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A Guide to Manila
Know Before You Go
- The Philippines is a conservative country. Avoid walking around shirtless or in a bikini as it will offend the locals.
- Visit Poblacion. It's one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Manila and is considered the food and arts hub of the city.
- Don't forget to tip. It's common practice to add 10% to the total of your bill. But some restaurants do automatically add a service charge, so check beforehand or leave an extra PHP 20 if you feel the service was exceptional.
- It's not safe to drink the tap water in Manila. Stick to bottled water, it's cheap and is available in all convenience stores and supermarkets across the city.
- Arriving on time in the Philippines is impolite. If you're invited to a local's house for dinner, it's a good rule of thumb to be 15 minutes late.
- Keep small change on you at all times. It's hard for shop owners and drivers to break large bills. Make sure you have at least PHP 50 on hand to pay for small purchases.
Getting Around Manila
- The best way to get around Manila is with ride-sharing apps. It's cheap, safe and the most convenient option. Download Grab or Uber, and you'll be able to see how much your trip will cost before the driver arrives.
- While there are public buses in Manila, it's not the best option due to the driver's erratic behaviour on the roads. Plus, many other options are far safer.
- Manila also has an MRT system, but it's not ideal for tourists. The trains don't have air conditioning, and it's crowded during rush hour.
- If you want to experience an iconic part of the Philippine culture, take a ride in a Jeepney. It's cheap and a great way to see the city.
- Car rental is available at the airport as well as from operators in the city. Due to the city's congestion, it's recommended to only hire a car if you'll be exploring outside of the city's limits.
When is The Best Time to Visit Manila?
The best time to visit Manila depends on when you want to go. The city's weather can be broken down into two seasons: dry and wet.
The dry season lasts from December to May and is ideal if you're planning a lot of outdoor activities. However, the months of March to May are the hottest. The high temperatures can make exploring unbearable, and you'll need to drink enough water throughout the day to stay hydrated.
If you want to escape the heat, plan your trip around the end of the year when temperatures are at their coolest.
Manila's wet season is from June to November. The heavy rains keep most tourists away, but if you don't mind the less than ideal weather, you'll find better deals on accommodation and airfare.
Airports in Manila
Ninoy Aquino International Airport Airport
Ninoy Aquino International Airport is located 7 km from Manila. It serves as the gateway to the Philippines and is a hub for AsiaAsia, Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.
Getting to and from Ninoy Aquino International Airport Airport
Take the UBE Express Bus. The fleet of air-conditioned coaches boasts free onboard wifi and only costs PHP 150 per person. You can book your spot online, or from one of the kiosks when you arrive.
Download Grab. It's a popular ride-sharing app and an inexpensive way to get to and from the airport. While there are metered taxis available, the fares are more expensive.
Rent a car. If you prefer having your own set of wheels you can hire a vehicle. The rental desks are located inside the arrivals hall, past the baggage claim area.