Manila offers cheap public transportation options. If you are a tourist, the best way to get around is by taxi or via the MRT or LRT. Consider bringing loose coins or notes in small denominations so the driver or the ticket booth attendant won’t have to scramble around finding change. Driving around Manila may be strange for foreigners unfamiliar with the country’s traffic rules and acceptable driving behaviour, so it is not recommended except for the truly fearless.
You can freely use English when speaking with the driver or ticket agents at the train station because most Filipinos can understand and speak the language themselves. It is therefore easy to get whatever information you may require.
However, it still pays to appear as though you know where you are going and that you are street smart to avoid being taken advantage of. Purchase tickets for the LRT and MRT only from the actual ticket booths and machines at the station and not from touts, to avoid being scammed.
Taxis in Manila
By Western standards, taxis in Manila are very affordable, but most Filipinos still find the fares expensive. All taxis nowadays are air conditioned and metered, and the fares start at 40 pesos for the first 500m, plus 3 pesos for every succeeding 300m.
Beware of taxi drivers who try to take advantage of tourists by insisting upon a fixed fare. This is not allowed by law, and you can report any transgressor to the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board by calling +63 292 05 869, 19072. It is important to note the name and license plate number of the taxi.
Major shopping centres have their own taxi ranks where the guards even hand you a small piece of paper containing the name and license plate number of the taxi you are riding – for your security. You can also report to the shopping centre security if the driver asks you to pay a fixed fare. Sometimes, a taxi may refuse to take you as a passenger if your destination is too far or if it is located in traffic-prone areas. Just hail another cab.
Jeepneys in Manila
The cheapest mode of transportation in Manila is the jeepney, and it is also the most practical choice if you want to visit places that are inaccessible by train or bus. Riding a jeep is also the fastest way to arrive in Manila’s bargain haunts like Divisoria and Quiapo. The fare costs about 8 pesos. Jeepneys are not air-conditioned and tend to be cramped during rush hour. Watch your belongings because the jeepney is also a favourite haunt of petty thieves such as scam artists and pickpockets.
Pedicabs and tricycles in Manila
A pedicab is a bicycle with a sidecar, while the tricycle is a motorcycle with a sidecar. Unless you are in very remote areas or secondary roads inaccessible to jeepneys and taxis, you may ride the tricycle or the pedicab. Fares vary depending on your destination is, but they generally start at 10 pesos.
Light Rail Transit (LRT) in Manila
Just like any other busy and highly urbanised city, Manila’s streets are often plagued by traffic during rush hour, weekends, and whenever it is raining hard. If you do not want to get stuck in traffic inside a cab, you can choose to take the train instead. There are currently three Light Rail Transit lines in Metro Manila, namely LRT1, LRT2, and the MRT. They have stations at relevant points within the city.
The fares are cheap and journeys are fast. The trains are also comfortably air conditioned and the stations are very secure with alert guards, policemen, and K-9 units roaming around all the time. However, it can get too crowded during the morning and afternoon rush hours; so avoid trains from 07:00-09:00 and from 17:00-19:00. If you do have to get on a crowded train, secure your belongings and keep your bags close to you all the time.
The LRT Line 1 (Yellow Line) offers trips from Monumento to Baclaran and vice versa. Those points are conveniently linked to Makati, Pasay, and Manila’s Roxas Boulevard Area, as well as to the Caloocan area. Meanwhile, LRT Line 2 (Purple Line) runs from Santolan in Pasig City until Recto in Manila. It has 11 stations: Santolan, Katipunan, Anonas, Araneta Center-Cubao, Betty Go-Belmonte, J. Ruiz, Gilmore, V. Mapa, Purezo, Legarda, and Recto.