Manila is the capital of the Philippines, and it's the most densely populated city in the world - so expect a sprawling, bustling and complicated city. But if you can catch your breath you'll find plenty of magic behind the bluster. It has a diverse history, a multi-cultural heritage and plenty of nightlife just for starters!
You will definitely have to do some research into the different areas of Manila so that you can start to form a plan of where to stay and what to do after you arrive on your Manila flight. After all, in such a large city it would be foolish to situate yourself away from the things you want to experience the most - whether that's culture, cuisine or history.
Flights to Manila might not be as cheap as a package holiday in Majorca, but there's a completely different holiday experience on offer. Manila is an up-and-coming destination, both for locals who flock to its bright lights, as well as for tourists, so now's your chance to hop on a Manila flight in 2013 or 2014 before everyone else catches on! And one you arrive you can dive in and explore a charming city that's still a little rough around the edges.
Flights To Manila
Most Manila flights include at least one stopover on their way to their final destination at Manila-Ninoy Aquino International Airport. This stopover can be close to the start of your journey in Amsterdam or Frankfurt, or close to the end in Singapore or Hong Kong or one of the other major airports in the area. There are no direct flights to Manila from the UK, so when you use our search to find your Manila flight, make sure you carefully check the itinerary.
Expect to be on your travels from the UK to Manila for at least 19 hours, and it could be considerably more depending on how long your stopovers are and how many you have. It's certainly not necessarily cheaper in this instance to book a two-stop flight if you're after a cheap fare to Manila so make sure you shop around.
With all that travelling, chances are that once your flight to Manila finally touches down, you're going to want to get to your hotel as quickly as you can. Expect to spend some time getting through immigration after your flight to Manila touches down so be prepared for this. The good news is that transfers needn't take too long once you emerge the other side - especially if you're prepared to pay.
So once you've cleared immigration and been reunited with your luggage, the fastest way to get to your hotel is to hop right into a yellow metered taxi. Obviously traffic can play a part in how quickly you can get to your hotel once your Manila flight arrives, but this is the speediest way to get there. Buses from the terminal can take you to Makati City and Quezon City cheaply if you've not got much in the way of luggage.
Nipping over to the departure terminal and hopping in a white taxi can be a great way to save cash on your taxi ride into the city. These taxis are licensed for everything but picking up customers at the airport - so they save on paying that fee and they pass this on to you. The only downside is that security may have something to say on the matter - so be discreet!
Getting Around Manila
You have a few options when it comes to traversing this vast city, and of these, getting behind the wheel of a Manila hire car can help you be most independent in your travel. Obviously, navigating can be tricky in a big city - so ask for one with sat nav, and beware that the rush hour traffic can be horrendous.
There is a small train network called the Strong Republic Transit System, which runs trains across the city, but beware that single use tickets are only valid for one line, rather than one journey with changes. There are also plenty of buses, which aren't numbered but do display their route on the front and side of the bus - so it's best to ask for help beforehand from your hotel. Jeepneys are smaller versions of the same.
If you're after a quick trip from one sight to the next, then taking a tricycle or pedicab. These are especially good at getting to harder-to-reach destinations, and the good news is that they have to display a fare matrix, which is by and large adhered to for short journeys. Long trips it's more usual to negotiate the fare before you get going.
What To See In Manila
If you want to be at the heart of the sightseeing action after your Manila flight arrives than Manila Bay is where it's at. Here you will find sights from the fortified grandeur of Intramuros, the former walled city of Manila, today home to a cathedral and museums, to the exciting backstreets and markets of Chinatown. By night make a beeline for Malate and the opulent Coconut Palace, another relic of the colonial era. There's much more to do besides - try our Manila Guide for more.