Sunday 30 September 2012

Driving in Manila

Driving around Manila is an adventure. It's not at all like traffic back home.

Jeepneys are a very common means of transportation.

We got into the city around midnight and even at that time there was one point where it ground to a halt. During the day it is insane. A few days ago we got stuck mid-afternoon. I think it took us about forty-five minutes to travel about two kilometres.

Sunday morning traffic. Also, I want the S III.

One thing I noticed right away and was confirmed by a local driver is that the lane markings, when they exist, are mere suggestions. The rule is that if you are a nose ahead of another vehicle, you have the right-of-way. Lanes have virtually no meaning.

Another thing is that honking is not rude; it is simply communication. If you are coming up behind another vehicle you need to let it know that you are there, so you give a few quick honks. Otherwise it could drive into your "lane".

We got lost.
Speed limits are rare, from what I've seen. Usually traffic is so jammed up that you can barely move. If you happen to have a clear road ahead of you, floor it! We got up to about 100 km/hr in a taxi one day on a regular city street.

Even red lights don't necessarily mean you have to stop. Maybe slow down, honk a few times and merge into whatever traffic there is.

One of the many rivers that flow through the city.

Because of the unpredictability of traffic, people are more likely to courteous and helpful. People allow others to get where they need to go. At one point we were on a very narrow side street where a truck had parked on one side. Our side and on-coming vehicles couldn't quite squeeze by and we were stuck. We saw a guy get on a motorbike and thought "oh no, he's going to try to cut in and we'll be more stuck!" But when he saw our mess he got off the bike and stood in the middle and directed traffic so that we could pass through and carry on.

It was a street like these where we got stuck.

Speaking of motorbikes... I'm pretty sure there are no rules for bikes and scooters. They can weave through traffic as they like and even go the wrong way up a one-way.

More Jeepneys.

We do not plan to drive in Manila but might borrow a car when we get to Davao. It is way less crowded!

Either Pasig or Makati City up ahead. There are tall buildings everywhere.


  1. Cool Bonnie! I love the blog - I get to experience the Philippines vicariously through you :-)