Driving Tips, Rules & Regulations in the Philippines

Despite the very chaotic driving culture in the Philippines, it’s good to know that there are significantly few rates of driving-related accidents in the country compared to its Asian neighbors. This is primarily because of the slow movement of traffic in very congested cities.

Foreigners who have a driver’s license from another country can use their license for up to 90 days from their arrival, but beyond that they have to apply for a local license, which isn’t too difficult to do. A person needs to be at least 16 years old to apply for a student’s permit, which is required for a non-professional license, which have a minimum age requirement of 17 year old. To be able to rent a car for driving in the Philippines, however, you need to be at least 21 years old.

Unlike other Asian countries, the Filipinos drive on the right side of the road, owing to their association with the US in the past. The condition of the roads vary between regions. The Philippines is an archipelago consisting of more than 7,000 islands, so it’s understandable that some spots are more travelled than others, affecting the consistency of road quality.

Dealing with Philippine traffic, however, is a matter of patience than it is of caution. Most drivers are patient and accustomed to bumper-to-bumper congestion. Sometimes you’ll witness a driver stealing a parking spot or lane, but many others are nice enough to give you the right of way if the spot you’re taking or filling really is yours. Just be careful, though – there will be drivers who will swerve or pass without warning. Defensive driving is still important. So aside from being nice, the trick to driving in the Philippines is being nice being really patient. If you want to go somewhere at a particular time, make sure you plan ahead and start heading to your destination early. Try to overestimate your travel time, if you can’t afford to be late.

When driving in Manila or any of the larger cities, make sure you always wear your seatbelt. Most cities actually have laws requiring the use of the seatbelts, but they vary in terms of how well the police are able to enforce them. But with that, you should still play safe and keep your belts strapped as you cross regions.

There are a few tolls in the country – normally you’ll find them on the highways leading to another province or city. Make sure you always bring lots of change with you to avoid any hassle when passing these areas. Signage in the country is similar to that of European standards. You’ll normally see sign posts with a 30-40 km/h speed limit, but in Manila Expressways the speed limit is usually 100 km/h.

There aren’t very many peculiar rules that one needs to be familiar with for driving in the Philippines. Many of them you can ask from the Land Transportation Office (when you apply for a license) or from local motorists. On that note, you’ll find most Filipinos to be very friendly and will offer you directions to where to go, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Summary

Chaotic driving culture but there are significantly few driving-related accidents compared to its neighbours.
Foreigners who have a driver's license from any country can use it for up to 90 days.
The minimum driving age is 17 year old, but to rent a car you need to be 21 years or older.
Filipinos drive on the right side of the road.
There are a few toll roads on the country.
Road signs are similar to that of European standards.

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