Getting around Manila is fairly simple due to the variety of transportation options that are accessible. Manila is a tentacular metropolis that covers an area of 1,475 km2 including its suburbs. The city centre is concentrated on the bay shore, and houses the historical centre – Manila Intramuros, as well as most of the tourist attractions and hotels.
The modes of transportation at hand in Manila include taxi, jeepney, Uber and GrabTaxi apps, bus, Light Rail Transit (LRT), Metro Rail Transit (MRT), and car rental. Walking is also an option for short distances, but bear in mind that walking in some districts of Manila, mostly the poverty-ridden residential areas, puts you at risk. However, walking in the major business areas, shopping areas and tourist destinations in the centre of the city is far more common for visitors.
Taxi, Uber and Grab in Manila
Regular taxis are metered and air-conditioned. They unfortunately have a rather bad reputation, even among Filipinos, for forgetting to put the meter on, therefore trying to overcharge their passengers, and not returning the correct change. The ‘MGE’ taxis (white and green) are reputed the more trustworthy.
New technology has reached Manila and you can now use the popular Uber and GrabTaxi apps. There’s an additional PHP 70 fee to pay, but the vehicles you get by using these apps are generally in good shape, more comfortable, and their drivers are generally more honest.
Jeepney in Manila
Riding a Jeepney is a must-try if you come to the Philippines. These customized jeeps are the most popular means of transportation in the country. Get ready for crowded seating in these kitsch, brightly decorated vehicles that have become a symbol of the Philippines. Each Jeepney has a designated route. Rates are cheap, and start at PHP 8 for a short ride.
Bus, Light Rail Transit (LRT), and Metro Rail Transit (MRT) in Manila
Buses are the cheapest option for getting around Manila. As Filipinos usually speak good English, it’s easy to get assistance regarding which bus to take to your destination. Riding the LRT and MRT is also very affordable, but it’s best to avoid it during weekday rush hours (07:00 to 09:00, and 17:00 to 21:00). Note that access to most of the MRT and LRT stations is badly designed, and make them accessible only via a steep staircase, as most of the time, the escalators do not work.
Car Rental in Manila
Car rental with a driver or self-driving are two interesting options when visiting Manila independently - the former being obviously more expensive than the latter. All reputable car rental companies have a desk at Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport, and usually other agencies in Metro Manila. A valid international driver’s licence is all that you need to rent a car in the Philippines.