Useful country information

Train operator:

Philippine National Railways (PNR) - see www.pnr.gov.ph

 

 

Time zone:

GMT+8 all year.

Dialling code:

 

+63.

Currency:

1 = 68 Philippine pesos   $1 = 42 pesos   Currency converter

Tourist information:

www.tourism.gov.ph

Hotels:

 

Search hotels

Visas:

UK, US & Australian citizens need no visa for stays up to 21 days.

Page last updated:

8 November 2013


Manila to Naga City by train

In late 2011, Philippine National Railways resumed daily long-distance passenger trains between Manila and Naga City, previously discontinued some years previously due to typhoon damage.  The Bicol Express train is a comfortable and safe way to travel between Manila and Naga, overnight with comfortable air-conditioned sleepers bought second-hand from Japanese Railways.  From 16 March 2012, the Mayon Limited (now Isarog Limited) trains were added, and train service extended beyond Naga to Ligao, not far short of Legazpi.  It's hoped to extend trains all the way to Legazpi by mid to late 2012.  PNR also operate metro trains around Manila.

Train service temporarily cancelled...

After hurricane damage, these trains were temporarily suspended in late 2012 and still aren't running in spring 2013.  It's not clear when train service will be reinstated.  Please see www.pnr.gov.ph

 Manila ► Naga

Km

 

 Bicol Express

Runs daily

Isarog Limited Express

Runs Mon, Wed, Fri

Mayon Limited Ordinary

Runs Tue, Thur, Sun

0

Manila Tutuban station

19:45

18:30

20:30

56

Calamba

21:36

20::19

21:42

133

Lucena

23:16

21:55

22:58

377

Naga

06:45

05:30

05:30

?

Polangui

08:44

-

*

445

Ligao

09:00

-

*

You can find current timetables, fares and a route map on the official PNR website, www.pnr.gov.ph.

* Important:  From 1 October 2012, the Bicol Express is extended to Lagao as shown here, the Mayon Limited is renamed Isarog Limited Express and will now terminate at Naga.  The Mayon Limited ordinary may also be affected  Please check www.pnr.gov.ph.

 Naga ► Manila

 

 Bicol Express

Runs daily

Isarog Limited Express

Runs Tue, Thur, Sun

Mayon Limited Ordinary

Runs Mon, Wed, Fri

Ligao

17:30

-

*

Polangui

17:45

-

*

Naga

19:30

18:30

20:45

Lucena

03:16

01:52

03:08

Calamba

04:55

03:18

04:17

Manila Tutuban station

06:45

05:30

05:30

  The Bicol Express train in the Philippines - family sleeper

A family sleeper on the Bicol Express.  Photo courtesy of Ryan Anawaty

What is the Bicol Express like?

The Bicol Express has Executive sleepers** (single-berth compartments), Family sleepers (open plan berthgs with curtains), Reclining air-con seats, and Economy seats.  The Executive sleeping-car is an ex-Japanese Railways car with cosy single-berth sleeper compartments arranged in an ingenious 'duplex' design with alternate compartments 'upper' or 'lower'.  The Family sleepers are comfortable and carpeted ex-Japanese Railways sleeping-cars with a side corridor from which open bays of four berths (upper and lower on each side).  There is no door between the bays of 4 berths and the side corridor, but each berth has curtains for privacy and an individual reading light.  The sleepers provide a flat padded velour bunk to sleep on, but no bedding is provided.  Reclining seats are smart air-conditioned unidirectional seating.  Economy seats are fixed padded seats arranged in bays of 4 either side of a central aisle.  You can see photos of the carriages at www.facebook.com/pnrailways or www.pnr.gov.ph/ta_sleeper.htm.  Further feedback or photos would be appreciated!

** Important:  It's reported (August 2012) that the Executive sleeping-car is only attached to the Bicol Express if there's sufficient demand, meaning a certain number of tickets have been sold.  So don't be surprised if in practice you have to opt for Family sleeper instead!

What are the Isarog Limited Deluxe & Mayon Limited Ordinary like?

The Isarog Limited Express has three air-conditioned coaches bought second-hand from Japanese Railways, with spacious and comfortable Executive reclining seats with individual armrests in a carpeted saloon.  The Mayon Limited Ordinary has three older forced-ventilation cars with far more basic fixed bench seats.  Neither train has any sleepers.  For photos of the interiors, see http://wowlegazpi.com/pnr-adds-trips-to-ligao-guinobatan/.

How much does it cost?

 One-way fares...

Executive sleeper

Family sleeper

Reclining aircon seat

Economy seat

 Manila to Naga City by Bicol Express

1,425 pesos

(promo fare 998)

950 pesos

(promo fare 665)

548 pesos

416 pesos

 Manila to Ligao by Bicol Express

1,425 pesos

(promo fare 1,178)

950 pesos

(promo fare 785)

647 pesos

-

 Manila to Naga by Isarog Limited Exp

-

-

608 pesos

-

1 = approx 68 pesos.  $1 = 42 pesos.  Promo rate = temporary cheap fare.  Check fares at www.pnr.gov.ph.

How to buy tickets...

You can buy tickets at the station.

Traveller's reports...

Traveller Ryan Anawaty reports:  "I rode the Bicol Express train from Manila to Naga City 2 days ago.  The train cars are in decent shape with male/female bathrooms and running water.  They are maybe 15-20 years old (but refurbished) from Japan.  There is no dining car or food vendors, so bring all that you need.  4-bed 'family' sleepers are comfortable and air-conditioned, but no bedding is provided.  The beds are covered in a brown velvet-like fabric, have large privacy curtains around each berth and individual reading lights. There are no doors between the side corridor and each compartment of 4 berths, and there's a single small jump seat is in the corridor outside each compartment.  There are ladders to climb to top bunk and a small table by the window for the bottom bunk. Windows cannot be opened and are covered in metal cage. Windows are hard to see out of, but do have a retractable privacy screen.  The train is bumpy and the horn blows without pause for the first 3 hours while leaving Manila's endless suburbs, but it's way better than the bus.  Buy tickets at any train station ahead of time. The train was maybe 30% full midweek."

More information...

If anyone has any more information, photos or travel reports that would be useful for this page, please e-mail me!

 

Reclining air-con seats on the Bicol Express...  Photo courtesy of Ian Moffat

 

Manila's Tutuban railway station...  Photo courtesy of Ian Moffat

Sponsored links...

 

Find hotels in Manila & the Philippines...

 

◄◄ Hotel search & price comparison.

www.hotelscombined.com checks all the main hotel booking sites at once to find the widest choice of hotels & the cheapest seller.  It was named as the World's Leading Hotel Comparison Site at the World Travel Awards 2013 and I highly recommend it, both to find hotels in even the smallest places and to check that another retailer isn't selling the same hotel for less!

www.booking.com is my favourite booking site, as it's really clear and you can usually book with free cancellation and so confirm your accommodation at no risk months before train booking opens.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


Travel insurance & health card...

 

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

Get travel insurance, it's essential...

Never travel overseas without travel insurance from a reliable insurer, with at least 1m or preferably 5m medical cover.  It should also cover cancellation and loss of cash (up to a limit) and belongings.  An annual multi-trip policy is usually cheaper than several single-trip policies even for just 2 or 3 trips a year (I have an annual policy myself).  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

In the UK, try Columbus Direct or use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

If you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65 (no age limit), see www.JustTravelCover.com.

        If you're resident in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  If you're resident in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

Get a spare credit card, designed for foreign travel with no currency exchange loading & low or no ATM fees...

It costs nothing to take out an extra credit card.  If you keep it in a different part of your luggage so you're not left stranded if your wallet gets stolen, this is a form of extra travel insurance in itself.  In addition, some credit cards are significantly better for overseas travel than others.  Martin Lewis's www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-travel-money explains which UK credit cards have the lowest currency exchange commission loadings when you buy something overseas, and the lowest cash withdrawal fees when you use an ATM abroad.  Taking this advice can save you quite a lot on each trip compared to using your normal high-street bank credit card!

You can avoid ATM charges and expensive exchange rates with a Caxton FX euro currency Visa Card, or their multi-currency 'Global Traveller' Visa Card, see www.caxtonfx.com for info.

Get an international SIM card...

Mobile phones can cost a fortune to use abroad, and if you're not careful you can return home to find some huge bills waiting for you.  I've known people run up a 1,000 bill in data charges just by leaving their iPhone connected during a simple trip to Europe.  However, if you buy a global SIM card for your mobile phone from a company such as www.Go-Sim.com you can slash the cost by up to 85% and limit any damage to the amount you have pre-paid.  It cuts call costs in 175 countries worldwide, and you can receive incoming calls and texts for free in 75 countries.  It's pay-as-you-go, so no nasty bills when you get home.  It also works for laptop or PDA data access.  A Go-Sim account and any credit on it doesn't expire if it's not between trips, unlike some others, so a Go-Sim phone number becomes your 'global phone number' for life.

 


Back to home page