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Ninoy Aquino International Airport

All international flights in and out of Manila use one of the three main terminals (Terminal 1, Terminal 2, Terminal 3) of Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila's south, while many domestic flights use a fourth, domestic, terminal (Terminal 4).

The four terminals share runways, but they are not particularly close to each other, so pay very close attention to which terminal you are flying into and out of; if you go to the wrong terminal it could take you 30 minutes to correct your mistake and you could miss your flight.

‘Airport Loop’ shuttle buses and vans (P20, 7am to 10pm) link the four terminals, but it's slow and sporadic, so take a taxi if you're in a hurry.

Note that several Asian discount carriers fly to Clark International Airport in the Clark Special Economic Zones, a two-hour drive north of Manila.

Transport Options

As there are no direct public transport routes from either of the four terminals to Malate or Makati, bite the bullet and take a taxi, especially if you have a bit of luggage. The airport is quite close to the city and, barring traffic, you can get to Malate or Makati by taxi in 20 minutes. Uber is also a good option from the airport.

You have three options for taxis: first are white prepaid ‘coupon’ taxis that charge set rates of P600 to P700 to Malate or Makati. These will actively solicit you the minute you step outside the arrivals hall.

Feel free to ignore them for the second option: yellow airport metered taxis, which have a flagfall of P70 (regular metered taxis on the street have a P40 flagfall). Your total bill to Malate should be about P200, closer to P250 if you're travelling to Makati. To find the yellow cab rank at the three main terminals, walk straight and then to the right.

The third option is regular metered taxis. There is a rank of these at Terminal 4, but at the other three terminals you must walk up to departures to find one (relatively easy). These can be preferable when the lines for the yellow metered cabs are very long (common). They also save you P50 to P80 to Makati or Malate.

The 'Airport Loop' shuttle bus takes you to Pasay Rotunda in Baclaran (P20, every 20 minutes), from where you can find onward public transportation (taxi, jeepney or MRT/LRT). At the three main terminals, walk straight and then to the right for Airport Loop buses.

The Airport Loop shuttle operates from Pasay Rotunda to the airport according to the same schedule. Another option from Baclaran is a jeepney.

Airlines

Manila is well connected to the world via international carriers and the two main national carriers (Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific).

For domestic flights Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Air Asia are the main airlines and serve the key provincial centres from Manila. Newish player Skyjet has good rates on a few useful routes, while rapidly expanding Air Juan runs tiny sea and/or wheeled planes on a few niche routes. Air Swift monopolises the Manila–El Nido route.

One-way domestic flights cost P1000 to P3500 (including taxes) on most routes, provided you book in advance. Flight times range from 45 minutes for short hops such as Manila to Caticlan, to 1½ hours for flights from Manila to southern Mindanao.

The following airlines fly domestically in and out of Manila. All have ticket offices at their terminal of departure or around town.

Air Juan Daily seaplanes to Puerto Galera (P5500, 20 minutes) at 7.10am, hopping to Boracay on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Air Swift Serves El Nido from its own separate terminal near Terminal 4.

AirAsia Flights to Caticlan (for Boracay), Cebu, Davao, Kalibo, Puerto Princesa, Tacloban and Tagbilaran.

Cebu Pacific Primary domestic budget carrier with dozens of routes out of Manila.

Philippine Airlines Flagship carrier with scores of domestic routes.

Skyjet Serves Batanes, Coron, Caticlan and Siargao.

Departure Tax

Departure taxes – P750 for international flights and P200 for domestic flights – are wrapped into ticket prices, so you should not have to pay anything when flying out of NAIA.

Boat

The flashy Manila North Harbor Port, northwest of Binondo, is the departure and arrival point for all domestic ferry travel. The South Harbor is now used for cargo and international cruise ships.

It’s best to take a taxi to/from North Harbor, as Tondo district isn’t a place for a foreigner to be wandering around with luggage, and public transport routes are complicated.

2GO Travel is the major shipping line handling inter-island boat trips from Manila. It has an excellent website for checking schedules and reserving tickets. Tickets can be purchased online, and through travel agents, major malls or its main branch in Rizal Park. For ferries to Caticlan (for Boracay), you'll need to head to Batangas pier.

Atienza Shipping Lines has ferries to Coron town, Palawan, Tuesday at 8pm and on Thursday and Saturday at 4pm (P1000 to P1150, 16 hours). Atienza also sails to El Nido on Friday at 4pm (P1700 to P1850, 25 hours) via Linapacan in the southern Calamian Islands.

Bus

Getting out of Manila by bus is harder than you might expect, as there is no central bus terminal. Instead, many private operators serve specific destinations from their own terminals.

The two main ‘clusters’ of terminals are known as Cubao, which is in Quezon City near the corner of EDSA and Aurora Blvd; and Pasay, which is along EDSA near the LRT/MRT interchange at Pasay Rotunda.

Two harder-to-reach clusters are Sampaloc, north of Quiapo near the University of Santo Tomas (UST); and Caloocan in the far north of Metro Manila.

Wherever you are heading, it's worth paying a little extra for buses that take the modern expressways heading north and south out of Manila. Getting stuck on a 'local' bus could add several hours to your trip.

Better yet, shoot for the comfortable 27-seat ‘deluxe’ express and/or sleeper buses that serve major Luzon hubs including Baguio, Vigan, Laoag, Tuguegarao, Naga and Legazpi. It’s recommended to book these, and the direct night buses to Banaue, a day or more ahead.

Buses from Manila

Alaminos

Duration (hr)

Price (P)

393

Company

Dagupan, Five Star, Victory Liner (Cubao)

Frequency

hourly

Baguio (air-con)

Duration (hr)

6-7

Price (P)

450

Company

Genesis, Victory Liner

Frequency

frequent

Baguio (deluxe)

Duration (hr)

4

Price (P)

760

Company

Genesis, Victory Liner (Cubao, Pasay)

Frequency

6-7 daily

Balanga

Duration (hr)

3-4

Price (P)

210-400

Company

Genesis

Frequency

frequent

Baler

Duration (hr)

4-6

Price (P)

air-con–deluxe 450-700

Company

Genesis (Cubao)

Frequency

air-con 7am & noon, deluxe hourly 12.30am-5.30am

Banaue

Duration (hr)

8-9

Price (P)

490-530

Company

Florida (seasonal), Ohayami

Frequency

2-4 night buses

Batangas

Duration (hr)

2-2½

Price (P)

170

Company

Ceres, DLTB, Jam

Frequency

every 20min

Bolinao

Duration (hr)

7

Price (P)

350-470

Company

Dagupan, Victory Liner (Cubao)

Frequency

6-7 buses

Clark Airport

Duration (hr)

2-3

Price (P)

350

Company

Philtranco

Frequency

8 daily

Dau (Angeles)

Duration (hr)

1½-2½

Price (P)

139-150

Company

Victory Liner, many other companies

Frequency

frequent

Iba

Duration (hr)

5-7

Price (P)

376

Company

Victory Liner (Pasay, Cubao)

Frequency

6-7 daily

Laoag

Duration (hr)

8-12

Price (P)

air-con–sleeper 550-850

Company

Fariñas, Florida, Maria de Leon, Partas

Frequency

frequent

Legazpi

Duration (hr)

10-12

Price (P)

air-con–sleeper 850-1100

Company

Amihan, Bicol Isarog, Cagsawa, DLTB, Philtranco

Frequency

mostly night buses

Lingayen

Duration (hr)

5

Price (P)

374

Company

Dagupan, Victory Liner (Cubao)

Frequency

frequent

Lucena

Duration (hr)

4-5

Price (P)

220

Company

DLTB, JAC, Jam

Frequency

frequent

Naga

Duration (hr)

8-10

Price (P)

air-con–deluxe 670-900

Company

Amihan, Bicol Isarog, Cagsawa, Philtranco

Frequency

mostly night buses

Sagada (via Banaue)

Duration (hr)

11

Price (P)

air-con–deluxe 720-980

Company

Coda Lines

Frequency

8pm & 9pm

San Jose (Mindoro)

Duration (hr)

12

Price (P)

900

Company

Dimple Star, Roro Bus

Frequency

7 daily

San Fernado (La Union)

Duration (hr)

6

Price (P)

378-436

Company

Dominion, Partas

Frequency

hourly

San Pablo (for Mt Banahaw)

Duration (hr)

2½-3

Price (P)

127-150

Company

DLTB, Jac, Jam

Frequency

every 30min

Santa Cruz (for Pagsanjan)

Duration (hr)

2½-3

Price (P)

140

Company

DLTB, Jac

Frequency

frequent

Solano (for Banaue)

Duration (hr)

8

Price (P)

320

Company

Florida, Victory Liner (Kamias, Sampaloc)

Frequency

frequent

Subic Bay (Olangapo)

Duration (hr)

3-4

Price (P)

air-con–express 200-245

Company

Victory Liner (Pasay, Cubao)

Frequency

frequent

Tagaytay

Duration (hr)

3

Price (P)

83-92

Company

BSC San Agustin, DLTB

Frequency

every 30min

Tuguegarao

Duration (hr)

12

Price (P)

air-con–deluxe 600-900

Company

Florida, Victory Liner (Kamias, Pasay)

Frequency

hourly

Vigan (air-con)

Duration (hr)

10-11

Price (P)

550

Company

Dominion, Partas

Frequency

hourly

Vigan (deluxe)

Duration (hr)

8-9

Price (P)

750-850

Company

Partas

Frequency

night buses

Bus Companies

To Baguio

Victory Liner and Genesis Joybus each run five or six daily express buses from both their Pasay and Cubao terminals that get you to Baguio in less than four hours via new highways. Otherwise it's a six to seven hour a trip.

To Ilocos

The deluxe buses to Vigan and Laoag are virtually all night buses; they shave about three hours off the trip.

To Banaue and Sagada

Ohayami night buses to Banaue can be booked on the company website. If you prefer daytime travel, take any bus to Solano and continue to Banaue via jeepney. The nightly bus to Sagada goes via Banaue.

Mindoro

For Puerto Galera on Mindoro, you must transfer to a boat in Batangas. Si-Kat runs combination bus/boat services, leaving around 8.30am from Ermita and arriving in Puerto Galera before noon (P900). These cost roughly P500 more than going it alone via public bus/boat.

To Southeast Luzon

The hub for Bicol-bound buses is the newly opened Araneta Center Busport, the closest thing in Manila to a real bus station. Rock up and buy your ticket from the centralised ticketing booth, and they'll put you on the next bus with available seats, regardless of what company it is.

You can request a super-deluxe sleeper bus or reserve these ahead. Advance reservations are possible at the Busport or book at the company offices along EDSA. A few companies – namely Bicol Isarog – do not use the busport.

Cheap ordinary (non-air-con) buses to Bicol depart frequently from the old Araneta Bus Terminal opposite Shopwise.

Long Distance Buses

Philtranco runs a masochists-only trip along the so-called ‘Nautical Highway’ to Davao in Mindanao (ordinary/air-con P1185/2305) via Samar, Leyte and Surigao City (two days, three daily).

Car & Motorcycle

If you are driving, the North and South Luzon Expressways are the quickest ways to disentangle yourself from Manila. They are relatively expensive tollways (pricey even by Western standards) but nonetheless are prone to congestion at peak times.

Train

Philippine National Railways (www.pnr.gov.ph) trains to Southeast Luzon from the attractive Tutuban Station have been discontinued indefinitely. These days trains only run as far as Laguna Province outside Manila.