Getting around Manila is fairly simple due to the variety of transportation options that are accessible. Manila is a tentacular metropolis that covers an area of 1,475 km2 including its suburbs. The city center is concentrated on the bay shore, and houses the historical center – Manila Intramuros, as well as most of the tourist attractions and hotels.
The modes of transportation at hand in Manila include taxi, jeepney, Uber and GrabCar apps, bus, Light Rail Transit (LRT), Metro Rail Transit (MRT), and car rental. Walking is also an option for short distances, but bear in mind that walking in some districts of Manila, mostly the poverty-ridden residential areas, puts you at risk. However, walking in the major business areas, shopping areas and tourist destinations in the center of the city is far more common for visitors.
Regular taxis are metered and air-conditioned. They unfortunately have a rather bad reputation, even among Filipinos, for forgetting to put the meter on, therefore trying to overcharge their passengers, and not returning the correct change.
If you just arrived at the airport go to the DEPARTURES area. This means lots of taxis dropping people off and leaving empty. These drivers would love to get a passenger and are very negotiable.
They come in many colors but generally the yellow metered ones are dedicated airport taxis, have a higher “drop rate” AND a higher “run rate”. They will cost about 50% more than white metered taxis in Manila.
Remind the driver to turn the meter on (if they’re not yet on) to avoid being scammed. Make sure to have smaller bills or pay the exact amount, too.
CAR RENTAL VIA GRAB MOBILE APP
New technology has reached Manila and you can now use the popular Grab apps. There’s an additional PHP 70 fee to pay, but the vehicles you get by using these apps are generally in good shape, more comfortable, and their drivers are generally more honest. So be sure to download the app!
Taking a bus as a means of public transportation in the Philippines is similar to how bus transportation works in other countries. There are three types of bus service within the Philippines, namely provincial buses with routes from the city to distant towns and provinces, city buses with routes within Metro Manila, and the P2P (Point-to-Point) buses available in Manila.
THE ICONIC SARAO JEEPNEYS
Also known as the king of Manila roads. You’ve most likely seen them. Those unique, colorful, hard-to-miss, sometimes noisy and clanky but definitely cool and idiosyncratic rides made of stainless frame, dusty wheels, and loads of vibrant embellishments confidently plying through the main thoroughfares of the metro. You just have to know where you’ll get down and riding the jeep will be a breeze. If you don’t know what the place looks like and just know the name, sit behind the driver and kindly ask him to tell you when you’re there. Drivers are often happy to tell unsure passengers when they’ve reached your destination. Each Jeep has a designated route. Rates are cheap, and start at PHP 10 for a short ride. Make sure to have smaller bills so you can pay the exact amount.
Light Rail Transit (LRT) and the Metro Rail Transit (MRT).
They are both often used forms of transportation in Manila and are packed with people everyday morning to night. Riding the LRT and MRT is also very affordable, but it’s best to avoid it during weekday rush hours (07:00 to 09:00, and 17:00 to 21:00). The LRT has 20 stations and connects Baclaran station to Roosevelt station. There are many popular stops along the way like Luneta Park and fares usually start at Php 20. The MRT on the other hand has 13 stops and fares start at Php 10. As we said earlier, these trains are packed with people most of the time so you should be extra cautious with your belongings. While regular passengers of the MRT and LRT lines use the beep card to pay for their rides, you may opt to purchase single journey cards. In addition, it’s best to study the route of each train line and their stations for easier and more convenient trips.
HABAL-HABAL OR ANKAS MOBILE APP
Habal-Habal is simply a motorbike with driver for rent and it can take you in any nearby destinations for an affordable price – at least, most of the time. Since habal-habal doesn’t have terminals and can be seen mostly in business establishments, and malls there is a mobile app called ANGKAS where you can ‘hail’ or book a ride. This app has saved me a few times and I don’t shy away to using it specially when it’s Number Coding or during the rush hour.
THINGS TO KNOW
Traffic can be horrendous
There’s just no way around it: Manila’s traffic can be a drag at times, especially during rush hour. Don’t even bother taking the rail lines. The best you can do is stay near the places you came to see, avoid peak hours, give yourself plenty of time, and try to not let it get to you.
Avoid riding the taxi from and going to the airport.
Due to demand for taxi rides in Manila during peak hours, or seasons like Christmas or rainy days, drivers can easily demand for fixed amount in favor of a ride. Avoid such situation by all means. If unscrupulous drivers can charge locals a steep ride for a reasonable distance, let alone to tourists or foreigners who are perceived as clueless and awash with money.
Filipinos are generally helpful
Always remember that help is everywhere. People in Manila are always open to helping you out. Whether it’s the direction to a place where you’re heading to, or just any random inquiry, Manileños got your back.
Do you find this post helpful? How do you get around in Manila? Or in your city? I’d like to know by commenting below! 😀
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