Philippines rent a car, taxi and getting around

Getting Around

The Philippines has more than seven thousand islands, so if you want to explore the country, you'll have to travel on a ship or a plane. But when getting around a city, you have various options for transportation.

Getting Around On-Land

Shuttle Vans

Taking the shuttle vans is one way to get from one town to another, which is usually the norm in famous tourist sites like Cebu, Siargao, and Palawan. The fare for these shuttle vans is pretty reasonable, so if you're travelling on a budget, this would be a great option. For instance, if you are heading to the famous tourist town of El Nido in Palawan, you'll most likely land at the airport of Puerto Princesa. You can take the shuttle van to get to El Nido, which is about a 5 to 6 hours drive.

Scooter

One of the most popular options for tourists to travel around is to drive a scooter, especially in the islands of Siargao, Cebu, Bohol, and Palawan. It's the fastest and easiest way to get from one place to another. Plus, it only costs less than $10 per day to rent, so it's also the cheapest option. However, you need to have an international driver's license before you can drive a scooter in the Philippines.

Driving in the Philippines can be challenging for most foreigners. Although the road in most areas in the Philippines is generally in good condition, your biggest threat is the other drivers, who are often very reckless. Make sure you follow the local driving laws and stick to the speed limits to avoid hefty fines.

Bus

Some of the cities and towns in the Philippines have decent bus networks that are very affordable. But be aware that although they are very cheap, you may have to wait for them for a long time, and they don't usually follow any timetable. It is best to ask the locals when taking public transportation. Thankfully, most locals speak good English, so this should not be a problem.

There is another popular mode of public transportation in the Philippines called a jeepney, and you will commonly find them in big cities like Manila and Cebu. They are very cheap, but not too comfortable since they are often packed and have no air conditioning.

Ride Sharing Apps

You can also use ride-sharing apps like Grab in big cities. These apps are highly recommended for foreigners, as it keeps you from getting ripped off. It's also very convenient since you don't have to give directions to the driver on where to go since you can pin the location.

Taxi

You can also take taxis in the Philippines, but they are known to rip foreigners and can sometimes be challenging to communicate with the driver. Unless they have a taxi meter, it is best to negotiate the price beforehand. To know how much the trip will cost you, check out the price in Grab and use that as your basis when negotiating the taxi ride.

Tricycles

Tricycles are like tuk-tuks or rickshaws that are common in various places around the Philippines. It's one of the cheapest ways to travel from one place to another. But they do not travel long distances, so you can only use them within the town or city. The fares are usually cheap, but there are times when you may need to negotiate the fare especially if you are the only passenger.

Car Rental

Another way to get around the Philippines is to rent a car and drive around wherever you wish to visit. It can work well in big cities and islands and is a more comfortable option than a scooter, especially during summer.

To rent a car in the Philippines, you must have a valid driver's license. You will also be asked to provide a copy of your passport. Most car rental companies accept cards for payment, but you can also pay in cash if you wish.

As a foreigner, you can use the driver's license issued by your home country for 90 days. However, the license must be in English. If your license is not in English, you'll have to visit your local embassy and have it translated to English. If you plan on staying in the country for more than 90 days, you should go to the Land Transportation Office to have your license converted to a local version. You can also choose to apply for a new license.

Always carry your driver's license and car rental documents when driving your rented car all over the country.

Getting Around the Philippines on a Plane

As mentioned, the Philippines has more than seven thousand islands, home to many beautiful beaches. Travelling from one island to another requires taking a boat or plane. But travelling on a boat could take a lot of time. Depending on where you’re heading, it could take several days before you get to your destination. Thus, the most convenient option is to travel on a plane.

Most tourists start their journey in either Manila or Cebu since both cities have international airports. These cities are also well-connected to all the major cities in the Philippines. If you want to visit Boracay, you will find daily direct flights from Manila or Cebu. On average, the flights between the major islands of the Philippines could cost less than $100 per person. Fares are usually cheaper if you book them several months earlier.

Three major local airlines are operating in the country. Aside from Philippine Airlines, the country’s flag carrier, there’s also Cebu Pacific and Air Asia Philippines. Both Cebu Pacific and Air Asia are budget carriers and are known to offer good deals, especially if you book your flight several months ahead, so better watch out for these offers.

Travelling Around the Philippines by Ferry

If you have plenty of time, travelling by ferry or boat is cheaper than taking a plane, and you can easily take a ferry between the different islands in the Philippines. Some islands are so close together that they only require a quick journey between islands. Fast boats are also available on some islands, such as between Cebu and Bohol.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when taking ferries is that the schedule could change instantly, especially if you visit during the monsoon season, which is generally between June and October. The weather could change quickly, going from bright sunny days to torrential rains with thunderstorms in a matter of minutes. When this happens, ferry trips will be cancelled for safety.

FAQs About Getting Around the Philippines

Can You Easily Get Around the Philippines?

Although the Philippines is made up of seven thousand different islands, travelling from one island to another should be easy, especially in famous tourist destinations like Palawan. There are well-established routes for tourists and locals, and you can choose from different transportation options.

How Expensive Is It to Get Around the Philippines?

Depending on the mode of transportation you prefer, getting around the Philippines should not cost you a lot of money. Everything is reasonably priced, especially if you book your trip earlier, as most local airlines offer huge discounts for flights booked several months in advance.

Can You Rent a Scooter to Drive Across the Philippines?

While it's possible to travel around the Philippines by scooter or car, it's not a popular option because it can come with many challenges. You could spend several days or even a week on the road and may need to pass by destinations that can be dangerous for foreigners. Travelling by scooter is only recommended if you're within a city or an island.

Should You Book Ferry Tickets in Advance?

If you plan on taking ferries when travelling from one island to another, you should book the tickets in advance, especially during the peak season. However, buying ferry tickets online can be tricky. Not all ferry companies offer the option to purchase tickets online. If you can't purchase your ferry tickets online, you can buy them several days in advance or on the day itself. Just show up on the pier, where you'll find a ticket booth.

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