you’re into, you can do it here.

In one day, you can hike through a valley of volcanic ash to jump into a crater-turned-lake in a volcano (Mt.Pinatubo).

In three days, you can learn to dive and drop in on world-class reefs (Puerto Galera or Anilao).

In five, you can go from tribe to tribe along the longest mountain range intersecting the Philippines’ largest land mass (Sierra Madre-Kalinga).

There are a variety of itineraries to fill your days! And subsequent visits!