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

This Airport Guide describes some of the options for travelling to and from Greater Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) – commonly referred to as NAIA – by road.

Note: This post should be used only for general guidance. Timetables, prices, available modes of transport and other details may change anytime 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 NOTICE!: This Airport Guide has NOT been updated to reflect changes brought about by the ongoing global health emergency. Because my last visit to MNL took place just before pandemic-related restrictions were introduced, and because of the very fluid situation around travel bans and border checks related to the emergency, I shall make no attempt to describe the changes here. Please refer to the official websites and/or verified social media channels of your origin and destination airports, your airline, the relevant government agencies, and other reliable sources to collect up-to-date information that’s accurate for your specific circumstances.

CONTENTS

Alternatives

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

  • Travelling by rail – MNL isn’t directly served by trains, but indirect access via Manila’s urban rail network is possible through several railway stations (with a shuttle bus connection). This guide lays out the details.
  • Travelling on foot – As described in the linked guide, this isn’t something I’d personally recommend, given the very poor pedestrian infrastructure around MNL. That is, unless you’re using Terminal 3 (T3), which is equipped with something that makes walking between there and the nearby hotel/leisure district a viable prospect.

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) in the east and the Manila–Cavite Expressway (CAVITEX) in the west, and thence to other points in Greater Manila and beyond. Note that the NAIAX bypasses T4, so passengers using that terminal should keep to the surface roads underneath.

The ground-level SLEX lacks a direct connection to the NAIAX, so one will need to use surface roads in order to transfer between the two motorways.

On the other hand, the Metro Manila Skyway (Skyway), an elevated toll road that runs above the SLEX, is directly connected to the NAIAX through dedicated on- and off-ramps at the Sales/Nichols Interchange. Because of this, accessing the NAIAX is much easier for Skyway users than for those on the SLEX.

Over on the western end, the CAVITEX also enjoys a direct connection to the NAIAX via a dedicated ramp. The airport motorway continues a little further past that point, 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 the massive area of reclaimed land along Manila’s waterfront, home to several integrated resorts and (to the north) the SM Mall of Asia, one of the largest shopping centres in the Philippines.

Tables setting out the current state-approved toll rates for the motorways named above are available through the following links. (NB: 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 one’s own car to the airport may prove both convenient and cost-effective. That said, the parking fees can add up quite rapidly, so alternative modes of transport become more attractive the longer one’s absence from the country.

Parking at the airport

There are paid parking facilities available at MNL’s terminals. 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 4th January 2020 (source), the hourly fees charged at the airport parking facilities were as follows:

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.

Do note that overnight/long-term parking is occasionally suspended in response to extraordinary events or peak travel season demand. For example, overnight parking was temporarily prohibited for a few days around New Year’s Day in both 2018/19 and 2019/20, with the aim of freeing up slots for hourly users coming to pick up returning travellers after the Christmas holidays.

Using the Park ‘N Fly service

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

I’ve never used Park ‘N Fly myself, but there are comments and reviews available online that might help flesh things out for those discerning whether this option will work best for them. (A few examples: here, here, here, here, and here.)

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, one should bear in mind that road tolls are not normally included in the fare. Make sure to prepare enough local currency to cover both tolls and the actual transportation charge.

Now before anyone asks, I’ll throw the question out myself: why not include Manila’s famous “jeepneys” on this list? Whilst jeepneys play a key role in local transportation, these open-sided mini-buses with minimal safety equipment, inconsistent stopping patterns and no luggage space are ill-suited to airline passengers. There’s now a government-led initiative to replace older jeepneys with modernised versions, but the new models are by no means ubiquitous. Until they are, I cannot recommend this form of transport for most airport users (except, perhaps, for adventurous backpackers seeking to experience a slice of “authentic” local life).

Buses

Transport company UBE Express operates scheduled bus services between MNL and various points in Greater Manila. Their timetables are known to change with some frequency, which makes nailing down the latest information difficult – and the company’s habit of announcing updates through disjointed Facebook posts doesn’t help! Start with the schedules listed on their official website, then seek confirmation through their contact details, their most recent Facebook posts, and perhaps other sources if you’d like to be absolutely certain.

For secondary reference only, here’s the timetable posted by UBE Express on 5th October 2019 via Facebook (source), but you’ll need to ignore the section for Solenad/Nuvali as that was superseded effective 15th November 2019 (new timetable for that route here) … and there’s also a route here that no longer seems to be present on their official website … and I believe there’s a new service or two that’s not reflected below. Whew. Bottom line: use with caution.

Refer to their official website and Facebook page for timetables and other announcements. To get a visual representation of their service area, have a look at this map showing the locations of their airport bus stops – but whether it’s fully up-to-date or not is anyone’s guess.

For PHP 20.00, the Airport Loop shuttle service connects MNL T3 to Taft Avenue Station (Line 3 MRT), which is in turn 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 – and it excludes intermediate stops – as it’s only meant to give a general idea of the distance between the two termini.

The Airport Loop bus also stops in the Baclaran area en route from MNL to Taft Avenue Station. (I’m not 100% certain but it seems that the bus does NOT serve Baclaran when it’s moving south in the direction of the airport; it does so only whilst heading north to the train stations.) For reference, here’s a video – not by me! – posted on 12th May 2019 by someone who travelled from MNL T3 to Baclaran using the Airport Loop; the stopping points for both the airport and Baclaran are shown there.

There are also 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. Timetables and fare information are available on their Facebook page. Note that each entry bears a different timestamp; however, the schedules were collectively described as “updated” in a separate post published on 22nd December 2019.

(NB: Anecdotally, the journey between MNL and CRK takes 2.5 to 4 hours or so depending on traffic conditions and stopping patterns. Additional time would also be required for airport formalities, waiting for the next available bus, etc. Keep this in mind before booking an itinerary that involves a same-day transfer between both airports.)

Taxis

Travellers landing at MNL and setting off for other parts of Greater Manila have a rather confusing mix 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, especially if they’re using older stock.)

One might also consider using a fixed-rate/coupon taxi, which will transport you from MNL at a predetermined price. The fare depends on the destination; there will be a table of charges posted at the taxi rank for you to consult. 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.

As a further option, there are the ordinary white taxis that serve not just airport users, but also regular commuters elsewhere in the city. These cost less to ride than their yellow counterparts, with flagdown starting at PHP 40.00 and the variable component rising in lower increments. That said, the airport authorities aren’t keen on white taxis picking up arriving passengers at MNL, although they’ve always been allowed to drop people off at the departures level of each terminal. Some of management’s concerns have to do with perceived safety and reliability issues surrounding the less rigorously regulated white taxis. (Yellow taxis supposedly undergo extra vetting before they’re granted licences to operate at the airport.)

That said, the white taxis’ presence is tolerated – if rather grudgingly – and travellers boarding them from an official stand may be issued dispatch slips similar to the ones used for yellow cabs. The form used is slightly different (picture here for your 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.

In any event, if you’ve boarded a variable-rate taxi – be it yellow or white – you should always insist on the metre being used. 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.

Of course, if the driver is honest and their service satisfactory, you’re more than welcome to offer a tip beyond what the metre reads out.

Ride-Hailing Services (TNVS)

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

Now as the question still gets asked occasionally, allow me to state this in no uncertain terms: Uber doesn’t operate in the Philippines anymore. Use Grab instead. (There are smaller-scale alternatives to Grab, but I’ve only ever used this platform and can’t recommend anything else with confidence.)

Ride-hailing services – or “transport network vehicle services” (TNVS) – are regulated much like taxis, with similar fare structures. For example, the official price matrix approved on 1st August 2019 (source) allows TNVS 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.) The key difference in terms of fares between TNVS and taxis is the so-called “surge pricing” permitted to the former, where the variable charges may be increased to as much as twice the basic rates depending on demand. This is presumably meant to ensure that enough TNVS drivers are attracted into the market at peak hours.

The Grab app in particular has two main options, both 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 simply pay the price shown (plus tolls if you use motorways) since the cars, being private vehicles, aren’t fitted with metres. You might also see an extra option to call for a larger vehicle, which will cost more than the sedans that are hired by default.
  • GrabTaxi – This will summon an ordinary white taxi. Although an estimated fare range will be displayed on the app, what you’ll actually 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 Resorts World airport shuttle service. Further details are available on the Resorts World Manila website. The Marriott Manila (one of the hotels in the vicinity of Resorts World) has a particularly detailed airport shuttle and car pick-up guide available for its guests.

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

  1. Pingback: Airport Guide: Accessing Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) by Rail | Within striking distance·

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

  3. Pingback: Airport Guide: Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), Greater Manila, Philippines | Within striking distance·

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