Philippine buses come in all shapes and sizes. Bus depots are dotted throughout towns and the countryside, and most buses will stop if you wave them down.
Bus 'terminals' also run the gamut. Some are well-secured large garagelike structures with destinations clearly signposted and even ticket booths, whereas others are nothing more than a few run-down outdoor sheds with drivers clamouring for your business.
More services run in the morning – buses on unsealed roads may only run in the morning, especially in remote areas. Night services, including deluxe 27-seaters, are common between Manila and major provincial hubs in Luzon, and in Mindanao.
Air-con minivans (along with jeepneys) shadow bus routes in many parts of the Philippines (especially Bicol, Leyte, Cebu, Palawan and Mindanao) and in some cases have replaced buses altogether. However, you may have to play a waiting game until the vehicles are full.
Minivans are a lot quicker than buses, but also more expensive and cramped.
As in most countries, it pays to mind your baggage while buses load and unload.
Reservations aren't usually necessary; however, they're essential on the deluxe night buses heading to/from Manila (book these at least two days in advance, if possible, at the bus terminal).
Bus and van tickets on some popular routes – such as Manila–Banaue (North Luzon), Manila–Bicol (Southeast Luzon) and Puerto Princesa–El Nido (Palawan) – can be reserved online through booking sites such as www.pinoytravel.com.ph or www.biyaheroes.com.
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If time is short, driving yourself is a quicker option than relying on jeepneys and other public transport, but it’s not for the faint of heart. The manic Filipino driving style is on full display in Manila, and driving on the congested streets of the capital definitely takes some getting used...