Uber in Manila (Philippines) – how good is it?

I am a huge Uber fan and I use it everywhere I go. I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by its service and quality. I have used Uber in Denmark, United States, Thailand and now the Philippines.

Now, the reason why I want to make this post, is because the Uber experience in the Philippines is very different than any other country.

There are some good, and some bad things about it.

However, no matter what: Uber works, as long as you are in Manila (and now Uber has been made legal in the Philippines, I would assume it comes to bigger cities such as Cebu or Davao soon).

It works. There are many drivers. It’s cheap.

However, there is more to be said. First a couple of bad things:

1. Estimates suck.

Approximate pick-up time is 5 minutes. Great!

Now, you have to apply filipino time. Triple the estimate, and you’re getting somewhere. I think from my 40+ Uber trips in Manila, that assuming double to triple pick-up time is somewhat correct.

The reasons are both traffic, but also the drivers often do crazy shit. Instead of following the smartest route, they somehow make a decision to go the complete opposite way, just to realise 5 minutes later it was stupid, and goes back. The things I’ve seen drivers do while waiting to be picked up is crazy.

Estimates also suck when you finally got your Uber, and it suggests time to destination.

2. Where are you going?

Every time you start a ride, the driver will ask you where to go. When you tell them: “No worries! I already entered address”, they will look weird at you. Then they will ask “how do we get there?”.

Now, I often feel like answering: “Uhm. Let me see. I am the tourist here, and you are the driver who drives here every day, equipped with the almighty GPS… How about you don’t ask me and just fucking follow the navigation?”. However, I am always politely asking they should follow navigation. Now, they usually stop asking for directions the next five minutes…. Until:

3) Is this the correct way?

They always ask you: “IS IT HERE?”.

Again, I always feel like answering: “No, sir, it’s not. I’ve absolutely no idea where the fuck we are. This is your fucking job to figure it out.”. While that answer might be true, it’s also a bit rude. Which is why I always reply: “Sir, I don’t know. I am the tourist. Please just use the navigation”.

But no, they keep asking.

Because for some reason:

4) They simply deny using the built in Uber navigation

For some reason, they simply don’t want to hit the huge button starting “START NAVIGATION”. No matter how many times you ask them.

For some reason, they prefer being the god of the city, driving the way they believe is the best one. Lately I had a great example of a driver who took a 25 minute ride … which I could’ve walked in 8 minutes (I was sick that night, so decided to take what I would expect to be a 2 minute ride).

Now, luckily I always give them 1 star when they take a fucked-up route. This always gives me communication with the Uber team, where I get a refund. It’s easy enough, it’s just annoying I have to do get refunds with around 1/3 of the trips, because the drivers deny clicking “start navigation”.

5) No English skills

One of the reasons I love the Philippines, is because everyone speak English. Even when you meet locals in the street, they all speak English.

However, when you become a Taxi or Uber driver, there seems to be a test that simply tests if you speak English. If you do, you are not allowed to drive.

For some reason, the English skills of 9/10 Uber drivers are horrible. They simply do not speak it. They barely understand “left” and “right”, which I find interesting. It’s a bit weird though, as nearly everyone else I meet, even in the provinces, speak pretty good English.

6) Surge pricing all the time.. Even tried 5.5x pricing

Surge price at 2pm a normal Tuesday? That’s normal! Just expect to drive with surge pricing all the time. For some reason that’s the case in Manila.

7) One hand driving one hand smartphone

Forget all about driver safety. Most drivers will hold their tablet or smartphone in one hand, looking at the screen, while driving. Now, I never feel safe, because the traffic in Manila is pretty crazy already. But one hand and zero attention to the road… well. Yeah.

There are some good things to add as well though:

1) Cheap… Very cheap

One day I was driving like 40 minutes. We were driving at least 15 kilometers, and it just took a long time.

I ended up paying something like 170 pesos, or close to 4 USD.

Uber in the Philippines are ridiculously cheap. Now, you have to account for surge pricing which happens a lot, but even with 2-3x, it’s fine.

2) Huge amount of drivers

Everywhere you go, there are a crazy amount of drivers. It’s really awesome.

Now, pick-up times are often 15-20 minutes (the app suggests 5 minutes), because of reasons states below, but there are always drivers close to you.

3) Very Friendly

Despite there are some challenges, the drivers are always very friendly and welcoming.

And most importantly:

Uber in Manila airport – can I use it?

Everyone who have ever landed in Manila airport, know getting a taxi is one of the worst experiences EVER.

It takes A LOT of times, unless you willingly say yes to being ripped.

It’s a crazy experience, and most of all, it just sucks.

With Uber, however, it’s great. You open your app, you call the driver and you meet up with him just at the normal arrival area. Cars can easily park, you can get your suitcases in and you’re ready to go.

It’s just perfect.

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