Like when driving in any other country for the first time, driving in Manila is an experience you need to get used to. The roads can be more organized, drivers take liberties, and some pedestrians don’t use the designated walks. If you have a car waiting for you or have opted to rent a car in Manila, here are three things you need to know before driving off.
An International License
If you have an up-to-date license that’s printed in English, then you won’t need to apply for a special license to drive in the Philippines for the first 90 days of your stay. The country’s driving rules and signs and symbols are identical to international standards, moreover, so transitioning in this regard won’t be too difficult.
A GPS Device
When driving anywhere, but more so in Manila, you’ll need a GPS device or phone app – preferably one with real-time traffic updates. A GPS is crucial since road names in Metro Manila tend to change often on the maps, but the locals keep to the old ones.
The volume of traffic can be problematic, so a real-time device that can offer alternative routes is helpful. A GPS device will also help you navigate the multitude of one-way streets that seem to pop up here and there.
A Proper Mindset
You need to be a little more focused when driving around Manila. Buses will suddenly swerve to pick up passengers, bikes will weave about traffic, and pedestrians will cross the streets — even highways — to get to the other side; it’s best to be prepared. You might also want to plan your trips to avoid traffic areas or simply just avoid driving during rush hours.
Manila’s roads take a bit of getting used to, but if you know what to expect and come prepared, then driving won’t be much of a bother.