Most visitors to the Philippines tend to start their journey in Manila, as the city is blessed with a conveniently located international airport. When it comes time to leave the city and explore other areas of the country, many people turn their attention to the city’s buses.
A large number of buses travel to and from Manila each and every day, headed to and from a wide range of different destinations. Virtually every part of the country can be reached by bus, and long distance buses tend to be convenient and comfortable, while low fares make this the cheapest way to travel in the Philippines.
However, there are several different bus terminals to be found in the city of Manila, and making sense of which one serves which areas of the country and when buses leave can be a little tricky for first time visitors.
Most of the large bus companies in Manila – such as Partas, Philippine Rabbit and Victory Liner – have terminals in Cubao or Pasay. Both these cities of Manila are on the subway and are easy to reach.
Travelling north on buses from Manila is relatively easy and there are a variety of direct services to all over the country. Most services pass through Baguio with acts as a major transport hub for the region, but there are direct overnight serves to all over Luzon as well.
Major Manila bus companies
Auto Bus: Direct to Vigan and Banaue (Tolentino Street cnr Espana Street, Sampoloc, tel: +63 2 735 8098).
Crow: All parts of Bantagas including Nasugbu and Tagayaty. (Behind TAFT MRT, tel: +63 2 551 1566).
Dangwa: Overnight buses to Baguio and Banaue (1600 Dimasalang, Sampoloc, tel: +63 2 731 2879).
Dagupan: Aliminos, Baguio and northern destinations. (New York Street cnr EDSA, Cubao, tel: +63 2 727 2330).
Dominion Transit: Hourly north to Vigan (EDSA cnr East Ave, Cubao, tel: +63 2 741 4146).
Partas: Express buses to Baguio, Laoag, San Fernando and Vigan (816 Aurora Blvd, tel: +63 2 725 1740).
Philippine Rabbit: Northern destinations including Dau (Angeles) Baguio, Vigan and San Fernando (1240 EDSA, Cubao, tel: +63 2 734 9836).
Victory Liner: North to Baguio, Aliminos and Banaue. (EDSA, Pasay and Cubao, tel: +63 2 727 4534, website: www.victoryliner.com).
Buses to Boracay and the Visayas
The company Ceres Bus has regular services from the Iloilo to Kalibo in Aklan, plus direct connections with Caticlan three times every daily. GM Liner also plies the Iloilo to Caticlan route twice every day, while there are also minivans and taxis which ferry customers between the two ports. Journey times between Iloilo and Caticlan range from around four to seven hours depending on the mode of transport chosen. Ceres Bus Liner (tel: +63 33 321 2591) GM Liner (tel: +63 33 337 5605).
Although this by no means the fastest route to Boracay from the capital, it is certainly cheap. However, those that book early can first great value direct flights to Caticlan from Manila.
The nautical highway connects many of the Philippines’ 7,000 islands and is a marvel of modern engineering. Although not the quickest route from Manila to Boracay, bus companies such as Philtranco offer convenient services from their main Cubao bus terminal to Caticlan.
Air conditioned buses take passengers first to Batangas Port where RoRo vessels transport the bus on the 08:30 boat to Calapan in Mindoro. The bus then drives to Roxas where another RoRo ship completes the journey to Caticlan. Roxas boat leaves around 14:00 and gets to Caticlan by 18:00 in the evening.
Taxis in the Philippines
Catching a taxi in the big cities such as Manila can be a real pain for tourists, as drivers automatically attempt to fleece their foreign passengers for much more than the meter fare. This is illegal so if your driver refuses to use his meter try to find another cab, or at least agree on a price before setting off.
If can help to pretend you know where you are going and that you are not a tourist, perhaps behaving like a business traveller who frequently visits the city and knows where they are going. Otherwise ask your hotel concierge to flag down a reasonably-priced taxi for you.