I just got off the bus after a 4 hours bus ride from Moalboal back to Cebu City. The distance is only about 85km but traffic is bad, roads are under construction and the bus stops several times to take in more and more people. It was packed and i was lucky to get a seat. Well, kind of. My back and my butt hurt because I´ve been sitting in between 2 seats. My “seat” was in the last row, where the cool kids are 😉. There are 5 official seats, but 7 people. I won’t complain though. A lot of people were standing, which was probably not comfortable regarding the driving skills of the bus driver.
Maybe I should have chosen another day to go back to Cebu City. It’s January 2nd and all the locals are going back to work after visiting their families over Christmas and New Years. Some even just went for 1 or 2 days.
Travelling is very time consuming here in the Philippines. There are a lot of options to choose from. The cheapest option is the public bus(120php). But there are also shared Vans or taxis. Taxis or private cars are at least 20 times the bus price. It might be a bit faster, you have most likely more space, but the drive is not necessarily going to be more comfortable as the roads are still bad and the drivers are driving way too fast.
I did the distance between Puerto Princesa and El Nido with a shared van(400php). We had a lot of space but I wasn’t able to sleep at all during this 6hours hell ride. Once I tried to lean my head against the window or the seat, it got bumped against it. Also spreading out or putting my legs up didn’t really work because I got wiggled around so much that I was close to falling off my seat. So, being in a packed bus was almost more comfi because I was squeezed in safely between other people 🤣.
If you want or need to save time and have a couple of extra pesos you could catch a flight to some destinations. But only a few are connected with planes. Oftentimes it’s only possible to fly bigger distances between different islands, otherwise you need to take the ferry. Flights are almost never on time. Ferries are in my experience. They might be cancelled though. Due to weather conditions, technical problems or Christmas parties. No kidding. This happened to me. The only ferry from Cebu Island to the island of Siquijor at 10am was cancelled on December 20th because the staff had a Christmas party. Maybe this is one reason why you can’t purchase the ferry tickets a day in advance. But there`s always an alternative: I needed to catch a ferry to Dumaguete and from there to Siquijor. In Dumaguete, there was such a long line for the tickets that I only made it on the ferry with the help of a local angel.
For shorter distances on the water and “island hopping” you can do official tours or just rent a private boat from a fisherman, who would be happy to sail you around for some pesos.
In the towns or cities there are jeepneys, tricycles or motorbikes. I never understood the system of the jeepneys in Cebu City. They work like a public hop on and off bus system, but no one was able to really explain their routes to me, so I ended up not using them. I mostly took tricycles or bikes to get a ride.
Once I got settled into a place and want to explore more, I rent a scooter to be more free (prices differ from 250 to 500php, depending on the area and how touristy it is). Helmets are overrated, I guess. But the most important thing is that the honk works! This is how they manage their huge traffic here. Streetdog? Honk! Pedestrians crossing? Honk! Wanna pass? Honk!
My „taxi driver“ with my bag
At the end of the day you ‚ll eventually get where you want to go. Doing the research and finding the best or cheapest way might be a little complicated though, because the internet doesn`t provide a lot of information and isn`t up to date. You can’t really plan it in advance and there’s no fast way. The best advice is to not plan on visiting too many places if you only got a short amount of time. Take your time and enjoy the ride. It’s all about experiencing the country you are travelling rather than seeing as many places and things as possible. The journey is the reward.