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 was 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.  However, the trains didn't last.  In late 2012 all trains were suspended again after hurricane damage and they have not run since.  There are still 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


Useful country information

Train operator:

Philippine National Railways (PNR) - formerly www.pnr.gov.ph, now inactive.

For bus services see 12go.asia.

 

Time zone:

GMT+8 all year.

Dialling code:

 

+63.

Currency:

1 = 65 Philippine pesos   $1 = 52 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:

7 February 2023


Manila to Naga & Ligao

After hurricane damage, Filipino mainline trains were suspended in late 2012 and remain suspended in 2023.  The railway may never run again, at least in its narrow-gauge form.  For alternative bus services see 12go.asia.

 Manila ► Naga  ** cancelled**

Km

 

 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

-

*

 Naga ► Manila ** 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 65 pesos.  $1 = 52 pesos.  Promo rate = temporary cheap fare.

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


Find hotels in the Philippines

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

Booking.com is my favourite hotel booking site and I generally use it to book all my hotels in one place.  I've come to trust booking.com's review scores, you won't be disappointed with any hotel that scores 8.0 or more.  Crucially, booking.com usually lets you book with free cancellation, which means you can confirm accommodation risk-free before train booking opens and/or you can hold accommodation while you finalise your itinerary and alter your plans as they evolve - a feature I use all the time when planning a trip.  I never book hotels non-refundably!

Tip:  It's sometimes worth comparing prices across multiple hotel booking sites:  HotelsCombined.com compares hotel prices on Booking.com, Hotels.com, Expedia, Agoda & many others.  If there's not much in it, I prefer to keep all my bookings together at www.booking.com, but it's sometimes worth checking!

Backpacker hostels

www.hostelworld.com:  If you're on a tight budget, don't forget about backpacker hostels.  Hostelworld offers online booking of cheap private rooms or dorm beds in backpacker hostels in most cities at rock-bottom prices.


Travel insurance & VPN

 

Staysure travel insurance

 

Columbus Direct logo

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 with Staysure.co.uk myself.  Here are some suggested insurers.  Seat61 gets a small commission if you buy through these links.

UK flag  www.staysure.co.uk offers enhanced Covid-19 protection & gets 4.7 out of 5 on Trustpilot.

UK flag  www.columbusdirect.com is also a well-know brand.

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

 

Maya.net logo

Get an eSIM with mobile data package

Don't rely on WiFi, download an eSIM with a mobile data package for the country you're visiting and stay connected.  Most newer mobile phones can download a virtual SIM card so you don't need to buy a physical SIM, including iPhone 11 & later, see device compatibility listMaya.net is a reliable eSIM data retailer with a 4.5 out of 5 Trustpilot rating and a range of packages including unlimited data.

 

Curve card

Curve card

Get a Curve card for foreign travel

Most banks give you a poor exchange rate, then add a foreign transaction fee on top.  A Curve MasterCard means no foreign transaction fees and gives you the mid-market exchange rate, at least up to a certain limit, 500 per month at time of writing.  The money you spend on your Curve card goes straight onto one of your existing debit or credit cards.

How it works:  1. Download the Curve app for iPhone or Android.  2. Enter your details & they'll send you a Curve MasterCard - they send to the UK and most European addresses.  3. Link your existing credit & debit cards to the app, you can link up to two cards with the free version of Curve, I link my normal debit card and my normal credit card.  4. Now use the Curve MasterCard to buy things online or in person or take cash from ATMs, exactly like a normal MasterCard. Curve does the currency conversion and puts the balance in your own currency onto whichever debit or credit card is currently selected in the Curve app.  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, it means I can buy a coffee on a foreign station on a card without being stung by fees and lousy exchange rates, just by tapping the Curve card on their card reader.  The money goes through Curve to my normal debit card and is taken directly from my account (in fact I have the Curve card set up as payment card on Apple Pay on my iPhone, so can double-click my phone, let it do Face ID then tap the reader with the phone - even easier than digging a card out).  I get a little commission if you sign up to Curve, but I recommend it here because I think it's great.  See details, download the app and get a Curve card, they'll give you 5 cashback through that link.

 

Express VPN

Get a VPN for safe browsing.  Why you need a VPN

When you're travelling you often use free WiFi in public places which may not be secure.  A VPN encrypts your connection so it's always secure, even on unsecured WiFi.  It also means you can select the geographic location of the IP address you browse with, to get around geoblocking which a surprising number of websites apply.  See VPNs & why you need one explainedExpressVPN is a best buy with a 4.7 out of 5 Trustpilot ranking which I use 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.  I get a small commission to help support this site.

 

Anker Powerrbank

Carry an Anker powerbank

Tickets, reservations, vaccination records and Interrail or Eurail passes are often held digitally on your mobile phone, so it's vital to keep it charged.  I always carry an Anker powerbank which can recharge my phone several times over if I can't get to a power outlet.  Buy from Amazon.co.uk or from Buy from Amazon.com.

 


Back to home page