What do I need to know BEFORE traveling to Manila?

Written by Patrick
Travel Insurance

Here are the 10 Things You Should Know BEFORE traveling to Manila, the capital of the Philippines: 

1 | Metro Manila consists of 16 different cities.

It is different from the City of Manila which is one of the cities comprising Metro Manila. Click here to learn more about each of these cities

2 | The airport in Manila (NAIA) has four terminals, all physically disconnected from each other.

Manila (NAIA) Airport Terminal 1 is intended for international flights, terminal 2 is exclusive for Philippine Airlines (flag carrier), terminal 3 is the newest terminal servicing Cebu Pacific, Delta Airlines, KLM, ANA, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, and Cathay Pacific while terminal 4 is the smallest terminal servicing AirAsia Zest, Air Swift, SkyJet and CebGo. When you are arriving in terminal 1 and will be flying out of Manila to other cities in the country, make sure to give a few hours gap between flights as the terminals are a bit far from each other. You can either walk or ride a taxi to get to terminal 3.

3 | Traffic can be horrendous…

Be sure to account for it in your travel times! Having a flexible schedule is great, or give at least two to three hours allowance when you are traveling from north to south.

4 | Commuting in Manila can be challenging.

Jeepneys are the cheapest but not the most comfortable. MRT and LRT are the fastest and most reliable and are the favored mode of transportation by people who need to avoid traffic. Taxis aren’t expensive but some may take advantage of you. As much as possible, avoid taking the fixed-rate taxi which is usually overpriced. Get a metered taxi instead. Or better yet use the Grab App.

El Nido, Palawan

Caption: The Manila Bay

5 | You can explore Manila even on a budget.

While international tickets may cost a lot, you don’t need a lot of money to survive in the metro so long as you try to follow the life of a local, not a tourist. Additionally, most establishments accept credit cards … but know that cash is still the most widely accepted mode of payment. Check out our Guide to Money in the Philippines.

6 | There are more than 100 languages and dialects spoken in the country.

A lot of Filipinos can understand and speak English but it won’t hurt to learn some basic Tagalog terms.

7 | Manila is not the safest place to visit in the Philippines.

Be careful of thieves and pickpockets, especially when in crowded places. To avoid any untoward incident, avoid displaying expensive stuff such as gadgets and jewelry in public places. Click here to learn How to Avoid Scam and Thieves in the Philippines.

8 | Prepare for the warm weather, even if it isn’t summer.

Being a tropical country, it’s like summer all year round in the Philippines. But the weather can be erratic at times as rain may pour unexpectedly. Better equip yourself with a fan and an umbrella (it’s not allowed in your hand-carry bag though).  Learn more about the Climate of the Philippines.

9 | Filipino hospitality is heart-warming.

Locals welcome guests with arms wide open and won’t hesitate to offer help when necessary. They will offer the best that they have just to make you feel welcomed and at home. Click here for the Dos and Don’ts While in The Philippines

10 | Manila has a lot to offer despite it being associated with less than desirable characteristics such as traffic and safety issues.

It is rich in history, offers an interesting gastronomic experience, has the biggest shopping hubs in the country, and houses several leisure spots for everyone – adults and kids alike.

READ MORE:  Metro Manila Visitors Guide | The National Capital Region

About the Author


Patrick is an entrepreneur, digital nomad, explorer, and photographer. Patrick is always in search of fun and adventure. He is well travelled throughout the world, and although location independent, his home base is Phoenix, Arizona in the USA. Patrick loves island lifestyle which is no wonder why he is so interested in spending time in the Philippines with it’s over 7,000 islands. Patrick created this site to share his knowledge of and experiences in the Philippines with Filipinos as well as other foreigners.

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