Driving in the Philippines as a Tourist

drive in Philippines

Driving in the Philippines can be chaotic at times and not what Westerners are used to. However, as the public transportation system doesn’t reach all areas, tourists often choose to rent a car in the Philippines for the duration of their stay.

Renting a car in the Philippines is straightforward as long as you have a driving license. There are a number of things you should be aware of before you start to drive in the Philippines including driving laws, things to be careful of, and road conditions.

This useful guide will explain all the most important things you need to know to ensure your experience of driving in the Philippines is as smooth as possible.

If you are traveling to the Philippines soon, remember to apply for your travel visa for the Philippines.

Some travelers can enter the Philippines without a visa. Others need to apply in advance either online or at an embassy or consulate. Read this visa policy for the Philippines to find out if you need one.

Is It Safe to Drive a Car in the Philippines?

One of the main concerns tourists have is whether driving in the Philippines is safe.

The road conditions in the Philippines are generally good and car accidents are not more likely than in other countries.

However, to minimize the chances of an incident it is important to keep a number of things in mind.

The best piece of advice is to drive cautiously. Foreign drivers should expect unpredictability from other drivers as well as hot weather and heavy traffic.

Things to watch out for:

  • Drivers often drive through red lights and ignore other signals and signposts
  • There can be a lot of traffic, especially in Manila and other big cities
  • The heat combined with the traffic can lead to cases of road rage so try and keep calm and turn the A/C on
  • There are lots of one-way streets which can catch out tourists
  • Pedestrians walk on highways so watch out for them, especially when going around corners
  • People drive on the left in the Philippines.

Important Philippines Traffic Rules

Many driving laws are similar in every country but here are some of the most common laws which foreign drivers may break in the Philippines:

  • Driving without a valid driving license
  • Not wearing seatbelts
  • Driving an unregistered vehicle
  • Illegal parking
  • Dangerous driving
  • Driving a car with unauthorized equipment.

Can I drive a car in the Philippines with a foreign license?

Yes, you can drive a car in the Philippines with a foreign license. You will need to present your license to your rental company and to the local authorities.

If you plan to rent a car, it is worth using a reputable car rental company. This will help to avoid certain risks such as renting a car that is unregistered or that has been used in a crime.

If you are pulled over by traffic police, stay calm and comply with their requests. Do not offer a bribe as this could lead to a more serious criminal offense.

Tips for Planning a Road Trip in the Philippines

The Philippines is a vast, beautiful country with plenty of amazing places to see. Here are some important things to bear in mind when planning your trip:

1) Make sure you have the correct documentation. Keep your driving license and your car’s documents with you at all times.

If you are stopped by the police or you have an accident, you will need to present these documents. Make sure you also carry your Philippines online visa with you if you have one.

2) Plan your itinerary in advance and allow for traffic. Though traveling around the Philippines is straightforward, careful planning will minimize the chances of getting lost and other problems.

Allow for long queues and traffic jams in and around the big cities.

3) Carry cash as well as credit and debit cards. Many places do not accept cards to take plenty of notes and coins to avoid any awkward situations.

There are plenty of ATMs in the cities where you can withdraw cash.

4) Feel free to ask locals for directions. Filipinos are very friendly people and will help you when they can. If you are unsure of where you are going, ask someone.

5) Save emergency contact numbers. Make sure you have all the phone numbers you need in case of an emergency. This includes health insurers and car rental companies. If your cell phone runs out of battery quickly, write them on a piece of paper.

If you are planning on visiting the capital, make sure do not miss out on these tourist attractions in Manila.