Information about public transport is very important for travelers with a small budget. Public transport in the Philippines is cheap, stable, ubiquitous and varied. In addition you can rent a motorbike almost everywhere. I would like to give you an overview of all vehicle options on the islands for your comfortable, fast and not expensive trips.
Usual buses with ordinary seats and conductors walking through passenger compartments. There are two main categories of all buses: 1. Ceres Bus Liners and others; 2. with air conditioning and without.
Ceres Bus Liners are yellow buses, often with air-cons and TV. They are sufficiently comfortable with a separate place for luggage at the bottom of the bus. Cereses go according to a schedule. It’s the most popular type of buses in the Philippines. The price is 10-20 percent higher than for non-Ceres buses for the same route.
Ordinary buses are OK in case of a good weather, but note that they usually don’t have a special place for luggage, they are usually more crowded, people often carry household items and animals like chickens in baskets, bus windows leak, so that rainwater flows directly to passenger seats.
Prices for bus tickets are fixed and depend on the distance. They vary within interval 30-250 pesos (15 minutes and 6 hours road time respectively). Roughly you can expect that you pay 100 pesos for each 100 km. For example, ticket for a bus from Cebu to Moalboal (90 km) costs 106-130 pesos.
Time intervals between buses are different depending on the route. For popular destinations it’s 15-30 minutes. But keep in mind that the last bus from some places, such as Maya port on the north of Cebu island, leaves quite early at 5.00-5.30 pm. Normally there are no night buses in Philippines.
It’s a mix of a jeep, a bus and a lorry. They are the brightest, most colorful, cheapest, slowest and the most uncomfortable. In general they are “the most”. Bench-sits go along a body, open doors, full of people.
Usually a driver takes money for tickets, but sometimes there is a busman who also helps everyone to find a place in the passenger compartment, so every centimeter is occupied by an attachable chair. He himself often travels standing in a doorway.
Jeepneys often go on short routes. In general, they are supposed to go according to a schedule, but often they wait until they are full.
The fare depends on the distance. The price varies in the range of 10-50 pesos, most often it’s about 25 pesos.
Minibuses (Shuttle busses, often GT Express)
Shuttle buses are the most comfortable and fastest public transport in the Philippines. They have quite comfortable seats, air conditioning and soft suspension. But there is a caveat. In order to get more money they add additional seats to a standard 10-seater minibuses, so the number of passengers could be up to 18. Also there is no separate place for luggage, so you have to put it on seats and pay according to the number of seats occupied.
The cost depends on the distance and route. GT Expresses in Cebu Island are even cheaper than buses – 100 pesos for a route Moalboal – Cebu City. Minibuses in Bohol are more expensive than buses 50-80 pesos against 20-50.
Taxi cars are available in the Philippines only in big cities such as Manila and Cebu. Taxi is not expensive, so feel free to use it for short distances. Each car is supposed to be equipped with a taximeter, but it’s not so for all cars, also some drivers shut them off to get more money. Usually the final fare is less in case of using a taximeter, but not always. It’s better to know the approximate price in advance.
Please be noted that sometimes taxi drivers ask additional payment for some reason like tips, some money to by candies for his family or whatever. Be aware, it’s just an impudence; there is no any kind of rules to pay tips to a taxi driver.
Approximate taxi fares:
- Travel from Mactan-Cebu Airport to South Bus Terminal in Cebu – 200-400 pesos.
- Travel between the airport terminals in Manila – about 200 pesos.
- Travel within Cebu City – 80-200 pesos.
- Travel from Mactan-Cebu Airport to Moalbaol – about 2000-3000 pesos.
- Travel from Cebu City to Oslob – 2000-3000 pesos.
- Travel from Moalboal to Oslob – 2000-3000 pesos.
There are no official taxis in small tourist places, but you can rent a car with a driver. Usually a car with a driver for half a day costs 2000-3000 pesos and 3000-5000 pesos for a minivan.
Tricycle is a three-wheeled motorbike with a sidecar. With motorcycles it’s the most common transport in the Philippines. Cheap to use, much more convenient for clients than motorcycles, tricycles are leaders in the “taxi” category.
Most often tricycles are so called “habal habal” transport when drivers own these vehicles and work for themselves. However in Bohol (and possibly in other islands) tricycles are an official taxi. They have numbers, licenses and hired drivers.
Tricycle fares are highly dependent on location. Common price for tourists to get from Moalboal to Panagsama beach (6 km) is 100 pesos, while the price for locals is 10-15 pesos. Prices in Tagbilaran in Bohol Island are much lower. The average price in the city is 20-40 pesos.
You can find motorbikes everywhere in Philippines. It’s also a “habal habal” transport and is important source of income for the Filipino people. Motorbikes are the most convenient transport for short distances: fast and cheep.
Drivers often try to cheat with the price. They love to add “each” after the price was agreed. Please think twice before say yes second time. Whether it still suits you when the price become two times higher or it’s better to go to a next driver?
It’s the most extravagant and the most budget option, but rather slow for obvious reasons, and the distance is limited to 2 km approximately.
We traveled on a trishaw just once, mostly for fun. Usually it’s not a problem to walk a kilometer, but it definitely make sense if you have a heavy luggage. Also why not try something that you can’t find in Europe?
How Much It Costs to Rent a Motorbike in Philippines?
If you want to rent a bike to save some money, then I must disappoint you. Rent is more expensive than “habal habal” transport. It’s just more convenient.
Also please remember that it’s not easy to use a manual transmission for a first time. So I recommend to take a motorbike with an automat, usually to costs 50-100 pesos more.
- Rent a motorbike in Bohol costs 500-700 pesos per day.
- Rent a motorbike in Cebu costs 300-400 pesos per day.
- Rent a motorbike on Panagsama Beach costs 300-400 pesos per day.
- Rent a motorbike in a small village in the middle of Negros costs no more than 100 pesos per day.
As for petrol, usually we spent 1 peso per 1 km, so respectively it’s 100 pesos per 100 kilometers.
How Much It Costs to Rent a Car?
Typically in popular spots in the Philippines tourists rent a car with a driver. A price of about 2000-3000 pesos per day for a car and 3000-5000 for a minivan.
A few tips about transport in the Philippines.
- Forget about kilometers, measure the distance in minutes and hours. The average speed for Philippines (excluding big cities) is 30-40 km/h. Usually there is the only road between start and finish, and it’s a one-lane road. Buses need 3-4 hours to complete 90 km distance; cars need 2-3 hours for it.
- Get information about prices in advance and bargain. Remember that the initial price for tourists is always too high; you easily can drop it 2-3 times. Please be polite, but strict.
- Don’t be fooled with favorite Filipino tricks like adding “each” after you agreed with a price, additional payment for waiting or money for gasoline. To avoid extra payments you just need to remind the initial deal.