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roads in Manila July 26, 2018

An Expat’s Guide to Navigating the Roads of Manila

Manila’s roads have a reputation for being frustrating — but that’s not really the case. Compared to roads in most Asian countries, those in Manila are actually some of the easiest to navigate. As long as you know what to expect, driving around Manila can be a cinch.

Getting your Ride

To be completely honest, public transport in the Manila tend to get harrowing, so renting a car is your best option for getting around the city. Contact a car rental company such as rentcarmanila.com and ask for a sedan, an SUV, or whatever you’re comfortable driving in. Pick a service, show some identification, do a bit of paperwork, use your card, and you’re good to go.

You don’t need to get a special license as long as you’re staying for less than 90 days. A GPS in your car or on your phone is essential to navigate the numerous one-way streets and to avoid congested roads, so make sure your car has one or get one on your phone.

What to Expect

Manila roads can get chaotic, especially during rush hours. Pedestrians tend to cross almost anywhere, even in highways. Motorcycles are prevalent and riders are known to carelessly weave in and out of traffic. Some drivers tend to cut you off, not when you’re driving in high speeds, but as you’re stuck in traffic. You may also find a driver who will slowly inch his car to your lane, so he can change lanes. Moreover, how your car’s plate number ends determines the days you are allowed to drive.

It’s Actually Quite Easy

With everything that might surprise you aside, driving in Manila isn’t that difficult. Street signs are in English and it’s easy to ask for directions. Practically everyone speaks English, and even when you mispronounce street names, people are likely to understand. Plan your trips ahead to avoid the rush hour. If you can, avoid hitting the roads at 6-8am and 6-9pm.

Manila roads can be confusing and a bit chaotic to the uninformed. But with a little knowledge, planning, and patience — you won’t have to worry about driving in Manila.