Car Hire & Getting Around the Philippines for 59 days

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Car Hire & Getting Around the Philippines for 59 days


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Old 19th October 2014, 02:25 AM
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I would appreciate some advice on car hire and getting around the Philippines. In order to get relevant feedback, I figure it’s best to explain what I’m aiming to do first; so please bear with me whilst I try to do that. My wife and I shall be arriving in Manila in Jan 2015 on a 59-day visa. We regard ourselves as fairly seasoned expats and travellers, having lived and worked in the Middle East for over 10 years and travelled world wide, including pack packing for 6-months through developing countries such as India (and the Philippines many years ago). Still fit, healthy and enjoying life, we are now considering retiring to the Philippines, so the purpose/ aim of our trip is to visit as many locations as is reasonably possible within the given period and identify a location suitable for our retirement. Having said that, we have no intention of racing around from location to location, as in our experience, this only serves to tick a load of boxes and one ends up learning very little about the people or the locations. With so many places to see, we’ve decided that it’s advisable to choose only a few of our preferred locations and check those out. As we initially feel drawn to the Central/ Southern Philippines, we want to check out Davao, Cebu, Bacolod and Iloilo first, time permitting.

I’ve read loads of articles on various websites advising visitors/ tourists against driving a car in Manila and I get that. We shall use taxis and jeepneys to get around Manila. However, when it comes to Davao and the places mentioned above (we intend to catch an internal flight from Manila down to Davao or Cebu), we would like the freedom that comes with having a hired car. For example, we like the concept of being able to plonk our suitcases in the boot of a car and driving! Not booking hotels in advance, but simply driving up to one that we like the look of and if it’s unsuitable, just driving on to the next one. Having the freedom of being able to explore the surrounding areas of the large cities at our leisure. The benefits of being able to check out different areas for potential retirement locations, in detail if we want, without having to catch a string of jeepneys or depend on taxis.

I believe the flexibility of having a car to get around for our purpose cannot be overstated. I’m not going to mention the negatives because you guys will probably do that. As soon as we’ve seen enough of one particular area, we are considering returning the hire car and then travelling/ flying to the next location where we would start the process again. The thing is:
(1) Will this method of travel work in the Philippines?
(2) If you don’t agree with the car hire concept, how would you go about exploring the areas mentioned above, bearing in mind that we want to be as free, independent and flexible as possible in order to achieve our aim? (aim mentioned above)
(3) What do you perceive to be the negatives/ benefits of our plan to hire different cars at different locations, bearing in mind that we are continually moving on and cars usually have to be returned to the original pick-up-point?
(4) Can you recommend any decent, reliable, honest and reasonable car hire companies, either national or local?
(5) Are there any particular ‘quirks’ or scams for that matter, related to hiring cars in the Philippines that we should be aware of?
(6) We have valid UK driving licences. How long are they valid for in the Philippines?

I appreciate that local transport is supposed to be frequent in most places and inexpensive. However, please remember that we only have 59 days on our first visit and would like to make best use of our time. If we decide to settle in the Philippines, we shall have plenty of time to enjoy the jeepney and taxi experience at that stage.

Finally, our itinerary is flexible; if we find it is all becoming too much, rather than stick to a schedule, we shall simply get to a nice place, relax and enjoy ourselves. The most important aspect is to make sure that we have an enjoyable experience. Any advice from members already living in the Philippines would be appreciated.

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Old 19th October 2014, 04:41 AM
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Originally Posted by mabrouk View Post
The thing is:
(1) Will this method of travel work in the Philippines?
(2) If you don’t agree with the car hire concept, how would you go about exploring the areas mentioned above, bearing in mind that we want to be as free, independent and flexible as possible in order to achieve our aim? (aim mentioned above)
(3) What do you perceive to be the negatives/ benefits of our plan to hire different cars at different locations, bearing in mind that we are continually moving on and cars usually have to be returned to the original pick-up-point?
(4) Can you recommend any decent, reliable, honest and reasonable car hire companies, either national or local?
(5) Are there any particular ‘quirks’ or scams for that matter, related to hiring cars in the Philippines that we should be aware of?
(6) We have valid UK driving licences. How long are they valid for in the Philippines?

I appreciate that local transport is supposed to be frequent in most places and inexpensive. However, please remember that we only have 59 days on our first visit and would like to make best use of our time. If we decide to settle in the Philippines, we shall have plenty of time to enjoy the jeepney and taxi experience at that stage.

Finally, our itinerary is flexible; if we find it is all becoming too much, rather than stick to a schedule, we shall simply get to a nice place, relax and enjoy ourselves. The most important aspect is to make sure that we have an enjoyable experience. Any advice from members already living in the Philippines would be appreciated.
1. In most parts of the Philippines, this method of travel will work but I also suggest that you hire a driver at the same time, it would be worth it.
2. If you don't use a rental car and driver, there are other methods of travel, bus, jeepney, tricycle, taxi, etc., cost of which will vary from place to place according to distance traveled.
3. All vehicles rented must be returned to the original rental location and the fuel tank filled.
4. You would need to research car rental locations located where you intend to travel. Remember that the Philippines doesn't have car rental businesses that are nation-wide covered.
5. There can be, you just have to be extremely careful, even with the taxi system.
6. They should be good for the length of time you will be here.
7. If you do your own driving, remember that driving in the Philippines is the same as in the USA.

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Old 19th October 2014, 08:00 AM
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Unsure of your budget but there's a bus system that could save a ton of money and get you to your desired spot, once there you can use the tricycle guys, short runs might cost a 12 peso's per person, longer runs 40 peso's total for both of you. Stick close to the highways you can catch a bus either direction to the mall or where ever, ask for bus stop locations or simply stand on the side of the hwy or major road and wait for a bus, you might need to ask questions, most people can figure out what your saying but not all sadly so there's gonna be a communication problem.

This isn't your first trip to the Philippines, it's been a while unsure of how long but.....Oh boy....once you exit the terminal its a free for all, locals standing out there to help you with luggage, they want tips, not just one guy, two guys carrying the same bag and wanting money. It's not called the worst airport without cause, fair warning even to seasoned travelers get ready to get BBQ'd.

You want to carry and get as much small change as you can, coins 100, 50 and 20 peso bills ect.. people don't have much money so they can't make change or they just want you to pay up, this can cost you and add up, banks don't give out change, they hand out 1000 or 500 peso bills, same with ATM machines, usually 1000 peso bills.

I prefer to drive here because I want some piece of mind and don't see any benefit in a stranger taking me around the town, most of these drivers go to all the usual tourist traps and have no clue where the cool spots are because their dirt poor and many of their customers are Philippine citizens, they're not as adventurous as Westerner's, the driver claim's to be experts but it's all wash, it's like going to horse riding ranch, you take off on one side of the building and you end up on the there side, same route. Your correct on flexibility and if your out of Manila I think it would be great to rent out a vehicle.

Driving here is fun but keep in mind if you hit someone and it wasn't your fault but 100% their fault no matter what, pedestrian, drunk driver, heart attack victim, J-Walking, think of any possible situation, it's gonna be your fault if he gets hurt or killed.

Lastly patience is a virtue I've had to take to the extreme along with some lost personal space, peace and quiet.

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Last edited by M.C.A.; 19th October 2014 at 08:03 AM.
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Old 19th October 2014, 02:16 PM
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This is timely. The wife and I are going there to spend Christmas with her family(I know. Insert witty comments about family here ). We were thinking of renting a car outside of Manila to get around this time.

Rental costs are insane it seems like.

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Old 19th October 2014, 03:50 PM
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Rental costs are insane it seems like.
If you're saying this then you know Hertz and Avis etc are in the Philippines. Europcar is the one I always use but with a driver and just to get me from NAIA to Angeles.

Myself, I've considered buying a car for one of my brother in laws with the stipulation it's mine to use while on vacation. I have the benefit of knowing these guys for 30+ years so know they're trustworthy enough for this to work though.

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Old 19th October 2014, 10:53 PM
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[QUOTE=JimnNila143;5520353] 1. In most parts of the Philippines, this method of travel will work but I also suggest that you hire a driver at the same time, it would be worth it.

JimnNila143, thanks for your direct response to my queries. Could you please elaborate further on the reasons why you feel it’s worth hiring a driver? Have you gone down that route yourself in the Philippines? I can see that it may be useful to have someone with you that speaks the language and of course, they will know their way around better than us. There is also the added bonus of not having to worry about accidents as I assume responsibility for that remains with the driver. However, I’m weighing this up against my own experience and what mcalleyboy states re the drivers not always being as expert as they make out and often aren’t on the same page as to what Westerner’s are actually looking for. We can’t always blame the drivers of course for not knowing what we want because we all enjoy different things. For example, my wife and I belong to what appears to be becoming a rare breed these days i.e. we really don’t like spending time in malls shopping for clothes etc and certainly not for ‘touristy tacky’ gifts etc. In many places, taxi drivers get commissions for taking you to gift shops and tourist traps and it can become a real pain. Visiting fresh fish markets, food stalls and supermarkets for getting ingredients to cook our own food is a different matter, that we do enjoy; however, as we’ll be staying in hotels, that won’t be a consideration during our 59 day stay. Then there’s the additional cost to consider, not only for hiring the driver, but the associated costs of providing his food and accommodation along the way as well as any entrance fees that incur. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not miserable when it comes to money and we’re willing to pay for something if it’s worthwhile. When we were in Thailand, we hired a driver and he was a great guy. He could speak English which was key, he was able to help us with ordering different local foods etc and he was extremely flexible all round. All in all, it was a great experience. However, I have known friends who haven’t been so lucky, and they suffered from some of the points raised above. I do believe that if you manage to get the right driver, at the right price and they speak reasonable English, hiring one with the vehicle can indeed improve the quality of one’s short stay in a country. As we shall have to go through the car hiring process on a number of occasions, I’m slightly concerned about the hit and miss aspect of getting a good driver and the potential additional costs.

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Old 20th October 2014, 12:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcalleyboy View Post
Unsure of your budget but there's a bus system that could save a ton of money and get you to your desired spot, once there you can use the tricycle guys, short runs might cost a 12 peso's per person, longer runs 40 peso's total for both of you. Stick close to the highways you can catch a bus either direction to the mall or where ever, ask for bus stop locations or simply stand on the side of the hwy or major road and wait for a bus, you might need to ask questions, most people can figure out what your saying but not all sadly so there's gonna be a communication problem.

This isn't your first trip to the Philippines, it's been a while unsure of how long but.....Oh boy....once you exit the terminal its a free for all, locals standing out there to help you with luggage, they want tips, not just one guy, two guys carrying the same bag and wanting money. It's not called the worst airport without cause, fair warning even to seasoned travelers get ready to get BBQ'd.

You want to carry and get as much small change as you can, coins 100, 50 and 20 peso bills ect.. people don't have much money so they can't make change or they just want you to pay up, this can cost you and add up, banks don't give out change, they hand out 1000 or 500 peso bills, same with ATM machines, usually 1000 peso bills.

I prefer to drive here because I want some piece of mind and don't see any benefit in a stranger taking me around the town, most of these drivers go to all the usual tourist traps and have no clue where the cool spots are because their dirt poor and many of their customers are Philippine citizens, they're not as adventurous as Westerner's, the driver claim's to be experts but it's all wash, it's like going to horse riding ranch, you take off on one side of the building and you end up on the there side, same route. Your correct on flexibility and if your out of Manila I think it would be great to rent out a vehicle.

Driving here is fun but keep in mind if you hit someone and it wasn't your fault but 100% their fault no matter what, pedestrian, drunk driver, heart attack victim, J-Walking, think of any possible situation, it's gonna be your fault if he gets hurt or killed.

Lastly patience is a virtue I've had to take to the extreme along with some lost personal space, peace and quiet.
Mcalleyboy, many thanks for your detailed post, most appreciated. For your information, we are not on a tight budget per se, yet at the same time we are always careful with our money. We like to think that we’re generous with our family and friends and don’t mind spending money on essential, quality items.

I hear what you say about ‘saving a ton of money’ if we used the bus system and tricycle guys option. Another member has mentioned that he found car hire to be expensive in the Philippines and from the online research that I’ve done, I’m inclined to agree; hiring a car appears to be the most expensive consideration after accommodation – depending on one’s choice of accommodation of course. However, we’re already spending a large amount of money on flights etc to get to the Philippines, and we don’t want to ‘penny-pinch’ in the wrong areas. As of the time of writing, we’re inclined to concur with your view that hiring a car outside of Manila is the way to go in our situation. We don’t want to lose sight of the fact that we’re going to the Philippines to explore potential locations for our retirement; getting around easily and comfortably is a key component of that process.

Anyhow, thanks for your tips on using public transport. We shall definitely be making use of it, if and when we actually retire to the Philippines.

Your advice/ warning on arriving at NAIA is valid and noted, thanks. I believe that when travelling, people are at their most vulnerable around airports and bus terminals. Basically I work on the premise that 90% of people who approach me at these locations may have an ulterior motive for doing so. When one moves away from airports and bus terminals, the figures are reversed and at least 90% of the people you meet are usually very genuine and helpful. I hope members don’t read too much into that one, it’s just about being extra careful when travelling.

Sound advice too re having small bills available for tips etc. I’ve always found there’s a balance to be struck with tipping. In some cities I’ve been to, the main problem was dealing with beggars. There are those that try to ignore them and refuse to give a single ‘penny’. Very often the result was that the beggar would continue to follow them around for ages or if they were on a train, just sit there on the floor in front of them, staring into their eyes for half an hour or longer, pleading for money and trying to make them feel uncomfortable. Others opt to hand over a few ‘pennies’ which is practically nothing to the Western tourist but gladly accepted by the beggar and they move on, leaving the traveller to get on with enjoying their holiday. Clearly one cannot tip everyone they meet but there’s a balance to be struck between paying a few pennies/ pesos to solve a problem and paying nothing, but giving oneself a lot of grief. I won’t go into the morals or the principles involved with these issues and it really is up to the individual traveller as to how they deal with it.

NAIA sounds like it’s going to be another ‘experience’. Thanks for the ‘heads up’ on our expected ‘greeting’. Forewarned is forearmed as they say.

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Old 20th October 2014, 12:38 AM
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[quote=mabrouk;5524993]
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimnNila143 View Post
1. In most parts of the Philippines, this method of travel will work but I also suggest that you hire a driver at the same time, it would be worth it.

JimnNila143, thanks for your direct response to my queries. Could you please elaborate further on the reasons why you feel it’s worth hiring a driver? Have you gone down that route yourself in the Philippines? I can see that it may be useful to have someone with you that speaks the language and of course, they will know their way around better than us. There is also the added bonus of not having to worry about accidents as I assume responsibility for that remains with the driver. However, I’m weighing this up against my own experience and what mcalleyboy states re the drivers not always being as expert as they make out and often aren’t on the same page as to what Westerner’s are actually looking for. We can’t always blame the drivers of course for not knowing what we want because we all enjoy different things. For example, my wife and I belong to what appears to be becoming a rare breed these days i.e. we really don’t like spending time in malls shopping for clothes etc and certainly not for ‘touristy tacky’ gifts etc. In many places, taxi drivers get commissions for taking you to gift shops and tourist traps and it can become a real pain. Visiting fresh fish markets, food stalls and supermarkets for getting ingredients to cook our own food is a different matter, that we do enjoy; however, as we’ll be staying in hotels, that won’t be a consideration during our 59 day stay. Then there’s the additional cost to consider, not only for hiring the driver, but the associated costs of providing his food and accommodation along the way as well as any entrance fees that incur. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not miserable when it comes to money and we’re willing to pay for something if it’s worthwhile. When we were in Thailand, we hired a driver and he was a great guy. He could speak English which was key, he was able to help us with ordering different local foods etc and he was extremely flexible all round. All in all, it was a great experience. However, I have known friends who haven’t been so lucky, and they suffered from some of the points raised above. I do believe that if you manage to get the right driver, at the right price and they speak reasonable English, hiring one with the vehicle can indeed improve the quality of one’s short stay in a country. As we shall have to go through the car hiring process on a number of occasions, I’m slightly concerned about the hit and miss aspect of getting a good driver and the potential additional costs.
Mabrouk your not a rare bread and you do sound like a seasoned expat. These drivers claim to speak English, example my last driver his mother was a teacher and we didn't speak much the first time he took us to Manila but on the second run I wanted to change that, boy was that a mistake, and like you I prefer shopping where the tourist don't go the prices are 1/3 or less and the experience is so much better.

There are spots in Manila, I don't live in Manila, I'm almost positive this 5 story local yocal mall is located in "Bulacan", parking is on the roof, this is where the vendors go to buy their clothes, curtains, you name it, so the prices are very low. It's a mall but a local mall and tucked into some sort of alley..lol, you won't see any tourist they also don't have the chain restaurants but we ate at a spot that had BBQ meats on a stick (better than stuff on the street) more exotic and local dishes and the flavor was awesome, you could order 1-2 liter sized bottles of soft drinks, with ice the price was dirt cheap for everything, the driver on the second run pulled through after all...., he didn't want to take us to the Divisoria area, I wanted to go there, that's the market area in and around the Binondo also known as China town (low priced wine, can be purchased by the case and the taste is fantastic) but the food wasn't stellar in China town.. it's cooked by locals and it lacks that flavor that I'm used to in Singapore, driver was worried about crime and lack of law enforcement or no law enforcement (main reason) the van was a brand new Toyota, best air-conditioning out of any van I've taken a trip in, the AC doesn't give up when in traffic and stopped in heavy traffic, I've traveled in the Mitizubishi, Hyundai both dud's when it come's to AC.
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Old 20th October 2014, 02:12 AM
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Mabrook,

The driver I am talking about is the one who works for the car rental business that you rent a vehicle from. The only other way would be if your wife has a family member who has a driver's license and knows how to drive and knows where places are located. Whenever my wife and I need the use of a vehicle and a driver, we had a friend who owned a vehicle, an SUV, who took us where we needed to go. We paid him well and he was with us all the time we were away.
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Old 20th October 2014, 03:25 AM
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[quote=mcalleyboy;5525257]
Quote:
Originally Posted by mabrouk View Post

Mabrouk your not a rare bread and you do sound like a seasoned expat. These drivers claim to speak English, example my last driver his mother was a teacher and we didn't speak much the first time he took us to Manila but on the second run I wanted to change that, boy was that a mistake, and like you I prefer shopping where the tourist don't go the prices are 1/3 or less and the experience is so much better.

There are spots in Manila, I don't live in Manila, I'm almost positive this 5 story local yocal mall is located in "Bulacan", parking is on the roof, this is where the vendors go to buy their clothes, curtains, you name it, so the prices are very low. It's a mall but a local mall and tucked into some sort of alley..lol, you won't see any tourist they also don't have the chain restaurants but we ate at a spot that had BBQ meats on a stick (better than stuff on the street) more exotic and local dishes and the flavor was awesome, you could order 1-2 liter sized bottles of soft drinks, with ice the price was dirt cheap for everything, the driver on the second run pulled through after all...., he didn't want to take us to the Divisoria area, I wanted to go there, that's the market area in and around the Binondo also known as China town (low priced wine, can be purchased by the case and the taste is fantastic) but the food wasn't stellar in China town.. it's cooked by locals and it lacks that flavor that I'm used to in Singapore, driver was worried about crime and lack of law enforcement or no law enforcement (main reason) the van was a brand new Toyota, best air-conditioning out of any van I've taken a trip in, the AC doesn't give up when in traffic and stopped in heavy traffic, I've traveled in the Mitizubishi, Hyundai both dud's when it come's to AC.
My wife told me that the mall I talked about above is in "Pasay" Manila.

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Last edited by M.C.A.; 20th October 2014 at 03:26 AM. Reason: add correct location
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