Related: Read the story of a calesa driver who returned $5000 left in his carriage
How Much Should a Calesa Ride Cost?
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. If you are on the heavy side, the driver may charge more.
Related: Where is Intramuros?
Horse carriages don’t just stay in the heritage trail; they can also take you to nearby attractions like the SM Mall of Asia (literally the biggest mall in this part of the world), the Manila Ocean Park, Star City (an interestingly tacky amusement park), and the beautiful Manila Bay. Rates stay the same—Php 300 ($8 or £5) for two people for 30 minutes. You can even hire them to take you to your hotel in old Manila.
Cost of Horse Carriage Rides from Travel Agencies
If you’re not the DIY type, you might be more comfortable buying a horse carriage ride from travel agencies in Manila. Costs start at PhP2,000 for three passengers and go up from there, depending on the package you choose. These guided horse carriage tours can be purchased through partner hotels. (See links below)
This Philippine horse and carriage is an inclined cart drawn by one horse. The buggy has two wheels on each side. There are two rows of seats in it, accommodating up to four average-sized people. These carriages are smaller than what you might see in New York. Only members of the Spanish nobility were able to use them during colonial times.
How Not to Get Ripped Off
1. Take a picture of the driver and the calesa. A driver is less likely to rip you off if you take a picture of him and his carriage because he knows you can easily go to the nearest tourist police station to file a complaint against him.
2. Clarify if the rate is for all of you, or just one person. Sometimes, a driver will attempt to get more money from you by saying that the price he initially quoted is just for one person.
3. Choose a healthy horse. Hire a driver who keeps his horse well-fed and hydrated, clean, and properly harnessed. Seeing that responsible drivers get more business will encourage the others to treat their horses well, too.
4. Ask your hotel’s concierge to recommend a kutsero. Even hotels that don’t offer horse carriage tours are happy to help you find an honest driver.
Great attractions nearby: