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Road Travel Survival and Driving in Metro Manila


Driving along EDSA in Guadalupe, Makati City

Most foreign travellers to the Philippines either visit for business or leisure. For both reasons, land transportation eventually becomes a concern. There are many ways to get around the city.

  • public transport ~ bus, jeepney, taxi, light-rail transit (LRT), ferry boat, etc.
  • private transport ~ renting a car or renting a car and hiring a driver


Write the author.


Public transport may be overwhelming for most newly-arrived travellers in Manila due to the heavy traffic and public vehicles are jam-packed with passengers to a very inconvenient level.


One way to safely and conveniently commute around the city is by renting a car. Is it possible for foreigners to get car rentals here to ease their travels? Yes.


Car rental is not a problem. Anyone can rent cars from car rental companies anywhere in the islands as long as the basic requirements are submitted:

  • valid passport

  • driver’s license

  • proof of billing abroad

  • proof of hotel accommodation

  • plane ticket


Sometimes, the requirements differ depending on the rental company, but one must be at least 25 years old to rent a car.


With regards to whether foreigners can drive their rented cars, that is quite another concern altogether. There is no law banning foreigners from driving around the country as long as they have an international driver’s license or a local driver’s license issued by Land Transportation Office in the Philippines.


However, driving conditions here are very different from those found in other countries. In fact, others would say driving conditions here are “unique” and highly stressful.


Driving in the Metropolis and Countryside


Any foreigner who wants to venture into driving in the streets of Manila, for instance, will be shocked into seeing the gargantuan traffic especially during rush hours, and where public vehicle drivers drive at high speeds, often almost crashing onto another vehicle by merely a few inches. In fact, traffic is near to impossible even during non-rush hours. The same is true with other metropolis in the country, like Cebu, Davao, and elsewhere. Instead of enjoying the trip, foreign tourists are likely to get stressed out.


Inner road countryside driving is perhaps more tolerable as long as the foreign tourist does not venture out on the highway where one is often likely to bump onto tricycles and where even carabaos and horses sometimes cross national highways.


The Better Option – Rent A Car With A Driver


The better option is for foreign tourists to rent cars with local drivers. Rental car companies never risk hiring inexperienced drivers. Drivers assigned for tours are often veterans at driving in both major and minor thoroughfares and know the ins and outs of the city–what shortcuts are and aren’t safe.


Local drivers are also familiar with the local scenic spots and apt tourist destinations. They know which restaurants are worth going to for good meals and service. This saves time and money. Best of all, the tourist can just sit back and relax and even take naps in-between trips, forgetting about street directions, traffic laws, and terrible road and traffic conditions.



Author: Jaden Mero 


Photo source:

Manila traffic –





Related post: Traffic Solutions for Metro Manila: A Realistic Approach by Michael Brown





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