Would be more useful if we had more trains to begin with, but useful nonetheless. Wouldn’t recommend taking the PNR train unless you are heading to Divisoria or Bicol (If you’re heading to Bicol by train, you’re awesome.)
Well finally did it, the Bicol Express train to Naga. So this is how it went. We took the LRT to the Bambang train station, which costs 15 pesos per person. Then we took a tricycle to the PNR train station, 50 pesos for two. (My tricycle prices are not always the cheapest rates necessarily, because I’m a horrible negotiatior.) Walked in and bought two sleeper tickets. Though you could reserve ahead by calling 3190041 loc. 122 or 3190048.
There is no dining car attached to the train yet, so you can buy stuff at the station canteen or you can go over to neighboring Tutuban mall, and get stuff there.
The train leaves every other day at EXACTLY 6:30 pm, it stops at Espana, 6:38 pm. It gets to the Pasay Road station at 6:56 pm and onwards to Alabang, 7:20 pm. We were supposed to arrive in Naga by 4:30 am the next day, but we actually arrived there at around 5:30 am.
So how was the train? It was pretty awesome. You get to lie flat, have a reading lamp, table, etc. Unfortunately they don’t provide any blankets or pillows, so we used our bags as pillows. There are curtains that can surround your whole bed which gives you a bubble of security. There are also reclinable seats at a cheaper price but sleeper trains are the thing! 🙂
The trains are very safe. There is a full-fledged policeman per train, and don’t worry, they’re non-threatening. 🙂 One fascinating thing is the need for some people to throw rocks at the train! This problem is unsolvable at the moment, but there are grills on all the windows, so don’t worry, it will be safe.
We got to Bicol around 5:30 in the morning, and there were tricycles at the gate to take you anywhere in Naga. We got into one with a group of other people who took us to the city bus terminal, where you can get a bus to Daet (110 pesos, no aircon with lots of stops!) or any other place in Bicol. Or you could go to SM Naga beside it where you can get minivans. Next time we’ll probably try to get minivans, but they were not yet leaving that early in the morning.
Bottom line, the train is awesome! We think this train is going to work. When this train reaches Legaspi, it will be even more awesome. Everyone interested should ride this train now, before it becomes too popular. PNR, please maintain this train well. 🙂
P.S. The schedules and prices, since I rode the Bicol Express, may change. I try my best to update the article above and pictures below to make it current. But for even more accurate changes, please go to the Philippine National Railways official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pnrailways
(To figure out the train scheds, go to the PNR website. Click on services and then click on the Metro Commuter.)
I don’t really know what to do with this post, but this week I was finally able to ride the PNR train from Tutuban to Alabang and back. This tidbit of information isn’t really important except for the fact that the PNR said it would be re-opening their Manila to Bicol “Bicol Express” soon. Soon, according to my Internet cybersleuthing skills, is around September, just in time for the Penafrancia festival in Bicol.
The Bicol Express will be a godsend to many backpackers in the Philippines. It will simplify getting from Manila to Bicol to check out the whale sharks. And when the track from Clark to Manila is also finished, Clark will be an even more viable airport for budget travellers.
The way to get to the Tutuban station is to take the LRT up to the Blumentritt station and then switch to the PNR station also at Blumentritt except that it is at street level. (Another way is to take the MRT to the Magallanes station and try to find the PNR station also at ground level, but unless you know your way around, it might be more difficult.)
The PNR trains seem to run around every hour. More at rush hour. The trains do get crowded, but there are female only train cars. Also it’s cheap, to get from Tutuban to Alabang costs only 20 pesos.
And one more thing, if you want to shop at the legendary Divisoria, the Tutuban station is right in the heart of it 🙂
(Joyriders: There is parking right across the Tutuban station. Try the PNR train, it’s fun.)