Friday, February 13, 2015

Going to the Philippines? How to move around

If you are traveling to the Philippines, there is a few options you should consider to make the most of your trip:
Plane
You are certainly arriving by plane into the country (though some cruise ships are starting to dock in Manila port, this is very unlikely). The main airports for international flights are Manila, Clark (Angeles) or Cebu. Once in there, several low cost companies offer daily flight for just a few pesos! If you travel light, you can still enjoy flying very cheap. Even if you book last minute because you are uncertain of your route, you can get flights for 1500-2000php.
Boat
With 7107 islands, traveling by boat is also quite logical. Small boat/jetties will take you around some of the neighbor islands for a fee (some very popular islands like Malapascua or Boracay, it is the only way to get there). Other options is renting a fisherman boat and do your own island hopping tour. Some places like El Nido, several tour operator will have already all the tours arranged and you don't need to worry to pay for the full fare, they will look for another tourist to fill the boat.
There are also ferries going from main islands to Manila.  Traveling time is usually more than 24 hours and price is quite similar to book a ticket with a low cost company, so they are not very practical for travelers unless you are carrying lots of baggage or very heavy equipment (diving gear, kite-surfing...)
Road
Traveling by road? Have a look!
Jeepney
One of the symbols from the Philippines, you can find them decorate them with virtually anything, especially colorful religious items. They usually have a route and the starting fare is 8 pesos. Passenger tends to seat at the very back and they make every person entering into the jeepney to squeeze until the very front seats close to the driver. The person seating by the driver is also responsible to collect all the fares and pass to the drivers. When you want to get off, simply shout "para!" or if you are shy, click your coin in some metalic part of the handles. For many Filipinos obsessed with safety, they will never recommend a foreigner to travel in them, but I had done it all the time, day and night on my own and never have any issue. There is no limit of passenger for the jeepney. Actually, a very common Filipino joke says: How many Filipinos can you fit in a jeepney? One more, sir!

You have a lovely post dedicated to Jeepneys written by my friend Agness of etramping

Tricycle 
Also part of the Filipino culture, tricycle are motorbikes with sidecar. They can fit between 2 to five people (including one riding in the drivers back seat). You will usually have to negociate the price with the driver in advance and the price is usually per person, not per ride. I had many issues with tricycle drivers trying to overcharge me or increasing the fare once we are in the destinations and I stopped enjoying riding with them. But still quite useful when there are not jeepneys going into that destination.

Some family of fishermen collecting fishes from the port in Puerto Princesa.

A tricycle parking by a shopping mall in Cebu.

A smiling tricycle driver covering his face. Filipinos are obsessed with no getting sun tan.
Another driver waiting for passengers.

Bike
As much as I love bikes, I didn't see virtually noone riding a push bike in 5 months ( a part from my friend who was riding as a sport) 
Funny enough, the only person I saw driving was a Policemen in the way to Maya, Cebu.

Motorbike
Most of the families own a motorbike and they travel in them. Thereare also some places where you can rent them and use them for a daily trip for around 350-500 pesos a day. The helmet is usually included in the price, though is not compulsory. They will usually keep ask you for a deposit. You can buy petrol in many street shops during your ride. I had some lovely experiences in Siquijor, Iba and Olongapo (I actually learned how to drive a motorbike in Siquijor).
Car
Renting a car is something quite serious in the Philippines. Most of the local do not own a car unless they come from very rich family. Road are not prepared for cars most of the times. You could rent a car at Manila airport here and travel all the way to the north, to Baguio and from there exploring Sagada and Banaue for the rice terrace or the heritage city of Vigan en Ilocos Sur.
Walk
By walk? You definitely will amuse Filipinos. Noone here seems to know how to walk to anywhere. I usually walked my way from El Nido to my house in the suburbs and every single meter being stopped by a tricycle driver offering me an unwanted ride. Same when we walked across Siquijor Island, noone understand the sense of going for a walk into the jungle! Pacience is the clue is you decided to walk anywhere. Remember when you ask directions to Filipinos, as they are not used to travel, they don't have any idea most of the time and they will just tell you to take a tricycle...Enjoy exploring this fascinating country!

Have you been in the Philippines and used any of this transport?
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