Catching a Philippines taxi is a very inexpensive way of getting around.
There are however, some things you really need to know to make sure your trip in a Philippines taxi is safe, secure and that you will not get ripped off.
You can use a number of forms of transport to get around the major cities and towns in the Philippines, everything from a Kalesa and a Jeepney to planes and ferries. When you are in the cities, particularly Manila and I will use Manila taxis as the example here, mainly because everyone who enters the Philippines generally comes through Manila.
Now to make sure you don't get ripped off I have put together some tips that will ensure you get to your destination with little fuss.
Right here we go.
Firstly when you are in Manila this is what Manila taxis look like:
So at least now you know what to look for, not that you will be a problem because there are lots and lots of them, all very keen to relieve you of your recently acquired Pesos.
Philippines Taxi - Tip 1
Always remember there is an abundance of taxis, if you don't like the first one that you come across, for whatever reason, don't hesitate to close the door and wait on another, you will not have to wait long. If fact you will probably find they are watching and waiting for you, so if you wave one Philippines taxi on, another will take it's place smartly.
I have never had long to wait for a taxi in Manila, the longest I have had to wait is when it has been raining, but that is no different to anywhere in the world.
Philippines Taxi - Tip 2
Once you have waved a taxi down and before you get into the taxi, ask the driver to turn the meter on.
This is important, always ask for the meter to be turned on! Don't be conned by the taxi driver.
If the driver says no, or tells you the meter does not work, or pretends not to understand you, just close the door and wave another taxi down and remember tip number 1.
What the taxi driver will try to do is get a fixed flat rate from you and the deal will generally be double or more ter rate. If you agree to a fixed flat rate you are stuck with that Philippines taxi and it is quite common for him to stop at a petrol station to fill up, after all he is in no hurry any more, you are his captive audience, so to speak.
Do remember by law Manila taxi drivers have to use the meter and have to take you where you want to go.
Philippines Taxi - Tip 3
Make sure you have small peso notes to pay for the taxi fare. On a number of occasions where I have only had a 100 peso note, the taxi driver has informed me that he has no change and you are stuck with paying 100 peso's. Nine times out of ten he has the change but you are not to know either way.
So make sure you have small peso notes to pay for taxi fares.
Philippines Taxi - Tip 4
This tip is more about the taxi than anything else. The Philippines is a tropical destination with high humidity, air conditioning is your friend. Ask the driver of any taxi to fire up the air conditioning.
If it works you will know pretty much straight away, put your hand over the vent, if it does not, remember tip number 1. Trust me, the last thing you want, is to be stuck in traffic, particularly in Manila traffic, with no air conditioning. It will be like sitting in a sauna, winding your windows down is not an option either, you will suffocate on exhaust fumes.
Philippines Taxi - Tip 5
You will see a number of Philippines Taxis parked on the side of the road or around hotels, in fact some of these will not even look like taxis but will offer there services to you, but it will come at a cost, they are not cheap, there will be no meter.
Taxis that are flagged down by a hotel will always be on a flat rate, they are more secure as they are known to the hotel and the hotel will have a note of the registration plates, the hotel also puts there reputation on them being reliable, but once again they come at a price. Personally I do not think it is worth it when you can walk onto the street and hail down any number of taxis, remember tip number 1.
Philippines Taxi - Tip 6
A word of caution.
If the Philippines taxi has somebody else in it and the taxi stops to pick you up, do not get in. I know it is common sense, but people get robbed by being naive, don't let it happen to you.
Philippines Taxi - Tip 7
My last tip about travelling in a Manila taxi.
The traffic is pretty ferocious and it does not take any prisoners, just because there are three lanes marked does not mean the traffic cannot squeeze at least five cars abreast. Lanes do not mean a thing, pedestrian crossings in the Philippines should not be used at any time and under no circumstances, the car rules over all else.
Okay enough of my rant, my final tip is, do not sit in the front seat of the taxi, it is plain scary, you will end pretending to hit the brakes all the time. Sitting in the front of a Philippines taxi, particularly in the major cities will give you a heart attack!