Manila to Naga City by train

In late 2011, Philippine National Railways resumed daily long-distance passenger trains between Manila and Naga City, after they'd been 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.  In 2012, the Mayon Limited trains were added, later renamed Isarog Limited, and train service was extended beyond Naga to Ligao, not far short of Legazpi.  It was hoped to extend trains to Legazpi in due course.  PNR also operate metro trains around Manila.

small bullet point  Timetable

small bullet point  Fares

small bullet point  How to buy tickets

small bullet point  What's the journey like?

small bullet point  Useful country information

Current situation:  Train service 'temporarily' cancelled...

After hurricane damage, these trains were suspended in late 2012 and remain suspended in 2020.  It's not clear when or if train service will be reinstated in fact it may never run again in its current narrow-gauge form.  Please see www.pnr.gov.ph.  For alternative bus services see 12go.asia.

 Manila ► Naga  Service cancelled

Km

*****All cancelled*****

 Bicol Express

Ran daily

Isarog Limited Express

Ran Mon, Wed, Fri

Mayon Limited Ordinary

Ran 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 (if working).

* 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 Service cancelled

*****All cancelled*****

 Bicol Express

Ran daily

Isarog Limited Express

Ran Tue, Thur, Sun

Mayon Limited Ordinary

Ran 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

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.

  The Bicol Express train in the Philippines - family sleeper

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

What's 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.  Further feedback or photos would be appreciated!

** It's been reported 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/.

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


large bullet pointUseful country information

Train operator:

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

For bus services see 12go.asia.

 

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 30 days as long as they have a return ticket.

Page last updated:

2 January 2020


large bullet pointFind hotels in the Philippines...

Find hotels at Booking.comMy favourite hotel search site: www.booking.com

www.booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally prefer booking my hotels all in one place here.  You can usually book with free cancellation - this allows you to confirm your accommodation at no risk before train booking opens.  It also means you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary, and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when putting a trip together.  I never book hotels non-refundably.  I have also come to trust their review scores - you won't be disappointed with anything over 8.0.

Tip:  It can pay to compare prices across multiple hotel sites:  HotelsCombined.com is a price comparison site which compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Accor, Agoda and many others.  Though if there's not much in it, I prefer keeping all my bookings together in one place at www.booking.com.

Other hotel sites worth trying...

Backpacker hostels...


large bullet pointTravel insurance & VPN...

 

Columbus direct travel insurance

 

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Always take out travel insurance...

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 and belongings, up to a sensible limit.  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.

UK flagIn the UK, reliable insurers include Columbus Direct.

UK flagIf you have a pre-existing medical condition or are over 65, see www.JustTravelCover.com - 10% discount with code seat61.

UK flagYou can use Confused.com to compare prices & policies from many different insurers.

  Australian flag New Zealand flag  Irish flag    If you live in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland or the EU, try Columbus Direct's other websites.

  US flag If you live in the USA try Travel Guard USA.

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Curve card

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How it works:  1. Download the app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to most European addresses including the UK.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, just like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance onto whichever of your debit or credit cards you choose.  You can even change your mind about which card it goes onto, within 14 days of the transaction.

I have a Curve Blue card myself - I get some commission if you sign up to Curve, but I'm recommending it here because it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card - they'll give you 5 cashback through that link, too.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  VPNs & why you need one explained...

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN means your connection to the internet is encrypted & always secure, even using unsecured WiFi.  In countries such as China where access to Twitter & Facebook is restricted, a VPN gets around these restrictions.  And lastly, you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geographic restrictions which some websites apply - for example one booking site charges a booking fee to non-European visitors but none to European visitors, so if you're not located in Europe you can avoid this fee by browsing with a UK IP address using a VPN.  VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy and I use it myself - I've signed up as an ExpressVPN affiliate, and if you go with expressvpn.com using the links on this page, you should see a special deal, 3 months free with an annual subscription, and I get a small commission to help support this site.

 


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