How much should I budget for my trip to Manila?

If you like to rough it and you are used to traveling on a tight budget, you can easily get by with USD 30 a day, not including accommodation. This is the famous rule of ten, that is:

  • USD 10 for food (breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks)
  • USD 10 for transportation
  • USD 10 for entry to places that you would like to visit (or perhaps some souvenir shopping).

This, of course, is not a steadfast rule. There are several ways you can allocate your budget, depending on your needs.

Do remember that if you are serious about sticking to this budget, you will have to:

  1. Either cook your own food (in one of the many hostels that offer cooking facilities) or eat in local street food areas, also known as carinderias.
  2. Rely on public transport (jeepneys, tricycles, Metro Rail Transit/Light Rail Transit, or even walk when deemed safe. No taxis!)
  3. Be extra creative when it comes to choosing where you want to go (some places don’t require entrance fees on certain days).

What time of the year can I find the cheapest flights to Manila?

When it is sunny and festive in Europe and North America, it is rainy and damp in Manila.

The period that goes from June through to September and October is arguably the best time of the year to book a flight if you are trying to travel on a budget.

Don’t worry, though: the Philippines being a tropical country, the rainy season doesn’t equate to cooler temperatures. It could be 30C and still raining.

On most days, it will rain for just a few hours, unless it is a storm signal.

Which airlines offer inexpensive flights to Manila?

If you are flying from the United States, China Eastern, Xiamen Airlines and Hong Kong Airlines have been known to offer cheap fares.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), San Francisco International Airport (SFO), and John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) operate the most flights to Manila, so flying from these airports will give you better options and you will be able to find better deals.

If you are flying from Europe, China Southern, KLM and Air China are your best bet if you want to find competitive airfare, and by that I mean a round trip ticket that will cost you less than or around USD 500.

A quick search on Skyscanner or JetRadar for flights from Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden and Amsterdam to Manila will find round trip tickets in that price region.

If you are flying from the Middle East, PAL Express and Cebu Pacific are safe bets, and if you are traveling from Australia you can check out JetStar.

Do keep in mind that a very cheap flight is likely to involve a long layover (or even more than one). Also, it is best to book your flight at least 3 weeks in advance if you want to get a somewhat decent deal.

What facilities and services will I find at Ninoy Aquino International Airport?

Manila’s Airport, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), has four terminals.

  • NAIA 1 serves most international flights from several airlines.
  • NAIA 2 is home to Philippine Airlines, the flagship carrier of the Philippines, which operates both domestic and international routes.
  • NAIA 3 is home to Cebu Pacific, and it serves several international flights.
  • NAIA 4 only hosts flights from local and regional carriers.

Not all terminals offer the same facilities and services.

Only NAIA 1 and NAIA 3 have sleeping options – and they are limited to certain hours of the day.

NAIA 1’s dayroom can be found on the fourth floor beside the Sampaguita lounge, and you would need to call +6328771109 for reservations and inquiries.

NAIA 3’s sleeping lounge, The Wings Lounge, is also on the 4th floor and can be booked using this link.

If you are traveling with children, please keep in mind that only NAIA 3 has a play area, although all terminals have dedicated nappy changing rooms.

Money changers, SIM card stations, snacks and drinks, car rental services and shops can be found at all terminals.

Getting from one terminal to another is also possible thanks to inter-terminal buses.