Manila Guide: Using Uber & Grab (Part 1: UBER)

uber grab

Hey everyone! Taking a break from the analysis and opinion stuff to bring to you my first Manila Guide post. I’ll shortly be following these guides up with a opinion piece on the same matter, as I  have a lot to say about it as well.

I’m going to try and give my best advice and guidance onto how to use these two (relatively) convenient ‘taxi’ services to help you get around the Metro Manila Area.

This is going to be Part 1 (Uber) with Part 2 (Grab) coming in another update.

Let’s take a look at Uber:



I’m sure you can figure out how to install the app, so I’m not going to go over the whole sign-up process (Google is your friend people!) I want to delve into the meat of the app, how to use it to get around!:

Uber is a service that works through your mobile app (or tablet!) using an internet connection. Long story short, using the app & connection, you can hail an uber car (similar to hailing a taxi), but you can make them arrive at a specific location, all by directing them where you want them to pick you up through the app.


As you can see, I was able to move the ‘Pick-Up Location’ Pin to pick me up right behind my place. Super convinient! Note: make sure you set a specific location (as indicated by your Pick-Up pin) and if you want to be doubly sure, once Uber matches you with a driver, you can contact them via text or call (get them UNLI promos ready ya’ll).

Surname, License Plate, and Face blurred out for confidentiality.
Surname, License Plate, and Face blurred out for confidentiality.

Once an Uber Driver accepts your fare, you can see all pertinent information: Name of driver, License Plate, Make and model of Vehicle, and even a cute little selfie of your personal driver. How you like dem apples Ms. Daisy?

Just take heed. As someone who came from the States/Japan you best check your irritation at the door, because the internet here is smoking hot trash. Absolutely terrible mobile data bruthaman. I highly recommend booking through a Wi-Fi connection. 

Manila Guide Tip: Many restaurants and establishments (malls, salons etc.) have Wi-Fi accessible to customers. If it’s password protected, just turn on the charm and ask, they’re usually nice about it.

Since I have no food blogs yet, I’m going to try and describe the use of these services with a pizza analogy. With the pizza being Uber.


BASICALLY think of your Uber car as a mobile Restaurant (Car), the Chef (driver) picks you, the Diner (rider), up, and you pay to eat pizza (drives) until you’re full (reach your destination.) See amazing artistic diagram below created by yours truly (MS Paint you da best):


Types of Services

So far I’ve seen only two forms of Uber Vehicles/Services offered:

Uber X (The standard, lower cost option):

Basically a sedan, with most common vehicle models used by Uber drivers being the Toyota Vios & Mitsubishi Mirrage (based on my last 15+ trips) due to low gas consumption – Think of a restaurant that just serves plain cheese or pepperoni. Simple, gets the job done, the chef doesn’t have to pay that much to upkeep the restaurant, and it fulfills your pizza craving without breaking the bank.

Uber Black (The higher class, ‘Bougie’ service):

Personally I have never used the Uber Black Service, so I will not be giving you the run down on this service. But think of this as the Uber equivalent of Kanye’s Yeezys, Midnight release Jordans, or sippin; Ciroc with P. Diddy. The service offers more ‘luxurious cars’ that you can ride in style.  But spittin’ the truth, to me, Uber X is the better (and more available) service in terms of economical value. Ain’t nobody tryna see you stunt In an Uber black my boy. – Think of those crazy ass build-your-own pizzas with toppings for days. Sure it’s delicious, but you’ll feel like you just overspent to satisfy your hunger when a plain slice would have sufficed.

Bottom Line – GO WITH UBER X!


Forms of Payment & Pricing Guide

Uber primarily operated as a credit-card only service. But starting sometime last year (I think around November, 2015) cash payments have now become a viable option.


As of this posting (March 15, 2016) Uber Manila charges this rate using their standard Uber Service a.k.a. Uber X:

Booking Fee40 php  (This is the price you pay to sit in the restaurant and order a slice).

Per Kilometer Traveled – 5.6 php (This is pretty much how much pizza you’re willing to consume, the more you eat (travel) the more you pay).

Per Minute Travelled2 php (For practically sake, lets pretend that you have to pay for your time dining at a pizza place. Of course they need to charge for your seat at the table, because you’re taking up a spot from another potential diner/rider).

Cancellation Fee100 php (Basically, be sure you’re ready to go before you book your ride, or you just wasted the chef’s/driver’s time).

To give you an idea, here is a recent trip I took (trip summaries are automatically e-mailed to you after trip-end):

uber sample


Doing the math for you:

(Booking Fee 40 php) + (Distance Travelled 5.6  x 8.93km =~50.01 php ) + (Time Travelled 2 php x 26.86 minutes = 53.72) = 143.73 php

Not exactly sure why the number I got adding it manually was lower (chalk it up to a weird uber algorithm), but rounded to the nearest peso, it still yield the correct amount: 144 php

Note: Travel time is 26 mins & 52 seconds = 26.86 minutes.

As you can see a good chunk of your uber pizza pie is going towards time traveled. As the saying goes, there may not be forever in love, but there is forever on EDSA. So be prepared to give up some crumbs to the fat-cat restaurant that is Uber.


Here is where the pricing gets a little tricky. Uber has a pricing SURGE that multiplies the regular fare they would normally be charged by a set amount.

If there is a surge, you will see a notification similar to this:


This can cause inconvenience, as the Surge prices can range from 1.2x to upwards of 3.0x! Fear not. It is rare surges will reach this high (personally highest I’ve experiences is 2.4x).

What makes these surge prices so difficult to anticipate is that they are assigned throughout the day when there are a low number of Uber drivers on the road. These surges are a sort of ‘incentive’ for drivers to go online and hit the road to accept fares.

Think of supply and demand alright? : Rush hour is dinner time, lots of people want a slice. But guess what? The restaurants (drivers) are already working at full capacity. The solution? Get more cooks/chefs out on the road and make sure they are paid enough to deal with the large volume of eaters.

(MS Paint, help me out here):


Hence it makes sense that you can anticipate surges during:

Rush hour (Who wants to drive in traffic right?)

During holidays (Uber Drivers have lives too,  they ain’t tryna drive your lazy butt around during festivities).

The thing is there is no science behind the surge pricing (at least that I can tell). I’ve booked a car at  around  the same time on a weekday (Tuesday/Wednesday, 6 pm) and each time got different surge pricing (1.6x vs. 1.8x). So just anticipate this as well! It’s going to be random.

So as you can see, taking an Uber will almost definitely cost you more than a taxi would (barring use of promo codes). Personally, the extra amount you pay is worth the convenience of being picked up from a specific location, by a driver who has his personal information on file (thus if issues arise, you can always backtrack and submit a complaint if necessary) and riding in an actual car (not a rundown beat up taxi that hasn’t been maintained due to budget cuts), is worth the price of dining. Domino’s baby.

Gonna post a Grab (car, taxi, bike) guide in a few days as well. Just wanted to give you guys some useful content for the time being. Thanks for reading team and remember, pizza is love, pizza is life.

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