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Asia > Southeast Asia > Philippines > Luzon > Metro Manila

Metro Manila

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Metro Manila (Filipino: Kalakhang Maynila), in the island of Luzon, is the capital and largest city of the Philippines, and the 4th most populous city in the World. With a population of about 24 million people, it is smallest administrative region of the country but the most populous, contributing to no less than 37% of the Philippines' GDP. It is the country's center of administration, business, education, diplomacy and entertainment, a huge metropolis with massive social contrasts which may even exceed those in Latin America, and are reflected in the contrasts of urban landscapes.

With massive traffic jams and a reputation for insecurity relative to other Southeast Asian cities, Metro Manila is often considered to be a challenging city to explore, but in reality, the contrasts are precisely what makes the city a great destination to both most spoiled and the most adventurous travellers.


Districts of Metro Manila
  1st District (Manila)
The bustling, crowded and noisy City of Manila, which in Metro Manila terms is the "old city center", is home to much of the country's history and culture. It is the only city in Metro Manila which is divided into districts, of which there are sixteen.
  2nd District (Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, Mandaluyong, San Juan)
Quezon City is the largest and most populous city of Metro Manila, also containing some of the country's best universities. In this area you can find some of the largest parks and shopping malls of the Philippines, as well as one of Manila's main business districts, the Ortigas Center.
  3rd District (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela)
A largely working-class area, it has a notorious reputation for being flood-prone during rainy season, with some areas below sea level. Also known as the gateway to central and northern Luzon, it is home to heritage houses and Metro Manila's largest fish market.
  4th District (Makati, Pasay, Taguig, Pateros, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Las Piñas)
Contains the Ninoy Aquino airport and some of the most affluent areas of Metro Manila, as well as major business districts (including Makati, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig and Filinvest City in Muntinlupa) and a plethora of entertainment, including the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay and the Entertainment City in Parañaque. It is in some sense the "modern" city center of Manila.


Metro Manila is home to the country's business districts, wealth extremes and major shopping centers, with a combined population of 11 million and growing.

  • 1 Manila — Metro Manila's historical core, although partly dilapidated by the World War II, contains a rich colonial history, a vast collection of excellent museums and monuments, as well as some of the city's most colourful, vibrant neighbourhoods
  • 2 Quezon City — The largest and most populous city of Metro Manila and its major Information Technology hub is where the Quezon Memorial Circle is located, as well as important universities, government buildings, and gigantic shopping malls
  • 3 Caloocan — The main hub of people from the Northern Philippines. Known to be one of the 4 original cities of Metro Manila, along side Manila, Quezon City, and Pasay City
  • 4 Parañaque — Containing the Entertainment City with four giant casinos and attached shopping malls and entertainment venues
  • 5 Pasay — Home to the gigantic Mall of Asia and the attached music venue and festive amusement park, and to the Resorts World Manila casino and integrated resort
  • 6 Pasig — A city named after the river next to it, the Pasig River. It is an industrial town with a booming business district in the uptown Ortigas Center. Downtown Pasig is home to more rustic churches, American period houses, and excellent cuisine.
  • 7 Makati — Metro Manila's largest business district famous for its tall buildings, luxurious hotels, vast shopping malls, lively entertainment spots, and numerous restaurants, but also containing the historic Poblacion neighbourhood which is currently the city's Koreatown
  • 8 Mandaluyong — Nicknamed as Shopping capital of the Philippines for its collection of numerous shopping centers.
  • 9 Taguig — First a thriving fishing community which slowly developed into an urbanized city. Contains one of the city's wealthiest and most pedestrian-friendly areas, the Bonifacio Global City, the McKinley Hill neighbourhood with its copies of Italy, and the beautiful and serene Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

Other destinations[edit]


Locals and foreigners alike refer to Metro Manila simply as Manila. Administratively speaking, however, "Manila" is the name of one of the cities that composes the Metro Manila. Consisting of 16 cities and 1 municipality in 630 km², the metro is the national capital region, and the center of Philippine culture, arts, commerce, industry, and tourism. Metro Manila likewise serves as the pivot point to other exciting, popular destinations in the Philippines such as Boracay, Cebu City, and Davao City.

Metro Manila is more a "Los Angeles" than a "New York City" type of city, meaning that it is a multi-polar city with major business, shopping and leisure areas scattered across the city, rather than concentrated in a compact Downtown. However, the 4th District containing Makati, Bonifacio Global City and the Entertainment City contains a large share of the city's most upscale areas and wealthiest residents, whereas the 1st District containing the city proper of Manila concentrates much of the city's historical heritage and cultural options.


Unlike some other Asian cities, in Metro Manila most people can speak English, can read and write in Roman text, do not feel comfortable with chopsticks, and enjoy more watching basketball and boxing rather than football and badminton.

Manila has a unique blend of Asian and Western elements. While one can say that it is the same for other Asian cities such as Singapore or Tokyo, in Manila many Western elements are an intrinsic part of the Filipino identity and culture, rather than being introduced during the city's modernisation and integration to the globalised world. This blend can be found in the language (e.g. written English vs. spoken Tagalog), in the religion (e.g. Christian mausoleums sitting next to Buddhist ones at the Manila Chinese Cemetery in Santa Cruz), in the cuisine and many other aspects of day-to-day life - for instance, both trishaws and American World War II vehicles are used as main public transportation forms.

Chinese influence is also large, and fundamentally different from other Southeast Asian countries in that sense that many Filipino-Chinese have adopted Christianism and both integrated themselves to and shaped the Filipino culture, rather than forming a separate community.

Metro Manila's population is a diverse mix of multi-racial people and people from different classes — from the richest businessmen to the poorest of the poor. The streets of Binondo in Manila is Metro Manila's Chinatown, while the district of Paco is known as Little India and Japantown. European and American enclaves are found in Business districts where urban life is enjoyed and much similar to western lifestyle. Koreans forever everywhere and anywhere have resulted to Koreatown which is in Makati City's Burgos St. which features many Korean restaurants, shops and groceries. The growth of immigrants is due to cheap cost for education and living in the Philippines. This is also a home to many of the rich and famous which most reside in Forbes Park, and is home to many homeless and poorest of the poor who seek job opportunities in this metropolis. Efforts have been made to clear slums in order to clean the Pasig River which have been reportedly successful and sustainable.


Religion is a major key role in a local Filipino's life, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian temples are found, the Golden mosque is in Quiapo; the Filipino-Muslim district, while cathedrals, churches and chapels of various Christian denominations are scattered around mostly of Roman Catholic faith. Processions of holy images are carried through in some cities of Metro Manila and during these times streets are crowded with a little space to move around or sometimes no space to move around.


Metro Manila is a haven for investors and businessmen and the region accounts about 30% (US$124 billion) of the total GDP of the Philippines. It is also where major Filipino companies have their headquarters. Business, commercial and financial districts include Makati, Ortigas (Pasig and Mandaluyong) and Taguig, which is where the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSEi) is located.


The Metro Manila sits on an archipelago just at the edge of the Asian continent, some 14° 35' N, 121º 00 E'. It’s 700 miles (1,100 km.) or 2 hours flight time from Hong Kong, 1,400 miles (2,200 km.) or 3 hr 15 min from Bangkok, 1,500 miles (2,400 km) or 3 hr 35 min from Singapore, 1,900 miles (3.000 km) or 4 hr 15 min from Tokyo, and 1,800 miles (2,800 km.) from 4 hr 25 min from Beijing.

Ever so physically endowed, it is sitting in the throes of two notoriously dangerous volcanoes - Pinatubo to the north, which made headlines in 1991 when it spewed dust all over the world and dropped global temperature by 2°, and Taal to the south which always makes headlines every decade or so, while this city straddles the Pacific Rim of Fire underneath. What more, it lies in the path of the tropical monsoon bringing those more and more powerful typhoons during the second half of the year. It is fringed to the south by the idyllic Lake Bai - a veritable scenic showcase of Hispanized native folk and traditional culture, and farther south by cool and refreshing Lake Taal.


Communication with the locals is easy because almost everyone is bilingual. Filipino is the language of the locals. It is the chosen language at home to most. It is also the language of the media and movie industries as Manileños watch TV and movies and read newspapers in Filipino.

American English is widely spoken in urban areas of the Philippines. It comes second as a medium of instruction in any institution. It is the language of the government, and the preference for written communication, be it in school or business.

Taglish ("Tagalog-English") is effectively a mix n' matching English words and phrases with Tagalog and vice versa, and is part of everyday life of Manileños. It is frowned by official education but common in day-to-day life and on media, including movies and operas.

Spanish-speakers may recognize some words in Tagalog, since some of its vocabulary is Spanish-derived. In Binondo, Manila's Chinatown district, Hokkien is widely spoken by Chinese-Filipinos, although English and Filipino are most commonly spoken at home. Mandarin is often used for ceremonial or official purposes by the Chinese-Filipino community but not widely spoken; similarly to the way that Arabic is used by the Filipino-Muslim community.

Manila's economic growth has attracted people from provinces with a delusion that a better life can be attained in the city, these people had brought a diversity in Manila's culture from their hometowns with tongues that speak Ilocano from the Ilocos regions, Kapampangan from Pampanga, Bicolano from the Bicol Region, Hiligaynon from Western Visayas, Cebuano from Cebu and Waray from Leyte and Samar.

Get in[edit]

By air[edit]

Metro Manila is served by two airports: the neatby Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), and the Clark International Airport in Pampanga.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport[edit]

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) [1] (MNL IATA), 8 km south of Manila in Pasay and Parañaque, is the main airport serving Metro Manila. The airport is divided into four terminals: Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 4 (previously known as the Domestic Terminal). Terminal 1, long regarded as one of Asia's worst airport terminals (if not the worst), is being renovated, and several areas of the terminal have been completed. The newer Terminals 2 and 3 are regarded as being far nicer than Terminal 1, with more amenities to boot.

A variety of public transportation options connect NAIA with Metro Manila.

  • Taxi: Yellow airport taxis have a stand at the arrival area of all terminals. The flagdown rate is ₱70, with an additional ₱4 surcharge for every 250 m. At Terminal 3, you can hail a white city taxi from the departure area: just take the escalator or elevator up to the departures hall and exit to the departure ramp. Coupon taxis are special taxis with fixed rates according to the destination: inquire at the information desk for rates.
  • Bus: Eight city bus routes connect Terminals 1 and 2 with the rest of Metro Manila. These buses have a "MIA/6-11/Tambo" signboard posted on the dashboard, and generally serve points along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) and Commonwealth Avenue, with fares usually starting at ₱12 (₱10 for students). Terminal 3 is served by the Citylink bus (₱29), connecting it to Eastwood City in Quezon City via Circumferential Road 5 (C-5). In addition, Ube Express operates a premium bus service. Unlike the regular city buses, Ube Express actually enters the curb side of the terminal and serves the Makati central business district, the city of Manila (via Roxas Boulevard), and Entertainment City. It costs between ₱150-300 but it includes complimentary WiFi, GPS tracking, and more comfortable seats.
  • Train: The airport is served by two train stations: LRT-1 Baclaran station near the Domestic Terminal, and Nichols railway (PNR) station near Terminal 3. Both stations however are 2-3 kilometers away from the airport proper. Jeeps which serve Terminal 3 and Villamor Airbase stop near Nichols station.
  • Jeepney: Jeepneys which serve Terminal 3 will have "NAIA Terminal 3" or something similar written on the side route panel. Jeepneys which serve Terminals 1 and 2 will have "MIA" written on the route panel.
  • Hotel transportation: Major hotel representatives are available on arrival and have chauffeur services which you can book on advance. The cost is around ₱750-₱950.

Clark International Airport[edit]

The Clark International Airport (CRK IATA) in Angeles City, Pampanga is 85 km north of Manila and is a popular hub for low-cost carriers. AirAsia, Cebu Pacific and SEAIR maintain hubs at Clark, with other airlines—including legacy airlines such as Asiana Airlines and Dragonair—also connecting Clark with points throughout Asia.

Some airlines which serve Clark have dedicated bus transfer services that transport passengers between Metro Manila and the airport via the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx). There are also four daily direct buses operated by Philtranco between Clark and its terminal in Pasay via SM Megamall in Mandaluyong, which costs ₱300 (to SM Megamall) or ₱350 (to Pasay). Jeepneys also connect the airport to bus terminals in Angeles, where it is also possible to take a bus to Manila.

By boat[edit]

All ferries and most boats serving Metro Manila dock at the Port of Manila in Manila proper, which is divided into two halves: the North Harbor on the northern side of the Pasig River in Tondo, and the South Harbor on the southern side beside Ermita and Intramuros. 2GO Travel [2], the largest ferry operator out of the Port of Manila, operates out of the Eva Macapagal Super Terminal at Pier 15 in the South Harbor, though a few ferries operate from Pier 4 in the North Harbor, which was expanded with the construction of the newly-opened Manila North Port Passenger Terminal. Cruise ships docking in Manila will dock at either terminal, though most dock at the Super Terminal.

Some boat services do not dock at the Port of Manila: these include Sun Cruises ferries to Corregidor Island, which dock beside the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay, and boats to Cavite and Bataan, which dock at the SM Mall of Asia further south.

By road[edit]

The Philippines' two major expressways: the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx), terminate in Manila. While there is no direct interconnection between the two (Stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway, when completed, will connect both expressways together), both expressways terminate at Epifanio de los Santos Avenue: the North Luzon Expressway terminates at the Balintawak Interchange in Quezon City, while the South Luzon Expressway terminates at the Magallanes Interchange in Makati, with a further expressway-like segment continuing on as the Sergio Osmeña Highway between Magallanes and Quirino Avenue in Paco, Manila. A third expressway, the Manila-Cavite Expressway which connects Metro Manila and Cavite, terminates at the intersection with MIA Road in Pasay, and continues on as Roxas Boulevard.

Other highways of the Philippines also terminate in Metro Manila. The MacArthur Highway (formerly the Manila North Road) to northern Luzon, which for much of its length runs parallel to the NLEx, terminates at Monumento in Caloocan, while the Manila East Road, connecting Metro Manila, Rizal and Laguna, terminates in Pasig. The Pan-Philippine Highway, the national road which stretches from Laoag to Zamboanga City, is not signposted in Metro Manila, but major thoroughfares which are part of the Pan-Philippine Highway system in Metro Manila include the MacArthur Highway, Rizal Avenue, Padre Burgos Street and Taft Avenue.

The Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) system has made it easier to travel between islands by car, and major islands are connected by roll on-roll off (RO-RO) ferries which can carry cars, buses and cargo trucks. The SRNH system connects to the Pan-Philippine Highway network, which continues on to Metro Manila.

By bus[edit]

Caution Note: Metro Manila is implementing a new bus terminal scheme for provincial buses: buses will no longer enter Metro Manila, but will terminate at one of three central bus terminals at the extreme ends of the city. Passengers will then transfer to city buses. The first of these terminals, the Southwest Interim Transport Terminal (SITT) beside Uniwide Coastal Mall in Parañaque, is in operation, and all buses from Cavite and Batangas now terminate here. As the scheme is being implemented, information in this section is expected to change.

Buses to Metro Manila from other parts of the Philippines are cheap and efficient, particularly to destinations in more northern parts of Luzon (such as Baguio). However, taking a bus to Metro Manila can be very bewildering, as it is one of only two major cities in Southeast Asia (the other is Singapore) that does not have a central government-run bus terminal. Each bus company (and there are dozens) usually has its own exclusive terminal—in many cases two or more—serving its own set of destinations. However, the good thing is that bus terminals are normally clustered around a particular part of the city, so it is not that difficult to find a bus to a particular destination.

Bus terminals in Metro Manila are normally clustered around the following areas:

  • Buses to northern Luzon are normally clustered around Cubao in Quezon City (around MRT-2 and MRT-3 Araneta Center-Cubao Stations) and Monumento in Caloocan (around LRT-1 Monumento station), mostly along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue. A number of bus companies which serve areas south of Metro Manila (such as Philtranco, Philippine Rabbit and JAC Liner) also have terminals around Cubao. Metro Manila's only attempt at a central long-distance bus terminal is also in Cubao: the privately-run Araneta Center Central Bus Terminal is beside Ali Mall, and buses to a number of destinations in the Philippines, both north and south, terminate here.
  • Buses to southern Luzon and other islands are normally clustered around Pasay, although a good number of buses to northern Luzon also depart from this area. Buses to Batangas, Laguna, Quezon Province, Marinduque and Mindoro normally depart from terminals clustered at the corner of Gil Puyat Avenue (formerly Buendia) and Taft Avenue (around LRT-1 Gil Puyat station). A number of companies also have terminals along the southern stretch of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue, close to the intersection with Taft Avenue (around LRT-1 EDSA station/MRT-3 Taft Avenue station).
  • Buses to areas in northern Luzon (in particular Baguio, Bataan and Zambales) may arrive in Quiapo in Manila, at the intersection of Claro M. Recto Avenue and Rizal Avenue (around LRT-1 Doroteo Jose station and MRT-2 Recto station).

By rail[edit]

Long-distance train services operated by the Philippine National Railways have been suspended for track rehabilitation works on several portions of the South Main Line, with no timetable for when service will be restored. Follow the PNR website or Facebook page [3] for the latest announcements. PNR commuter services within Metro Manila, and service to Biñan and Laguna, are unaffected.

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) operates two overnight intercity services: the Bicol Express between Manila and Naga, Camarines Sur, and the Mayon Limited between Manila and Ligao in Albay. Additional services are expected in the future as the rehabilitation of the PNR network progresses. Train service is comparable to (or slower than, due to delays) buses in terms of speed, but is more comfortable.

Long-distance trains terminate at Tutuban Station in Tondo, Manila, close to Divisoria and west of the LRT-1 Doroteo Jose station and MRT-2 Recto station. In addition to Tutuban, long-distance trains stop at España Station in Sampaloc, close to the University of Santo Tomas. Pasay Road Station in Makati is the most central long-distance station, just outside the Makati central business district.

Get around[edit]

If you use public transportation, try [dead link], it will show you the right type to your destination.

By car[edit]

The metropolis has an extensive system of highways connecting the various cities and municipalities. The major roads include ten radial roads, which branch out from central Manila and five circumferential roads which form concentric arcs around downtown Manila. Most of these roads are very important transportation arteries. One is the C-4 (Circumferential Road 4) also called Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or more popularly known as EDSA. Some other important roads are R-1 (Radial Road 1) or Coastal Road/Manila-Cavite Road; R-3 or South Luzon Expressway (SLEX); R-7, which consists of Espana Avenue, Quezon Avenue, and Commonwealth Avenue; R-8 or the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX); and C-5 going from Bicutan to Libis (simply referred to as C-5).

However, driving in a private car is not recommended for people who are unfamiliar with Manila because many drivers there ignore such things as stoplights and lane markings and most also have no idea what right of way means (although this behavior has been decreasing significantly over the years). Parking tends to be scarce, and can be expensive in downtowns and CBDs. Public transport is very cheap, but it may get very crowded during the rush hours in the morning and early evening (7AM to 10AM and 4PM to 7PM). Traffic also tends to crawl during these times so best avoid being on the move in these occasions. Just like any city in South-East Asia, drivers in Manila tend to be reckless, but road signages are very common, though some are not that visible, and are also well abided and respected by at least 75% of Manila drivers.

Traffic congestion is also another reason to avoid driving, so, if possible, take public transport instead. Yet, the lack of efficient public transport in some areas, means that you may need to take a car to reach them. In fact, Metro Manila's traffic jams are worse that those in São Paulo and Jakarta, and increasing car sales are also one factor for increasing congestion. If unavoidable to use a private car, you may stick on finding alternate routes, especially the Mabuhay Lanes, but, as with the rest of Metro Manila, expect traffic congestion and obstructions on those routes. EDSA (from Caloocan to Pasay via Quezon City), C-5 (Taguig to Valenzuela via Quezon City), Alabang-Zapote Road (between Las Piñas and Muntinlupa), and Dr. A. Santos Avenue, and Ninoy Aquino Avenue (all in in Parañaque) are worthy of mention for frequent congestion, usually rush hour traffic (see above), and better take alternate routes if possible, but if your destination is found along those roads, please expect hours for traffic to move smoothly. Cities with many gated subdivisions, like the suburban cities of Las Piñas and Parañaque, tend to have traffic jams as worse as EDSA's, and unless your vehicle have a sticker issued by the homeowners' assocation or local government (which you can only get if you have a residence or frequently visit a location inside the subdivision[s] covered), there is no choice but to drive through the already clogged roads.

Traffic enforcement tends to be lax, and enforcers typically bribe violators or are bribed by those, but this situation begins to change with high-definition CCTV cameras being placed in most major intersections and choke points.

When driving, be cautious of pedestrians crossing illegally. Be also aware when driving in narrow streets, where children usually play, given Manila is a crowded metropolis. Be also aware of the existing Number-Coding Scheme, where some vehicles are not allowed to ply Metro Manila streets from 7AM to 10AM, and from 3PM to 7PM, Mondays to Fridays, i.e. cars with license plates ending in numbers 1 and 2 should not go out of the street on the said schedule every Mondays, 3 and 4 every Tuesdays, and so on and so forth. Makati however observes the Number-Coding scheme the whole day.

Right turns on red are legal, unless explicitly prohibited by signage. Dedicated left turn lanes are rather common in wide avenues, and expect to slow down for a left turning vehicle in most major intersections. Some major thoroughfares, like EDSA and Commonwealth Avenue, have left turns provided by U-turn slots instead of a direct turn through the intersection. In EDSA and Commonwealth Avenue, dedicated public utility vehicle and motorcycle lanes are implemented, and more rigorous enforcement through no-contact apprehension using CCTV cameras makes use by cars illegal. Some roads, like Taft Avenue over Baclaran or Claro M. Recto Avenue across Divisoria, are rarely passable by traffic due to streetside vendors and heavy pedestrian traffic.

School buses, commonly using vans (because of narrow streets) in yellow paint and rather a staple by private schools (where tricycles are the norm in public schools), are a common sight during school days. There is no law covering stopping where a school buses picking up or shopping off, but be advised to slow down for children, as in school zones, even when locals, especially motorcyclists, pass without giving way.

The price of petroleum is relatively comparable to that paid in the US but expensive in the eyes of locals. Fuel prices fluctuate on a weekly basis.

By jeepney[edit]


Jeepneys are the most common means of public transport in the Philippines. The introduction of more modern buses and the more efficient train lines have lessened the importance of the jeepney. They still do travel all over the city, particularly on routes which are too small to be serviced by buses - but know exactly where you are headed before getting on. Once inside, pay your fare or "bayad" directly to the driver by telling him where you want to get off and how many people you are paying for. It is a norm all over the country that if you are seated far from the driver, one just need to say "Bayad po" while extending the hand with your fare to the driver and someone will readily take your fare and pass it until it gets to the driver. Giving back of change or "sukli" if the fare given is in a large denomination will come in a similar manner, and a polite expression of "Thank you" or "Salamat po" as a sign of gratitude is encouraged.

The fare structure begins with a minimum fare for the first four kilometers and increases every additional kilometer thereafter. As of February 2011 minimum fare is ₱8, while the per kilometer additional fare is ₱1.25. Do not expect that a driver will be able to give any change for very large denominations, e.g. ₱500 or ₱1000.

You can also request the driver to inform you that you are near to your destination. Loading and unloading zones for jeepneys are rarely followed so people hop on and get off practically at will. Saying "para" or "para po!" is the standard way to tell the driver that you need to get off. Jeeps are designed to carry small people - and can get very cramped for anyone over {{ft|6} tall particularly if the jeepney is fully loaded! This arrangement is cramped even for the size of the locals who are small by Western comparison and some would regularly complain. Though not widely practiced, some people would pay for the price of two to avoid getting cramped by someone else as the fares are anyway extremely cheap. Jeepneys usually seat anywhere from 0 to 30 people.

By taxi[edit]

Taxis are very affordable by western standards but pretty expensive for locals and almost all are now air-conditioned and use a meter to compute for the final fare. The taxi rates start at ₱40 for the first 500 metres and an extra ₱3.50 for every succeeding 300-metres or 2 minutes of stopping.

Some drivers may take advantage of tourists, but closer regulation by authorities and even by mall operators, as well as the competition with Grab, are curbing this practice slowly. Many taxis are in a poor state of repair and drivers drive erratically. The LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) has now instituted hotline numbers to report erring drivers. Just take note of the cab name and number. Mall operators also closely monitor the operations of taxis that use their taxi racks by ensuring that cab drivers do not choose only passengers bound for nearby destinations. Do not hire taxis waiting at bus terminals; they will charge much higher fare (100% more than normal fare). Just walk out from any main bus terminal, and you will find plenty of cabs.

During traffic as drivers will ask for a minimum fare higher than what the meter requires you to pay. Also during rush hour (morning and evening), and other times when there is heavy traffic (such as heavy rains), it is not unusual to see taxi drivers hesitant to drive you if your destination involves EDSA or an area full of offices; it is extremely difficult to hail a cab during these hours. During the early morning, passengers are strongly advised to bring smaller denominations of bills (and coins) as drivers usually don't have ready change.

By e-hailing[edit]

The e-hailing app Grab is ubiquitous in Metro Manila, and basically the only choice after Uber pulled back from Southeast Asia in March 2018. Basically you can use Grab to order a "GrabCar" (with fixed fare) or a regular taxi with metered fare; for the latter, you can check the most likely range of fares beforehand to evaluate which is the most economical option.

While generally a data plan or Wi-Fi is required to use a Grab, Manila's airport and many shopping malls have kiosks where you can order a car or taxi using Grab without any internet connection. Many hotels will just use the Grab app when you request a taxi in the reception.

By bus[edit]

Buses are common in the major thoroughfares of Metro Manila and most will pass through EDSA. The common routes are as follows:

Bus routes
Origin/Destination Destination/Origin Way/s
Baclaran Navotas EDSA and Ayala/EDSA alone
Baclaran SM Fairview EDSA and Ayala / Quezon Avenue and Espana
Baclaran Malanday EDSA and NLEX (North Luzon Expressway)
Baclaran Sta. Maria, Bulacan EDSA, Ayala, and NLEX/MacArthur Highway
Grotto Ninoy Aquino International Airport EDSA and SM Fairview
Malanday Ninoy Aquino International Airport EDSA
Alabang/Pacita Navotas SLEX (South Luzon Expressway) and EDSA
Alabang/Pacita Novaliches SLEX, EDSA and NLEX
Alabang Malanday SLEX and EDSA
Alabang SM Fairview SLEX and EDSA
Quiapo Cainta Ortigas Avenue, San Juan and Sta. Mesa
Quiapo Taytay Ortigas Avenue, San Juan and Sta. Mesa

Ordinary and air-conditioned buses are available. Conductors collect your fare once on board and they are ready with change although it is suggested you have coins during morning rush-hours ready. Just tell him/her where you want to get off. Like the jeepneys, buses do not have route numbers identifying their routes and often do not observe loading and unloading areas except for some highly regulated zones where they are bound to get a ticket for not doing so, most notably in Makati's central business district. As such, it is not uncommon for people to get on and off in odd places. Buses sometimes load and unload in the middle of the road and couldn't care less about the traffic they may cause. Furthermore, they don't have a timetable for when to stop at a particular area although buses bound to the same place stop at a particular area seconds from each other. The fare structure of buses is almost the same as that of jeepneys where a fare matrix is provided and fares increase at a constant rate per kilometre after the first few kilometres. While EDSA has a bus lane (two lanes wide on each side), these are generally packed with buses from city/provincial routes funneling down the thorughfare, and are rarely followed. It is not uncommon to see that a bus won't go until it is fairly packed so it's best to avoid an empty bus. This is because the drivers and conductors are paid depending on how many passengers they take-in. If your route/destination is along EDSA, it is best to take the MRT-3 (see below) to avoid the traffic.

Froelich Tours operate premium point-to-point P2P bus services. These buses go non-stop between only two points and depart on a regular schedule. Full-fare tickets cost ₱55 (working days), ₱40 (Saturdays), and ₱35 (Sundays/holidays). All buses are air-conditioned, and some vehicles provide free Wi-Fi and individual entertainment units for passengers. Payment can be made in cash or through the new BEEP card. The most common routes are:

  • Centris (in Quezon City) to Glorietta 5 (in Makati City)
  • Trinoma Mall (in Quezon City) to Glorietta 5 (in Makati City)
  • SM North EDSA (in Quezon City) to SM Megamall (in Mandaluyong)

By minivan[edit]

FX (minivans) are a relatively new transport mode available now. They are more expensive than jeepneys, but cheaper than taxis. FX follow the jeepney practice of having a fixed route but like taxis are usually air-conditioned. You likely will have to share the ride as the FX can take up to 10 passengers at a time, but it's reasonably comfortable.

By tricycle[edit]

Tricycles (motorcycles with modified side cars) These are common for short trips in areas where jeepneys do not travel. In Manila proper you are unlikely to see any. However, in outlying suburbs and towns they are more common. Another variant is the pedicab which is merely a bicycle with a side car.

By rail[edit]

The LRT and MRT[edit]

MRT Line 2 of the LRTA System

Travelling by rail is so far, one of the fastest options. Here are some options to choose from:

  • There the LRTA system which is run by the Light Rail Transit Authority or LRTA [4]. The system has two lines. LRT Line 1 (also known as the Yellow Line) runs along Taft Avenue from Baclaran in Paranaque to the Bonifacio Monument in Caloocan City. LRT Line 2 (also known as the Purple Line) runs from Santolan in Pasig to Recto in the heart of downtown Manila.
  • There is also the similar MRTC system which is run by the Metro Rail Transit Corporation and Department of Transportation and Communications[5]. The system has a single line. MRT Line 3 (also known as the Blue Line). is a light rail transit system that runs along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or EDSA, one of the main thoroughfares in Metro Manila. The system runs from the North Avenue Station in Quezon City to the Taft Avenue Station in Pasay City.

Fares in all lines are as cheap as ₱15, and they are air conditioned albeit quite crowded during the morning and early evening rush hours. Entering the systems requires a ticket which like other countries, must be inserted onto the turnstile. Alternatively, magnetic plastic cards are increasingly becoming available to access the system although surcharges to both top-up the card and to pay for actual travel apply.

Single-journey and stored-value tickets are available for each of the lines. You can transfer between lines at the following areas:

    • Between Line 1 and Line 2: Doroteo Jose-Recto
    • Between Line 1 and Line 3: Taft Avenue-EDSA
    • Between Line 2 and Line 3: Araneta Center-Cubao-Araneta Center-Cubao

You must exit the system and purchase a separate ticket to ride on the other lines except if you're in possession of a Beep card. Also be prepared for long queues at the entrance as security personnel will check to see if bags are loaded with prohibited items.

Lines 1 and 3 are expected to be crowded during rush hour and while the journey itself can be fast, expect to wait a long time before riding and be mindful of your personal belongings as pickpockets are not uncommon. Like other overpopulated cities in Asia, you should be prepared to be surrounded by other people. If you have a backpack, put it on front or it on your feet to reduce the space you take up. Women (including those that are pregnant or with children), students, disabled persons, and the elderly must be given priority in seating. The trains also have women-only coaches where you, if you are male, must watch out for.

MRT Line 3 has suffered from frequent service interruptions and breakdowns as a result of deferred maintenance, and those caused inconvenience to thousands of daily passengers, but taking Line 3 remains the easiest way to traverse EDSA without the hassle of unending traffic jams.

Philippine National Railways: Metro South Commuter Line[edit]

PNR Metro South Commuter Line train at Vito Cruz station

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) also operate the Metro South Commuter Line, a commuter service between Tutuban (in Manila) to Alabang (in Muntinlupa), and also to Calamba (in Laguna, only on the night and early morning). This line, with an exchange at Blumentritt, has 18 stations within Metro Manila, and a further 8 at Laguna.

Ticket prices on the Metro South Commuter Line costs ₱5-10 (with a discount of 20% on students, PWDs, and senior citizens), and is based on kilometers travelled. But unlike the LRT and MRT, the trains use diesel power, and is not grade separated in most places. The ticketing system is still based on paper tickets, but will be soon phased out with the introduction of cards inserted on turnstiles on entry and exit in the stations. Trains on the Metro South Commuter Line are mostly air-conditioned (except for the now locomotive-hauled KiHa 52s with red and cream paint, which only uses ceiling fans), but they may not work on crowding situations.

While it can be used as an alternate on taking a bus when coming from southern Metro Manila or Southern Luzon (especially Laguna), travelling with the Metro Southern Commuter Line poses several problems. As the system is not mostly grade separated, there are many railroad crossings that may become accident scenes when one vehicle or person became stuck and be hit, and also adds up on the traffic congestion. Squatters living beside the tracks may present a problem on trains, usually by people pushing home-made "trolleys", by groups throwing human feces or urine on passing trains, or others stealing rails or their parts (usually bolts and plates securing rail sections) to sell at junk shops. Few trainsets, resulting from trains breaking down from deferred maintenance, also adds the crowding situations, making congestion on the Metro Commuter Line worse that those in the LRT and MRT. Long intervals between trips, usually 30 minutes, or 1 hour (on noon in Sundays and holidays) also adds the crowding and inefficiency of the system.


Manila's light rail transit system

Fares on the Metro Manila's rail network system are distance-based, with the base fare being ₱15 for the Yellow and Purple Lines, and ₱10 for the Orange Line. Each line has a differing fare structure:

  • Yellow Line: ₱15 for the first four stations, ₱15 for more than four stations. A journey on the Yellow Line from Vito Cruz, the first station on the line within the City of Manila, to Abad Santos, the last station within city limits, is ₱15.
  • Purple Line: ₱15 for the first three stations, with an increase of ₱1 depending on the number of stations crossed thereafter. A journey on the Purple Line from Recto to V. Mapa (the last station within city limits) is ₱12.
  • Orange Line: ₱10 base fare with increases of ₱5 depending on the distance from Tutuban station. Travel on the Orange Line within the City of Manila, from Tutuban to Vito Cruz (not to be confused with the Vito Cruz station on the Yellow Line), and points in between, is charged the ₱10 base fare.

Single-journey and ₱100 "stored value" tickets may be purchased at LRTA stations from a cashier desk (there are no automatic machines). Stored value tickets are valid for six months after first use. The LRTA has full fare integration for stored-value tickets: stored-value tickets purchased for use on one line are also valid on the other line. However, this does not extend to single-journey tickets, which are only valid for one line, and the Orange Line, which uses a separate paper-based ticket system.

On foot[edit]

As most large Southeast Asian cities, Manila is definitely not a city made for pedestrians. Street sides are often infested with vendors and peddlers, dirty or smelly, and crossing the street requires double attention even when pedestrian lights are green. Yet, as in most cities in the with, walking can still be the best way of getting close to the local daily life, as long as you take precautions about traffic and safety.

Jaywalking is illegal in most places, but many locals still stick on that practice because of the distance to the nearest crossing or overpass/underpass. It is best not to do what the locals do, as traffic laws are being enforced more rigorously.

Surprisingly, Manila has a few very pedestrian friendly-areas, such as Bonifacio Global City in Taguig and the Ayala Center in Makati, with ample pedestrian walkways, shelter and traffic rules that seem to work. In particular, the Bonifacio High Street in Taguig is a lively and charming pedestrian street with plenty of shops, gardens, alfresco bars and restaurants, and open-air contemporary art that definitely deserve a stroll on both day and night.


City walks[edit]

Manila might not generally be a place to take a leisurely stroll, but it has interesting neighbourhoods that definitely deserve to be explored on foot:

  • Intramuros, the Spanish-built walled city that is the historical center of Manila. Largely destroyed during the World War II, it is not a charming colonial city center in the likes of Vigan, but a fascinating place where memories of the past and the realities of the present mix;
  • Binondo is Manila's bustling Chinatown with an unmatched festival of colours, tastes, and smells;
  • Makati's Poblacion is the historical core of Makati, containing both Metro Manila's Koreatown and hipster areas popular among backpackers;
  • Makati's Ayala Center is a large cluster of shopping malls in Metro Manila's most important business district, which is itself an eye candy for skyscraper afficionados;
  • Bonifacio Global City is an ultramodern business, commercial and affluent residential district in the likes of Singapore, and likely the most pedestrian-friendly area of Metro Manila.

Plazas, Parks and Nature Reserves[edit]

Rizal Park

When it comes to parks, Luneta Park and Intramuros are the most popular destinations. Luneta Park (also called as Rizal Park and Rizal Monument) is home to the Rizal monument; a statue of the Philippines' national hero, Jose Rizal. It is one of the most significant and most important places in Philippine history from the Spanish colonial era to the EDSA revolution. The walled former city of Intramuros served as a settlement for the Indianized-Malay-Muslims, then it was taken over by the Spanish and fell into ruins during the World War II, it is one of the most popular icons of the Philippines. See Plaza de Roma in Intramuros where a statue of King Carlos IV of Spain stands, Plaza de Goiti or now known as Plaza Lacson is where a statue of Arsenio Lacson; said to be one of Manila's greatest mayor stands, next to it is Roman Santos building which would again make you think you're somewhere in Rome, Italy because of it Greco-Roman architecture. Plaza Miranda stands infront of Quiapo Church in the Filipino-Muslim district of Quiapo, an unfortunate event occurred here on 1971; the Plaza Miranda bombings. Manila Zoological and Botanical Gardens is one of the oldest zoos in Asia. It is criticized for its inadequate care towards animals and its dirty surroundings and animal rights activists are demanding to free the animals due to this while Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center have rare animals such as water monitors and the Philippine deer, it also treats injured animals even if it isn't part of their zoo. La Mesa Dam EcoPark is the haven for most Filipinos after a tiring week of work and a getaway from the noisy and polluted metro, not only is it an ecopark but is also a dam which provides water to Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Manila Ocean Park is larger than Singapore's Sentosa Underwater World, construction is incomplete however it had already opened to the public, tickets cost ₱350 for a child, ₱400 for adults. Quezon Memorial Circle is a shrine and a national park, it is where the remains of late President Manuel Quezon and his wife are rested. While Greenbelt Park is in Makati and is worth seeing.

Places of worship[edit]

Manila Cathedral

Religion is one of the major aspects of life of a Filipino, the diverse population of the Philippines follows the world's major religions; Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and some following the Jewish faith and part of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, some forms of paganism, animism or any other kind may somehow exist. Manila's population follows almost all of those religions.

Christian faith[edit]

EDSA Shrine

See Basilica Minore de la Immaculada Concepcion or Manila Cathedral in simple words in Intramuros, it is a historic church which served 2 funerals for 2 Filipino presidents and for bishops' funerals. Basilica Minore de San Lorenzo Ruiz or Binondo Church in Chinatown caters to Chinese Filipinos, seen here is the synchronization of Western architecture, Catholic faith and Chinese influences. Our Lady of China chapel is in this church. See the miraculous Black Nazerene or Itim na Nazareno in Basilica Minore de Jesus Nazareno or Quiapo church which is believed to give miracles and blessings. During January it is crowded as are the streets of Metro Manila, as a procession is held, during Fridays the church is filled with devotees.

  • San Sebastian Basilica Minore de Mount Carmel
  • Epifanio de los Santos Shrine

Churches and sanctuaries[edit]

  • San Agustín Church.
  • Redemptorist Church (Baclaran Church).
  • Remedios Church (Malate Church).
  • Santuario de San Antonio

Other faiths[edit]

The Golden Mosque is in the Quiapo district which is somehow the Filipino-Muslim district of Manila, its dome is made of gold and is built in order of the Marcoses.


Ayala Museum
  • The National Museum of the Filipino People
  • Metropolitan Museum
  • Filipinas Heritage Library
  • Ateneo Art Gallery
  • Ayala Museum
  • Lopez Museum
  • The Museum at De La Salle University-Manila
  • Museum of Contemporary Art and Design at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde


While some might consider creepy to visit cemeteries as a tourist, some of Manila's cemeteries easily stand among the cities' most impressive sights. The most famous are the Manila Chinese Cemetery in Santa Cruz, a real "city of the dead" with intricate and ornamented mausoleums, and the sombre Manila American Cemetery and Memorial and Heroes' Cemetery in Taguig dedicated respectively to the American and Filipino soldiers who died in the Philippines during the World War II. The Manila North Cemetery in Santa Cruz, a bizarre but fascinating "slum-cemetery", is not a place for independent sightseeing but can be visited via a guided tour.

Manila Chinese Cemetery


  • Monumento de la Revolucion
  • Rizal Monument
  • People Power Monument
  • Quezon Monument
  • Bonifacio Monument



  • Skyscraper Gazing Tour - Tour the three major skyscrapers clusters of Metropolitan Manila via EDSA starting from Ayala Center in Makati, diverting to Eastwood, then back again to EDSA to Ortigas Center. There are alternative routes connecting these three. As you go along, you will be arching back your neck and staring upwards. Manila has seen another period of construction boom in practically the busiest areas in the metropolis (and these areas are just a sample) with an upward sales growth of condominium units. Be discreet on taking photos. Just like in traumatized New York or Los Angeles, here in Manila, skyscrapers and camera equals trouble. People here are not used to seeing a lot of tourists and mostly will have some second thoughts why you are doing this thing, unless you are white.
  • City Tour of Metro Manila via Rail - This do-it-yourself tour provides a panoramic view of the city from a different vantage point, exactly from a moving elevated train about 5 m (15 feet) above street level. It comes in three lines - Line-1 (Yellow) for the North to South Route, Line-2 (Purple) for the East to West Route, and Line-3 (Blue) for the circumferencial route. For an all female-tour, the trains has an exclusive all female coach (at the front end) just for discerning takers.


City of Dreams Manila

Metro Manila is one of Asia's largest gambling hubs, containing no less then twenty casinos. Some of them have true Las Vegas or Macau standard, being not only casinos but also integrated resorts, entertainment venues and luxury shopping malls. These are mostly located in the Entertainment City district of Parañaque, including the Solaire, the City of Dreams, the Okada and the future Westside City, whereas the Resorts World Manila is located in the Newport area of Pasay.


There are generally two kinds of shopping destinations in Manila: the mall and the tiangge ("chang-ghe").

Shopping malls[edit]

Not all malls in Manila are the same...

The Manila mall is more than just a shopping experience but a cultural destination as well. The largest malls in Metro Manila are practically their own cities within the city: complete with boutiques, supermarkets, department stores, restaurants, cinemas, medical facilities, hotels, schools, offices, gyms, serviced apartments, spas, convention centers, art galleries, bowling alleys, museums, ice skating rinks, and even a chapel for Sunday masses.

The SM City North EDSA in Quezon City is the largest mall in the Philippines and 6th largest mall in the World. The second largest mall in Metro Manila is the SM Megamall in Mandaluyong, followed by the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay. The Ayala Center in Makati is not a single mall, but a cluster of four large shopping malls which combined together, might offer more shopping options than the aforementioned super-malls.

While the typical image of shopping malls are of bland concrete boxes, many malls in Manila use innovative architecture and concepts including large open spaces, contemporary art exhibitions, and popular markets. In particular, the Bonifacio High Street in Taguig is a real "shopping mall turned into a pedestrian street", the SM Mall of Asia in Pasay contains a bustling amusement park facing the Manila Bay, Festival Alabang in Muntinlupa contains a park with a river, and the Venice Grand Canal in Taguig is, well... a replica of Venice.



However, if you wish to experience the "ultimate Manila shopping experience", one has to shop at a tiangge. Tiangges are small makeshift stalls clustered together that sell anything and everything you can imagine think bazaars). But at bargain basement prices. In these places, one has to haggle, particularly if you are buying wholesale (defined as at least six pieces of the same item). The best tiangge complexes are in the Greenhills Shopping Center, Tiendesitas, Market! Market!, St. Francis Square, Tutuban Center Mall, Divisoria Mall, and 168 Mall. Go crazy buying quality clothes and shoes, pretty fashion jewelry and things for the house at very reasonable prices!


The Food Village at Tiendesitas

A tourist or visitor may be amused or perplexed to see Filipinos eating most of the time. Apart from the three major meals of the day, there are snacks in the morning and in the afternoon called merienda which are integral part of a typical Pinoy's everyday life. Metro Manila's diverse racial community had brought the rise to international cuisine, from just one corner of the street a Filipino would be eating Shawarma (more commonly known as Doner or Kebab for some westerners), another one would be enjoying his kimchee, while others would enjoy their night with sushi, some would desire Indian and Thai curry for their lunch while some would prefer the typical American breakfast in fastfood stores. For Chinese cuisine go to Chinatown where they serve Hokkien dishes; American steakhouses, high class Japanese, Korean, Indian and Thai restaurants that lurk around Makati, Koreantown have cheaper options as does Japantown (Little Tokyo). Usually if you prefer to splurge, Makati is one of the best options. Typical Filipino cuisine and streetfood are found in the streets of Manila which provide the best options, the cost could be US$1-2 per serving or even lower.

Filipino fastfood[edit]

America's influence is palpable in the Philippines, and you'll be hard pressed to find a mall without the requisite McDonalds and KFC. Filipino fastfood chains that capture the essence of Filipino food compete strongly for Philippine tastebuds however, and they may be a safe place for the tourist to try the local fare. The following are a list of fastfood chains that have branches all around the Metro, and in many cases around the country.

  • Jollibee. The most well-known Filipino fastfood chain of all, Jollibee can boast of over a thousand stores in the Philippines and more than 300 stores around the world. Typical fastfood fare for the most part, but the burger dressing will taste different (read: sweet) to most foreigners. For something a little different, try the pancit palabok, which is a vermicelli dish with an orange sauce. US$1-2 per serving.
  • Greenwich Pizza. The second of Jollibee corps' trifecta of fastfood chains, Greenwich Pizzas are your typical fare, but once again with the slightly sweeter than usual tomato sauce. Some seasonal offerings may be on offer though, like the sisig pizza, so check the menu. US$2-3 per serving.
  • Chowking. The Filipino version of Chinese food, also owned by Jollibee. For good sampling of their food, try the Lauriats, which feature a viand (beef, pork, chicken), rice, pancit (fried noodles with meat and veggies), siomai (dumplings), and buchi (a sweet rice ball covered with a sesame-based coating. US$2-3 per serving.
  • Tapa King. Tapaking is where you get the ubiquitous tapsilog (fried beef strips, fried garlic rice, and egg), which is popular breakfast fare, along with other local delicacies. US$2-3 per serving.
  • GotoKing. This where you go to get the localized version of congee called goto and lugaw (rice porridge), with different kinds of toppings like chicken, roasted garlic, egg.
  • Mang Inasal. A relative newcomer, Mang Inasal brings a variety of barbecue called "inasal" into Metro Manila from the smaller city of Bacolod (further south in the Visayan region). They offer other grilled meats, and soups like sinigang (a sour, tamarind based soup). US$1-2 per serving.
  • Goldilocks. The place to go for your baked treats and sweets like mamon (a spongy round cake), polvoron (a tighly packed powdery treat) ensaymada (bread baked with cheese and sugar), and host of other delicacies for those with a sweet tooth. A must try savory treat is their fresh lumpiang sariwa (light and fresh spring roll with peanut sauce).

Where to eat

  • Greenbelt Lifestyle Center - the widest selection of food choices, which also happen to be the trendiest and most unique, can be found in the Greenbelt Area at heart of Ayala Center in Makati City. With everything upscale, you can find yourself munching tapas with a glass of sangria or having a gastronomic delight of french treats.
  • Tomas Morato - Before midnight strikes, the strip is becoming increasily famous among locals for comedy bars. However, restaurants with gastronomic delights of every kind or dish abound from end-to-end.
  • The Promenade at Greenhills
  • Baywalk - This used to be the most famous location for an abundance of affordable, delightful street food, by the bay. However, it has been closed by the city government for certain issues. Nevertheless, a visit to this area provides a different perspective of the old city of Manila.
  • Eastwood City - Peppered with a lot of choices that offer comfortable dining in airconditioned or al fresco style, this place appeals to the upbeat, on-the-rise professionals and more affluent members of the Filipino society. There are lots of things to enjoy from good food, music, to midnight movies and shopping. Very appropriate for the night owls and nearby universitarians.
  • The Fort Strip and Serendra in Global City, Taguig - Trendy, classy, isolated yet warm, surprising and fulfilling. From Makati City, it is easy to reach the newest dining and entertainment hub in the Metropolis by private car or cab.
  • Tiendesitas - literally "little stores", This place seems to have been primarily built with returning Filipinos in mind and for foreigners interested in some kind of cultural immersion. It is a confluence of some 450 traders from the three major islands of the Philippines, namely Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, selling specialty merchandise. So much to choose from but the food pavilions are the busiest.


The epicenter of Metro Manila's famous nightlife is the Greenbelt in Makati where some of the city's best restaurants, cafes, bars and karaoke joints cluster around a park in the middle of the main business district. The Fort, Serendra and Bonifacio High Street are three different clusters that offers high-end restaurants, bars and shops in the nearby city of Taguig. Bohemian Malate and the adjoining Baywalk contain a variety of venues serving a combination of food, comedy, alcohol and live music in Manila. Other nightlife clusters in the Metro are Eastwood, Araneta Center, and Timog all in Quezon City.

The introduction of American hip hop music has had a noticeable effect on Philippine night life, serving as the soundtrack to a high-spirited Manila youth culture. Many nightclubs now rival first-world standards both in terms of luxury and vibrancy.

Additionally, there are numerous venues in which to catch elements of an active Philippine alternative rock community. Some venues, such as saGuijo Cafe in Makati, have risen to some prominence.


Check city articles for listings

Due to Metro Manila's horrible traffic, those who came for business are advised to stay in the business district they are visiting or as near as possible. Backpackers tend to favour Malate or Makati's Poblacion as they are both atmospheric areas with cheap food, bars, and accommodation. Those who want to avoid gritty side of Manila typically stay in more affluent districts such as Makati's Ayala Center or Bonifacio Global City.

Standard hotels range from ₱500 to ₱10,000, but you can spend more if you want to stay in a luxurious place. Popular hotels such as Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental are found in Manila and Makati while Marriot hotels just opened a branch in Newport City. Hotels include common frills such as laundry service, telephone, and TV. Motels have a bad reputation and perception by Filipinos as they are viewed as meeting places for illicit sex and things, but they are a cheap option. Condominiums, now easily rented even for short stays via websites such as Airbnb and, are found around financial districts and often near commercial establishments.

Stay safe[edit]


Violent crime is quite evident in some parts of the metro, but this usually happens among locals, and tourists should not worry a lot, since there are many police and frequent police patrol cars within Metro Manila, especially tourist areas.

Bag-snatching is also common, but, of course, common sense will reduce that threat. Most victims are rich locals.

Theft is prevalent, but common sense will help you avoid being a victim. Avoid wearing jewelry when going to crowded areas, as they attract attention to thieves. Be watchful when carrying electronic gadgets, as bring those in public may attract criminals. Avoid leaving your valuables inside vehicles, even in secure areas, as criminals may take advantage by breaking the windows (the Basag-kotse modus operandi), plus, most management of parking areas waive rights on protecting items inside the vehicle, that they would not be responsible for any damage or loss.

Beware of the dreaded Budol-budol gang, which employ confidence tricks to steal any valuables from unsuspecting persons. Victims sometimes describe their modus operandi as ones where they are "brainwashed" or "hypnotized" to follow their demands. Sometimes, the criminals will pretend to be someone who you know. Budol-budol gang members pretend to have good intentions, but once they gained the victim's confidence, they will eventually take advantage of that trust to steal any valuable items. Avoid seeking assistance with strangers at most times: better be suspicious rather than being enticed and being singled out.

Impoverished residential areas, especially slums or squatters' (or informal settler) areas, filled with makeshift houses, are mostly dangerous on both day and night, as those areas are usually havens of thugs (siga, pronunced SEE-guh), drunkards, and drug users and dealers, and teenage gangs that may find strangers a center of attention (kursonada) for their malicious and harmful acts, usually called trip by locals. Thugs, or locally, siga, may find strangers their enemies, beside others men in their area, and may cause street brawls, usually when provoked. Drunkards may start brawls, that may involve throwing of glass bottles, or do crimes when overly drunk, usually when triggered. Drugs mostly proliferate on very poor areas, and drug dealers, usually selling crystal methamphetamine, are widespread, resulting to most crime. Despite actions and crackdowns by police or the barangay, crime, usually by drug addicts, drunkards, and teenage gangsters still present problems for an unfamiliar visitor. Better avoid going to poor areas, or go with the company of a local, especially when you will stay on one or visit those as part of certain jobs.


Street-level corruption is prevalent in several areas within Metro Manila, usually involving traffic enforcement (either by the local government traffic management agencies or the MMDA). Bribery is a common problem, and law enforcement may try to extort money just for their own use (usually for snacks). Foreigners, especially whites, may fall victim to corrupt law enforcement because of their supposed richness. When caught by any law enforcement, and they ask you for money as a bribe, say no.

Stray animals[edit]

Be also aware of stray dogs, but they are not a problem in financial districts such as Makati CBD and Taguig and can be seen only in residential outskirts and non-commercialized suburbs of Metro Manila.


Metro Manila has a reputation of being a melting pot of peoples from many parts of the Philippines. Many residents are migrants from different regions and provinces. Many residents of Metro Manila are tolerant to ethnic diversity, but there remains discrimination against new residents and sometimes foreigners. New residents from the countryside are derided as promdi (from the English phrase from the [province of]) because of different customs, while foreigners may also be targetted by curious locals for their skin color and signs of wealth, if not corrupt cops and traffic aides who take advantage of money.


Embassies and consulates[edit]

Being the national capital, Metro Manila hosts a large number of embassies. A majority of them are clustered in Legazpi Village and Dasmariña in Makati City and in Bonifacio Global City in the adjacent Taguig City. There are others in other parts of Metro Manila as well:

Go next[edit]

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