Now, while Manila certainly has its charms when it comes to restaurants, shopping, tourist attractions, clubs and other big city amenities, at some point, you’ll probably be wanting to check out something a bit different. And after living with the horrendous traffic, poisonous atmosphere and higher day-to-day living costs (bar fines and lady drinks are a lot more expensive in Manila as compared to other areas), a good number of curious travelers eventually find their way to the famous (or infamous) Angeles City.
Angeles is about 85 KM from Manila and serves as an international destination for the adventurous single man (or woman, for that matter). The raucous nightlife area (clubs, bars, salons, independent contractors and the like) are situated in one area. In short, for a crazy night out, everything you are looking for is conveniently located in one area. And as an added bonus, there isn’t much traffic, so you are less likely to be crushed beneath the wheels of a jeepney in Angeles as compared to the more homicidally-inclined drivers in Manila.
Another appeal of Angeles is the lower cost of living – things simply cost less there – rent is lower, food costs are cheaper and the adult recreation most folks are looking to check out are much less expensive than you will find in Manila.
In this article, we’ll be looking at modes of travel that will get you from Manila to Angeles and back again. We’ll also be looking at how to directly travel from the Manila airport to Angeles for those who are looking to skip spending any amount of time in the National Capital Region.
Bus from Manila to Angeles City
This is the most practical way to get to Angeles, and it is the one I always recommend. A myriad of bus companies offer travel service there but I usually take Victory Liners, which I have found to be both reliable and (reasonably) comfortable. Victory Liner’s travel hub is in Pasay (same as the airport) and nearly all taxi drivers know where it is. You don’t need to pre-book with Victory as you can get tickets (with reserved seats) right at their office.
Once at Victory Liner’s Pasay Station, simply meander up to the ticketing booth and get a ticket to Dau (signs might also say Mabalacat). Not Angeles City, but Dau /Mabalacat which is the name of the bus station in Angeles City. (Why they simply don’t go with Angeles City over Dau / Mabalacat is well beyond my mortal intellectual abilities. Perhaps it simply makes too much sense….)
Buses depart the Pasay Station every 30 to 45 minutes, starting early in the morning and running up into late evening. Wait times are not long, and there are no worries about missing your bus as reserved seating is assigned. Speaking of seating, try asking the wonderful folks at Victory Liner if you could possible get an aisle seat. I am possessed of rather wide shoulders and discovered that I don’t fit very well on the inside seats.
The bus fare to Dau/Angeles City is about 155 pesos – 150 being for the actual ticket and 5 pesos being allocated to a mysterious category known as “travel insurance.” What this insurance covers is open to public conjecture but makes for an interesting – if short lived – conversation with Victory Liner staff as to what it actually covers.
Once you get your ticket, grab a quick, light lunch (ramen anyone?) and patiently wait for your over-sized chariot to arrive. The food offerings at the station are not that keen, but a little something will tide you over until you can get a more nourishing meal in Angeles. And make sure that you take care of your biological needs (toilet) before you get on the bus! The trip takes hours and there are no stops along the way for CR (comfort room/bathroom) breaks!
Driving time from Manila to Angeles typically takes about three hours. Yes, I did note that the distance isn’t all that great at only 84 kilometers, but realize that half of that travel time is the bus fighting its way through the snarled traffic of Manila and Quezon City – only the last hour is dedicated to getting to Angeles once past Metro Manila’s regional limits.
Once you safely arrive at the Dau / Mabalacat Bus Terminal, it’s quite easy to secure a trike to take you to your accommodations. If you’re hungry, you can get snacks at over a dozen sari-sari stores in the massive terminal or wander over to the nearby Chowking or Jollibee. Walking Street is only about a kilometer and a half from Dau / Mabalacat Terminal but shady trike drivers will usually demand a 150 peso fare to get there. Be polite and you can typically talk them down to a (slightly) more reasonable 70-100 pesos. And if you observe other Filipinos negotiating with the trike drivers, you will usually see them paying only 50 or so pesos for the same trip. Ah yes, the Long Nose/Skin Tax!
Note that if you only have light luggage, you can simply walk to Walking Street (no pun intended). The last time I was there, it was a cooler day and the walk was actually pretty nice. It took about 30 minutes as opposed to the 5 minute trike conveyance, but I stopped at a few spots along the way.
All in all, to get to the center of Walking Street/Angeles City from Manila takes almost four hours.
Costs: Taxi from hotel to Victory Liner Pasay Station, 150 pesos. Victory Liner from Pasay to Dau / Mabalacat, 155 pesos. Trike from Dau to Angeles, 80 pesos. Total: 385 pesos/$8 USD.
Limo from Manila to Angeles
For those who are well-heeled (or simply “Two-Week Millionaires”) and are looking to ride in style (or impress the ladies), limos are available to take the trip to Angeles City. It will cost you about 6,500 pesos for your luxury ride and can usually be arranged through your hotel’s concierge.
Taxi from Manila to Angeles
If you can’t deal with buses or just don’t want to incur the full expense of a luxury limo ride to the City of Sin, taxis are the third and final option for those on a pilgrimage to Angeles City. Hotels can usually point you in the right direction but you can often save money by taking a Do It Yourself approach: Simply, wander about flagging down random taxis and asking how much they would charge for a ride to AC. Typically it will cost you about 10 times the amount that a bus would incur – 3,500 to 4,000 pesos for a chauffeured trip from Manila to the doorstep of your new temporary domicile in Angeles City.
Returning to Manila from Angeles City
As with all good things in life, they usually can’t last and at some point you will find yourself seeking to return to Manila. Reasons vary: For most it’s to get a flight back out of the country but for some it might be needing advanced medical services for exotic sexually transmitted diseases or simply requiring a new liver. Taxis, limos and buses are once again preferred methods of conveyance, with buses being the logical pick for most.
Prices will be the same for your return. Avoid the trikes hanging out by Walking Street, however, as they will typically insist on the previously noted 150 peso fare to the bus station. A short walk to the main road will find drivers more amenable to the 80 peso fare.
As for taxis, you might be able to get a reduced fare if you can find a driver who dropped someone off in Angeles and is now returning to Manila. He has to return back to the city regardless, so you can sometimes catch a ride with them for around 2,000 pesos.
Straight From the Airport to Angeles
Some folks don’t like Manila. In fact, a good number of people abhor it. If you are one of those looking to bypass a stay in the nation’s capital and head straight to Angeles, simply leave the terminal, find a yellow (airport sanctioned) taxi and have them speed you off to the Victory Liner Pasay Station noted above. It should only cost about 100 pesos. The bus company, PhilTranco, offers service directly from the airport but their trips are staggered apart far more than Victory Liner. I tried to do the direct route one time with PhilTranco, but the scheduled bus had broken down. Instead of waiting over an hour for the next one, I just took a taxi over to Victory Liner’s Pasay Terminal.
But What About Clark Airport?
For some reason, I have never taken a flight directly to or from the airport at Clark. This is an option, however, and sometimes you can find sweet “promo” deals going on with Cebu Pacific or Philippines Airlines. Taking a flight is probably the best idea for those already in the Philippines if they are in the Visayas (Cebu, Dumagute, Bocolod, etc.) or in Mindanao (Davao, CDO and the like).
TIP: I am not a big fan of spam, but I am always signed up for Cebu Pacific’s promo emails
So, I hope this guide has been of some help. If you have anything you want to add (or if I am grievously wrong about something) please leave it in the comments section.