Jeepneys make a fun and easy way to get around the city. They cover the whole city and run 24 hours a day. Simply spot one of these colourfully decorated vehicles, flag it down and hop onboard. The ride may be a little hair-raising but it's cheap and probably the most practical method of getting around the city with ease.
Avis, Budget and Hertz all offer car rentals in Manila. However, you should know that driving conditions in the city are far from what you would find in Western countries. Traffic jams, aggressive drivers, lack of adherence to the traffic laws and horn-honking are just some of the problems you can expect to encounter as a driver in Manila.
Taxis are plentiful in the city and should run by the meter, which ensures they don't overcharge. Make sure to get your driver to turn on the meter as soon as you depart to avoid being taken advantage of. There are several companies running taxis and all have varied rates. EMP, R&E and Avis are some of the trustworthy companies.
There are several metro lines running throughout the city, all with limited coverage of Manila. The trains shutdown early and tend to run along commuter lines rather than following touristy hotspots. If you're looking for particular parts of the city, the metro will take you there. However, it may not be best for short-stay tourists who just want to see the sights.
As unpredictable as the city might be, the weather is one thing you can generally rely on in Manila. Tropical and equatorial, the temperature rarely drops lower than 20°C. During the warmer months though it has been known to exceed 38°C. The rainy season fluctuates but typically begins May, making it a more popular destination over June, July and August to avoid the humidity.
Manila has a reputation for theft due to its huge poverty issues. Take precautions to avoid pickpockets and purse-snatchers and avoid wearing any valuable jewellery. Never walk through the city alone, especially after dark, and be aware that taxi drivers often try to charge hiked-up fees. Once inside the taxi, lock the doors immediately – tourists make popular targets for criminals.
Tagalog (Filipino) is spoken by the vast majority of Filipinos and is most widely spoken in Manila. Along with English it is one of the Philippines' official languages. English tends to be the language of business and in government proceedings, so it is very widely spoken. While most Filipinos prefer to speak Tagalog, most have an understanding of English as well.
Tipping is expected in Manila, even when service charge is included. A good rule of thumb is to always add 5% to 10% onto any restaurant bill. In hotels, 5 to 20 pesos, depending on the quality of the hotel, is common, while rounding up with an extra 5 pesos for cab drivers is expected no matter the destination.
Get there in just under 8 hours, 30 minutes with either Philippine Airlines or Qantas. Depending on the day, there are up to two daily flights.
Take one of three weekly flights direct from Melbourne to Manila with Philippine Airlines. The total journey will last 8 hours.
Reach Manila from Perth with one of several weekly flights. You can get to the Philippines city in 12 hours, with a stopover in Singapore, with Singapore Airlines.
From Manila's Ninoy Aquino International Airport you can take a private car to the city centre for a relatively cheap price. The airport is within easy reach of the city – just 20km – and cars to take you directly to your hotel can be easily arranged at the airport or in advance through your hotel.
Taxis are plentiful and run from the airport to anywhere in and around Manila. Some rogue drivers have a habit of trying to take you to a specific hotel, for which they get a commission, so be sure to confirm your destination with the driver beforehand. Hotel taxis are significantly more expensive but will at least take you where you want to go.
Some local bus routes run services from the airport to points around Manila and surrounding areas. While shuttle buses run between the four terminals to make international and domestic flight transfers a little bit smoother, you can take advantage of bus services that stop at the airport when heading into the city. It's definitely a cheaper transfer option.
If you prefer to tackle the roads your own way, you can book ahead and hire a car to pick up from the airport. There are several car hire companies that operate out of the airport, so compare prices for the best deal. Make sure to get insurance as the traffic in Manila can be a little hectic at the best of times.
Get to know Manila by Jeepney. The city is quite disjointed but easy to get around. Intramuros makes the most spectacular stop-off, especially if you have more than a passing interest in the Spanish colonial past of the Philippines. Top off an afternoon of culture at a Filipino restaurant, where specialties include braised pork or paellas.
Pack your camera and take a short one to two-hour trip out of the city to visit Tagaytay Ridge for excellent views of the lake and volcano. There are options for staying overnight in the area, but it's also doable in a day, if you get an early start. Hit up one of Manila's famous entertainment restaurants for a show and dinner to cap the evening off.
Manila is all about shopping. Experience its consumerist culture for yourself by heading to one of its best malls, the Mall of Asia in Pasay. One of the largest malls in Asia, it takes a good half-day to do it justice. Once you've shopped 'til you drop, head to Makati's restaurants and bars to wrap up your big day.
Take a day trip to Corregidor Island 48km away from the city. During World War II, the island was fortified to be part of the Philippine's defense against the Japanese. It was attacked heavily, and now serves as a memorial to the soldiers who lost their lives there. After a thought-provoking day, head back to the city for a subdued evening of drinks in Antipolo, overlooking the Manila sunset.
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