The cosmopolitan city of Manila promises a beautiful bayside location and an impressive blend of cultures. Visitors are often overwhelmed by Manila’s traffic and urban sprawl. However, the city offers a generous choice of tourist-friendly accommodation and attractions. Manila experiences a typical tropical climate with distinct wet-dry seasons. At times, there is an overlap of a month or 2 between the seasons. June – November is officially the wet season, characterized by heavy rains and serial typhoons. However, the rains are not constant, and rarely impact travel plans. If you visit in the wet season, you will find less crowds and a lush, green landscape. From March – May, the weather is hot and humid and average temperatures soar as high as 95 degrees Fahrenheit. From late November – early March, the weather is dry and average temperatures are around 80 – 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a good time to explore the city and its surrounding islands.
Only Philippine Airlines offers direct non-stop international flights from some U.S. cities to Manila. Other airlines that offer flights with 1 or more stop are ANA (All Nippon Airways), Singapore Airlines, Qantas, Cathay Pacific, Asiana Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, Emirates, Etihad Airways, Saudia, Korean Air, Turkish Airlines, Korean Air, Xiamen Airlines, Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, KLM, Air China, Qatar Airways, and EVA Air.
Also known as Manila International Airport, MNL is located around 9 miles from the City of Manila. There are several options to travel from the airport to the city center. To travel between the various terminals, MNL offers the Airport Loop, a paid shuttle system with vehicles departing every 15 minutes.
The airport is served by several city bus routes that take you to various parts of Metro Manila. Visitors arriving at MNL should look for buses with ‘MIA/6-11/Tambo’ signboard posted on the dashboard. Bus fares start at approximately ₱12.00 PHP and ply though Terminals 1 and 2. For Terminal 3, you will be able to use the jeepney. Ultimate Bus Experience (UBE Express) offers bus transportation service connecting all the airport terminals with several hotels located in the City of Manila, as well as neighboring Makati, Pasay, and Parañaque. Fares range from ₱200.00 PHP – ₱300.00 PHP per person.
The Airport Loop shuttle transports arriving passengers from all terminals to the EDSA-Taft LRT station for a fare of ₱20.00 PHP. The journey takes anywhere between 20 – 40 minutes depending on traffic. From here you can ride the LRT Line #1 to Central Terminal LRT station in the City of Manila. Trains arrive every 5 minutes. The one-way fare is ₱20.00 PHP and the ride takes 15 minutes.
Official, metered or pre-booked taxis from the airport terminals to City of Manila charge approximately ₱185.00 PHP – ₱200.00 PHP. The ride can take anywhere between 30 – 60 minutes depending on traffic. Ride share with Uber is also available from the airport.
Several leading car rental companies are present at the airport. You can also look for deals on car rentals with momondo.
Manila is a busy and sprawling city with a fairly well developed public transportation system. The best way to get around in the city is to rely on the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) that connect most of the popular tourist attractions and shopping destinations in the city. Fares are based on distance traveled, and range from ₱15.00 PHP – ₱25.00 PHP. When exploring Manila, remember that as long as you can see an MRT or LRT line, you will not be lost.
Metered taxis are available everywhere and you can hail a taxi anywhere on the streets. You can also rely on the app-based services such as Uber. To cover shorter distances, try a ride in one of the colorful jeepneys which are one of the key modes of public transportation in the Philippines. Jeepney fares start at ₱7.50 PHP for the first 4 kilometers. With constant traffic jams, gridlocks, and aggressive driving style of locals, it is best if you can avoid driving in the city and rely on other modes of transportation.
Manila, also called the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, is a typical Asian megacity that moves at a hectic pace. The newer and developed parts of the city feature glossy high-rises and contemporary architecture which stand in stark contrast to the shanty towns in the less developed parts of the city. However, its rich culture and heritage reflects in its many monuments, museums and parks, which are a ‘must-see’ when you travel to Manila.
Manila is a developing city and certain parts of the city are prone to petty thefts. Try to stay within the tourist-friendly locations, watch out for your personal belongings in crowded, public places, and if you are out in the night, try to avoid secluded, unlit streets. Avoid drinking tap water and ice from street vendors. It’s best if you purchase bottled water at your hotel as well as when you move around exploring the city.