Out and about: 5 ways to travel in the National Capital Region of the Philippines

The National Capital Region of the Philippines consists of not just one but 17 cities with a land area of 636 km2. Manila, which is the capital of the Philippines, is one of these cities.
Manila has traffic that is really at its worst of all times, though still not at par with the worst in the world, Jakarta, Istanbul and Mexico. So how do the Manilenyos maneuver their way into and out of the big metropolis? Through public transportation, of course. So if you're intending to visit Manila and don't have any friends or family to drive you around, get a bird's eye view of these alternative ways of traveling around.

1. MRT

Yellow Line – North Avenue Station, Foursquare.com

Yellow Line – North Avenue Station, Foursquare.com

Yellow Line – North Avenue Station, Foursquare.com

LRT and MRT routes in Manila

The MRT, or the Manila Rail transit spans the whole of EDSA or Epifanio delos Santos Avenue. EDSA is the major highway that crosses more than two cities in the National Capital Region. It has 13 stations that runs on 16.9 km, with an average of 1,300 m apart. Going from north to south is as easy as an hour using the MRT. However, this is also the most packed train in the metro. You can wait in line for at least thirty minutes, and expect to be smashed inside. Literally.

Name:
Yellow Line - North Avenue Station
Address:
at Epifanio delos Santos Ave. (btwn North Ave. & TriNoma Access Rd.), 1104 Quezon City, Quezon City, Philippines
TEL:
+63 2 929 5347
HP:
Official Foursquare.com

2. LRT

LRT 1 (Central Terminal Station), Foursquare.com

LRT 1 (Central Terminal Station), Foursquare.com

The LRT or light rail train has two lines - LRT 1 and LRT 2. LRT 1 is one of the oldest trains in the metro, with its operations first established between 1984 and 1985. It has twenty stations and runs on almost twenty kilometers. LRT 2 has 11 stations running on 13.8 km. The two stations meet in Doroteo Jose for LRT 1 and Recto for LRT 2, though you would still need a bit of walking to do in order to transfer from one train station to the other.

Name:
LRT 1 (Central Terminal Station)
Address:
at Mayor Antonio Villegas Rd. (btwn Quezon Blvd. & Natividad Almeda-Lopez St.), 1002 Manila, City of Manila, Philippines
TEL:
+63 2 853 0041
HP:
Official Foursquare.com

3. Bus

EDSA – Magallanes Bus Stop, Foursquare.com

EDSA – Magallanes Bus Stop, Foursquare.com

Buses are the kings of the highways in Manila. Not only do they operate within the metro, they are also doing provincial routes. They also have the fastest drivers in the whole of Manila.

There are two kinds of buses - one with AC and one without. The one without AC is cheaper and sometimes the seats don't even come with foams. There is either a conductor that takes your payment after you've found a seat, or sometimes if you ride in the terminal there are collectors even before you ride the bus. Buses in the metro get packed, like really packed. If it's a provincial bus, they don't allow people to stand up inside, though its up to the discretion of the driver. Even though there are designated bus stops in Manila, some drivers still pick up passengers anywhere they wish, but there are consequences to doing this, especially if there are traffic cops nearby.

Name:
EDSA - Magallanes Bus Stop
Address:
Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, Makati City, Makati City, Philippines
HP:
Foursquare.com

4. Jeeps aka the infamous Jeepney

Jeepneys are the cheapest way to go around in Manila, but it's also the most difficult to figure out for a foreigner. There is a specific route for each jeep. Sometimes, the jeepney driver even makes his own route if he sees there's traffic or if he asks his passengers and nobody answers that they are going to this place, he changes his route. And there are so many routes to begin with! So you have to do intense research if you plan to ride jeepneys in the Philippines.

Name:
Quezon Memorial Circle
Address:
Elliptical Rd, 1101 Quezon City, Quezon City, Philippines
HP:
Official Foursquare.com

5. Taxis

España Boulevard, Foursquare.com

Taxis are probably the most convenient way for you to go around Manila. But take note that it's also the most expensive one. If you're also not in luck, some drivers take advantage of you not knowing where you're going, so they actually take a longer route to be able to double up the meter. While other drivers ask for more money because they will say the place that you want to go to has extreme traffic. But everywhere in Manila has traffic, so what difference does it make?

Name:
España Boulevard
Address:
P.Noval, Manila, City of Manila, Philippines
HP:
Foursquare.com

Conclusion

Riding public transportation in Manila is not for the fainthearted. You need patience, an extra lot of it, and a few Tagalog words would also make the trip easy. You would need water to battle the heat and an umbrella just in case it rains as you're probably going to have to walk a lot if you missed your stop. Which is most likely to happen if you're not with a Manilenyo.

Author

Geninna
5 things I can't live without: coffee, books, my iPod, wifi, and my husband :D Born and raised in Manila, Philippines but I've lived in Qatar, Indonesia, and the UAE. I am currently living in Romania, and I have been on vacations to Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Vietnam :) And does a stop over in Bahrain and Germany count?