Transportation in the Philippines – by Land

Since you’ll be traveling all over the Philippines, you should know what different modes of transportation that you can take to get around. There’s a good mix of traditional and modern transportation in the Philippines from trains to jeepneys and from ferries to bangka (outrigger canoes). There’s quite a lot of options to choose from getting to point A to point B, not to mention pretty cheap too.

You can also see the resourcefulness and creativity of Filipinos when it comes to designing, painting and personalizing their tricycles, jeepneys or bangka.

Let’s now discuss each of these means of transport. I have divided the different modes of transportation into 3: by land, by sea and by air.

by Land:

Train

The rail transport system in the Philippines consists of a commuter rail and rapid transit. As of now, the train system is only servicing the areas in Southern Luzon and Metro Manila. Unknown to many, there used to be a train system that runs from Northern Luzon to Southern Luzon but because of war and neglect the some parts of the network has been unusable for years. The government has now revived Southern Luzon(suspended for on-going repairs) route but the revival of the Northern Luzon route has been put on hold because of controversies.

Currently, the government is developing the country’s first monorail system which is being pilot tested in the campus of a state university. This would greatly improve the condition of transportation in the Philippines especially in the urban areas but until then you’ll get to enjoy more of the traditional mode of transportation.

In Metro Manila, there are 3 train networks. The LRT 1, LRT 2 and the MRT 3. These 3 lines are interconnected: LRT 1’s EDSA-Taft Avenue station is connected to MRT 3’s North Avenue Station. LRT 2’s Recto Station is connected to LRT 1 via Doroteo Jose station. MRT 3 has also been connected to Roosevelt Station of the extended LRT 1.

LRT 1, LRT 2 and MRT 3 Train Route Map

Manila Train Route Map. Modern means of transportation in the Philippines.
Manila Train Route Map from www.urbanrail.net

To view the landmarks and establishments near the LRT 1 and LRT 2 stations just use their interactive map.

LRT 1

LRT
LRT 1 / Photo by Thorsten Schmidt – Wikimedia.org

The fare table for LRT 1 is below:

LRT 1 fare table
LRT 1 fare table

LRT Line 1 System Operating Schedules

Weekdays:

  • 5:00AM – First train leaves the Baclaran Station bound for Roosevelt Station.
  • 9:30PM – Last northbound commercial train leaves Baclaran Station for Roosevelt Station.
  • 10:00PM – Last southbound commercial train leaves Roosevelt Station for Baclaran Station.

Saturdays, Sundays and Holidays

  • 5:00AM – First train leaves the Baclaran Station bound for Roosevelt Station.
  • 9:00PM – Last northbound commercial train leaves Baclaran Station for Roosevelt Station.
  • 9:30PM – Last southbound commercial train leaves Roosevelt Station for Baclaran Station.

LRT 2

LRT 2 train
LRT 2 train. Photo from Sky Harbor – Wikipedia.org

The fare table for LRT 2 is below:

LRT 2 fare table
LRT 2 fare table

LRT Line 2 System Operating Schedule

Weekdays:

  • 5:00AM – Start of operation.
  • 9:30PM – Last commercial train leaves Santolan Station bound for Recto Station
  • 10:00PM – Last commercial train leaves Recto Station bound for Santolan Station

Saturdays,Sundays and Holidays:

  • 5:00AM – Start of operation.
  • 9:30PM – Last commercial train leaves Recto Station bound for Santolan Station

MRT 3

MRT 3 Photo from Philippinerailways - Wikipedia.org
MRT 3 Photo from Philippinerailways – Wikipedia.org

The fare table for MRT 3 is below

MRT 3 fare table
MRT 3 fare table

MRT Line 3 System Operating Schedule

MRT 3 schedule
MRT 3 schedule

Source:

You can also view the live cctv streaming of each MRT station to plan ahead your trip

Guidelines when using the LRT and the MRT:

  • No inspection, no entry policy. This involves frisking and they ask you to open your bags.
  • Gift-wrapped items will have to opened for inspection. (So, if you are coming from the mall with a gift wrapped item just don’t take the train. You could just use a nice paper bag instead or just gift wrap the item on your own at home)
  • Bringing in of deadly weapons, food and drinks, inflated balloons, and flammable materials is also not allowed.
  • Bulky and long objects is also a no-no. You can’t bring your big luggage when using the train. There’s no train station near the airport so you don’t really have to bring your luggage there.
  • Persons who are under the influence of alcohol and drugs will not be allowed to enter.

Philippine National Railways

The Philippine National Railways or simply PNR have commuter rail service (known as Metro Commuter/Commuter Express/Commex) in Metro Manila and another one that serves the Southern Luzon (Manila-Bicol route) area. It is one of the oldest railway in Asia but has been operating on and off for quite a while. It has recently been rehabilitated and is now a good alternative mode of transportation.

 

PNR Train
PNR Train. Photo from Joshua Lim (Sky Harbor) – Wikipedia.org

PNR Commuter Express Route Map

Commex Route Map
Commex Route Map from jibraelangel2blog.blogspot.com

PNR Manila schedule

Metro Commuter Schedule
Metro Commuter Schedule

Metro Commuter Fare Table

Metro Commuter Fare Table
Metro Commuter Fare Table

According to PNR website, the Manila-Bicol route is currently suspended because of ongoing repairs but anyway, here’s their route map for Manila-Bicol:

PNR Route Manila-Bicol
PNR Route Manila-Bicol

 

Some tips:

  • During rush hour, the trains would be really packed. If you can postpone your travel a little bit and just use the train at around 10am-3pm it would be less crowded.
  • Watch out for your valuables.
  • If the next station is the one you are supposed to get off, prepare to make your way through near the exit one station ahead or else you’ll run the risk of not getting off your stop.

Bus

The buses in the Philippines are operated by private companies. They are divided into two: city and provincial. The routes are self explanatory. The city buses ply the major thoroughfare of cities while the provincial buses..well goes to the provinces. They have signs infront indicating where their destination is. There are both aircon and non-aircon buses.

In Metro Manila, the provincial buses have terminals where you can just hop on to your destination. The main bus terminals in Metro Manila are located Monumento, Cubao, Buendia and Pasay.

For the city buses, you can just use the proper bus stops. Just use the route map below for reference:

MMDA bus segregation
MMDA bus segregation. Illustration from GMA News

When you are in the provinces, you can pretty much just hail a bus as it pass by.

Jeepney

The jeepney is the king of public transportation in the Philippines. You can find it all over the country. It is the most popular and affordable means of transportation in the Philippines. You can see it not just transporting passengers but also hauling goods and agricultural products.

Who would have thought that the World War II jeep abandoned by the Americans would become one of the most recognizable Philippine icon. You can easily spot these colorful and jeepneys all over the Philippines.

 

So, these are a bit more stylish.. fyi, most jeepneys don’t look like these.
Most jeepneys are non-airconditioned. I have only seen airconditioned jeepneys in Makati.

The jeepneys ply a designated route. The routes are usually written on the sides of the jeepney and you can see the destination that it is going to in the windshield.

Useful tips:

  • When paying for the fare, just extend your arms towards the driver and say ‘Bayad Po’ which means ‘here’s my fare’. Then, you can tell the driver where you want him to drop you.
  • If you are too far away from the driver, just say ‘Paki-abot po’ and the other passengers would pass your fare to the driver.
  • To have the jeepney stop on your destination, just shout, ‘Para po’ or ‘Lugar lang po’ (which is the one used in Cebuano speaking provinces).
  • If you have change, the driver would then pass it back to the passengers near him and they’ll pass it to you.
  • Always use coins or small bills when paying for the jeepney fare since the drivers might not have enough change especially during their first trip in the morning. Paying 100 pesos and up is usually frowned upon.
  • The minimum fare for the jeepney is 8 pesos for the 1st four kilometers.
  • Usually, the jeepney doesn’t leave the terminal unless it’s full so you’ll have to wait a bit.

UV Express Service

The UV Express Service are vehicles given franchise by the government to transport passengers. These vehicles are capable of transporting 10-18 passengers. It is popularly called FX after the brand Toyota Tamaraw FX which started these type of vehicles. They travels specific route and have designated terminals. Just like jeepneys and buses they have signages in their windsheild indicating their destination. They’ve become popular since they are airconditioned and can also take you much faster to your destination since they have fewer stops and pass through shortcuts. The usual price for an FX/Van ride is P20-P40.

I mentioned the FX/Van because you can also rent them for trips. They are pretty spacious and can fit several people including some bags. You can talk to the drivers in the terminal and just haggle for a better rate.

Taxi/Cab

The taxis/cabs are all over the metropolitan areas. I think this one doesn’t need much introduction. Just some tips:

  • Always remind the driver to use the meter. Some drivers would want to make a deal with you that they’ll take you to your destination for a certain price which is much higher that the price if you used the meter.
  • Know the general direction of where you are going. Some taxi drivers would go around in circles just to make you pay a higher rate even if your destination was just supposed to be one block away.

Tricycles

Every province have their own version of this three-wheeled motorized vehicle. It consist of a motorcyle and a sidecar. It can fit 3-8 people depending on the design of the tricycle. It is usually used for short trips.

They have also designated routes but you can also rent them for special trips. The fare is about P10/person and goes up depending on the distance.

Pedicabs/Sidecar

Pedicabs are the unmotorized version of tricycles. It is cheaper and environment friendly 🙂 Just be considerate to your driver and don’t make him travel uphill.

Habal-habal/Skylab

I haven’t tried riding a habal-habal yet. I find it too scary and dangerous but if you are up for a unique experience you can give it a try. A habal-habal is a motorcyle with extended seats to accommodate more passengers.

The habal-habal is popular in areas where the jeepneys and tricycles cannot go because of rough, steep and narrow terrain.

Kalesa

You can still find this classic horse drawn carriage in Intramuros and Binondo, the Chinatown of Metro Manila. These are rarely used nowadays except in tourist spots and some rural areas.

Rent a car

Well, I haven’t really availed of a rent-a-car service here but just in case you’re looking here are some popular companies that I’ve heard of:

Avis Philippines

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Hertz Rent a Car

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