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Tropical Experience Travel Services - Tours of the Philippines
How to Move Around the Philippines
This is a very complex question, maybe it’s THE question for everyone who wants to travel around the Philippines. Of course, there is not just one way to move around. Though, the Philippines is quite peculiar in terms of transportation. We are talking about a country made of 7,641 islands (!) with a surface of around 300,000 square kilometers!
These are the main means of transportations you could use for moving around the Philippines.
There are several domestic airports in the Philippines, though it’s impossible to have each and every island covered by flight routes. During a tour of the Philippines, you are likely to be taken to the nearest airport and then need some other transportation mean in order to reach your final destination. Filipino airports are not famous for being perfectly on time, though many improvements were done during the past years.
Example: if you want to go to Bohol, you can easily fly straight from Manila. If you want to go to Boracay, you can still fly from Manila, then, you will need 2 land transfers and 1 boat ride to reach the island. If you want to go to Oslob and swim with whale sharks, you can get a flight Manila-Cebu, yet you’ll need an extra minimum 3-hours long land transfer.
FERRIES AND BOATS
There are many companies that can take you from an island to another. It is not usually a very fast mean of transportation: during our tours we provide ferries only when flight options are not possible and efficiently organizing the schedule in order not to spend too much transfer time. We usually provide this solution for short transfers only or in case no other means are available. For more remote small island destinations, only pump boats are available to transport passengers from mainland to island.
Example: if you are in Cebu and want to go to Bohol, the best way is to get a ferry. It takes 2 hours for a quite short distance, but it is actually the fastest way (at a reasonable price) to transfer from Cebu to Bohol and vice versa. If you’re going to Malapascua Island, only small passenger pump boats are available for transfer from provincial Cebu mainland Maya port to Malapascua Island.
PRIVATE CARS AND VANS WITH DRIVER
For many land transfers in the city and in the provinces, public transportation by bus is possible, though the buses might not be too comfortable nor fast and, in some cases, they don’t have Western standards under many aspects. Hiring a reliable driver with a vehicle in good condition could not cost you that much and help you saving a lot of time while providing the comfort a vacation would need. It has to be considered that certain very famous destinations could be reached only with several hours of land transfer: having a fast, reliable and safe mean of transportation is important.
Example: if you want to go to Banaue to visit the famous Rice Terraces, we usually provide a private vehicle with a driver, with day time transfer. There are no airports in or nearby Banaue.
PUBLIC BUSES/VANS/OTHER VEHICLES
There are countless bus companies taking you around different parts of the Philippines, though not everywhere. There are several better transport provider companies with clean and well-maintained vehicles. While others can be old and are quite shabby. It doesn’t matter in which part of the country you are, it’s more about the local company of choice and the specific routes you need: being mostly private companies, the standards can vary significantly. For our tours, we usually provide land transportation with private car/vans and driver. For certain standard routes, we provide shared “public” vans, especially in the case you are travelling on a low budget or the standards for a certain routes are reliable enough and would allow advance booking.
Example: we provide shared van transfer services upon request for transfers Puerto Princesa-El Nido for low budget tours only. The journey usually begins and ends in the transport terminals, the transfer experience is less comfortable in a crowded vehicle but the travel duration does not vary too much. If you want to travel more comfortably, a chartered private vehicle with driver can be provided with “door-to-door” services (Your Hotel A to your Hotel B).
If you already made some research about the most peculiar transportation means in the Philippines, you’ve surely read about Jeepney (we also talked about it here in our blog). They are the cheapest public “buses” in the Philippines and were initially created from adapted American military jeeps that were left in the country after World War 2. A ride costs around 8-9 Philippine Pesos (0,15 € or 0.16 USD). It’s not a very comfortable ride, especially because the tendency is to squeeze the most passengers they can fit, plus they don’t have proper “stop stations” and you need to know exactly what their route is (no maps provided). Last not least, if you are averagely tall you are likely to spend the entire trip slouching and bending your head down. Though, in the rural provinces, it could sometimes be the only available transportation in certain areas, especially if the vehicle is equipped with 4x4 styles and big mountain wheels (in mountainous areas, the jeepneys are often used as public buses even for long distances).
Example: you could try to hail a jeepney in Manila to move from Intramuros to the nearby Rizal Park. We suggest to try this for folkloristic reasons (it’s fun to try!), but it’s definitely not the most convenient nor fastest mean of transportation you can find!
TRICYCLES (OR PEDICABS)
Tricycles are commonly known in South-East Asia as “tuk tuk”, a motorbike with a side-car style cabin, where passengers can fit. It’s a good way to move around when in provincial towns or tourist areas, especially because of their ability to pass through narrow roads. In the provinces, it’s also usually the only taxi service available. They are anyway feasible means of transportations for short distances. They have a variation, the “pedicab”, which is made with a bicycle instead of a motorbike and obviously are feasible only for very short distances.
Example: if your hotel is a bit isolated and you want to go somewhere else for dinner, you can easily hail a tricycle by the roadside. You could also arrange for a private round-trip service already – schedule that the driver to pick you up at a specific time to take you back to your hotel after your dinner.