GettingAroundthePhilippines

Getting around the Philippines | Internal flights, taxis and buses

Travel the Philippines like a local with the country’s unique transport system.

Getting around the Philippines can be an adventure in itself. The country has a few unique forms of transport, such as the jeepney, a large open air vehicle with benches in the back, and tricycles, which are motorbikes with covered side carriages. Along with jeepneys, taxis are the most common form of transport.

The major cities of the Philippines are not very walkable due to a lack of footpaths and the fact that attractions can be pretty far apart, but taxis and tricycles are cheap and quick to hire. As the Philippines is made up of a cluster of islands, getting around the country often involves flying, but the larger islands do have buses that you can catch. Renting a car or a motorbike is not recommended as driving can be hectic.


Travelling between cities

Internal flights: Flying in the Philippines is mostly affordable thanks to a number of budget airlines such as AirAsia and Cebu Pacific that fly to all of the major tourist destinations. However, flights can cost more when travelling to smaller islands.

Buses: Buses are often referred to as tourists buses in the Philippines and they have set fares and timetables. They’re considered a budget option for getting around the larger islands.

Public transport within the major cities

Types of transport: In Manila, there’s the LRT (Light Rail Transit), the MRT (Metro Rail Transit) and the bus. Jeepneys are also used widely. In Cebu City tricycles, jeepneys and multicabs are the most common form of public transport.

Paying for transport: For the LRT and the MRT, you can buy either a single-fare ticket or, if taking multiple trips, a Stored Value ticket, which is a kind of tap-and-go card. For jeepneys, tricycles, multicabs and buses, you pay the fare to the driver. Paying in small change is appreciated.

Getting to and from the airport: There are nine bus routes from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Manila. The LRT can be used but it’s a 2km taxi ride from the airport. Getting from Mactan-Cebu International Airport to the Cebu City centre involves taking three jeepneys and it’s best to ask the locals for exact directions.

Best apps for getting around: The Sakay.ph app will show you train routes, bus routes and jeepney routes. It provides step-by-step instructions for using these types of transport and getting around and compares routes by price, length and number of transfers.


Car hire companies in the Philippines

Renting a car is not recommended in the Philippines, especially in Manila where traffic is some of the worst in the world.

If you do wish to rent a car, you can book with Avis, Budget, Europcar, National and Viajero Rent-a-Car at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila.

At the Mactan-Cebu International Airport in Cebu City you can book with Avis, Thrifty, Executive, Fast, Flamingo, Friends, Intan and New Sunrise.

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Taxis and Uber

Taxis: Taxis can be hailed from the side of the road or at your hotel. They can be found at taxi stands at shopping malls and tourist spots around the city in Manila and Cebu City. Taxis can also be booked ahead of time online.

Uber: Uber is available in Manila and costs PHP143-PHP291 from Ninoy Aquino International Airport to the city centre. From Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Cebu’s city centre an Uber will cost you PHP149-PHP189.


Airport transfers

Avoid dealing with taxis and get an airport transfer that takes you directly to your accommodation.

Private transfer from Ninoy Aquino International Airport
Private transfer from Ninoy Aquino International Airport

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Stephanie Yip

Stef is the Travel Editor at finder.com.au and has been writing about travel for over a decade. She's visited over 50 countries and has had some incredible experiences, including hot air ballooning over Cappadocia, hitchhiking across Romania and seeing the Northern Lights (twice!). And while she’d never say no to a luxury escape, she's far more likely to stretch her travel dollars as far as they can go by keeping her ear to the ground for unbeatable travel bargains. And she'll tell you all about them, too! Stef has had articles featured on Travel Weekly, Escape and Hostelworld.

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