No fly, no problem: Air travel alternatives in the Philippines

MANILA TO BICOL BY TRAIN

TWO2TRAVEL AIRTRAVEL ALTERNATES
The blue Bicol Express ready to leave the Naga station for Manila

 
The Bicol Express (Manila-Ligao-Manila) was refurbished in 2011 and I finally got to try it back in April this year from Naga to Manila. The trip was long, and the train hit a parked car in the wee hours of the morning, so the supposedly 10-hour trip stretched to 14 hours (on a side note, it was the car owner’s fault, because he parked his vehicle right on the train tracks).

Besides, that was the closest I could get to the Hogwarts Express here in the Philippines, so no matter. :P

WHY TRY
  • This is the closest you could get to the Hogwarts Express too!
  • A sleeper bunk costs P665 each, one way, all year
  • There are other (cheaper) options available
  • In terms of comfort, this is a better option than taking the regular AC buses to Bicol, whose travel time is practically the same

TWO2TRAVEL AIRTRAVEL ALTERNATES

CONS
  • The trip takes 10 hours minimum provided your train doesn’t encounter glitches, technical or otherwise
  • Certain areas are prone to landslides, which may stall your trip
  • People with motion sickness may not delight in the prospect because–>
  • It feels like an earthquake on wheels, especially when you’re trying to stand, walk around, or pee
TIPS/USEFUL INFO
  • No meals served onboard, so bring your own
  • Each cabin has four bunk beds, so like the ship, it’s better to travel with friends
  • No electric outlets in the cabins for charging
  • No TV, no WiFi, no nothing. So bring friends.
  • No pillows and blankets so bring yours, because the train can get really cold. Mattresses provided are cushy though.
  • Reserve your tickets two weeks in advance.
LINKS
RESERVATIONS

Manila/Tutuban: (02) 319-0048
Lucena: (042) 661-2990
Naga: (054) 698-2132

NOTE

Aside from the Bicol Express, PNR also operates the Mayon Limited train. For schedules of the Mayon Limited, click here. Here’s how it looks inside.