What the Heck is a Jeepney?

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London has the red double-decker bus, New York the yellow taxi, and the Philippines has the Jeepney.

I have never heard of “jeepney” before, but once I travelled to the Philippines, I had to add this word to my travel vocabulary list. In today’s post, I want to introduce this extremely interesting vehicle to you and I hope you will have a chance to have a ride one day.

Best way to experience the Jeepney ride, of course, is to go to the Philippines! Here’s a handy Philippines Travel Itinerary for you.

Jeepney collage

What is Jeepney?

Jeepney is the Philippines’ most popular mean of public transport, extremely cheap and pretty comfortable, used by most of the locals. It is also known as Jeeps and in Filipino you would call it Dyipne or Dyip.

Because of its open rear door design, picking up and dropping off is easy for both passengers and drivers, although there’s quite a lot of shuffling inside. 

Each vehicle represents the multi-cultural history of the Philippines.

As one of first makers of Jeepneys, Ed Sarao says: “There is bit of Spanish, Mexican traits there; how they incorporate vivid colors, fiesta-like feelings. There is a little of the Americans because it evolved from the Jeep. There is a little Japan because of the Japanese engine. But it was built by Filipino hands.”  

Jeepney in Banaue
Cool jeepney in Banaue

The bulk of Jeepneys are built from second-hand Japanese trucks, originally intended for cargo. It is devoid of passenger comforts. Depending on length, it can load from 18 to 30 passengers, the drivers are usually waiting for a full load before going their way, but that may differ depending on the route (drivers know best what’s the most profitable way for them).

Colorful jeepney in Banaue
Colorful jeepney in Banaue

What is so special about Jeepneys?

They all qualify as “art-on-wheels”! Probably no two jeepneys are alike. The jeepney art is impressive and it is a combination of artwork applied by airbrush and sticker artists.

Jeepney in Banaue

Many jeepneys concentrate the art on the front, insanely cramming the hood area with accessories, the sides with empty galvanized expanses or scatterings of ads and small art. Some are gleamingly and colorfully wrapped with accessories and airbrushed or stickered art. The main art theme are religious symbols.

Jeepney driver in Manila
Jeepney driver in Manila

Where can you find Jeepneys?

The answer is EVERYWHERE in the Philippines! During the day they go on fixed routes, picking up passengers from designated stops. There are roughly 50,000 Jeepneys roaring around Manila on any given day so there is no way you won’t spot at least 1 when strolling down the streets.

Jeepney

How Much is the Jeepney Ride?

Getting around may cost as little as 8 pesos which is $0.20. However, different routes / distances/ cities may have different prices. For an average Filipino, jeepneys are the cheapest way to get from one place to another, without walking.

Jeepney many people
Taking a jeepney at night in Manila

For budget travelers, jeepneys are one of the best and most comfortable transport options. Drivers normally speak English (like most of the Filipinos) so you can easily get to your destination for a few cents.

A boy trying to get out of jeepney in Manila
Cez trying to get off a jeepney

What it’s Like to Ride in a Jeepney?

Pros of Jeepney:

  • Picking up and dropping off is easy for both passengers and drivers, they can stop anywhere unlike buses. You can catch one from nearly any place you are at.
  • It’s a good opportunity to talk to some locals and get to know people.
  • Less likely you’ll get ripped off (the prices are normally fixed) unlike some buses and most taxis.
  • There is plenty of space inside to sit down and unfold your legs (unless it’s fully packed).
  • Budget-friendly mean of transport in the Philippines.
Jeepney in Banaue
Jeepney in Banaue

Cons of Jeepney:

  • There is no air-conditioning.
  • Not much will protect you from the elements (imagine a ride in the rain).
  • It’s not very safe (no seat belts and drivers drive like crazy).
  • Most of the jeepneys are overloaded with passengers so you might end up squeezed feeling like being in a can of sardines (shoulder-unto-armpit, back-unto-chest, shoulder-unto-shoulder, elbow-unto-hipbone).
Fancy jeepney in Banaue
Fancy jeepney

Our experience with Jeepneys

We took our first jeepney right after we arrived at Manila airport. We caught it just outside the airport to get to the bus station from where we were going to Pagudpud. It was easy to get in and cheap, pretty shaky ride, but safe and we enjoyed it. The driver didn’t talk much, but he knew the place we were heading to so he dropped us off just in front of the bus station. We paid 8 pesos each. There were only 5 other passengers with us. It was fun! Afterwards, we had at least one ride in every city we’ve been to.

Jeepney in Laoag
Jeepney in Laoag

Have you ever had a jeepney ride? If so, how was it?

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Agness Walewinder
Agness Walewinder
Travel freak, vagabond, photography passionate, blogger, life enthusiast, backpacker, adventure hunter and endless energy couchsurfer living by the rule "Pack lite, travel far and live long!"
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77 thoughts on “What the Heck is a Jeepney?”

  1. I have seen them on documentaries of Philipines, did not know they are called Jeepneys. I love such aspects of a country, that give it a unique character and feel.

  2. I’ve never been to the Philippines so I haven’t experienced a ride on a jeepney. I like how colorful they are though :)

  3. Their very colourful and creative. Not sure I could handle being so cramped but as the saying goes “when in Rome” or rather the Philippines.

  4. Christie @ The Butterfly Editions

    I love jeepneys – my favourite mode of transport ever! When I was travelling through Palawan in the Philippines we rode on the roof of one! It was one of the funnest experiences of my life, can’t wait to go back and do it again!

      1. we call that “topload”. :) very exciting albeit a little dangerous. You get unlimited view of the surrounding.

  5. Katie @ From Shores to Skylines

    They remind me a little of the songthaews we rode around in Chiang Mai, only much much prettier, and bigger. Love the colorful art on them!

  6. What a weird and wonderful little vehicle they are. I can see the fun element to them but then I wouldn’t like it if it is as crowded as it looks on some of those pictures.

    As for hanging off the back outside, no thanks for me.

  7. It looks so colorful! Good views on the cons and pros. I will be using them a lot when I visit the Philippines later this year :)

  8. Love this and the colors. We have a simple Jeep love to have one of this to travel in. Wish they had them in the US.

    1. Jeepneys are actually repurposed jeeps from the US.

      During the WW2, the Philippines, then a US territory was invaded by Japan. After the war, the Americans left their jeeps. The Filipinos recycled them and the rest is history.

  9. Rachel of Hippie in Heels

    That looks like fun. For how many tourists there are in Goa, I’m shocked they haven’t come up with a system like this! Although the local buses are packed in like sardines too :) I love the artwork on them!

  10. When I was in the Philippines in the 1970s, most jeepneys were smaller, and the connection to the then-ubiquitous U.S. Army Jeep was evident. Most were built on the original Jeep chassis and the passenger area was enlarged out from the original to the sides and behind, supported by struts. Most had canvas or metal roofs erected over the seats, higher than the original Jeep canvas. We heard they originally got popular because of the resourceful Filipinos using the many U.S. Jeeps left behind after World War II. It’s interesting to see how they have evolved, as surely the old original Jeeps must have mostly faded away by now.

  11. What a great way of meeting locals and other travelers. Looks like a fun time, and I just love the colors and painting on the outsides.

  12. I’d never heard of Jeepneys either until I started reading travel blogs more often. It looks really interesting! Reminds me of some of the open-air buses that take people around in some Caribbean countries. But a lot cheaper to ride in! I love how they’re all painted like that!

  13. How fun, and I love the bright colors! Isn’t it funny how every country has their own version of this? A tuk tuk in Laos is completely different from a tuk tuk in Cambodia! I love it.

    1. Agness Walewinder

      I know. I had a ride in Cambodia and Thailand, but tricycles in Sri Lanka were completely different!

  14. I love the colouful jeepney art! I didn’t ride in one when I was in the Philippines, just because we were on a family vacation in one place and weren’t moving around. But they did look terribly dangerous because of the amount of people packed in. We saw so many with people dangling from the roof, whizzing around road bends.

  15. Agness, thanks for putting this great Jeepney collection together. I have to confess that I was madly in love with them when travelling the Philippines, not only because they were such a cheap way to get around, but rather because they were so beautifully decorated. I simply couldn’t believe that every single one of them looked different, but apparently I must have missed the fancy chrome Jeepney from your last photo… :)

    1. Agness Walewinder

      Hi Dennis!

      It’s been my pleasure. You have made it to the Philippines already? No wonder why you fell in love with jeepneys. It was love at fist sign and ride I guess :).

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