The Philippines is a beautiful country, no doubt about it. Breathtaking beaches, stunning landscapes, amazing people and some of the most incredible sunsets. There’s only one problem: travel around the Philippines is really a nightmare. Composed by more than 7,000 islands, the only way to move around the country is either by boat or boarding on a flight. But that’s not it, even on the land the choices are not many.
When talking about transportations (if you don’t have a bike) it all comes down to two options: taxi or jeepney, the local transports.
The jeepney is, in substance, the Filipino version of our buses. And to be fair it kinda looks like one. After WWII, the American Jeep was the only vehicle available in the country. With the add of some color, a couple of benches and a touch of Filipino craziness, the vehicle became the number one transport in the country.
Travel around the Philippines by Taxi or Jeepney?
Taxi fare in the Philippines usually start from Peso 40 (0.8$). We say usually because they should start from that. I mean they should, not they do, so make sure you check before you take off. Then the rate will be around P3.50 every 500 meters. One more thing; when you arrive at destination don’t forget to ask for your change, for real. Filipino drivers tend to “forget” about your change.
On the other side, Jeepneys are cheap having their fare fixed on around Peso 7 for the first 4 Km and consequent rate of P1.50/km. As you can see there is a big difference, however, there is a thing you need to bear in mind: it’s common practice in the Philippines not to accept big notes like 500 Pesos, so have ready your change in coins or you won’t get on board. And same as the taxi, ask for your change.
Route: Now this is a tricky one. It really depends on where you have to go and who the driver is.
Taxis are undoubtedly quicker and unless you’re going in the middle of nowhere, the driver should know the way to go. Some drivers are really helpful and willing to take you around in places that aren’t even signed on the map without overcharging you. However, some other drivers like to play a game called “I know better than Google Maps” and they will take some detours to increase the fair. Now, this can become really annoying, especially when you realize you are going in the opposite direction to your destination, so be firm and don’t be scared to raise your voice a little bit.
Jeepneys are much easier to take as they work as our buses back home, the same route up and down all day long. With the difference that there are no bus stops. So make sure you know where it is going and be prepared as you may need to take 2 or 3 Jeepneys to get to your stop. You may also find yourself waving to or chasing a Jeepney, but a little exercise killed nobody.
Convenience and comfort: When in the Philippines, convenience and transports rarely go well in the same sentence, but like The Rolling Stones say, ‘you can’t always get what you want’, right?
Taxis are obviously quite comfortable and convenient, they have aircon (which sometimes is essential in the country), there is space for yourself and your luggage and bags, you can decide the pick-up and the drop-off points and, if you’re lucky, get to hear some nice Filipino music.
On the other side, Jeepneys are everything but comfortable. The fact that it can carry 15 people (only on the benches, nevermind those who stand) it’s already a big ‘No’. Plus if you’re taller than 1.90m or if you have a big luggage forget about the Jeepney, there is physically no space for you. But what can you say, that’s the Filipino way, you can’t get a more authentic experience than that.
Safety: Regarding safeness, both of these two types of transport can be considered safe.
Taxis are secure transports in the Philippines, also counting that every taxi driver has a license with a number on it and, as we’ve been told, for any complaint about a certain degree they may lose their job forever as well as being jailed. In the same way, we feel confident to say Jeepneys are safe, they’re just so big and go so slow that it’s basically impossible to hurt yourself. But please always take care.