Getting Around: How to Effectively Use Public Transportation in Manila, Philippines

Getting Around: How to Effectively Use Public Transportation in Manila, Philippines

The streets of Manila can be extremely busy, dense, and overwhelming, especially for those who are used to wide roads or freeways. However, a basic understanding of how the city’s transportation system works, along with a few insider tips are all you need to effectively get from point A to B in the Metro. Let this article serve as a guide to help you navigate the streets of Manila. From how to communicate with jeepney drivers to haggling with cabbies, this post will provide instructions and safety tips for people roaming Manila, Philippines.


Using Light Rail Transit Systems is the easiest way to get around Manila. It is also the fastest because it helps you avoid traffic during rush hours. There are three lines to choose from LRT1 (yellow line/line 1), LRT2 (violet line/line 2) and MRT (blue line/line 3); all of them are interconnected to each other through different stations. The fare rates of single journey tickets for all of the lines range from 10-15 pesos and are determined by the distance that you’re traveling. There are also stored value tickets that you can purchase that are already credited with 100 pesos so that you won’t have to stand in line again until it is emptied out. When riding the trains, consider boarding during non-rush hours, as they can be jam-packed with passengers from 7 to 9 AM and 4 to 7 PM. The train stations open at 5:30 in the morning and close at 10:00 at night during regular days, but schedules can vary on holidays such as a holy week.

Cabs or Taxis

Taxis in Manila use meters just like those ones in the US. If you are not a local, you might get tricked by cab drivers who ask for a flat fare that is twice or even thrice the usual. Be mindful; always demand that taxi drivers turn their meters on and remember their corresponding plate numbers before getting on. Don’t hire taxis that are hailed at hotels and airports; they are more expensive compared to those that are hailed on the streets. It is also advised to carry spare change and smaller denominations of money so you can pay the exact fare amount. Most drivers don’t give change.


]Tricycles are motorbikes with a sidecar attached to it. The normal capacity of a trike is about 3 people: two in the sidecar, and one seated at the back ride of the driver. Tricycles are very useful within local subdivisions. There are two types of tricycle trips in Manila: Regular Trips and Special Trips.  The former entails that the driver waits for other passengers to fill the seats, while the latter is for those who want to ride solo and who don’t mind paying extra to do so. The fare is considered by pre-determined boundary trips that the tricycle driver follows. The regular fare starts at 8 pesos and can go up to 40 pesos. Special trip fares range from 20 to 50 pesos.

Jeeps/Jeepneys the Icon of Manila Streets

The normal capacity for one jeep is about 20 people, 2 on the driver’s side and 18 inside. The regular fare for jeepneys in Manila is 8 pesos for the first four kilometers, and exceeding kilometers will then be charged 1.5 pesos per kilometer. Jeeps usually travel 4 or fewer kilometers but there are those that can travel at longer routes. The common way of telling a Jeepney driver to stop is by saying “Para” which means stop in Spanish. This goes the same way when stopping them on the streets to get a ride, just wave your hands out and shout “Para”. The jeepneys have their routes posted on their windshields so you could tell which ones you are going to take. When you don’t know which ones to take, it is better to ask locals inside stores or hotels for directions.


Buses are also one of the most common ways to travel around the Metro; they are very common and sometimes are the main reasons for the traffic congestions. Like Jeepneys they also have a flat fare but they are much more costly because most of them are air-conditioned. The routes they travel are also posted in front of the bus to be easily seen. When riding buses, be careful not to fall asleep because there are pickpockets that will take advantage of the situation.


FX is a brand of car that is exclusively distributed by Toyota in Asia. They are primarily used as public transportation vehicles to travel across long distances that busses or trains can’t reach.  They are somewhat similar to a jeep but they are air-conditioned.

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