Why Riding Like a Local is my Best Advice

Taking the public transportation has been my routine when I travel. Regardless of whether I have travel companions or traveling solo, I have been a huge advocate of riding like a local. Doing so just makes one a better traveler. Here’s why.

It Saves me Money
I saved a lot taking the train rather than riding a taxi in Singapore.
Transportation cost is always part of traveling expenses. As you spend more days traveling and going to different places, the more you spend money. However, don’t let transportation stop you from exploring. Find ways to get from point A to point B without spending too much. One of the best ways is to take public transportation. The more you share a ride, the cheaper it gets. This is why a train or a bus ticket is usually cheaper than a taxi fare.
MRT in Singapore
It’s true that it may require some research on how to take public transportation in a foreign country due to unfamiliarity, but it truly pays to know them. In fact, aside from saving money, sometimes it is safer to take public transportation. Personally, I feel more secured inside a train where there are a lot of people around than me alone inside a cab in a foreign country.

I Get to Travel More
Taking the public boat at Chao Praya River in Bangkok, Thailand
Traveling by boat in Bangkok is fast and it brings a good view too!
When we traveled Bangkok, I realized that their traffic jam can be as insane as ours in Manila. Taking a cab there during rush hour is a total ripoff. This is why taking the MRT is your best option. You can reach destinations on time, and so there's more valuable time to spend exploring areas than getting stuck in traffic.
Some tuktuk drivers may charge big in Bangkok. Luckily, a good local taught me to haggle for the price.
One time, we met a local via Couchsurfing who volunteered to bring us around the city. In exchange of such goodness, we wanted to be on time. So we took the MRT to reach the meeting place. And it did not fail us. We even arrived a few minutes earlier than her.

It Improves My Sense of Direction
The routes and destinations are identified by bus numbers in Macau's bus system.
Going around by public bus in Macau is easy. Just know how to read bus routes and you're good to go
When I was 10 or 11, I used to get lost in the shopping mall. I could not remember the paths I took. I used to easily get overwhelmed by directions and signs that I end up scared to explore. So when I started traveling, somehow it improved my skills in locating places. Knowing the bus route, finding the nearest train station, and reading street signs truly improve my sense of direction.
Reading maps in Macau
Understanding maps, in particular, is something that I have developed through the years of traveling. It is one of the most useful tools for me. I usually get those free map brochures at the airport. If there’s none, I use Google Maps.

(*Travel tip: I use Google Maps on my phone, but I also print a hard copy so that I still have a backup in case my phone dies.)

It Connects me With Locals
Busy Yangon Central Station in Myanmar
Public transportation is the daily mode of transportation of the people. The real scenario is right there—ordinary people on ordinary days, which can make you understand and appreciate the culture.  
When I took the train in Yangon, Myanmar, I wore the traditional longyi skirt to blend with the crowd and be like a local.
Train ride in Yangon Myanmar has huge time interval. Make sure to check the schedule to manage your time.
When I traveled solo in Yangon, I got to know a good local who accompanied me while taking the local train. The entire ride took around three hours. You can imagine how many stories we shared throughout the trip. The experience also opened my eyes to the everyday life of the Burmese. I saw livestock being carried in and out the train, local vendors with their delicacies, and families happily bonding in the train. It was a humbling experience.

I Compare Mine with Theirs and I Ponder
Tuktuk ride in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Public transportation varies from one country to another. Cambodia and Thailand, for example, have their tuktuks, Vietnam has their motorcycles, and my country, the Philippines, has the jeepney. The unique riding experience is what I bring back as souvenir. Doing something different from the usual is one of the reasons that makes traveling very exciting.
Motorcycles in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
I usually compare and contrast local transportation in the Philippines with the country I visited. It broadens my understanding of the culture diversity. At times, I may feel like my country has the worst public transport, yet at some point too, I appreciate it so much like when travelers say that they enjoy riding the jeepney. 
Riding the local jeepney. It's more fun in the Philippines!




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