Some tips and advice
if you are planning a cycling tour
around the Philippines.
Is cycling in the Philippines a good idea?
As a whole, yes it is.
Some parts are better than others but all in all this is a pretty good cycling country once you are out of the hustle and bustle of Manila.
Like all other places there are some challenges but they are possible to overcome and part of the adventure and when cycling you will get out to see the part of the Philippines that is not overrun with tourists yet.
There is more to the Philippines than Manila, Boracay and El Nido.
If you plan on buying a bicycle in the Philippines then you should do it in Manila and nowhere else.
While the rest of the country is quite good for getting spare parts and getting your bikes fixed but in terms of getting a touring bike there is no way around Manila.
Good news is that most good bicycle shops are located in the same part of the city.
It’s a place called Cartimar in Pasay which is one of the oldest malls in Manila and it’s quite run down and nowhere near as fancy as all the new malls you see all over Manila these days.
But Cartimar is full of bicycle shops and it’s the perfect place to go hunting for a bicycle as you have a few dozen shops within a 10 minute walk and you can get all sorts of bikes there from the very cheapest to the very best and the prices for bicycles there are quite good.
Cartimar also has a lot of pet shops too just in case you feel like buying a parrot a goldfish or a hamster to put on you bike 🙂
What are the roads like in the Philippines for cyclists?
You have varying quality of road surface in the Philippines but in general it’s ok for a cyclist as long as you are not on a racing bike with thin tires.
The quality of road surface can be very different from place to place though as it’s the local governments who take care of them so some parts of the country they are full of pot holes and in others they are nice and smooth, all depending on how well the local government functions.
But from a cyclists point of view they are generally ok as they mostly have a nice shoulder for soft traffic and this is in general your main concern as a traveling cyclist.
The jeepneys are a cyclists friend.
I often have filipinos asking me if all the jeepney’s aren’t a problem for me when I am cycling in the Philippines.
Jeepney’s are the local mini busses in the Philippines and in reality old military trucks that were converted in to public transport when there was a lot of US army present in the Philippines but they soon became so popular that they started producing them in factories, so these days you have these colorful little vehicles plying the roads of the Philippines in all corners of the country.
And the good news for us cyclists is that they have no opening doors as the people get in and out from the back where is no door and the drivers seat has no door either so no opening doors to worry about there for us cyclists and that really means a lot when you are in urban traffic where opening car doors often poses danger to the cyclists.
As a cyclist I will rather share the road with 1000 jeepney’s than with 500 regular cars.
Accommodation along the road in the Philippines.
When cycling around the Philippines you will also get to parts of the country that sees almost no tourists and this is one of the great things about traveling by bicycle.
At times it can be challenging to find a hotel for the night when cycling the highways of the Philippines but what you can usually find if there is no ordinary hotel is a hotel that is rented by the hour.
These hotels cater mainly to people who come there to have sex, but they almost always have a deal for people who want to stay there for more than just an hour or two and they can be useful to resort to if you are stuck even if they are not a first choice for me.
But beds are usually very comfortable and you have mirrors on the ceiling where you can study yourself if you are a lonely cyclist.
Getting food along the way when cycling the
One big surprise for me when cycling the Philippines was that food could be a problem.
In almost all other parts of Asia the street food is fantastic and very healthy so you can easily cycle all day after eating that, but in the Philippines I found that many rural areas are so poor that it can be hard to get anything but rice, bananas and deep fried meat of very bad quality.
It’s really a problem for a long distance cyclist if a burger is the most nutritious thing you can get and this is sometimes the case in rural areas in the Philippines, so try to prepare yourself a bit if heading to rural areas.
I love to buy the local food both because I like to try it but also cause I like to support the local economy in the small towns and villages I pass, but I found that in the Philippines I sometimes need to bring a little extra food along myself.
Your name is Joe when you cycle around the Philippines.
One odd thing about cycling the Philippines is that almost all children shout “Hey Joe” when you cycle past them if you are a caucasian male.
This goes back to the time when there was a lot of american military in the Philippines and the locals used to nickname all americans Joe.
So these days your name is Joe if you are a caucasian male in the Philippines.
Going from island to island with a bicycle.
This generally not a problem as the ferries between most islands in the Philippines are what they call ro ro ferries which means roll on roll off ferries that are meant for vehicles.
I have never had any problems getting my bike on a ferry in the Philippines and it’s mostly free of charge. The ferry rides just ads to the charm when cycling the Philippines.
This was a little bit of advice about tour cycling in the Philippines.
Feel free to write me with any questions if you have any and I will do all I can to help you.