The Philippines at a Glance
Transportation in the Philippines
When preparing to take the big step of moving to the Philippines, you should make sure to book your flight well in advance. This is especially true if you plan to move in December when many Filipinos fly home for Christmas and New Year’s celebrations.
The main point of entry to the Philippines is Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), where you can expect to join long lines at the immigration counter. The second busiest airport in the country is Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu City, which receives flights from Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Tokyo, and Seoul.
Fortunately, Cebu Airport emerged from the chaos of Typhoon Haiyan or Yolanda relatively unscathed. The natural disaster in November 2013 devastated other important airports in the Visayas, especially in Tacloban City, where the airport was rendered unusable for all planes except turboprop craft dedicated to the relief effort. However, by now airlines have been given the green light to resume flights to and from the airport.
Francisco Bangoy International Airport (DVO) in Davao and Clark International Airport (CRK) in Angeles City both also receive international flights from different Asian countries. Depending on your destination, entering through one of the smaller airports may be more convenient for you.
Water travel is the primary means of getting from island to island, and it is the backbone of the Philippines’ overall transportation system. Virtually any mode of water transportation is available, ranging from high-class, air-conditioned ferries and catamarans to small bangkas or pumpboats. Bangkas are the basis of inter-island transportation. These small wooden boats run on automotive engines, and while bangkas lack the luxury of ferries and catamarans, they are cheap and widely available.
If you prefer to travel on land, you can use one of the many reliable and cheap bus services, which offer island hopping as well. While departures are frequent, drivers sometimes leave early if their bus is full. Alternatively, you can rent a car and drive yourself. Keep in mind, however, that traffic is quite hectic in Manila and in Luzon’s central mountains. In other cities and in the countryside, on the other hand, it can be quite a pleasant alternative.
While the immediate aftermath of the natural disaster in November 2013 did not allow for safe travels there, the Eastern Visayas are once again the destination for many tourists. Traveling there, you will have the opportunity to assist the local communities in getting back on their feet.
Getting Around in Town
In most cities, jeepneys, a cross between a jeep and a bus, are the main mode of transportation. They are popular for both local travel and long-distance journeys. Unfortunately, drivers tend to wait until the jeepney is full before they depart. As a result, you may have to wait a while before the jeepney leaves for your desired destination.
Jeepneys travel on set routes with a base fare price of about seven pesos. If you choose to travel long distances by jeepney, try to find out the fare in advance. Other modes of transportation in the cities are light rail (in Manila), tricycles, pedicabs, and minibuses.
Pedicabs are very traditional and fares range from PHP 10 to 30 per trip. At least, this is the price for locals. As a foreigner, you may be charged a higher fare. Vans and minibuses are becoming a popular alternative to jeepneys and buses. They are operated privately and cost you at least twice the fare of a jeepney. However, they are much more comfortable than jeepneys and are usually air-conditioned.
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