Have a layover in Manila and not quite sure what to do? Whether you’re in the city for a few hours or a full day, you can always find something to do to pass the time. Fortunately, NAIA (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) is filled with shops, cafes and stalls, and is not far from many destinations you can explore. Check out these things you can do and things to take note of when you have a layover in the Philippines’ capital!
If you’re only staying in the airport for a few hours, visa restrictions shouldn’t be a problem for you. But if you have a layover of more than twelve hours (or you just don’t want to stay in the airport for a long time), the Philippines allows travelers from select countries to tour the Philippines visa-free for 30 days – so long as they hold valid tickets for their next destination or their return journey to where they came from. You can find a handy guide for visa requirements, depending on your country of origin,
Transportation from NAIA used to be only available via taxi, but now transportation options have expanded. If you want to take a taxi, you can take the regular yellow airport taxis with a flag down rate of PHP 70 (1.39 USD), or the white metered taxi with a flag down rate of PHP 30 (0.60 USD). GrabCar, a ride-hailing app, set up a kiosk as well in the airport so you don’t need to download the app to get a private car through their service.
NAIA also has a new premium bus route equipped with CCTV, GPS and WiFi. This bus passes through Roxas Boulevard (Midas Hotel, Hotel Jen, Manila Hotel, Mall of Asia) and Makati City (Glorietta 4 and 5, and Ascott Hotel). Flat rate here is at PHP 300 (6.00 USD).
Lastly, you can also ride the Victory airport shuttle bus that takes passengers from NAIA, where it is boarded at the arrival area of NAIA terminal 3, to Victory Liner Bus terminal in Pasay City.
Taxi2Airport is the easiest and most reliable way to get to and from the airport. Through secure online payments, you can book your airport transfers in advance, saving up to 35% on your journey.
Located at NAIA Terminal 3, Luggage&More is a facility covered by a 24-hour operating CCTV system to watch over and hold on to your luggage. This is perfect for those who are traveling with heavy bags and a lot of luggage, and who just need a place to store their belongings while they explore Manila during their layover. They are open from 4:00am to 11:00pm, and storage rates start at PHP 150 (3.00 USD) per 3 hours for a small luggage item (backpack or briefcase). You can read more about their rates
Layover of less than 12 hours
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1. In the airport
If you prefer to stay in the airport premises, you can eat (many food stalls run abound), surf the internet using free airport WiFi, shop at Duty Free, or get a massage at SM Kenko Spa.
2. Resorts World
Maybe you have more time on your hands and want to go out for a bit. Resorts World is a mall and casino located near NAIA, and you can even take a shuttle from NAIA Terminal 3 to Resorts World for only PHP 20 (0.40 USD). Here, you can play at the casino, watch a movie, shop or eat as well.
Address: Newport Boulevard, Newport City. Pasay 1309, Metro Manila
Access: Take a shuttle from NAIA terminal 3 (PHP 20 or 0.40 USD)
Website: Resorts World
A trip to Intramuros shouldn’t take long, but if you really want to maximize the time, you can visit Intramuros for about 5-6 hours including transportation time. Located in Manila City, Intramuros is only accessible via taxi from the airport. Here, you can walk around the famed walled city, visit the San Agustin Cathedral and San Agustin Museum, and the historical attraction of Fort Santiago.
Address: Intramuros, Manila City
Price: Fort Santiago - PHP 75 (1.50 USD); Bahay Tsinoy - PHP 100 (2.00 USD); San Agustin Museum - PHP 200 (4.00 USD)
Access: Take a taxi to Intramuros, Manila
Located in Binondo, Manila City, Chinatown is a haven for those with a huge appetite for Chinese cuisine. You can spend about 6-7 hours here, including transportation time, and explore the area for cheap but tasty Chinese food and shopping goods.
Address: Ongpin St., Binondo, Manila City
Access: Take a taxi to Binondo, Manila
Layover for more than 12 hours
1. Mall of Asia
Get lost in one of the biggest malls in Asia! If you have a lot of time to kill but not enough for an overnight stay, you can head on to Mall of Asia in Pasay City via premium bus for a day full of activities. Here, you can shop, dine, watch a movie, go ice skating, enjoy resto-bars by the bay, and even go on rides!
Mall of Asia
Address: SM Mall of Asia,Seaside Blvd.,Pasay City, Philippines
Opening Hours: 10am - 10pm.
Access: Take a premium bus from NAIA 3 or a taxi
Website: SM Mall of Asia
2. National Museum
Located in P. Burgos Drive, Manila City, the National Museum is home to the world-famous Spolarium by Juan Luna. But more than that, the National Museum is also home to many great feats accomplished by many great Filipino artists. You can also explore Philippine pre-colonial history here as the Museum features many artifacts from that period. From NAIA, you can take a taxi to National Museum, then enjoy the free entrance fee!
Address: P. Burgos Drive, Rizal, Manila City
Price: Entrance fee is free
Opening Hours: Tuesdays - Sundays, 10am-5pm
Access: Take a taxi to National Museum, Manila City
Website: National Museum
3. Greenbelt or Glorietta malls
Explore the business district of Metro Manila! Here at Greenbelt, you can shop for high-end, luxury items from the likes of Givenchy and Luis Vuitton. You can also catch a movie, dine, and shop for other souvenir items you might want to take with you. Greenbelt and Glorietta malls have a lot of concept restaurants opening up, and are definitely worth a try! What’s more, they’re right beside each other so it’s not too hard to navigate. To get here, you only need to take the Makati premium bus from NAIA.
Greenbelt or Glorietta Malls
Address: East Drive Ayala Center, Makati, Philippines
Opening Hours: 10am - 10pm.
Access: Ride the premium bus from NAIA Terminal 3 or take a taxi to Greenbelt
4. Luneta Park
If you want to experience a bit of Filipino culture while being outdoors, you can go to Luneta Park. Because this monument is located in Manila, it’s only accessible via taxi from the airport. Here, you can take a walk, see the different monuments of Philippine heroes like Lapu-Lapu, Jose Rizal, and various works of art from local artists. Entrance is free here too!
Address: Roxas Blvd Ermita, Barangay 666 Zone 72, Manila,
Access: Take a taxi from NAIA
Make the most out of your Manila layover
With the many destinations near NAIA and facilities inside the airport itself, you’re bound to have a mini-adventure even when you’re on a layover in Manila. While many dread the hours-long stopover in an airport during a trip, you can maximize your time here by visiting a few key cultural and historical sites, going to a mall for a fun-filled day, or even just relaxing for a bit with a massage.
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