How to get around
In a country that is made up of over 7,100 islands and islets, you will have to think about transportation sooner or later. But don’t worry, there are plenty of options, always cheap and often quite unique!
Air travel within the Philippines is fast and… cheap! Tickets can be had at bargain prices, especially if you watch the “promos”. Just take a look at the websites of the following local airlines (most offer international flights too!) and marvel at the prices!
As an island nation it should not come as a surprise that there are plenty of boats, ships and ferries plying the waters between the islands. Caution is advised: they are often overcrowded, not always safe, and their schedules are often subject to change. Ask around about reliable companies and plan accordingly.
There are several ferry companies in the Philippines.The best well-known is perhaps WG&A lines.
Bangkas, also called pumpboats, are the backbone of inter-island travel. These are basically small wooden boats with two wooden or bamboo outriggers. In some areas, you can hore a bangka for day trips at a very reasonable price. The price is usually shared between the passengers on board. Bangkas are usually powered by recycled automotive engines, they are often running on schedules and won’t go out in rough weather conditions. Try a bangka on a sunny day with calm seas; you’ll love it!
Travelling by bus is relatively easy, reliable, and cheap. Departures are normally frequent but expect the bus to leave earlier (or much later) than scheduled if the bus is full (or not fully packed yet!).
Car or motorcycle
Driving can be dangerous in and around Manila. It’s safer elsewhere, particularly in the more rural areas. Philippine law requires that you have third-party auto insurance with a Philippines auto-insurance company when you drive in the Philippines. This can be arranged through the rental ageny.
The undisputed “King of the Philippine Roads” is the jeepney. You’ll see them everywhere. Jeepneys are adorned with colorful designs that distinguish them from one another, with themes ranging from the serious to the outright silly, but all uniquely Filipino. Jeepneys are the main mode of public transportation in most towns, and are used for both local and long-distance transport in the Philippines. They can be flagged down anywhere, but usually prefer to stop where there is a crowd of potential customers. Normally, a jeepney driver will only depart once he’s got a full load so you may have to wait a while before your (cramped) journey begins. Jeepneys usually follow set routes, which will have been indicated on the side or the front of the vehicle. Jeepneys are a cheap mode of transport and paying is easy; simply hand it down until it reaches the jeepney driver.Tricycle
A tricycle is basically a roofed sidecar that’s been attached to a motorbike. They are very useful for shorter trips, and are cheap. The flat fare for short distances within town is usually P5 to P10 per passenger; for longer trips around town, you will be charged more. Note that in many tourist areas you will also be charged more. As you will be charged more when it is getting dark. Feel free to haggle!
Vans, or minibuses, are popular in many parts of the Philippines. The cost of a ride in a van is two or three times more than for a jeepney but they are more comfortable and will normally have AC. Apart from individual short rides, vans can also be hired for trips.