Transport

Visas

The visa policy of the Philippines is not very severe. Citizens of several countries, including EU Member States, Canada, Australia, and the US can enter the Philippines visa-free.

However, the visa-free entry permission only applies to short-term stays (up to 59 days, depending on the country). For stays longer than 59 days, you will have to get a visa or at least a visa extension.

See who is exempt from a Philippines visa and who needs one.

You can apply for a Philippines visa in one of the following ways:

    • At an Embassy or Consulate of the Philippines in your jurisdiction
    • On Arrival, at an international airport in the Philippines.
    • Online, through the website of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (only for citizens of Taiwan)

Apply for Philippines Visa at an Embassy/Consulate

    • If you are required to have a visa for the Philippines, you can apply for one at the Philippines Embassy or Consulate in your country or the one responsible for your jurisdiction.
    • Find the Philippine Embassy/Consulate responsible for your jurisdiction. This includes one in your country of residence, or abroad such as in a neighboring country.
    • Contact them to learn about any specific requirements about the Philippines visa application process.
    • Collect the required documents
    • Submit the Philippines visa application and the required documents at the Embassy/Consulate in person. Submissions on behalf of minors (under the age of 18) can be submitted by their parents or another legal representative.
    • Wait for the visa to be processed
    • Collect the passport which has the Philippines visa affixed to it.

Apply for a Philippines Visa On Arrival

Citizens of all countries can apply for a Philippines Visa On Arrival, except those from the following countries:

    • Afghanistan
    • Albania
    • Algeria
    • Armenia
    • Azerbaijan
    • Bangladesh
    • Belarus
    • Bosnia and Herzegovina
    • China
    • Cuba
    • Egypt
    • Georgia
    • India
    • Iran
    • Iraq
    • Jordan
    • Kosovo
    • Lebanon
    • Libya
    • Moldova
    • Montenegro
    • Nauru
    • Nigeria
    • North Korea
    • North Macedonia
    • Pakistan
    • Palestine
    • Sierra
    • Leone
    • Serbia
    • Somalia
    • South
    • Sudan
    • Sri Lanka
    • Sudan
    • Syria
    • Taiwan
    • Timor-Leste
    • Tonga
    • Ukraine
    • Yemen

To apply for a Philippines Visa On Arrival, you have to download the Visa On Arrival application form from the website of the Philippines Immigration Bureau.

It takes anywhere between two to ten working days to process a Philippines visa application. The time it takes for a visa to be processed depends on the specific Embassy or Consulate in which you apply. Whether you have all your documents in order or not also affects the processing time of your application. However, you should always apply well in advance of the time you intend to travel.

Documents required

    • Passport/Travel Document Valid for at least six (6) months beyond the intended period of stay in the Philippines
    • Duly Accomplished Visa application forms
    • Passport Photos (2 pieces)
    • Proof of bona fide status as tourist or businessman
    • Confirmed tickets for return or onward journey to the next port of destination
    • Payment of Visa Fees
    • No Objection Certificate from both parents (in case the minor is travelling alone)
    • Any additional documents that the Filipino Embassy or Consulate requires you to submit

Keep in mind:

Birth certificates, marriage certificates, diplomas, qualifications, and other documents issued in your country of residence have to be verified and authenticated at the Philippine Embassy in your country before you submit them.

The documents have to be either in English or Filipino when you submit them. If they are not, you must have them translated by a professional translator before submission. Make sure to learn the exact language requirements before translating anything, however.

Depending on where you apply, you may have to submit both the original as well as a photocopy of a document.

Airport Transport

Manila is accessible from both international and local destinations by flights. You will be landing in one of the four airports in Manila, specifically in either Pasay City or Parañaque City, depending on the airline. Take note that there are four terminals or airports in Manila, which are not connected by subway systems. It can be confusing for a lot of first-time visitors, so make sure to find out which airport you’re landing in before making transfer arrangements.

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 is located in Parañaque City, while Terminals 2, 3, and 4 are in the neighboring Pasay City. The metro or subway system connects none of these airport terminals as of the moment, so the only way to get there and out is via private transport, shuttle buses, or taxicabs.

There are now Point-to-Point (P2P) buses that you can board to transfer airports or you can book a taxi or Grab car via the Grab App (like Uber) if you have connecting flights.

Here’s a rundown of these four airport terminals:

NAIA Terminal 1

Serves all the international flights from and to Manila except for the ones operated by airlines in NAIA Terminal 2 and NAIA Terminal 3.

NAIA Terminal 2

Operates the domestic and international flights of the flag carriers of the country, the Philippine Airlines and the PAL Express. This terminal is also known as the Centennial Terminal to commemorate the centennial declaration of Philippine independence.

NAIA Terminal 3

Caters to international flights operated by Cathay Pacific Air, AirAsia, Emirates Airline, Cebu Pacific Air, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Delta Air Lines, All Nippon Air, and Singapore Airlines, as well as all domestic flights of Cebu Pacific Air. It has a transit lounge (airport hotel) and a massage place.

NAIA Terminal 4

Hosts domestic flights from CebGo, AirSwift, and SkyJet. Some AirAsia flights depart from here as well, so check your tickets closely.

Outside Manila: Clark International Airport

It takes two to three hours to travel from Manila to Clark. One option is through the Premium P2P Bus Service. One station is at NAIA Terminal 3 (Pasay City, Php 350, one way) while another is at North EDSA MRT Station / Trinoma (Quezon City, Php 200-250, one way). You can also hire a car rental service from Clark to Manila for a more comfortable and private transportation.

Your hotel may have shuttle service on request, so please check with the hotel prior to arrival.

Bus

There is a free shuttle bus going to all terminals that runs every 15 minutes, depending on traffic. Given the heavy traffic in Manila during the day and early evening, it may not be the best idea if you are pressed for time (e.g., if you have a connecting flight with a layover less than 4 hours).

You can also take the Airport Loop buses from all terminals. It will take you from the airport to Baclaran, Pasay Rotonda, Taft Avenue station of the Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT), and Manila Light Rail Transit System (LRT) in Pasay. Taft Avenue is the closest light rail station from the airports. Both MRT and LRT1 have a Taft Station and is connected by a walkway.

Another option is the P2P (Point-to-Point) buses called the UBE Express. Fares vary depending on your destination. These buses run on four fixed routes; with some stopping at selected hotels and shopping malls, while other buses stop at big bus terminals. Check the P2P bus schedules here.

MRT and LRT

The Manila Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) run across major roads in Manila and connect the north and south areas of Manila. The MRT traverses Epifanio de Los Santos Avenue (EDSA) while LRT1 and LRT2 have routes crossing Pasay, Manila, Caloocan, and Quezon City.

If your hotel is somewhere in the city of Manila, Makati, Pasay, or even Quezon city, you can ride the MRT or LRT. Be warned though that the MRT and LRT are very crowded during rush hour (7 AM to 9 AM and 5 PM to 9 PM on weekdays).

However, if you travel during the off-peak hours, the MRT and LRT offer the quickest way to slice through Manila’s notorious traffic jams.

You can purchase single-journey tickets/cards (one way) or stored value cards (reloadable BEEP cards) in any station in MRT, LRT1, and LRT2. Reloading can be done at any station, as well.

The single-journey tickets are exclusively used in each line where you purchased them, while the reloadable BEEP cards can be used in all three lines. If you’ll be riding the MRT and LRT a lot while in Manila, purchasing a BEEP card is highly recommended.

MRT

MRT runs along EDSA, starting in Taft Avenue to North Avenue in Quezon City. This line gives travelers access to Roxas Blvd., Makati, Mandaluyong, San Juan, and Quezon City.

LRT1 and LRT2

There are two LRT routes, LRT1 and LRT2. LRT1 is the first among the three light rails in the Philippines, while LRT2 is the newest. A walkway in Doroteo Jose station connects LRT1 and LRT2.

LRT1 runs from Baclaran to Monumento. It lets you explore areas in Roxas Boulevard or Pasay area, Makati, Manila, and Caloocan. Beyond Caloocan are mainly residential areas, not frequented by travelers.

LRT1 cuts through most of the city of Manila, which makes it the best transit to ride to get to popular Manila attractions such as Binondo, Intramuros, and Rizal Park.

LRT 2 has the shortest route. It runs through Metro Manila’s East to West areas. It starts in Manila and ends in Marikina City, with stops along Quezon City and San Juan City. LRT2 may be the shortest line, but it can still take you to Manila tourist spots. You can ride the LRT2 to get to Binondo and San Sebastian Church in Intramuros, which is the only all-metal building in the country.

Jeepneys

Jeepneys or jeeps are the most popular means of public transportation in the Philippines along major and some small roads. These are initially the U.S.- made military jeeps left over from World War II.

Jeepneys have become an iconic symbol of Philippine culture and art. These can accommodate up to 20 passengers, depending on the size of the jeepney. Riding these open-aired vehicles in the streets of Manila offers an interesting experience for first-time visitors.

You can hail these anywhere in most roads of Manila, but take note if there are designated loading and unloading stations in the area. Each jeepney has a sign in its windshield that indicates its last stop and 1 or 2 other significant stops along its route. Find out first which route you need to take before riding a jeepney.

Payments are handed to the driver at the front during the ride. If you’re seated at the far end of the jeepney, the other passengers can pass it to the driver for you.

Locals say “Bayad po, [destination]” (Here’s my payment) when handing the money to the driver. It is so the driver can compute how much your fare is since it varies on your pick-up point and destination.

When you’re about 5-10 meters away from your stop, locals will say “Para po!”, (Please stop) to notify the driver to slow down and stop at the nearest unloading station.

Tricycle

Motorized tricycles, or simply tricycles, are the local form of the auto-rickshaw similar to Thailand’s tuk-tuk. These public utility vehicles ply a set route in inner roads. They are usually found in terminals where passengers lineup to wait for their turn to board one.

These can also be hired like taxis in some areas if their route allows it. Built-in a variety of styles that differ from city to city, these are usually made locally by building a sidecar affixed to a motorcycle. These can accommodate 2-4 passengers only.

Taxis

All Manila airports have taxi stands. You can ride the following:

    • Regular Taxi – White metered taxi/cabs with a fixed flag down rate and per kilometer fee.
    • Coupon Taxi- Blue-marked white taxi/cabs that are dispatched by airport personnel and charge a fixed price
    • Yellow Airport Taxi – Metered taxi with the fixed flag down rate and per kilometer fee, but almost double than the regular taxi.
    • Taxi scams at the airport are common. If the driver shows you a printed list of destinations and their corresponding prices, be warned that those rates are most probably overpriced.

Another red flag is when the driver doesn’t use a meter and charge you ridiculous prices. To avoid the headache of getting scammed, use the official taxis (coupon taxi and yellow airport taxi).

When someone outside the arrival area offers you a ride, say no. Often, these drivers (or their middlemen) will overcharge you. They might offer to help you with your bags; keep a tight grip on your belongings and say no, or ignore them.

Uber/Grab

Another recommended way to get out of the airport and into the city is through Grab, a ride-hailing app similar to Uber (Uber is no longer operating in the Philippines). Grab offers GrabTaxi (accredited regular metered taxi), GrabCar (private), and GrabShare (carpooling). Download the Grab App before arriving in the Philippines, in case the airport Wi-Fi fails.

 

Motorcycle Booking App

More adventurous travelers can choose to book with the Angkas app, which is similar to Grab Motorbike in other countries like Vietnam. If you are traveling solo, you can use the app to hire a “rider” to pick you up and take you to your desired location. It is especially significant if you are in a hurry since motorcycles can navigate through heavy traffic easily.