Airport Guide: Accessing Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) by Road

This Airport Guide outlines a number of options for travelling to and from Greater Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) – commonly referred to as NAIA – by road-based transport.

A note to readers: Please use the information presented here with caution. Timetables, fares, routes and other details may change at any moment without prior notice.
Throughout this post, Ninoy Aquino International Airport will be referred to by its IATA code (MNL), rather than by its full name or by its common abbreviation “NAIA”. The airport’s terminals will also be referred to in abbreviated fashion – e.g., “T3” for “Terminal 3”.

IMPORTANT: This Airport Guide has been updated to reflect pandemic-era changes. However, because of the fluid situation around health protocols and restrictions, the accuracy and completeness of the information set out here cannot be guaranteed.

CONTENTS

Alternatives

Read about the other options for travelling to/from MNL in the following guides:

  • Travelling by rail – MNL isn’t served by trains, but indirect access via Manila’s urban rail network is theoretically possible. Even then, you’ll need to take road transport for the final stretch between the stations and the airport. Not recommended due to severe limitations on baggage and frequent overcrowding (amongst other drawbacks).
  • Travelling on foot – Impractical unless you’re using Terminal 3 (T3), which is equipped with a sheltered pedestrian bridge leading to the nearby Newport City hotel and leisure district. Click on the link to learn more.

Access

For travellers going by road, the most straightforward route to/from MNL involves taking the new NAIA Expressway (NAIAX). This elevated toll road links the three largest terminals (T1/T2/T3) to the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) and the Metro Manila Skyway (Skyway) in the east and the Manila–Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) in the west. The NAIAX bypasses T4, so passengers using that terminal should keep to the surface roads underneath.

The ground-level SLEX isn’t directly connected to the NAIAX, so you will need to use surface roads in order to transfer between the two. On the other hand, the elevated and more expensive Skyway – which runs above the SLEX for much of its length – does have a direct connection to the NAIAX through access ramps near the Sales (Nichols) Interchange.

West of the airport, the CAVITEX is directly connected to the NAIAX via a dedicated ramp. The NAIAX runs further beyond that point, eventually linking up with Diosdado Macapagal Boulevard and – by way of New Seaside Drive – terminating at Diokno Boulevard, with dedicated on/off ramps for each. These two surface roads serve Manila’s bayside area, home to several integrated resorts and the vast SM Mall of Asia shopping centre.

Tables setting out the current state-approved toll rates for the motorways named above are available through the following links. (Note: For toll-setting purposes, 4-wheeled passenger cars – such as your typical family sedan – will generally fall under Class 1.)

Private Transportation and Parking

For trips of very short duration – no more than a few days, for example – taking your own car to the airport might be a convenient and cost-effective option. That said, the parking fees can add up quite rapidly (along with the petrol bill), so alternatives should be considered if you’re setting out from a great distance or if you’re planning to be away for a longer period.

Parking at the airport

Paid parking facilities are available at MNL. T1 and T2 have open-air parking lots, whereas T3 is equipped with both open-air spaces and a multi-level parking building directly connected to the terminal.

As of 19 April 2022 (source), the fees charged at the airport parking facilities were as follows (all figures are in Philippine pesos):

Vehicle typeFirst 3 hours, in PHPEvery succeeding hour (or fraction thereof), in PHP
4-wheeled vehicles, including vans and sedans40.0015.00
Buses and trucks100.0020.00
Motorcycles15.005.00

The standard overnight parking rate is PHP 300.00 for 24 hours. For every hour (or fraction thereof) beyond full 24-hour blocks, the additional charges in the third column of the above table will also be levied.

Should you lose your parking ticket, you will be charged a fee of PHP 500.00 on top of any parking fees incurred. Tickets that are damaged but readable will still be accepted as valid.

Do note that overnight/long-term parking is occasionally suspended in response to extraordinary events or peak travel season demand.

Using the Park ‘N Fly service

A privately run alternative to the airport parking lots is Park ‘N Fly, which offers secure sheltered spaces at a location south of T4. After leaving their cars at the facility, customers will be transported to any of MNL’s terminals on the company’s own shuttle vans.

According to their FAQs (and reconfirmed by telephone on 18 June 2022), the parking rate is PHP 340.00 + 12% VAT for the first 24 hours. Every succeeding hour or fraction thereof attracts an additional PHP 14.17 + 12% VAT.

Refer to the official Park ‘N Fly website for further details.

Public Transportation and Hired Vehicles

Passengers can travel to or from MNL using buses and taxis, as well as vehicles booked through ride-hailing platforms.

When using either taxis or ride-hailing apps, keep in mind that road tolls are not normally included in the fare. Unless contactless payment is possible for the option you’ve selected, you’ll need to prepare sufficient local currency to cover both tolls and the actual transportation charge.

Now before anyone asks, I’ll raise the question myself: Why aren’t Manila’s famous “jeepneys” on this list? That’s because these open-sided mini-buses with minimal safety equipment, inconsistent stopping patterns, vulnerability to petty crime and little or no dedicated luggage space are ill-suited to airline passengers (or indeed to anyone with access to practical alternatives). Not recommended, except as an absolute last resort.

Buses

Between Ninoy Aquino International Airport and stops in Greater Manila

Transport company UBE Express operates scheduled bus services between MNL and various points in Greater Manila. Refer to their Facebook page for detailed route information and timetables.

Buses bound for the airport stop at all four terminals; however, buses leaving from the airport only pick up passengers at T3. In other words, you can disembark at T1/T2/T3/T4 if you’re heading to MNL, but if you’re going in the other direction you can only board at T3.

Fares range from PHP 150.00 to PHP 300.00 depending on the destination. Payment is collected using Beep contactless cards, which can be purchased from any LRT/MRT railway station and other select vendors (including some Ministop and FamilyMart stores in Metro Manila). Cash is accepted on journeys originating from the airport – where UBE Express has a manned booth at T3 – but will not necessarily be accepted on journeys to the airport.

Between Ninoy Aquino International Airport and Clark International Airport

There are regular highway bus services run by Genesis Transport between MNL and Clark International Airport (CRK) in Pampanga Province – about 90 kilometres to the northwest – which may be of interest to travellers who need to connect between flights using the two airports. Refer to their Facebook page for detailed route information and timetables.

(Note: In view of the considerable distance – and unpredictable road traffic conditions – between MNL and CRK, travellers should exercise extreme caution when considering a flight itinerary that involves a same-day transfer between these two airports.)

Between Ninoy Aquino International Airport and nearby railway stations

A caveat: I do NOT recommend taking the trains to/from the airport. (It’s not even possible in a practical sense unless road transport is employed for part of the journey.) That said, the following may be relevant to a limited subset of travellers; for example, people meeting someone at the airport or staying in a nearby hotel.

For PHP 40.00, the Airport Loop bus service connects MNL T3 to Taft Avenue Station (Line 3 MRT), which is in turn physically linked to EDSA Station (Line 1 LRT) via an elevated walkway. The airport stop is near the arrivals level doors of T3, whilst the opposite end of the line is in a bus terminal within walking distance of Taft Avenue Station. (Learn more about connecting to Manila’s train network using those stations in my separate guide to rail-based airport transportation.) NB: the map below does NOT accurately represent the loop bus route; it’s only meant to give a general idea of the distance between the two termini.

According to a video posted on 02 July 2022 (source), the Airport Loop operates 0900-1800 going TO the airport and 1000-1900 leaving FROM the airport. The same video stresses that these times are merely approximate, and there’s no fixed interval or frequency as only two buses ply the route and their operations are highly dependent on traffic conditions.

Inter-terminal shuttle service

The airport authority runs an hourly, 24-7 bus service that calls at all four of MNL’s terminals. This so-called Airport Transfer Service is a complimentary landside shuttle for the exclusive use of passengers connecting between flights in different terminals (NB: an airline ticket is needed to avail of this service).

Schedule and stop details (as of 29 March 2022) are available via this link.

Taxis

Travellers landing at MNL and setting off for other parts of Greater Manila have a range of taxi services to choose from. To start, there are the yellow airport taxis that hold special licences to accept passengers at the airport. The minimum “flagdown” rate is PHP 70.00, and the total goes up in increments to account for both distance and travel time.

A staff member will note down the vehicle’s registration number on a dispatch slip, which will be handed to you before boarding. Keep the form safely tucked away as you’ll need the taxi’s details if it should become necessary to file a complaint, retrieve articles left behind or raise any other concerns after your journey. (Note that the rates printed on the forms might no longer be current.)

Another possibility is a fixed-rate/coupon taxi, which will transport you from MNL at a predetermined price (varies by destination). Although the flat rates may work out to be more expensive than metered fares, one advantage of the coupon taxis is that some – but not all – are larger vehicles that can carry more people.

Whether you choose to take a yellow metered taxi or a fixed-rate taxi, it’s important to arrange transport only at one of the signposted taxi ranks. Ignore the touts standing outside the terminal exits, even if they’ve got official-looking vests or IDs (which may well be fake).

Finally, we come to the ordinary white taxis that serve not just airport users, but also regular commuters throughout the city. Flagdown starts at PHP 40.00 and a variable fare is added on during the journey (PHP 2.00 per minute of travel, PHP 13.50 per kilometre – source). [Note: Flagdown will rise to PHP 45.00 from 04 October 2022; source.] It must be said that the airport authorities aren’t too keen on white taxis picking up arriving passengers at MNL, although there’s no issue with them dropping off departing passengers. (The favoured yellow taxis supposedly undergo extra vetting before they’re granted airport licences.)

Despite all that, the white taxis’ presence is tolerated and travellers boarding them from an official stand at the airport may be issued dispatch slips similar to the ones used for yellow cabs. The form used is slightly different (picture here for reference), but it serves the same purpose; i.e., as a record of the vehicle’s information in case complaints or other concerns need to be addressed later.

If you’ve boarded a variable-rate taxi – be it yellow or white – you should always insist on the metre being used. You should likewise check that the metre is only turned on when you board; if it had been left running beforehand (whether fraudulently or by honest mistake) you may find your final bill much higher than it should have been. Pricing scams are rife amongst taxis of any description, with some unscrupulous drivers presenting fake (but official-looking) “fare cards” with exorbitant tariffs, or trying to negotiate inflated fares whilst keeping their metres turned off.

Ride-hailing services (TNVS)

Ride-hailing services – or “transport network vehicle services” (TNVS) – are regulated much like taxis, with similar fare structures. The official price matrix approved on 01 August 2019 (source) allows operators to collect PHP 40.00 as the flagdown fare, with variable charges of PHP 15.00 per kilometre travelled and PHP 2.00 per minute travelled if the vehicle used is a car/sedan. (Different rates apply to larger or smaller vehicles.) [Note: Flagdown will increase from 04 October 2022; source.] The key difference versus taxis is the so-called “surge pricing” permitted to TNVSs, where the variable charge may increase to as much as twice the basic rates depending on demand. This is meant to ensure that enough TNVS drivers are attracted into the market at peak hours.

There are several apps available for summoning transportation services in the Philippines. Grab is the dominant player, having extinguished its key competition by absorbing Uber’s local operations.

The Grab app has two main options under the “Car” menu. You’ll be offered a choice between them after entering your journey details.

  • GrabCar – This will summon a privately operated hire car, with the cost calculated and displayed right on the app before the trip starts. You’ll pay the price shown (plus tolls if using motorways) since these cars aren’t fitted with metres. You might also see an extra option to call for a larger or premium-class vehicle, which will cost more than the sedans that are hired by default.
  • GrabTaxi – This will hail an ordinary white taxi. Although an estimated fare range will be displayed on the app, what you’ll pay is whatever the metre reads out at the end of the trip (plus tolls, if any) and an additional booking fee. As with any taxi, make sure the driver triggers the metre when your journey starts and only after you board.

Hotel shuttles and pick-ups

Some hotels offer complimentary shuttles and/or paid airport transfers. Check directly with your accommodation provider for availability.

Several hotels in the Newport City area – across the NAIAX from T3 – are served by the free Resorts World airport shuttle service (source). If you are staying in one of these hotels, reach out to the concierge for details and assistance.

Pandemic-Related Measures

The wearing of face masks remains mandatory in all forms of public transport throughout the Philippines.

Physical distancing (or “social distancing”) at queuing points is recommended, but not rigorously enforced in practice. No significant form of distancing is maintained in vehicles as transport providers are now generally permitted to operate at full capacity.

5 responses to “Airport Guide: Accessing Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) by Road

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  2. Pingback: Airport Guide: Accessing Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) on Foot | Within striking distance·

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