The streets of Manila are clogged most of the time with illegal drivers, illegal vehicles all poisoning the atmosphere for every person in the City.
It is not fun trying to get around Manila, and it is just part of Manila’s woes. You have the car, the jeepney and the bus and in and around Intramorous you have the horse and cab.
These horse and cabs are leftovers from a time when it was a delight to be moved around the great architecture of Manila on open roads without the need of masks. Now, they are only used by a few tourists. The horse and cart are known as Kalesa’s, which is a Tagalog word and there are several spelling versions of the word too.
The price of a horse and carriage ride around Manila depends on factors like:
(a) your destination / attractions you want to cover,
(b) how many stops you want to make along the way, and
(c) whether you are hiring an independent calesa driver or a travel agency.
Cost of Hiring Independent Horse Carriage Divers
As a rule, a Manila carriage ride costs PhP 300 for two people for 30 minutes. That’s $8 or £5. The more stops you make, the longer the ride will take and the more you have to pay. It’s important that you understand this to avoid disappointment.
You can decide what destinations you want to cover. A ride around Intramuros is particularly eye-opening; it starts and ends at the Manila Cathedral and will cover all the important historic attractions in old Manila. It is possible to see Intramuros and surrounds in 30 minutes if you don’t stop for photos; otherwise, expect the ride to last an hour and the price to double. Drivers might quote you a slightly higher price if you are a foreigner. Feel free to haggle down to the ‘local price’ of PhP 300; they will eventually give in.
The issue I have is that the horse looks like it is about to keel over and die. Thin and harrassed and walking all day through Manila pollution carrying heavy foriegners is something I cannot get my head around. The horses are not well fed or looked after. There is no money to do that and there is no enforcement to do that.
On the hand, once your driver gets you to Intramorous and the traffic drops there is something very wonderful about moving pass Spanish style houes and hearing the clipping of hoofs. You get taken back to a time long ago- only for a few minutes though.
The Kalesa’s future has always been in survival mode. It has faced threats to its survival due to modern and faster modes of transportation in the Philippines. But with growing economic and environmental concerns, it may the right time for the Kalesa to make a comeback and regain its former stature as the Philippines’ King of the Road.
Philippine life and culture will never be the same without the Kalesa. It is part of Philippine history and its importance can never be ignored. Despite the challenges of modernization, the Kalesa will always provide a unique mode of transport that is environmentally friendly.
More importantly, with the rising cost of imported oil, it is time that the Kalesa is given serious consideration as the Philippines’ primary means of transportation.