As the capital of the Philippines, Manila is the political, financial and, some would say, cultural center of the 7,100 islands. A metropolis of 13 million people, getting around can be difficult at times but I decided to focus first on the taxis in the city as more often than not, visitors will opt to take these over the other transport services available.
Manila Taxi Rates
First off, the taxi fares in the city start at 35 pesos for the first couple of kilometers and will go up 1.50 pesos for every 500 hundred meters. This applies to the regular taxis but the airport taxis start with a meter of 70 pesos for the first couple of kilometers and 2.50 pesos per 500 meters. Upon getting off at the airport, you don’t often have a choice of which taxis to take as usually only airport taxis are allowed at the arrival terminals. This isn’t such as bad thing in itself as these taxis don’t try to negotiate a fixed price or overcharge. They usually just turn on the meter and go where you want them to.
Peso refers to the Philippine peso, which is the currency of the Philippines. As of this writing, US$1 is equivalent to P44.25 (pesos).
There are literally thousands of taxis around the city, some are owned by large taxi companies with hundreds of units while others are single taxis owned by small operators. You should be aware that there is a difference sometimes in the meters of those from the larger companies, which run slightly faster than the smaller ones, like instead of going up every 500 meters, some would go only 300 meters.
Getting On the Taxi
Be careful of taxi drivers who don’t turn on their meters once you get inside the cab, they’ll often try to overcharge you once you get to your destination. Other drivers on the other hand will just flat-out tell you how much, this is often a blatant overprice. If a driver tells you something like “500 pesos” for a place within the city, just get out and get another one. Getting around the city will only cost you somewhere around 50-250 pesos (250 being the maximum on a really bad day) so don’t buy into the driver’s scam.
Negotiating Taxi Rates
Some drivers will ask for extra on top of the meter price, often it is plus 30 pesos or plus 50 pesos, depending on a number of factors including distance, traffic, weather, and his mood for the day. What I do in this situation is tell him that if it is traffic, I’ll give him extra, if not I won’t. All the other excuses are moot, just get out and get a new one. Rush hour traffic in the city can get crazy though, the hours of 7am to 10am and 5pm to 8pm during weekdays would see most street clogged so be prepared for a long ride if you plan to leave during these hours. This traffic gets worse depending on the weather and time of the month. During the rainy seasons, traffic jams abound as vehicles move slowly and certain areas are flooded. Paydays, which are on the 15th or the 30th of the month are pretty bad for traffic, but payday weekends are the worst so during these days try to avoid shopping malls and markets.
Communicating with the taxi drivers usually isn’t a problem because almost everyone speaks English, maybe not fluently but most can usually understand and express themselves pretty well. So if you’re going somewhere, just tell them where and they’ll usually get you there but having map or a clear route on how to get there greatly helps.
Getting Off the Taxi
Before alighting from the cab, be sure to check your side if there are on coming bikes or motorbikes. Some bike and motorcycle riders love passing the gutter and often aren’t cautious enough to slow down. Open your door without checking and you might just hit or get hit by one of these two-wheeled travelers. At this point it just becomes a hassle, trust me, I know. Also check your stuff before going down and maybe tip your driver if you feel he was generally nice and drove well. The high price of gasoline and the traffic have seen the income of many taxi drivers decline significantly, as such many work 24-hour shifts so a little change goes a long way, often what locals do is to round-off the to the nearest 10s at least.
Taxis can also be contracted for trips to the surrounding provinces if you want to go on a day trip but the price for this has to be negotiated with your driver and this will often require you to pay for the toll, the maybe the gas, and sometimes if you’re feeling generous, his food as well.
Metered Fares in Manila
Here are some of the basic metered fares for getting around the more popular places Metropolis in taxis based on my experience:
- Manila to Makati (Central Business District and Ayala area): 60-90 pesos
- Manila to Taguig [pronounced tah-gig] (Fort Bonifacio) 100-130 pesos
- Manila to Quezon City (Katipunan or Eastwood) 140-180 pesos
- Manila to International Airport (Parañaque) 180-200 pesos
- Makati to International Airport 200-220 pesos
- Quezon City to International Airport 220-250 pesos
Taxis are a pretty good way to get around Metro Manila but as always, be careful, keep your wits about you and trust your instinct and you’ll be fine. Most drivers are cheerful and conversational so don’t be afraid to engage and ask questions to make sure you’re trip is a nice one.