Expats Guide: Commuting in the Philippines

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Commuting in the Philippines

As an expatriate in the Philippines, you probably have two types of commuting to do from time to time: Getting around in the city or town where you reside and/or work; and, going out of town on inter-island trips. In either case, you deserve a comfortable mode of commuting or transportation!

Going around in your town or city

Whether you are going to work, shopping malls, or just going to the café to have some coffee in your town or city, you may take a jeepney, which is a cross between a jeep and a bus. A lot of people use them for both local travel and far-distance trips. However, you may be asked to wait until the jeepney is filled with other passengers before the driver can start the engine and move on. In that case, be prepared to have some of your precious time wasted during the unannounced waiting period.

Make sure you find out about the appropriate base fare for your Jeepney ride before getting on it, but it is usually around PHP 7. In case you are engaging on a long, inter-city journey, first discuss with the driver about the best price for the journey. Sometimes, you may be charged an arbitrary fare because you are a foreigner. Because foreigners are assumed to be richer than the locals.

You can also try other means of commuting such as tricycles, minibuses, and pedicabs. There is light rail in Manila. For your information, pedicabs are more traditional; you may be asked to fork out a fare that is between PHP 10 to 30 per ride. In most cities and towns, minibuses and vans are the obvious options to jeepneys and buses. These vehicles are managed by private transport companies or individual owners. However, their fares almost double that of jeepneys. The only good things about vans and minibuses are that they usually have air-conditioning and appear quite comfortable for long trips.

If you are concerned about your privacy and comfort, the best thing to do is to get your own car. Many expatriates in the Philippines dodge the public transportation for their own comfy cars.

For Inter-Island Trips

Some expatriates use the water mode of transportation while traveling from island to another. You can get on ferries and catamarans that offer different classes of comfort and prices; Some are high-class, neat, and air-conditioned, others small bangkas or pumpboats.

Bangkas are small, wooden boats that run on automotive engines. They are cheap and can be found everywhere on the Philippines islands. But they do not offer the same degrees of luxury obtainable from catamarans and ferries.

Otherwise you can choose to go by land; and in that case, you have the pleasure of using one of the cheap, inter-city buses. Make sure you are at the bus station a few minutes before your departure, or you may discover that your bus driver has left once the vehicle was full.

You can go with your car or rent one in the city. But don’t forget that places like Manila and other cities may experience tedious traffic congestions. So, make sure you have ample time on your hand while traveling.

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