Living in Manila?
Local Transportation in Manila
The Ordeal of Driving in Manila
Unless you have nerves of steel, you best think twice about driving in Manila, infamous for its traffic jams and aggressive drivers. Make sure to drive cautiously and keep a watchful eye on other drivers cutting lanes, running red lights, or turning without a signal. Don’t let appearances fool you, however. Filipinos are not bad drivers. On the contrary, they are capable of maneuvering their cars within inches of one another without so much as batting an eye.
Nevertheless, Filipino driving habits are problematic to say the least, as locals pay little heed to traffic rules and use their horns quite generously. Another aspect that makes driving in Manila difficult for foreign residents is the lack of street signs. Also, lanes are always congested, even though certain cars are not allowed to drive on certain weekdays (license plates ending in 1 and 2 are banned on Mondays, those ending in 3 and 4 on Tuesdays, and so forth). If you are still inclined to throw yourself into Manila’s stressful traffic, fasten your seat belt, keep calm, and expect the unexpected. It would also be wise to check if your health insurance covers traffic accidents.
Taxis: Easy to Find
If you prefer not to drive in Manila (or if it’s one of those days you’re prohibited from taking your car on the road), you can always hail a cab. Taxis are widely available in the Philippine capital and offer a cheap way to travel. Remember to remind your driver to switch on the meter, however. Some taxi drivers deliberately neglect to do so or try to convince you to pay a lump sum, which usually amounts to more than a metered trip would. The flag-down fare is 30 PHP, and 3.50 PHP is charged for every 300 meters, as well as for every 90 seconds of waiting time.
The only exception to this rule is if you take a taxi during rush hour. When traffic is slow, it may be worthwhile to let your driver switch off the meter and agree on a fixed fare.
Buses Are a Good Way to Explore
Local buses run all throughout the city on the main roads and connect major destinations all throughout Makati and other districts of Metro Manila. While taking the bus is an incredibly cheap way to travel and explore the city, they are prone to traffic jams and, in turn, delays. The same applies to jeepneys, which roam Manila’s streets in reckless fashion.
Buses are also a good option for long-distance travels. However, it is not always easy to find the right bus or even the right place of departure, as there is no central bus station and no central information center. Most likely, your best bet is to talk to a taxi driver, as they are usually in the know regarding bus information. Just bear in mind before boarding a bus that Manila’s bus drivers can be rather negligent in traffic as well. On PHBus, you can find a list of all bus operators as well as the schedules and fares for each journey.
Railway Transport: Within Reach Everywhere
By far, the easiest way to travel to and from Manila is by train. There are three train lines in the city: LRT1 (the green line) travels from Nivog in the south to Monumento in the north. It passes Manila’s most popular landmarks and is the best connection from Manila’s airport to the city center. LRT2 (the blue line) travels from the city’s east to the west. MRT3 (the new yellow line) runs parallel to the city’s major highway, the EDSA.
Further light rail lines are planned for the future and will make Manila’s railway system even more comprehensive. Note that the last trains run around 22:00. You can purchase pre-paid and multiple-travel tickets at every station. For more information, consult Manila’s Light Transit Authority.
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