Has anyone toured in the Philippines?
Later this year I will be traveling (from the U.S.) to the Philippines for an extended stay (work related). I will be based in Laguna Province, but will have time for extensive traveling throughout the islands. I plan to take at least one bike (touring bike) and maybe a second (a road bike). I'm also taking self-contained touring gear so that I can tour when the opportunity presents itself. I will not be cycling anywhere near Metro Manila as that would be suicidal. However, the islands generally have a pretty good network of roads (somewhat crowded in some areas), and English is the second language in most regions. This is an extremely colorful and hospitable country, but I've only heard of one report years ago of anyone cycle touring there. (And yes, I am familiar with Abu Syef! ) Has anyone had the opportunity to tour the Philippines and could you offer advice/suggestions?
Central Valley, CA
Every day a winding road
Probably not real wise for a westerner to travel in remote areas of the Philippines these days. You should read this travel advisory.
Thanks, spinnaker, for reminding me of the travel advisory. I've been aware of the advisory for some time, as I was in the Philippines for 5 weeks last summer and traveled about without fear. In fact, there are lots of Westerners visiting and even living in the Philippines. Of course, that's the thing about terrorists--they strike when you least expect them. With that said, I am aware of the threat but choose not to fear them. I refuse to hibernate during my stay in that amazing country.
Originally Posted by spinnaker
Now, don't get me wrong, I would never travel deliberately through known terrorist controlled regions. But again, terrorists tend not to stay put in a confined region.
Ted "I'll be watching my back" Phelps
Central Valley, CA
The folks who put together the following website certainly seemed to like biking there.
From their experience, much of the Philippines is both safe and excellent for biking.
My only advise, personal experience wise, is if you think that red line that goes the length of Palawan is a paved road, it isn't. I thought that a few years ago and found that it was much worse than a fire trail. Just a horrible road, but at the same time I met some poeple from manila that had rented a Jeepny and they asked me to join them, and the rest of the day was a fun adventure of sightseeing. The people there are just so cool its unbelievable at times. And by the way on that trip I had a mountain bike, a touring or road bike wouldn't have made it on those kinds of dirt roads.
Whatever you do I hope you post it on your findings on your bike page as I plan on doing a tour in the Visayas Region in November this year.
Have a good trip.
The travel advisory is a bit over the top. I worked there a couple of years ago and, apart from Mindanao, it all seemed very safe. The people are very friendly and the countryside is beautifull. As you say, riding in Manila would be suicidal.
The roads are in a horrible state in much of the country. Even National roads can be little more than dirt tracks. The bridges, however, are fantastic (but then I designed half of them so maybe I'm bias).
I vacationed in Manila last summer, living with my cousins.
Watch out for kidnappers. Their security guards carry assault rifles. I assume that's an indication of how unsafe that place is.
Other than that, great country. Cheap labour. When I went golfing at a driving range, I had this girl sitting in front of me, placing the golf balls in front of my by hand. I didn't hit her with my club, thankfully...
You'll have to get used to people opening doors for you and calling you sir. You'll enjoy it as long as you're not a human rights activist.
I personally was quite disturbed.
It's good to hear that you are going to visit the Philippines. I can say that we are in an opposite situation. I lived and grew up in the Philippines but I'm now in NJ because of work. I road in Manila for 5 years and truly it's suicide if you're riding on a weekday. But come sunday... it's very nice for a blast on the streets specially in Luneta, CCP complex. Every sunday morning the half part of roxas blvd. sea side is closed for cars and dedicated only for joggers and cyclist. Before when coastal road was still opened to cyclist, that's my fave spot for training... it's a long straight stretch of paved hi-way, unfortunately it's closed to bicycles now.
Where exactly in laguna are you staying? We once rode there from Enchanted Kingdom to Laguna Bel Air (Sta. Rosa Laguna). We also rode from Manila to Tagaytay (fave spot for climbers).
Oh and as an advice... please ride in a group.. that would be much safer (from bad elements and those who want to take advantage of you as a foreigner). Try waking up early morning weekday... you'll see a lot of bikers in Manila or Laguna. Every sunday early morning there are a lot more. Ask them for their usual routes and join them.
If you wanna tour the Philippines you can trace the roads travelled by the famous race 'Marlboro Tour ng Pilipinas' (Marlboro Tour of the Philippines).
so whatcha' want?
I was in Laguna a couple summers ago. As you know, it's weird travelling there with all the advisories, but my trip was uneventful. Manila, Makati have way too much traffic, but in Laguna you should be okay. A terrorist strike can happen almost anywhere nowadays, so it's a gamble where ever you travel.
You sound like you're taking all the necessary precautions. I myself haven't ridden there.
It now looks as if I will be based in Tagaytay, Cavite. That should provide excellent daily training rides. However, I still plan to tour much of the country next January - March. The last time I was there (Aug-Sept '05) I often saw the club riders doing the mountainous sections from Laguna thru Rizal and into Metro Manila. They were impressive! I really wanted to join them! And I will definitely check out the Marlboro Tour ng Pilipinas.
Originally Posted by jeff_o
Thanks for your replies,
Central Valley, California
the first and last race that i joined as an amateur cyclist was from Manila (CCP complex up to Tagaytay). Believe me that route has a lot of bikers before. When they closed coastal road. the route now was From Las Pinas - Cavite - Tagaytay. It's a nice route... except for some portions with traffic. In Manila, CCP complex used to be a trainign ground before... but I think most of them transferred to Reclamation area (near Macapagal Arroyo Blvd.) The reclamation area has very nice paved roads for training. How long will you be staying in Manila? You can always PM me if you have any questions.