Trains fascinate many travelers. They hold a certain romance — think The Orient Express, or even Harry Potter. Plus, they offer good value for budget travelers. The Philippines’ railway system hardly rivals that Japan or even fellow ASEAN countries like Thailand and Vietnam, where thousands of tourists take days-long sleeper trains every year. However, Manila does have one heavy railway: the Philippine National Railways Northbound-Southbound Line. This is the last remaining line of the 1,100 km of railroad that the Philippine National Railways controlled at its zenith. To get a taste of the golden age of train travel, check out these 9 spots via PNR Northbound-Southbound line.
To follow this travel guide, start at Tutuban Station, the northernmost terminal of the line and Philippine National Railways’ fanciest existing station. The train runs every half hour, so you can get off, look around, and head back to the station in time to catch another train to your next destination. You should have time to see at least two destinations in one day. Be careful if you’re heading for destinations past Alabang; only one train reaches the end of the line every day, leaving Tutuban at 7:11 AM.
The whole ride takes 2 hours and 40 minutes. See the latest schedules from Philippine National Railways here. The fares are zone-based, with the price starting at 15 pesos and going up by 5 pesos every 7 km for an air-conditioned car. An “ordinary” car starts at 12 pesos and goes up 4 pesos every 7 km. You can view a fare chart here.
Dangwa Flower Market at Laong-Laan Station
Two stops and roughly 10 minutes from Tutuban, you’ll arrive at Laong-Laan Station. Laong-Laan is conveniently close to Dangwa Bulaklakan, the biggest and most famous flower market in Manila. Most of the 50+ vendors here are open 24/7, ensuring that Manila’s spurned husbands can buy their wives apology presents at any time of day. Buy your travel partner a rose or a lily for a few pesos. It’ll serve as a much-needed air fresher if your notoriously crowded PNR car gets too packed as you continue south.