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Manila Transfer Guide

It's a bit complicatedly in the Philippines.

Manila is different

Most airports in the world have air-side bus transfer services or have special transfer terminals. Manila International Airport (NAIA) does not offer such services.

 

In Manila you have to go through immigration and customs, fetch your luggage and ride on your own to one of the 3 other terminals. You need at least 3 hours to transfer from one flight to another one.

 

We already did NAIA-1 to NAIA-2, aircraft door to aircraft door in 50 minutes. But this is the exception that confirms the rule. Do not try this!

Manila Airport Terminal Names

Manila Airport (MNL) is composed of 4 active terminals. They are all referenced as NAIA an acronym standing for Ninoy Aquino International Airport

NAIA-1:

The International terminal is also known as Terminal 1 or NAIA-1. Most of the foreign airlines operate from this terminal.

NAIA-2:

The PAL Terminal (Philippine Airlines) is known as NAIA-2 or "Centennial" and has a domestic and an international section exclusively used by Philippine Airlines.

NAIA-3:

Terminal 3, NAIA-3, is operational since August 1, 2008. This terminal has a domestic and an international section and is still under construction. Cebu Pacific Air had been the first airline to move in. They were followed by AirPhilexpress and some PAL flights(*). Recently some foreign carriers also moved to this terminal.

(*) As a big exception Philippine Airlines (PAL) offers direct shuttle buses for their flights from NAIA-2 to NAIA-3 and vise-versa.

NAIA-4:

NAIA-4 is also known as the "Old Domestic Terminal" has now also an international section. It is used by small companies such as South East Asian Airlines - SEAIR, Air Asia/Zest and Tigerair Philippines. Works are still in progress.

See also our airport maps.

Transfer Time at NAIA

The time to move from one terminal to the other is one of most asked question. It is important to know the time you need to go from one terminal to the other. This knowledge prevents you from stress and wasted money. Typical transfer time from the door of the arriving plane to the door of the departing plane is 3 hours !

Don't try to do it with less connection time. Your incoming flight might be delayed and domestic airlines do not wait for missing passengers. Even worse, domestic airlines close their check-in counters 45 minutes prior to the expected flight schedule.

The table shows you the travel time (in minutes) from one terminal to the other. The travel time is indicated as best case, standard and worst case. We strongly recommend to set up your travel schedules using the worst case time. It is much better to have some time left than see a "closed" check-in counter.

See also our airport maps.

 

If your transfer is inbound (international to domestic) then add the following:

  • 5 - 30 min. for Immigration
  • 20 - 40 min. for baggage claim
  • 10 min. for customs
  • TRANSFER (see table)
  • 5 - 10 min. for first security check
  • 5 - 30 min. for check-in
  • 2 - 10 min. for for terminal fee
  • 5 - 20 min. for second security check

If your transfer is outbound (domestic to international) then add the following:

  • 10 - 40 min. for baggage claim
  • TRANSFER (see table)
  • 5 - 10 min. for first security check
  • 15 - 60 min. for check-in
  • 2 - 10 min. for for terminal fee
  • 5 - 30 min. for Immigration
  • 5 - 20 min. for second security check

Transfer by shuttle bus

The shuttle bus runs every 20 to 30 minutes and operates from 03:30 a.m. to 01:30 a.m. (next day). Until two years ago the bus had been free of charge. But now you have to pay PHP 20.00.

Sometimes there is simply no shuttle bus. Do not wait more than 20 minutes and take a taxi. They are still affordable in Manila. Please see below.

 

Where are the bus stops of the shuttle bus?
  • NAIA-1: Arrival level at the extreme right* hand.
  • NAIA-2: Arrival level outside the international section
  • NAIA-Domestic: Over the road, right* hand
  • NAIA-3: Departure level, left* hand
(*: Directions seen from inside the terminal buildings)

Transfer by taxi

There are 3 kinds of taxis at Manila's NAIA airport. The yellow airport taxis, the fixed rates coupon taxis and the common, mostly white, street taxis.

Best are the yellow airport taxis. They are allowed anywhere in the airport. The cars are in good condition. They are clean and the aircon works. Usually you have no problems with the drivers. Flag down is PHP 70.00 including including the first 500 meters. Then the counter raises by PHP 4.00 every 300 meters or 2 minutes waiting time.

The fixed rates "Coupon-Taxis" are also allowed anywhere in the airport. The cars are in good condition. But their rates are about 3 times higher than the ones of the yellow airport taxis.

See also our Manila taxi information.

 

The common, mostly white, street taxis are not allowed inside the airport's arrival. You only can get an arriving one on the departure level. But be careful! If the driver spots a "long-nose" (Caucasian), then he tries to sell astronomic fixed fares without meter. If you know the tariff, then you can negotiate - if not you might pay 20 times and more the standard rate.

The Yellow Manila Airport Taxis from NAIA-1 rates to:

  • NAIA-2: PHP 80 to 100
  • NAIA-Domestic: PHP 90 to 120
  • NAIA-3: PHP 100 to 130

The rates depend on the waiting time. Without any traffic jam we had to pay PHP 74 to NAIA-2, PHP 86 to NAIA-Domestic and PHP 94 to NAIA-3.

Luggage Hold

There seems to be no luggage hold in Manila's NAIA airport. But there are.

In NAIA-1 and NAIA-2 you find a luggage hold near the baggage carousels on arrival level.
In NAIA-1 There is only a little door and no sign. So when you are near the carousels, ask an employee for the Interline Baggage Room (phone: +63 2 877-1109 local 3633).
NAIA-2 has an exclusive baggage counter for PAL passengers. It is the Central Baggage Services. The telephone number is +63 2 877-1109 local 2469. At this moment the fee is PHP 300 per day and per piece of luggage.

We do not recommend these luggage holds because they are inside the customs protected area and you'll have some problems to get in again to get your luggage.

NAIA-4, the "Old Domestic Terminal" offers absolutely no baggage service.

 

The only real luggage hold can be found in NAIA-3. Luggage & More handles and stores your luggage for short and long periods of time. Located on arrival level, the Luggage & More facilities are covered by a 24-hour CCTV system to ensure the security and protection of all items left with them.

Operating hours is from 6 a.m. – 11 p.m. daily. Baggage will under no circumstances be released outside the published operating hours.

* * *

When you have a long connection time, 5 hours and more, then you might take a taxi to the SM Mall of Asia. This really big shopping mall has a free luggage hold which is open from 10 a.m. to midnight. There you also find a big selection of shops, restaurants and even movie theaters. The one-way taxi ride costs about PHP 150 and lasts some 20 minutes.

Money and ATM

You are allowed to bring up to PHP 10,000 (Philippine Pesos) in cash with you. You are also allowed to bring up to the equivalent of USD 10,000 in foreign currency.

The exchange rates at the airport are not so bad and the banks there are safer than the money-changers in the streets. There are bank offices in all terminals except NAIA-4.

There are also ATMs in all terminals except NAIA-4. Most ATMs accept also foreign credit cards with PIN codes. Please check the stickers on and around the ATM. The banks may charge you PHP 200 for withdrawals using a card of another bank.

If you need money in NAIA-4, then you may just cross over the road where several banks have their small branches.

Cellphones

Overseas roaming tariffs may be extremely high. This is why we recommend to buy a cellphone SIM card from one of the two big local telecom companies SMART and GLOBE. The SIM card cost only PHP 40.00 and include already a load of PHP 25. This cards are available at vending machines, at dedicated telecom shops and in nearly any shop.

Prepaid load can also be bought at vending machines and shops. Some shops sell only "e-load". You give the shop-keeper your cell number and he/she loads the desired amount from her "load-wallet.

CAUTION: Do not buy already used SIM cards. They might be expired or might have previously been used for unlawful actions. Check also the expiry date of the load or SIM card. An expired card does not load or work anymore.

HINT: Prepaid loads in the Philippines expire very fast. A PHP 100 load expires after only 1 month. New load you get anywhere in the country.

Read also our telecom page.

Restaurants

Restaurants in Manila's NAIA airport? There is only on place that can be called "a restaurant". This the "Window of the World" at NAIA-1. This restaurant is accessible from outside of the departure level. The prices are a bit higher than downtown Manila but they are far below of the prices in other international airports. Staff is friendly and the choice of food satisfies Filipinos and foreigners.

Inside all the terminals at Manila's NAIA you do not find one decent restaurant. There is a food court on 4th floor in NAIA-3 and there are food-stalls in all terminals. If you can live with fast food and finger food, then you will be happy.


Sleeping

During many years people were complaining that there is no possibility to sleep in Manila's airport. But there nearly always has been and there is again a sleeping facility inside NAIA terminal 1.

There are 12 (twelve) air-conditioned “day rooms” located on the fourth floor of Terminal 1 right beside the Sampaguita lounge. The Sampaguita lounge is currently beeing overhauled. These “day rooms” can be rented for PHP 840 (USD 19) each for 24 hours. Each room, measuring 3×3 meters, has air-condition, a private toilet and shower.

 

The incredible fact is that a similar facility had been set up in 1983 at the arrival area near the immigration section, but it was closed on March 23, 2012. The new "day-rooms" are already operational since September 2013. But nobody knew about them

Fortunately a Philstar reporter, Rudy Santos, has good sources within the NAIA management and MIAA. He discovered these rooms and wrote an article in the newspaper.


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