BE WARNED… The tourist visa stamp from the Philippine Immigration does not magically give you the ability to drive a motorcycle! If you do not drive one at home, do not start here! I use to rent out big bikes but got really tired of explaining to bleeding people why they had to pay for my broken motorcycles. Renting Motorcycles in the Philippines is no different than in any other country, only hear they will drive more carelessly and not obey the traffic rules 100% of the time which makes it even more dangerous than driving one in a western country.
Conversely, if you do drive, then you will LOVE this place. Motorcycles in the Philippines are a great load of fun and something you will truly enjoy if you ever have the chance… the whole city of Manila is a motocross track waiting to happen. With bad traffic you can dodge and weave out of, to driving up on the sidewalks to avoid complete blockages; it’s a whole lot of fun and often times a complete madhouse.
I have been here way too long and am absolutely out of control with a thorough disregard for traffic regulations or enforcement. With my feet never touching the ground I absolutely slam through the streets at maximum rpm and I must say it is actually quite Exhilarating! Traffic enforcement here is sporadic at best with motorcycles seemingly ignored by traffic enforcers and allowed huge leniency compared to the larger vehicles on the road. Riders will be charging full speed over sidewalks, driving the wrong way on one-way streets, and weaving through traffic to the front of the pack… then a green traffic light suddenly turns into a motocross start with all the bikes blasting off at high speed in a cloud of 2 stroke smoke.
The best story of the week: A friend of mine, who is over 70 and drives a 650cc bike, says the other day, “I blew the traffic lights at Buendia and the cops came after me on a scooter…hehe …only took me a couple of kilometers to lose them!” Ok, let’s get started on how to rent a motorcycle in the Philippines. Check the rates. They will vary wildly, so ask a few different places before you decide on exactly where you would like to rent from. Look at the condition of the bikes and mileage to determine whether or not you may foresee any issues down the road that you may or may not be held accountable for.
Pay extra to get a newer one. It’s worth it. The old saying “Drive it like you stole it” is very true with rental bikes and many have had the s#*t kicked out them around the islands as most of the roads are very rarely maintained to a normal driving standard. oftentimes the road conditions alone become your biggest obstacles versus the traffic and unforeseen vehicles blocking the right of way.
Pick a bike according to your riding ability, again, this is NOT a good place to learn new tricks or how to ride a motorcycle at all for that matter. This is often more of a challenge to learn how to ride a motorcycle as there are not a lot of open highway roads, or large intersections as you would find in most western countries. Again, if you do not know how to ride a motorcycle with confidence already, don’t make the mistake of thinking you can learn to rent a bike here in the Philippines.
Take a picture or video of the bike to note any existing scratches, dents, or visible damage you see before you leave the rental premises, and make it completely obvious to the owner of the rental company you are doing so. This way there will be no arguments when you bring the bike back. If you do drop it then fix it BEFORE you return it. It will be much cheaper this way as the rental owner will most likely try to charge you much more for the hassle than what could be done to fix it yourself. Check the gasoline. Some come full and you have to return it full. Some come empty and you must buy gas before you roll. If the bike is on the side stand when they show you the gas gauge and it is indicating plenty of gas, make sure you stand the bike upright and recheck the gauge. I bet it shows MUCH lower gas levels now.
Helmet laws are random and usually only enforced for foreigners depending on the location and whether the local police are out in full force looking to meet the month’s quota that given day or not. I once asked why I was getting a ticket while Filipinos drove past with no helmets on at all. The simple answer was “ They have no money to pay the fine!” there for yes, as a foreigner here in the Philippines you are a common target for someone who can and will pay a ticket when presented with one.
Some Helmet Tips
When you are wearing a helmet, make sure the helmet fits and the buckles work. In some places, only the driver is required to wear one, and in some places only the passenger, etc. Currently, in Puerto Galera, you are NOT ALLOWED to wear a helmet! Elections are coming and the mayor is scared a rider with a full-face helmet will pull up alongside and shoot him. It’s a valid concern, unfortunately.
Out on the streets, always look both ways. Traffic flow is subject to change without notice and you’ll see bikes going the wrong way on a one-way street often without any notice or sign saying so, all while riding on sidewalks and generally disobeying the rules. Ask me how I know, and always expect the unexpected as the drivers here have only their own missions in mind.
I have never seen or heard of any regulations covering the number of passengers allowed or size of cargo permitted on a motorcycle and it seems to be up to your discretion.
However, be advised, there are probably regulations somewhere on the books, and THEY WILL enforce them on foreigners!
Have FUN! Motorcycles in the Philippines can be a blast and a great experience with a bit of caution and planning you too can enjoy the open road! It’s probably the best way to see the Philippines as well. If you would like more information on motorcycles here in the Philippines, have questions regarding where you can rent or purchase a bike in Puerto Galera, or just general knowledge on all things motorcycles, come visit us at any of our BADLADZ Adventure Resorts and we will be more than happy to help assist you with your concerns.