Tara, Biyahe Tayo! How We Get Around the Philippines Over Land

The Philippines is an archipelago with regions that each have their own inviting destinations and interesting cultural heritage. The challenge with exploring this beautiful country is the fact that it is composed of 7,107 islands that are geographically separated from one another. 

To bridge the scattered islands of the Philippines, people have come up with innovative transport vehicles - transcending both land and sea borders and have become representative of one region's culture, tradition, and way of life.

Read on to learn about how you can travel around the Philippines by land, sea, and air.



Campfire Crates_Philippine Transportation_Jeepney_Wikimedia Commons

Being the primary and most popular mode of transportation in Metro Manila, jeepneys (or dyip) flock the roads of the metro almost 24/7. While these have evolved over the years, the most popular design remains to be the sarao, popularized by Leonardo Sarao’s Sarao Motors. Sarao jeepneys have a unique and prominent look and have become symbolic of Filipino culture.

Designed with two side-facing seats, one Philippine jeepney can board 18 persons, on average. There are three popular ways to ride a dyip: be seated inside (face to face… or knee to knee with other passengers), hang at the back, or ride on top (topload).


Passengers pay by saying “bayad” (payment). This initiates passing of the fare to the next passenger, then on to the next until it reaches the driver. 
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While jeepneys travel within cities, buses are often used to get from one province or city to another. Because buses are bigger than jeepneys, they are the preferred form of transportation when travelling long distances.

Once you get on a bus, a konduktor collects your fare and gives you a ticket. It is important to always have your bus stub with you because an inspector gets on the bus to check whether everyone has paid or not. So, unless you want to pay again, don’t lose your ticket!


Some buses get to travel by sea from Luzon to Visayas to Mindanao (the Philippines’ three main islands) through the Ro-Ro system. Read more about Ro-Ro’s below.


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Trains are popular in a lot of countries, including the Philippines. In fact, there are three main train systems in the Philippines: 

  • Light Railway Transit (LRT)
  • Manila Railway Transit (MRT)
  • Philippine National Railway (PNR)



The PNR is a train line owned by the government with one end stationed in Tutuban, and the other in Legazpi, Albay. It had a north station in La Union before the line was devastated by typhoons.

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Tricycle, Pedicab, and Motorela

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Probably one of the most unique forms of transportation in the Philippines is the tricycle, the Filipino sidecar. There are different versions of this type of vehicle: the manual one which is locally called “pedicab”, and the one with a trailer at the back, referred to as “motorela”. 


The Philippines’ motorela is similar to a rickshaw or to Thailand’s tuktuk.
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Habal-habal is popular in towns situated in the mountainous provinces of the Philippines. Because three- or four-wheeled vehicles usually cannot penetrate narrow, steep, and, sometimes, bumpy roads in remote villages, people found an alternative in the form of the habal-habal. A habal-habal is a motorcycle with extended seats either at the back or on the sides. Side seats are added by hanging a long wooden plank across the motorcycle’s back seat. 



Habal-habals with extended back seats can accommodate up to 5 persons, while those with hanging wooden planks can seat (and balance) up to 13 persons!



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The kalesa, from the Spanish word “calesa”, is a horse-drawn carriage that served as the primary mode of transportation for Filipino elites in the 18th century. Today, kalesas still ply the streets of Manila, this time, mainly carrying tourists who want to explore the historically significant parts of the city. 


The coachman, or the person who drives the carriage is called a kutsero.
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Campfire Crates_Philippine Transportation_Kalabaw_Wikimedia Commons


Having existed longer than all other vehicles, carabaos or kalabaws are reliable in both farm work and transportation. Kalabaws do not only render agricultural labor but are also useful in transporting goods and people using a sled at the back.



 The towns of Pulilan (Bulacan), Angono (Rizal), and San Isidro (Nueva Ecija) celebrate Carabao Festival. It is a two-day celebration, usually held on May 14th and 15th to honor San Isidro, the patron saint of farmers. 

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Paul Lewin


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