The Basics Of Travel In The Philippines
February, 2018
Local Information
With patience, tolerance and a few Pesos its possible to travel anywhere in the Philippines.

Transportation in the Philippines is relatively underdeveloped, partly due to the country’s mountainous areas and scattered islands, and also lack of government investment on infrastructure.

There are 15 international airports in the Philippines, with Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila, and Cebu International Airport the most popular ones. All domestic flights originate at NAIA, while Cebu is also a major hub for domestic flights. There are 2 major domestic airlines, namely Cebu Pacific and PAL Express / Philippine Airlines.

Upon arriving at any airport in the Philippines, onward transportation is quite simple to arrange. Taxis and  car rentals are readily available at the airport. In addition Jeepneys (the local and cheap mode of transportation), are available outside the airport terminals. NAIA airport has free shuttles to other terminals as long as there are flights available, typically from 5am to 11pm.

Between islands, transportation choices include connecting flights on modern jets or turbo prop planes, plus large ferries and motorised outrigger boats (Bangka), for those with more time.    Motorised Bangka

Fast Island Passenger Ferry

Land transportation includes buses, people carriers and taxis plus the ubiquitous Philippine created  “Jeepneys”, “Tricycles”, “Trisikads” and the rarer and scary choice “Skylab” (below).

3 Primary modes of Philippine transportation, bus, jeepney and tricycle.

Need a little comfort and maybe even air conditioning (aircon)?  Best choose a modern bus or taxi. In many places aircon and non aircon buses ply the same routes, with one fare costing half the other.  A few years ago most taxis were non aircon, now the reverse is true.

Buses: For long distances on one island, buses are the best way to go. Bus terminals are located in all major cities or towns, however, booking on line is still difficult. Typically, you go to the terminal and get your tickets. Taking a bus during Holy Week or Easter is not advisable however as the locals normally go home to the provinces to visit their families, and it will be a struggle, competing for a seat. You can also flag down a bus anywhere you see one. The destination is normally shown on the right front corner of the windshield. Just wave and the driver will probably stop.
“Need Aircon? Choose modern looking buses or taxis with closed windows”

Provincial travel choices are likely limited to jeepneys and tri-cycles and the occasional bus on main routes, with “trisikads” and “skylabs” in less developed areas.

Jeepneys: A Philippine icon, and considered as the “king of the road”, this is the cheapest way to travel. Often appearing in flashy and colourful fashion with music to enjoy or tolerate. Jeepneys are everywhere, even provincial areas with no buses. The destination can be found on the front or sides of the jeepney. Typical minimum far is P9 for 4 kms and additional P1 for each km. A real bargain!

Tricycles: The ingenious and practical small motorbike and sidecar combination are an indigenous form of the auto                                     rickshaw and a very common means of public transportation. These public utility vehicles either ply a set route or are for-hire, like taxis. They are widespread and also go to areas the jeepney don’t go, such as undeveloped roads, and smaller communities.


“Taking a bus during Easter or Holy week is not advisable”
Spot the difference!

New bus with closed windows = AIRCON! Open windows, older bus (above left) = warm breezes, cheap and crowded seating.