The Philippine islands have major population centers and the same problems as larger cities across the world – TRAFFIC. I’ve been wandering around the Philippine islands find the “public” transportation options amusing (almost laughable).
Side note: The transportation in this country is very similar to my trip to Jakarta last year.
When traveling to the Philippines, I would strongly recommend against renting a car – it’ just not worth the hassle, and you’re going to sit in endless traffic jams.
Jeepneys and trikes are the preferred (and dominant) method of transportation on the island. Jeepneys are exactly what they sound like, Jeeps – except stretched and gutted to seat 15-20 people in an [almost] safe manner. Jeepneys are individually owned and decorated to fit the owner’s personalty, style, religion, family or other interesting [random] things. You’d be hard pressed to find two that look the same.
Jeepneys have the lowest overall cost (about 5-10 pesos per ride… That’s $0.11-0.20 USD) however, much like buses they have specific routes you need to understand and navigate to get to your destination. You may need to transfer between multiple jeepneys to get to your destination. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not hard to figure it out (since almost everyone speaks English and willing to help – for a fee, of course). A downside to jeepneys as a method of transportation is that they are usually PACKED with people; it is not uncommon to see people hanging off the back or riding on the roof.
Trikes are probably the fastest and most amusing way to get between places. Trikes are small 50cc motorbikes with a side car that has a front cabin and back bench seat. Surprisingly, we fit 5 passengers + the driver on one trike; I’ve never laughed so hard in my life seeing that poor engine trying to make it up a speed bump. Transportation by trike is still a very inexpensive form of transportation (around 50-100 pesos per ride… That’s $1.06 – $2.10 USD) and since they are small can weave in and out of traffic. Word of caution, the trike drivers are usually very local and like to stay in a particular area; They WILL travel wherever you want, just be prepared to give them directions from your GPS/smartphone.