New to Manila? Here’s How to Get Around

Whether you’re a tourist or in Manila for business, you need a convenient way to get around the city. Read on to learn how to safely traverse the often-confusing roads and streets of the Philippines’ capital city.

Manila is the fifth-largest city in the world and one of the most densely populated. Composed of 16 districts, it is home to government offices, schools, and countless places of historical, cultural, and major business sectors.

While some tourists think of Manila only as a stopover on their way to the beaches of Visayas and Mindanao, most of them extend their visit to because of the beautiful attractions. So if you’re interested to know more about Manila’s history, consider going to Intramuros. This is the walled city and former Spanish settlement and one of Manila’s most visited landmarks. Nearby is the Binondo Chinatown, one of the oldest and largest Chinatowns in the world.

To make the most of your visit to Manila, it’s important that you have a reliable and efficient means of transportation. The following are some of the ways you can get around this storied city.

By Bus

Private buses are a popular and convenient mode of transportation—some of them are air-conditioned, and others are equipped with features such as an onboard TV and Wi-Fi. However, due to heavy traffic congestion, they’re not the best option if you’re in a hurry or traveling during rush hour.

Manila buses stop nearly anywhere. An exception is point-to-point (P2P) buses that run on fixed routes. P2P buses depart and arrive at specific points throughout the city, such as the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) and major shopping malls.

By Jeepney

Riding a jeepney is part of the Manila experience. Jeepneys, however, are not allowed on major roads and highways—you can find them on secondary roads and side streets. They’re a cheap way to get where you need to go as long as you don’t mind the heat and pollution.


Manila’s light rail systems, the LRT and MRT, are efficient but overcrowded. You can take the LRT-1 to get to some points of interest in Manila, such as Binondo, Intramuros, and Rizal Park. [OAD1] If you want to go to a mall, you should take the MRT-3. Its stops include major shopping hubs like SM North, Araneta Center, Robinson’s Galleria, and Ayala. [OAD2]

By Car Rental

woman driving a car

In Manila, self-drive car rentals are a great way to get around. This is especially true if you don’t want to deal with the stress of commuting and the unpredictable tropical weather.

While many companies allow customers to book driver services when they rent a car in Manila, self-drive options offer more privacy. It’s also generally less expensive. Another benefit of opting for a self-drive rental is you can go anywhere you want within Manila at any time of the day, without worrying about whether your driver is available.

Tips for Travelers in Manila

  • Carry Cash – While it’s not a good idea to carry around large amounts of cash, make sure you have some on hand when you’re out and about. Not all stores and restaurants accept credit cards or debit cards.
  • Wear Light Clothing – Manila is typically very hot and humid. When visiting tourist destinations, make sure to wear light clothing and bring an umbrella with you in case of a sudden downpour.
  • Be Alert – Like any major city, Manila has its share of thieves and pickpockets. Make sure to keep an eye on your belongings at all times, especially when in crowded places.

Manila is not just someplace to stop and get your bearings before heading to the beaches beyond Luzon. It’s colorful, exciting, and chock-full of places to see and things to do.

Traveling stress-free within the country’s capital requires knowledge of the city’s transportation options and a bit of planning. Public transit options in Manila abound. but for visitors who value convenience, privacy, and freedom, self-drive car rentals are arguably the best option.

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