For long distance land transportation in the Philippines you will have to use the bus (e.g. from Manila to Banaue or Caticlan to Iloilo). There are basically 4 types of buses:
♦ the luxury buses with beds or business-class seats
♦ the new air conditioned buses with TV and curtains
♦ the older non-aircon or ordinary buses
♦ the very, very old local buses with no glass in the windows at all
The largest bus company in the Philippines is Vallacar with their Ceres Liners. Most of them are painted in bright yellow or yellow and white. On Mindanao we found some older Ceres buses in red.
Ultimate comfort is offered by some companies such as GV Florida or Peñafrancia Tours. Their luxury buses have either real beds on the upper deck or have very large business-class seats where you sleep without problems.
Very comfortable are the new aircon buses. For very long distances, up to 10 hours and more, in the night, they are really the best choice. Put earplugs in your ears and you may even expect to sleep some hours. During the day we do not like them because everybody closes the curtains and you miss the beautiful landscape. Do not forget to have some warm clothes with you, otherwise you get freezed and catch an ugly cold. ( I just caught one on the 2 hours trip from Balingoan to Cagayan de Oro).
The older buses are amazing. The seats are narrower than in the aircon buses. The windows are usually open to get a bit of fresh air (and dust and smoke). But yes, you will take these ones if you are a smoker. Their engines sometimes stall and their tires get sometimes flat. If the bus should break down during your journey, you are refunded. You get back the exact amount due between the place of breakdown and your destination. You simply have to wait for the next bus. good luck.
The last category are private owned buses. They are much smaller and older, but carry the same number of passengers. This is a transportation solution for shorter distances or when there is no large bus available. They are somehow a mix between bus and jeepney. They also are decorated with religious motives and often display a prayer.
Bus fares are very modest. Currently the fare is about 1km = PHP 1.00
The fare and distance are punched into your bus ticket.
All buses run on well defined routes. Buses with no special sign do stop in all major municipalities and often in some barangays. Buses with the sign "direct" or "express" do only stop in towns. We know, there are timetables, but we are afraid, we cannot publish them on this website. They are not available in electronic format and they change very, very often. Ask local people or go to the nearest bus terminal to get the needed information. Some companies publish their schedules on the web. In thetable below you may find some company websites with schedules.
Buses usually do not go to the city-centers. They stop at peripheral bus terminals. Small cities as Baccolod or Iloilo have only one terminal. Big cities like Manila or Cebu-City do have several terminals. Each of them deserves a particular region. There is no problem to find the right terminal. Tell the taxi driver or the tricycle driver where you want to go and he drives you to the corresponding bus terminal. The biggest terminal in Manila is the Cubao Quezon City Terminal. There are at least 8 bus terminals within one square kilometer. There you find all the big bus companies.
The large buses drive as hell (80 kph and more). Everybody knows them (except the tourists). Buses do have absolute priority! During the wet season in northern Luzon, the Cordillera, a bus might get off the slippery mud road. When this happens on a mountain road, it is often fatal.
A modern, air conditioned CERES Liner.
The Benz deluxe class of Peñafrancia Tours
Engine failure on an older CERES Liner on Negros Island.
Enlarged from above: Neither driver nor controller seem to have a problem.
Inside a private bus between Cagayan de Oro and Balingoan. God did bless our trip!
One of the bus terminals in Baccolod / Negros Oriental
Philippine Islands Bus Companies
Vallacar Transit Corporation, one of the country's most important bus companies but it is also the most secretive one. Vallacar Transit Corporation owns or controls the following bus companies: Vallacar Transit, Inc, Ceres Liner, Bachelor Express and Rural Transit. It seems to be impossible to find any official information about Vallacar and their subsidiaries. There are no phone numbers, no e-mail addresses and no websites.
This business has grown from a lone 14-seater jeepney plying a single route, to a conglomerate of transportation companies with a combined number of operating units of a little over 2000 transport vehicles as of January 2008.
Another important bus company for tourists is Philtranco. This company has routes from Manila down to Davao in the western Visayas and from Manila to Kalibo in the central Visayas.
For those going north, Victory Liner and Philippine Rabbit drive from Manila to far North of Laoag and Cagayan Valley.
For tourists it is not always easy to plan ahead because only few bus companies publish their schedules and routes. The small local companies work on a "come and ride when we are there" principle.
There are many other bus companies like Batangas Express, Candon. Celyrosa, Rural Transit and many more, for which no information is available. You will have to ask around.
Philippines bus companies with websites
The following companies have a website (by 01/09/2012) and publish their routes, their schedules and sometimes their fares. Sometimes you may even reserve seats on-line. Have a look, and see also our Manila Bus Terminals page.
Olongapo and Iba Cities in Zambales, Tarlac, San Fernando/La Union, Baguio, Benguet, Alaminos, Bolinao, Dagupan, Tuguegarao, Aparri/Cagayan
Other Philippines bus companies
The following companies have no website (by 02/11/2011). You can find their terminals in big cities by asking around or try to call them. Phone numbers are often off-line, have changed or are unattended. See also our Manila Bus Terminals page.
Aladdin Transit Corporation
1310 Espana Cnr. Galicia Streets, Sampaloc, Manila
+63 2 743 8523
+63 2 781 9168
Cagayan Valley, Ifugao, Laoag, Baguio, Kalinga, Isabela, Dagupan
Autobus Transport Systems Inc.
Dimasalang Street Corner Laong Laan Street, Sampaloc, Manila