Tricycles are not just a fun children's toy.

In the Philippines they are much more than that.

Tricycles. One of the easiest and most popular forms of public transportation in the Philippines.  They are virtually everywhere, and they are all unique but at the same time, they're all very similar.

Three tricycles in Zamboanga City
Credit: Zack3g

A tricycle is basically a motorcycle with a covered sidecar. It is intended to seat one or two passengers in addition to the driver, but it is not unusual to see them filled to overflowing when a family needs to get somewhere.

Riding a tricycle seems like it should be a fairly straightforward procedure, and if you are lucky enough to be Filipino, it usually is. You hail a passing tricycle, inform the driver of where you wish to go, he gives you the fare, and off you go. For foreigners this is not always the case.

There are some dishonest tricycle drivers out there that will try to take advantage of you.  I will tell you now that the general fare for a tricycle ride in Zamboanga is around 20-40 PHP for an in-town ride. Prices in your local area may vary of course. This may go up slightly if you're traveling with someone. I have had drivers try and quote me 60, 100 or more. THIS IS ILLEGAL and they can lose their license for doing it! Get another tricycle, trust me there are plenty of them around.

A tricycle in Zamboanga City(64964)
Credit: Zack3g

Now that we've got that out of the way, how do you get a tricycle? It's easy! Wait for an empty one to head in your direction and wave at him. Sometimes you don't even need to do that, as a good tricycle driver will actively seek out passengers and if you're walking down the road they will occasionally stop to offer you a ride. Generally speaking, you shouldn't have to wait long to see a tricycle, in most cities they are everywhere, and even in rural areas they are common as someone in town usually needs a ride back home, and they're more than happy to pick you up on your way into town.

Once you've acquired yourself a tricycle, you need to tell the driver where you want to go and ask him the fare. Most of them are honest and will quote you a fair price. I'd recommend asking a local friend before you take the ride to get an idea of what things should cost in YOUR specific locale. Remember the earlier warning about overcharging, and if you feel the deal isn't fair say so. If the driver refuses to budge, get a new one and report his tricycle if possible. The authorities do take that sort of thing seriously in the Philippines.

Feel free to negotiate prices, remember you are in the Philippines and haggling is perfectly acceptable! Once you've agreed upon a price, hop in and enjoy the ride. Traffic in the Philippines is a sight to behold. Somehow despite the lack of enforcement people manage to swerve, pull out in front of each other, stop randomly, and drive in the oncoming lane without smashing everything up very often. It's amazing to see, but a little unsettling at first. Once you've gotten used to it, you realize that while it seems chaotic to the casual observer, there IS a system. The system just defies explanation to outsiders however it is business as usual  in the Philippines.

For more information about traveling in the Philippines, see this article: