Having a smartphone changed the way we live – more so when traveling to different places. Going around is so much comfortable nowadays when you have trusted apps installed in your smartphone. These apps allow you to know the place even before you visit it which makes planning itineraries and routes a lot easier. Likewise, these apps also allow other travelers to connect and share each other’s experiences.
In the Philippines, having navigation and transportation apps is a must specially if you plan to commute and take the public transport. Though fares are relatively cheap, traffic is a big problem specially in the metro. Getting stuck in traffic will eat up your time and energy. That’s why you have to equip yourself with useful apps that can help you find your way around the city.
Here are best free-to-download navigation and commuting apps when traveling around the Philippines.
- Waze – Download it here (https://www.waze.com/)
If you’re traveling by car, van, or bike, this is the best navigation app to use. Using it is very easy. Upon opening the app, it automatically detects your current location. Search your destination then the app provides you different route choices, complete with distance and estimated travel time. You can also see the best route to travel as this app provides real-time alerts from other app users before you approach various road hazards like police, accidents, and traffic jams. Aside from having a very intuitive user interface and real-time map, this app “talks to you” and instructs you your next move – go straight, turn left or right, or take the next exit. The voice function (available in different languages) helps you concentrate on your driving keeping you safe from accidents. You can also plan your trips ahead of time and save them for later use. Just make sure that your smartphone has consistent internet connection – data or mobile wifi.
- Google Maps – Download it here (https://www.google.com/maps/about/)
If you’re using an Android smartphone, then you most likely have this app installed automatically. This is practically Waze on “steriods”. It has a lot of cool features like: Voice Direction function, Saved Places where it stores upcoming locations and areas you’ve visited, Your Timeline which records your travel time from one place to another, Your Contributions which stores your reviewed and updated infos on places you have visited, and Location Sharing that allows you and your friends to share your real-time location. You can also check the current traffic situations of roads around your area. Plus, the Transit feature let’s you choose the modes of transportation available to use, not just by car but also by public transports like trains, ride sharing, etc. – complete with the estimated duration of your trip. It also has Explore function where you get to see a list and directions to different places like restaurants, cafes, gas stations, ATMs, pharmacies, and even groceries. Google Maps has different available layers such as Bicycling, Satellite, and Terrain. It is also connected to other Google products such as Google Places and Google Streetview which makes this your all-around navigation app. The best feature of this app is it can download maps of entire cities and which can be used offline.
Nothing beats a direction that shows you not just how to get there but how the places on the way actually look like – that’s where Google Streetview gets useful. It literally shows you the view of the place from the street and from the outside. This app features 360-degree photos of the place that you can explore by tilting, panning, and moving around using your fingertips or your phone’s gyroscope. Upon opening the app, you will have access to featured Streetviews near your location and around the world. You may also explore other collections uploaded by Google and other users. You can also share your own by importing 360 photos or shooting new ones using an external 360-degree camera like Theta, Samsung Gear & LG 360 Cam, and SJCAM 360 or Yi Cam 36. Google Streetview lets you shoot 360-degree photos with your built-in camera easily by automatically pointing you camera where the ‘dot’is located until you completed all angles. Now that’s a cool way to share photos! It’definitely worth trying. Plus, it’s totally free!
- Sakay.ph – Download it here (https://sakay.ph/)
If you’re traveling the Philippines specifically in Metro Manila and you are planning to ride public transport to explore and go around the city, then Sakay.ph is a must have. It provides the most accurate and efficient commute directions around Metro Manila. It’s like Google Maps and Waze made for commuters. Once you select your destination, it shows you an extensive list of commuting options including jeepneys, bus, and train routes complete with step-by-step directions, routes, and numbers and locations of stops including the costs of fares. It also shows you ride hauling services like Uber (more of this in a bit) as an option. Directions can also be shared to others. As an added feature, directions can also be printed on paper; as it says on its website – “Batteries might die, but print isn’t dead.”
Transportation by Land (Philippines)
Uber is a ridesharing app which allows you to look for available privately owned vehicles near your location that can take you to your desired destination. Just open the app, log in, and tell where you’re going. Select which type of vehicle you like and confirm your ride. Each choice will tell you how long your ride is arriving, type and size of the car, and of course the transaction fee. You can book the entire ride for yourself or your group using UberX (faster) or share with other riders headed your way using uberPOOL (takes your trip longer but saves you money). You can also go premium using UberBLACK and take high-end vehicles.
The app will look for available drivers near you and connect you to each other. Your screen will show your driver’s picture, rating, contact number, vehicle details, and sometimes even the brand and model. Using GPS and other tracking means, the app can tell the driver your location so he will easily know where to pick you up.
While on transit, it will show you the estimated duration of your trip. Once you arrive on your destination, you can rate your driver and provide feedback of your experience. The fee changes and fluctuates depending on the surge or demand of passengers versus the available number of vehicles – the higher demand, the higher the price. You can pay in various means such as credit card, cash, PayPal, and other e-money. The company also releases occasional promo codes which you can use to get additional discounts. It’s a safe and economical way to go around the city specially for locations that are not accessible for public transit.
If you’re new to this app, you may use this link and get discounts or even a free ride on your first trip. Here’s a FREE Uber Invite.
- Grab (Download it here – https://www.grab.com/ and use my referral code to earn extra points: alvier68368)
Grab is widely known in Southeast Asia. It is very similar to Uber. It has the same functions like Uber where you get to choose your desired type of vehicle, see it’s estimated time of arrival, and know the fares upfront even before booking. The fee also depends on the surge or vehicle-to-passenger supply-and-demand. Just like Uber, you can reserve the vehicle for yourself or share it with other passengers. There is also an option to upgrade your ride and go for high-end vehicles.
Once booked, the app will also show your driver’s photo, rating, contact details, and the vehicle’s brand and model. Both of you will also be connected to each other and will know your pick-up location and destination. While on your trip, you will also know your route and estimated time of arrival. You can also provide your feedback and review your experience with your driver. There is also a wide variety of payment options like cash, credit card, and other e-money. Occasional promo codes from the company can also be used for added discounts.
However, unlike Uber that only shows privately owned cars (as of writing), Grab also offers taxi and cab bookings. Grab also offers motorcycles called GrabeBike on some cities as an option which costs even cheaper.
Pro Tip: Did you know that you can get discounted trips and even travel for FREE using Grab?
Grab recently launched it’s loyalty program called GrabRewards where you earn points the more often you book rides and use the app. Check the Grab Reward details here to learn more.
This is an app for the modern “habal-habal” – local term for motorcycle-ride-sharing in the Philippines. Angkas is a Filipino-developed, on-demand motorcycle ride booking transportation service currently available only in Makati and Bonifacio Global City (BGC). It works and functions like Uber and Grab but only on motorcycles. It actually looks and feels like the two ride-sharing apps. Once your ride arrives, your driver will give you a helmet for safety and a disposable mask for sanitary purposes. You can also ask your driver to slow down or take alternate routes to your destination. It’s base fare starts at Php50 (about $1) for the first 2KM and Php10 for every succeeding kilometer but prices may still vary depending on the demand. It is still in Beta stage but it is slowly becoming popular because of good reviews and positive feedback from users that it’s fast, safe, and reliable.
These are just some of the most popular navigation and transportation apps being used here in the Philippines. I’m sure there are a lot more that I missed.
How about you? What’s your favorite mobile app to use when going around the city? Write them in the comment box below.