Ninoy Aquino International Airport is located in the heart of the city, in the 4th District, south of Makati. It is the most important in the country and offers direct flights to multiple domestic and international destinations. It is outdated and has become too small, and the classic disorganization in the Philippines makes it one of the most ominous international airports today, to be taken into account when taking a flight, as it is convenient for us to arrive well in advance. It has 4 terminals:
- Terminal 1. All international airlines except Japanese ones, Cathay Pacific, KLM, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Delta and international Air Asia flights.
- Terminal 2. Exclusive for Philippine Airlines.
- Terminal 4 or Domestic. For domestic Air Asia flights and other Philippine low cost flights.
- Terminal 3. For all the rest.
You can walk from one terminal to any of the others, but distances can be long, up to 30 minutes on foot. There is also an Airport Loop bus (which is no longer free, costs PHP 20) from 5 am to 11 pm that connects them, or we can go by taxi.
There is no direct public transport connecting you to the city, so our options are:
- The Airport Loop that connects the terminals has recent stop at Pasay Rotunda. From here we can take a bus, a jeepney or the subway. It is by far the most economical option. For more information, see the post GETTING AROUND IN MANILA.
- Uber. By 2019 is the most recommended. It works just like in any other country, and the price of the trip will not be influenced by the very likely traffic jams when entering the city.
- Cab. In general taxi drivers in Manila are more reliable than one might expect; most will use the taximeter, which is mandatory. It is the option that we use, since in 2016 there was no Uber (and if there was, we did not know it) nor was there a bus connection to Pasay roundabout. Luckily, the airport is in the city itself. There are 3 options; the prices referred are to Makati; Intramuros should cost approximately double:
- Airport taxis; yellow. Flagfall costs PHP 70. To Makati should cost about PHP 250. We were involved in an exasperating traffic jam, and we still paid PHP 400.
- Normal taxis. Flagfall costs PHP 40. They are not allowed to go to “Arrivals” zone (only Uber and yellow taxis are allowed). If we want to take one, we must go to “Departures” area and take a taxi someone has just dropped off. It cost us PHP 230 for the return and it took us not even 20 minutes.
- Prepaid fixed rate. They depend on the exact point where we go, but to Makati should cost between 600 and 700 PHP. Except catastrophe, should not be used, since they are much more expensive than taxis with a meter. These taxi drivers know that and will try to approach us as soon as they see us. It is better to ignore them and look for one of the other type.
All air tickets have an included supplement of PHP 200 for domestic flights or PHP 750 for international flights for airport use.
Clark Airport, whose official name is Diosdado Macapagal, is much less advisable. Located to the north of the city, it is smaller, it is further away and less frequented, but some low cost companies use it, to take into account when booking a flight. The companies that use it have set Philtranco buses to transport their customers to the center for between 300 and 350 PHP depending on the area, but it could take up to 2 hours to arrive. You pay a fee (included in the ticket) of PHP 500 for its use.
The North Port, located north of Intramuros in Tondo neighborhood, one of the most dangerous in Metro Manila and even in the Philippines, is the main ferry entrance. It is better to get there and away by taxi, since in addition to be an unsafe area, public transport is messy.
- 2GO Travel is the most important company and has boats to the main tourist destinations in the country. Tickets can be purchased on their official website or in their office in Intramuros Port, in Rizal Park.
- Atienza Shipping Lines has ferries, or rather conditioned freighters, to Palawan:
- Coron Town: Tuesdays at 8 pm and Thursdays at 4 pm (from 1000 PHP, 1500 with air conditioning, 16-18 hours). Continue to Puerto Princesa.
- El Nido: Friday at 4 pm (1850 PHP with air conditioning, 25 hours) via Linapacan.
Bus journeys can be hopelessly long and uncomfortable, some of them including our bus transported by ferries over considerable distances, and each one must decide if it is worth spending many hours on the bus or buying a flight from Ninoy Aquino to their destination. There must be at least 20 long distance bus companies, each with its own terminal in Metro Manila, and it is not a way of speaking. The most recognized, although it does not reach everywhere, is Philtranco. The main touristic spots are the following:
- Banaue rice fields:
- Ohayami have 2-4 night buses, 8-9h, PHP 490-530. Tickets can be booked at its terminal in Sampaloc, or on its website.
- Florida has night buses in high season; can be purchased at your terminal, which is 100 meters from Ohayami, or on the official website of the agency PH Bus Travel, since like most companies, it does not have its own website.
- If you want to go by day, you have to take a bus to Solano (8h, 320 PHP, frequent, companies Florida and Victory Liner) and continue in jeepney.
- Taal Lake (Tagaytay): every 30 min, 3h, 83-92 PHP. The unreliable companies are BSC San Agustín and DLTB.
- Naga (to go to Mount Isarog and Caramoan): night buses, 8-10h, air-con-deluxe 670-900 PHP. The companies are Amihan, Bicol Isarog, Cagsawa and Philtranco. All buses to Bicol (the eastern half of Luzon Island) depart from the new Araneta Center Busport in Quezon. If we have not bought the ticket in advance, at the station they will put us on the first available bus, which is important, since Cagsawa and Philtranco are usually considered somewhat better than the others, while Amihan is considered terrible. Only Philtranco and Bicol Isarog can be booked through the aforementioned PH Bus Travel website.
- Legazpi (to go to Mayon Volcano and Donsol): night buses, 10-12h, 850-1100 PHP (air con-sleeper). Since they are also in Bicol, they leave from Araneta Center Busport and are the same companies that go to Naga, plus the ill-advised DLTB.
- Puerto Galera (Mindoro Island):
- The only direct one is Si-Kat: 8:30 am, 4h, 900 PHP (includes the ferry). It leaves from Ermita. They can be booked on their official website.
- Dimple Star and Roro Bus offer the same service, but stopping at several locations, so it takes about 7 hours; 7 a day, same price. Their terminals are immediately northwest of Sampaloc, very close to each other.
There are no trains in Manila, except a regional one that reaches Laguna, just 100 km away.
MORE ESSENTIAL INFORMATION IN MANILA:
<WHEN TO GO, DANGERS AND PROBLEMS GETTING AROUND>
∇ Destinations / ∇ Asia / ∇ Southeast Asia / ∇ Philippines / ∇ Metro Manila
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