Exchange to Ateneo University de Manila, The Philippines
Semester 2, 2017
Travelling in the Philippines is cheap. With so many destinations to visit, there is no reason for you not to travel when you are in the nation known as the Pearl of the Orient. This nickname was given to the country to describe the beauty that one can only witness there as well as the strength that Filipinos have embodied throughout the nation’s history. If I can give you one advise to keep in mind throughout your whole stay, it would be this: Do not deprive yourself of side travel once you’ve done the hard work that studying requires of you. It can do great things to your mental well-being, and as cliche as it sounds, you may even learn things about yourself that you’ve overlooked. It will put you out of your comfort zone. It will teach you new things, and even if it doesn’t, I guarantee you that you will meet many people from all walks of life who will give you insight into their lives and maybe even change your outlook – because I definitely have!
There are a few different modes of transport you can use during your stay in the Philippines. However, the type of transport you choose to take will largely depend on the distance of your desired destination. For short distances, you can catch tricycles. This type of transport is only good for a quick run to the shops, or even to your university if you live close to campus. For slightly longer distances, you may want to hop on an iconic Filipino jeepney – this is the cheapest form of public transport in the Philippines, however it is more difficult to get a hang of. Of course, there are two ride-sharing apps available – Uber and Grab – which are priced very reasonably. I used this quite often to travel to surrounding cities within the National Capital Region where Manila is. So be sure to download the apps on your phone before you go! The Australian Uber app can be used in the Philippines.
For longer distances, it is best to catch a bus. You can literally catch a bus to any part of the Philippines, . This is the main mode of transport for long distances. For what you get, these buses are priced very reasonably. I was able to travel from the Quezon City Cubao Bus Terminals up to Baguio City and Alaminos (Hundred Islands) for less than $10AUD. You can even catch a bus to Batangas and catch a ferry to Puerto Galera, one of the most popular Filipino beaches, for less than 15 AUD. However the downside is that the travel time takes a while, and takes even longer if you get caught in traffic. In these cases, it is better to leave very early in the morning to avoid the work rush hour.
Lastly, you can travel by plane. There are many budget airlines you can score cheap flights with, however the most popular airlines are Cebu Pacific and Air Asia. I was able to book a flight from Manila to Cebu with Air Asia below $50, and I was told that it’s usually even cheaper when you book months in advance. I was also able to book return flights from Manila to Boracay for less than $200. It is best to download their apps on your phone for easy access. You can browse available flights, check in to your flights and even receive your boarding passes, through the apps – which is a great thing when you are running behind time, as the manual check in lines can be really long and Manila traffic can be unforgiving.