Manila - Post Report Question and Answers

What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

High clearance vehicle was recommended. Electric vehicles aren’t yet prolific, nor are charging stations. - Mar 2023

Depends on how much you want to spend. Cars and gas are expensive in the Philippines. Roads in Subic Bay are generally well-maintained and traffic laws are actually (kind of) enforced. You don't need a large car to feel safe like in other parts of the Philippines. - May 2022

We have enjoyed having a bigger SUV for comfort (you will sit a lot in traffic). However, gas is expensive and parking spaces are small. We have a Toyota and dealerships are everywhere. However, on US models, the parts are different and we have to order them from the US. - Apr 2021

We have an SUV, and it's great, but bigger cars will have a tougher time on the smaller streets and with parking places. Smaller cars are better, but U.S. dealers and parts are accessible. Japanese and Korean cars do seem to be more common though. - Oct 2020

BRING A CAR (or get one as soon as you get here) Something with high clearance for rainy season. Toyotas are popular here. - Feb 2020

There are all kinds of cars here, but Asian makes have the most service options/parts available. Bring something that you don't mind it getting scratched up. European cars are harder to service. Fuel economy is going to be bad here. Filling a standard tank costs about US$60-70 but you don't do it often. Hybrids would be helpful but there are no charging stations for electric vehicles. There are no tow services here; we broke down and had to push the car to the side of the road. There is an auto club equivalent but we haven't gotten it. Driving here is challenging; signs and lines on the road are guidelines rather than rules. I would recommend getting a driver at first to understand the rhythm of the traffic. - May 2018

Almost any car would work in Manila, although a car with low clearance would be hard to drive on certain side roads and/or during heavy rains. Expect a few dings and dents during your time here, given the traffic. It can be easier to find parts for Asian-made models, but you can get most major brands serviced here without much hassle. - Feb 2017

Any car is fine. Traffic in Manila is horrendous, but the roads are pretty good. The nature of the countryside means most people don't do much driving outside of Manila except for the occasional trip north to Baguio or Ilocos. All residences have garages. - Jul 2016

High clearance vehicle, SUV. Toyota is good since there are lots of Toyota dealerships here to get the parts needed. If you don't have high clearance the rainy season will be tough. - Jan 2016

I primarily use Uber, which is affordable and fairly reliable. Grab Taxi is also available. Metered taxis circulate throughout the city and are supposed to use meters. But drivers often try to overcharge foreigners, and seat belts are usually not available. I've had the best luck with Uber. - Jan 2016

small car will do. Gas saver or Suv. 1 liter of gas is 65 cents. - Sep 2015

Any variety. - Aug 2015

We were recommended to bring an SUV because of flooding, and it's made sense. We bought from the local military/diplomatic cars dealer and so far it's been easy to service a new Ford. Many people drive sedans also. - Aug 2015

No idea, as I travel by taxi, but it's always congested. - Jan 2014

SUVs are best, sedans are not recommended. The streets are excessively crowded and the most aggressive/larger vehicle wins. Do NOT bring a new car as it will likely be scratched or a bum will purposely walk into your vehicle on Roxas. There is often flooding in the rainy season, so you will want a vehicle that is easily able to navigate high waters. - Dec 2013

Asian brand is easier to repair, rugged is not necessary, though high clearance can be helpful for the handful of days when the roads flood. Otherwise, something you don't really care about too much. - Nov 2013

We have an SUV, I would bring a car to post because there are lots of nice places to drive to outside of Manila. The traffic here is a little nuts but I know a lot of people who do not bother hiring a driver because it's pretty manageable. You can also get drivers just for a night or day if you don't want to hire someone full time. Your car windows can have just about any tint you want on it, I've seen a car with black paper lining the window with a cut out just so the driver could see the side-view mirror. You'll see people trying to sell things walking up and down the road while waiting for the light to change and if you're obviously a foreigner they might target you, come up to your car and start talking to you through the window. It is important to remember to keep your doors locked & not to roll down the window. - Aug 2013

Manila tends to flood. I was glad to have an SUV so I could get through the flooded streets without harm. I suggest a compact SUV because parking can be difficult with a large SUV. - Apr 2013

Bring a vehicle with high clearance (think SUV). Flooding may ruin your small car. It's also much better to be high up in traffic so that you're not staring up at jeepneys or face-to-face with the street children who tap on your window. Don't bring a car you aren't afraid to scratch up a bit! - Feb 2013

Toyota, Honda, Nissan are most popular. You don't really need four wheel drive. - Sep 2012

If you plan to hire a small staff to take care of you and your children and your pets, then bring a minivan or large SUV. Driving here is really not advisable, so plan to have at least one extra person in your vehicle (the hired local driver). Otherwise, any vehicle will do. - May 2012

We have a Corolla and it fits us fine -- it blends in with the local cars, which are mostly Honda and Toyota (so finding parts here is not an issue). An SUV will treat you better during a flood and when competing with road space with jeepneys, but we like that our car blends in. - Mar 2012

We've seen everything on the road, however bring extra tires, hoses, filters, etc. - Jan 2012

Four-wheel drive vehicles are good if you plan to drive outside of Manila and also when it rains. However, a sedan or coupe would work fine around the city. - Jul 2011

Go Asian! Toyota, Nissan, Suzuki, Honda...all very common. Some Volvos and BMWs. No carjackings. Road quality in Manila is generally good enough to accommodate compact & low profile vehicles, but if you want to drive out into the provinces, vehicles with a higher clearance are your best bet. - May 2011

I would suggest something like the Honda CR-V, the unofficial car of the foreign service. - May 2011

You can pretty much bring anything to the Philippines. Seafront has its own gas station. Watch out for local stations, as many water down the gasoline. Quality mechanics are inexpensive and easy to find for just about any brand. - Feb 2010

We have a Ford Expedition and are fine with it. Good car cause it's BIG!You can even add lights and sirens to help navigate through traffic. We also got our windows tinted darker so no one can see us in car. We are not planning on bringing our car back to states with us though as we are here for 4 more years. There are Ford dealers here, toyota, Hyundai, Nissan etc. However, the cars they sell here are different models so it can be a problem when you need parts. The Ford parts for our Expedition are more expensive than in the U.S. but the labor is CHEAP!so it balances everything out. Carjacking not a problem living in condo and also having a driver to watch your car when you park. Anything goes with driving here. I can drive when necessary, but easier and safer with driver when you have small kids. - Jan 2010

A small to mid-size SUV is perfect for Manila. The roads tend to flood during the rainy season, which can stall a low-clearance vehicle. I also tend to feel safer in an SUV given that driving in Manila can sometimes turn into a contact sport! - Jul 2009

The Honda CRV is king here. Don't get anything too low. SUVs resell well here, especially in the diplomat community. - Apr 2009

Imported vehicles are available, at a price. That price also extends to the expense of imported parts that can take ages to arrive and cost a fortune. Locally assembled cars from well-known Japanese manufacturers are cheaper and easier to have repaired. - Jun 2008

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