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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Philippines > Manila

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Local time Manila

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Getting around Manila

Public transport

Public transport in Manila is a mix of light rail, buses, jeepneys and taxis.

Manila’s light rail system presently operates three lines. Metro Rail (tel: +63 2 929 5347; http://dotcmrt3.gov.ph) runs the MRT3 (Yellow Line), which shadows the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) from North Avenue to Taft Avenue accessing Makati and Ortigas. The Light Rail Transit Authority (tel: +63 2 853 0041; www.lrta.gov.ph) operates two lines: LRT1 runs north-south between Monumento and Baclaran; LRT2 flows east to west from Santolan to Recto. Lead coaches are usually reserved for women and senior citizens. 

Payment is made by a reloadable contactless smartcard, Beep (http://www.beeptopay.com). The card can also be used to make payments in some convenience stores.

Jeepneys are highly decorative long-wheelbase transporters modelled on US Jeeps. They ply set routes all over Manila. Simply locate the destination map painted on the cab, hail and jump onboard. Call out your destination to the driver and pay a fixed inexpensive fee.

Manila is served by a plethora of private bus companies. Cost varies depending on destination and whether the bus is air-conditioned - tickets are available from kiosks, stations and some shops. There are no bus schedules but EDSA has buses available round the clock.

The Pasig River Ferry Service makes 14 stops along the River Pasig, taking approximately 90 minutes from Plaza Mexico terminus in Metropolitan Manila to San Joaquin near Taguig. Sights include Malacañang Palace.

Taxis

Grab is a ride-hailing app operating all over Southeast Asia (https://www.grab.com/ph), and Uber is also available. City taxis have flag-down fees and thereafter drivers should use meters. Established taxi operators include Avis (tel: +63 2 831 2701), 24-7 (tel: +63 2 642 3525) and Basic (tel: +63 2 352 7777). Tipping is discretionary but expected. FX Taxis are larger (usually) Toyota utility vehicles that pick up multiple passengers along set routes.

Driving

Driving in Manila is not for the faint-hearted, particularly during rush hour on major roads such as EDSA. Traffic darts across lanes with little warning while excessive horn-honking and tailgating is de rigueur.

Road signs are not always obvious and you should expect serious traffic jams. Manila operates a traffic volume reduction program prohibiting vehicles ending in predetermined licence plate numbers from driving for one specific day per week. Those who disobey risk licence confiscation and a fine.

Car hire

The minimum age for car hire in Manila is between 21 and 25 years old, depending on the company. Foreigners must show passport ID and a valid national driving licence or International Driving Permit.

Major providers include Avis (tel: +63 2 462 2881; www.avis.com.ph) and Budget (www.budget.com). Local company JB Rent-A-Car (tel: +63 2 742 9853; www.jbrentacar.com) offers competitive deals.

Bicycle hire

Cycling in Metro Manila isn’t sensible. For those desperate to experience pedal power, pedicabs operate in certain parts of the city.

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Pan Pacific Manila

This luxurious skyscraper hotel in Manila is justifiably popular because of its top-drawer location in Malate's tourist quarter. It's worth the extra splurge to access the top-floor, glass-surrounded Pacific Lounge – lovely in the evening for sipping cocktails and listening to the pianist. The Manila hotel also offers 24-hour butler service and Japanese, Chinese and international restaurants. Early-bird bookings on Pan Pacific's website push prices down into the moderate bracket.

Sonya’s Garden

This divine slice of tranquillity is located two hours' drive from downtown Manila's hullabaloo. County vogue furnished cottages replete with lace curtains, iron bedsteads and polished wooden floors, all surrounded by herb gardens and sumptuous countryside. Sonya's organic farm ensures guests enjoy tasty and healthy food. The bread is baked on site while the garden spa offers a full range of holistic treatments.

The A.Venue Hotel Suites

Swish and trendy, this is affordable chic amid Makati's skyscrapers. Set in three towers, the suites have Asian-styled contemporary interiors and minimalist décor and feature kitchenettes and free Wi-Fi. Amenities include a gym, a spa, a swimming pool, a Mediterranean restaurant and a cafe.

Hostel 1632

Penny pinchers and night owls will find succour in this budget hostel. Its 106 air-conditioned, en-suite rooms are boxy and cramped and almost have a capsule feel. But Hostel 1632's position on M Adriatico Street is plum in the heart of Malate. There's a café in the lobby serving local and international food for those craving pasta or pizzas.

ZEN Rooms Peñafrancia

Set in a quiet residential area, this small hotel offers light, simply furnished rooms in Japanese style at a good price. Amenities include flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi and tea and coffee-making facilities.

Henry Hotel

Conveniently located in the heart of the city, within walking distance of the Mall of Asia and close to the airport, this boutique hotel is a tranquil escape from the city and features landscaped gardens and a swimming pool. The hotel itself is comprised of a number of buildings and includes a small museum and art gallery. Rooms are chic and spacious. Breakfast is included, and there's also a cafe.