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The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), more commonly called Manila Airport outside the Philippines, serves the greater Manila area and surrounding provinces. What many outsiders refer to as Manila is actually Metro Manila, a cluster of 16 cities and one municipality.

The airport is within this area. It spans two cities — Pasay and Paranaque — in the southern part of the region. It’s not too far away but it feels like it because traffic conditions make travel time a lot longer.

NAIA Terminals

One of the busiest airports in the world, NAIA has been plagued by problems of congestion (among others). It has four commercial passenger terminals.

  • NAIA Terminal 1. Used by foreign carriers except All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines, Emirates, KLM, and Singapore Airlines. Some Philippine Airlines (PAL) flights to the Middle East also use this.
  • NAIA Terminal 2. Used exclusively by Philippine Airlines and PAL Express. (Note that some PAL/PAL Express flights operate in other terminals too.)
  • NAIA Terminal 3. Used by Cebu Pacific Air (most flights), AirAsia (international), All Nippon Airways, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air, Emirates, KLM, and Singapore Airlines. PAL Express flights operate here too. Some Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines flights also use Terminal 4.
  • NAIA Terminal 4. aka Domestic Terminal. Air Asia (domestic), Skyjet, and a few Cebu Pacific flights use this terminal.

Now, how to get from NAIA to the city center? For locals, where the city center is may be up for debate. But for travelers, the city center most probably refers to either Makati or Manila City, where most tourist attractions are located.

To get out of the airport, you have plenty of options: taxis, buses, and Grab. You might also be approached by those offering private transfer services, but the rates are so infuriatingly high, don’t even bother.

By P2P Bus

The past couple of years saw the launch of P2P buses. Genesis Transport operates the buses to Clark (via Resorts World and Robinsons Galleria, Ortigas) and UBE Express runs the rest. Here are the routes, fares, and operating hours.

There are four routes that are clearly illustrated on this map.

From UBE Express official FB page

Operating Hours:

  • NAIA Terminal 1: 8am-11pm, 30 mins interval
  • NAIA Terminal 2: 5am-11pm, 30 mins interval
  • NAIA Terminal 3, available 24 hours, 30 mins interval

The fare is fixed at P150 ($3).

If you’re headed to Clark, ride the Genesis P2P Bus. Fare: P350. More info about that here: Manila-Clark P2P Bus Schedule

By Grab

NAIA has allowed Grab vehicles to pick up passengers within the airport vicinity. Grab is a ride-sharing app just like Uber. Uber used to operate in the city but their Southeast Asian business was acquired by Grab in early 2018.

If you’re a group or your hotel/destination is not anywhere close to any P2P stop, this is a good option. This has been a reliable transportation option for many travelers and locals alike. Although there’s still price surge every now and then, it is generally safe and convenient.

If you have a smartphone, you can just download the GRAB app and you can charter a taxi or a private car with it. You can pay cash or by credit card.

  • GrabTaxi: The taxi uses the meter. You pay the cost displayed on the meter and an additional booking fee, which is displayed on the app at the end of the trip.
  • GrabCar: You pay the amount displayed on the app at the end of the trip.

Without the price surge/traffic (early morning or around noon), expect to pay between P130 and P170 if your destination is in Makati or Mandaluyong. But if there is surge, it should be between P250 and P300, unless the traffic is on a standstill, which can push the price even higher.

By Taxi

There are three types of taxis operating around the airport:

  • Regular Taxi. The white ones. Flag-down rate: P40, plus P13.50 per kilometer and P2 per minute of waiting. Many of the taxi units roaming Manila have seen better days, and drivers do not have a sterling reputation. Because of the traffic conditions, many cab drivers would try to ask for more pesos on top of the meter.
  • Airport Taxi. These are the yellow cabs that you’ll see immediately after exiting any of the terminals. Hard to miss. These are twice pricier than the regular white cabs, but generally in better condition. The last time I used it, the flag-down rate is P70, plus P4 every 300 meters. But this might have increased already. (I’m still trying to find out the new rates.) If your hotel is in Makati, the could would probably be P200-300 ($4-6). If you’re going much farther, say Quezon City, it will set you back around P450 ($9).
  • Fixed Rate Taxi (Coupon Taxi). I haven’t tried this because every time I consider this, I get enraged at the prices. Maybe there are situations wherein it makes sense but I don’t know yet, so let’s pretend this isn’t even an option.

Taxis operating at the airport are notorious for scams. Here are some of the scams you need to watch out for.

  • Overpricing. As soon as you get out of the terminal building, you’ll be approached by touts offering taxi or car service. Their rates are waaaaay too much so just ignore them.
  • Refusing to use the meter. Unless you’re taking a fixed rate taxi, always insist on using the meter. Some taxi drivers have a sort of menu that shows the fare from the airport to certain areas in Manila. Some of these price lists look official because they bear the logo of the airport management. But don’t be fooled. This is overpriced and most certainly illegal. If the taxi driver keeps on refusing to use the meter, get off and find another.

Some taxi drivers also tamper with the meter, so keep an eye on it. Again, for regular taxis, the rate is P40 flagdown, plus P13.50 per kilometer and P2 per minute of waiting.

You can report these cabs to LTFRB by calling 1342 or texting 0917-550-1342 and 0998-550-1342.

These scams are why many locals use GRAB instead.

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