Manila International Airport consists of 3 terminals and in order to get from one terminal to another you will have to take a cab or special shuttle bus that connects all terminals as they are located away from each other. In most cases if you just have a connection flight in Manila you will end up in Terminal 1, oldest of the terminals, which was built in 1981.
My post will be interesting for those who arrive to Manila Terminal 1 (most of international airlines from US and Europe as well as China operate from 1st) as a last stop and need to get to Metro Manila. This post has some tips that I’ve learned myself living in Manila for almost 6 months. If you are not sure which terminal you’re plain lands check with the official website or WIKI.
Getting around Terminal 1 is very easy, the part behind the check-in is actually quite small, mainly consists of long corridors that have gates on left and right and all of them end up in the hall with shops, bars, toilets. This is more interesting for those who departure from Terminal one.
I assume this is your first time in Manila Airport; after landing do the best thing to find your luggage – follow the crowd. It will lead you through long corridor which will have quite a few security guards also using temperature cameras to track those who have high fewer and are sick (I’m not sure if they really follow screens) to passport control. Find your line; they are divided to 3 lines, for residents, those who have visa and all the rest. This short article has more info on visa question.
So, after you are done with passport control next room is where you find your luggage. Standard procedure, first find your luggage belt. When you got your luggage go further and you will see a second line of “posts” similar to passport control. Here you need to show your passport and Import card you filled in the plain, the one where you state that you do not have any weapons, commercial goods to declare, etc.
For me getting through the second line of check was fast; I had to give the declaration paper to a security guy who did not ask me anything at all. Honestly, Manila Terminal 1 airport is a place which is not really controlled or secured. It’s a bit of a mess I must say, but for you it is good – you won’t spend any extra time on checks and controls.
After that last “line of check” you are officially in The Philippines! Congratulations! Next room is…well, a room where you can go to the toilet (they are on the right side, turn right and walk a bit), withdrawal some cash, ask some questions from the tourist desk, maybe even book a fast hotel from strange guys offering those and of course take the most expensive taxi in Philippines, NOT!
Before you leave this last hall you need to do several things to avoid discomfort and save some money. First, go to the toilet and second – take out some cash from the ATM. ATM’s are on the left side next to elevators that go somewhere. My tip to you, take out good amount of cash; ATM will take around 200 pesos for operation, so taking out 1000 pesos and paying extra 200 does not make any sense.
Take out 3000-4000 pesos, this should be enough for taxi ride, some snacks during the day later on, maybe some small shopping and a dinner with lots of beer, and if you don’t go for expensive places then it is even for 2 days. Costs in Manila are another big topic that you can read about in this article.
So, now the last tip – avoid taking expensive taxi and take a normal one.
The thing is that in the arrival section of the airport expensive yellow taxis have monopoly; usual taxis are not allowed to this part of the airport. The good thing is that they are allowed to the departing part which is just above the one you will be. This is what you need to do:
Get out of the building. On the left side you will see a stand and a line of people (most probably) ordering those expensive cabs. You need to turn left or right and walk to the stairs that lead to the departure level. There is most likely a security guard asking you where the hell you are going. Just tell him that you need to get to departure. Go up the stairs – you are on the departure level with a huge choice of usual white, blue, green, etc cabs!
For comparison, on my first time in Manila I took expensive cab from the airport and paid 800 pesos to get to my hotel. Next time I took the usual one on the arrival level and paid 400 pesos.
Last tip I want to give you for taxi travel in Manila – do not agree to go without them turning on the meter. Do not believe if they say that meter does not work or that they are airport taxi. Airport taxis are yellow with red number on a side, without a company name. This is all to trick you and agree on a higher (in most cases 2-4 times higher) price. If they push just ask to stop and leave the car, you can easily get another one in 10 seconds. Such reaction most likely will cool down the driver and he will agree to turn on his meter.
Tell them your destination (better also to know some big shopping mall near your hotel) and let them know that you give good tips. 50 pesos on top of the meter will do the job. Make sure they run the counter from the start! Usual starting price is 35-55 pesos.