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Why Rent a Car in the Philippines ?

Nothing beats the flexibility of a self-drive tour for your Philippine road trip. You start and end when you want and you can take your time in exploring different tourist spots and even discover new ones. At Guide to the Philippines, we help you explore more of the country not just with a marketplace for tours and transfers but with car rentals with our reliable partners. Compare and choose from a wide range of vehicles for rent to suit your needs for a comfortable self-drive adventure in the Philippines. Reserve with Guide to the Philippines for the best value car rentals and customer service.


Best night ever. People are so nice.
Best night ever. People are so nice.

Car Rentals Philippines - Self-Drive


Renting a self-drive car in the Philippines will give you the freedom to explore the country at your own pace. It also allows you to discover new destinations and tourist spots not included in regular tours. Commuting is common in the Philippines, but driving a car will save you cost, time, and energy. You don't need to transfer from one vehicle to another like boarding public buses, taxi/cabs, jeepneys, and tricycles to go to your destination. Locals who have cars also prefer self-drive when traveling in and outside the city for convenience and comfort. 

The Philippines is divided into three major islands (Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao). We recommend renting a car in the location where you’re traveling to. If you’re exploring Luzon, you can rent a car in Manila and drive around the neighboring cities and provinces. If you’re exploring the Visayas, rent a car service is available in major cities like Cebu, Iloilo, and Bacolod. Are you traveling around Mindanao? You can rent a car in Davao and explore at your convenience.


Rent a Car in Manila


Metro Manila, the National Capital Region located in Luzon, includes the capital city Manila and other urban centers like Makati, Quezon City, Pasay, and Mandaluyong, to name a few. Driving in Manila is more convenient than riding public transportation. Tourist spots within Metro Manila are geographically located near each other and are easier and faster to reach with a self-drive car.

Since Metro Manila has a significant population and covers multiple cities, the government implements traffic regulations to decongest the traffic. It includes the number coding scheme during weekdays, one-way streets, designated areas for loading and unloading, and assigned lanes for motorcycles and buses. Make sure to familiarize yourself with these traffic rules and regulations before driving in Manila. Read the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section below to learn more about these rules. 

The majority of provinces in Luzon are located on one main island and are connected by highways and expressways. Driving in Manila will also give you the freedom to explore tourist spots outside the cities. You can self-drive from Manila to other destinations or provinces in Luzon and explore Tagaytay, Batangas, Pampanga, Baguio, Ilocos Region, and Bicol region to name a few. 


Rent a Car in Cebu


Cebu is one of the main jump-off points when driving to destinations around the Visayas. Unlike Luzon, where the majority of cities and provinces are on one main island, Visayas is divided into multiple islands. These islands are connected by national highways and ports where you can board your self-drive cars in Roll-On Roll-Off (RoRo) ferries or vessels. Renting a car and driving in Cebu will let you explore Cebu tourist spots like Mactan, Moalboal, Malapascua, Oslob, Bantayan Island, and other Visayas destinations like Boracay, Bohol, Iloilo, and Bacolod.


Rent a Car in Davao


Davao is the center and main jump-off point in Mindanao. Similar to Luzon, the majority of Mindanao destinations are on one island and are connected by national highways. Renting a car and driving in Davao will let you easily reach destinations in Mindanao like Cagayan De Oro, Zamboanga, and Surigao, to name a few. You can also board your self-drive cars in Roll-On Roll-Off (RoRo) ferries or vessels to explore Mindanao island destinations like Camiguin and Siargao.


Cheapest Car Rentals in the Philippines


Guide to the Philippines is partnered with credible car rental providers that provide the best value and quality car rental services in key destinations like Manila, Cebu, and Davao. Browse and compare our collection of car rental products to find the cheapest car rentals in the Philippines to best suit your needs and preferences. Make sure that you avail of self-drive car rentals from authorized providers only that have regularly maintained and serviced vehicles for safe driving in the Philippines. 


Practical Information


The Philippines generally has a tropical climate and is divided into the dry season and wet season. Depending on the month and the place you’ll be visiting, make sure to check weather updates first. Be cautious as this will prevent accidents that might happen while you’re behind the wheel.

If you’re driving during the rainy season, practice extra caution and avoid flooded roads or landslide-prone roads. Keep your tank full and make sure your brakes are in good condition. If the weather update indicates a typhoon, it’s best to avoid traveling and just stay indoors. 

Regardless of the season, you must be a responsible driver. Do a pre-trip inspection of your car, take photos of it once you receive it, and check the weather conditions before hitting the road. Knowing the rules and regulations (will be discussed in detail below in the FAQ section), as well as making the necessary precautions will help you in having a great time in the Philippines.


Frequently Asked Questions About Car Rentals Philippines


1. Where to Rent a Car in the Philippines?

The majority of car rentals in the Philippines are in the cities of Metro Manila or the National Capital Region in Luzon. These include urban centers Quezon City, Makati, and Mandaluyong to name a few. From the airports in Metro Manila cities of Pasay and Parañaque or in Clark, Pampanga (north of Metro Manila), the most convenient option is to hire a car from the airport and drop it off there. Your car rental can be picked up 24 hours a day at the airport. 


2. What are the different networks that connect the Philippines roads?

There are the Philippines highway network and the Philippines expressway network.


3. What do the Philippines highway network roads look like?

The Philippines highway network roads are made up of national roads with corresponding numbers. They are given unique names based on their location or destinations covered. i.e., National Route 1: Pan-Philippine Highway or Maharlika Highway connecting Luzon to Mindanao through roads, bridges, and ferry services. 


4. What do the Philippines expressway network roads look like?

The Philippines expressway network roads are made up of controlled-access expressways and regional high standard highways that have toll gates. i.e., E1 or Expressway 1 which includes North Luzon Expressway or NLEx and E2 or Expressway 2 which includes South Luzon Expressway or SLEx. 


5. What is the major thoroughfare that connects the major cities?

It is called “Epifanio de los Santos Avenue” or “EDSA”. It’s known for being congested, especially during the weekday rush hours. Because of the notorious traffic in EDSA, the government is continuously updating traffic laws on this road to decongest traffic which will be discussed later.


6. When are the rush hours during weekdays?

7-9AM and 5-9PM when most of the city-dwellers are heading to/from work and school. 


7. What are the rules when driving within Metro Manila?

Cities within Metro Manila also have their major roads and observe their own traffic policies depending on the problems they encounter. These include one-way streets designated loading and unloading areas, number coding schemes, and window hours.


8. What is the number coding scheme in Metro Manila?

The Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) enforces a rule on which cars are banned to travel in major and public roads for certain days on weekdays from 7 AM to 8 PM. The last number of your car’s license plate dictates which day you can’t drive it: 

Monday: Licence plates ending in 1 and 2

Tuesday: Licence plates ending in 3 and 4

Wednesday: Licence plates ending in 5 and 6

Thursday: Licence plates ending in 7 and 8

Friday: Licence plates ending in 9 and 0

Weekends: No number coding scheme


9. Which lane is reserved for motorcycles and buses?

There are roads and highways where specific lanes are reserved for motorcycles (usually at the far left or far right side of the road) and buses (ex: EDSA in Metro Manila has bus-only lanes). Ensure that you’re in the right lane to avoid road accidents or getting apprehended.


10. Which roads don’t have number coding window hours?

Outside of 7AM-8PM, the number coding window scheme isn’t observed (window hours). But there are areas where they are always in full effect including EDSA, C5, Roxas Boulevard, Alabang-Zapote Road, and Mandaluyong City. 


11. Can you drive around the three major islands of the Philippines by land and sea with rental cars? 

Yes. You can opt to board your vehicle in the Roll-On Roll-Off (RoRo) vessels or ferries that connect major destinations in the country from Luzon, Visayas, to Mindanao. You will need to drive to the ports where they are docked and drive the car inside the vessel. From here, you can choose to stay inside the vehicle for short-distance travel or stay inside the ferry where there are seating or sleeping quarters available depending on the vessel and distance covered.


12. What is the validity of a driver’s license? 

If you’re a foreigner, your driver’s license is valid for 90 days in the Philippines provided that it’s in English. If not, make sure to get an English translation from your local embassy first.


13. What are the important documents you should bring when driving?

Always have your car rental document, passport and driver’s license with you at all times. In case you get into an accident or a road problem, this will help the authorities identify who you are and let them know you’re renting a car.


14. Which side of the road do you drive in the Philippines?

Philippine roads require vehicles to be driven on the right side of the road, with all vehicles in left-hand drive.


15. What else should you be aware of when driving in the Philippines?

No reckless driving! The country is notorious for its heavy traffic. You might not have the patience for it but never resort to reckless driving. Swerving without turning your signal on is best avoided. The road conditions are relatively better during the dry season. Make sure to observe traffic signs and observe the proper speed limit. Wear your seat belt all the time, regardless of the season.


16. What to do when apprehended by a traffic enforcer? 

If you commit a road violation and you’ve been apprehended, make sure to abide by these rules:

  • Stop at the side of the road to discuss with the traffic enforcer.

  • If you know you didn’t commit the violation, discuss it calmly with the traffic enforcer.

  • Whatever happens, don’t bribe! You might face significant consequences. 


17. What to do during an accident? 

If you got into an accident, make sure to abide by these rules:

  • Check if anyone is hurt. You can call the national emergency number 911 or the hotline of the expressway you’re in. 

  • Police or traffic enforcers usually monitor the traffic in CCTV cameras, especially in urban areas so they will most likely go to you immediately to assist you. 

  • Regardless of the severity of the accident, do not run. Stay at the scene and take photos as evidence for the car insurance.

  • Don’t lose your temper. The best way to handle an accident is to settle with the driver by exchanging essential information such as driver’s name, contact information, and insurance information. 

  • Since you’re renting a car, you have to call the car rental operator and inform them of the accident. Make sure to follow all of their instructions.

  • File a police report regarding the road accident to speeding up the insurance process.