For the uninitiated, Manila jeepneys can be a challenging experience. The long-wheel-base jeeps offer a bewildering array of destinations and, though these destinations are written on signboards stuck in the window, few people arrive exactly where they intend to on their first jeepney ride. However, if you stick to the more common routes, you shouldn’t go too far astray.
Heading south from Quiapo Church, jeepneys to ‘Baclaran’ pass Ermita/Malate along MH del Pilar St, continue close to the CCP, cross EDSA and end up at the Baclaran LRT stop. From Quiapo Church you can also take ‘Kalaw’ jeepneys to Ermita.
Heading north from Baclaran, jeepneys pass along Mabini St or Taft Ave, heading off in various directions from Rizal Park:
Manila’s metro system is a good way to avoid Manila’s notorious traffic in air-conditioned comfort during off-peak hours. However it's best to avoid during rush hour when huge crowds make it virtually unusable due to long queues.
The LRT (Light Rail Transit) has two elevated lines. The LRT-1 runs from Monumento in the north to Baclaran in the south, interchanging with the MRT at the corner of EDSA and Taft Ave near Pasay Rotunda. The LRT-2 runs from Recto in the west to Santolan in the east, interchanging with the MRT in Cubao.
The MRT (Metro Rail Transit) travels a south–north route along EDSA. It is handy for getting to and from the Ayala Centre in Makati and to Quezon City.
Electronic farecards are usually good for one trip only; a disingenuous system that produces huge lines at ticket booths during rush hour. Fares (P12 to P15) are dependent on distance. Some stations sell ‘stored-value cards’ worth up to P100, which are good for three months, but these can be hard to find.
Manila has numerous white air-con Toyota UV Express vans that follow similar routes to the jeepneys, picking up and setting down passengers en route. The fare is P30 for long rides and P20 for shorter hops.
Motorised tricycles are useful for short hops around town. Short journeys should cost anywhere from P40 to P50, depending on how well you bargain. Push tricycles, or pedicabs, are a cheaper alternative in a few areas, such as Malate.
At the time of research the Pasig River Ferry was in the process of resuming its water bus service, which will provide a novel way of getting to Intramuros from Makati and Pasig.
Horse-drawn carriages known as kalesa are common in Binondo, Intramuros and to a lesser extent in Malate, where they are used both for tourists and as a form of public transport for locals. Kalesa drivers were once notorious for taking tourists for a (figurative) ride, but nowadays the Intramuros drivers have fixed rates posted on their carriages – it’s P350 per 30 minutes around the walled city. In Binondo (Chinatown) locals still use kalesa so they are cheaper – P200 to P250 to do an hour or so of touring. Carriages usually fit two to four persons and the fee should be good for the entire carriage (not per person).