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 rail. Now I need to be absolutely clear: I do not recommend using Manila’s urban rail network to access the airport (for reasons I’ll elaborate upon later). But for the sake of discussing the theoretical possibility, and perhaps as an absolute last resort…by all means read on.
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.
- Alternatives (by road, on foot)
- Accessing MNL by train
- Future access
Read about the other options for travelling to/from MNL in the following guides:
- Travelling by road – This guide lays out the different road-based transportation options: buses, taxis, ride-hailing apps, and private vehicles (plus details on airport parking rates).
- 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.
Accessing MNL by train
Before anything else, let’s get one thing straight: MNL isn’t directly served by trains. Some railway stations are closer to the airport than others, but none of them is within reasonable walking distance of any MNL terminal.
My general advice for airport travel in Manila is to avoid the trains and use road-based transportation, such as express bus services (if available to/from your base in the city) or taxis. Ride-hailing apps – Grab being the dominant market player in the Philippines – are another useful alternative. Learn more about these and other options in my separate guide for accessing MNL by road.
I should also point out that there are strict rules in place against carrying significant quantities of luggage on urban train services (for example: all items larger than 2 x 2 ft are banned), and all luggage is subject to hand search (even gift-wrapped parcels!) at LRT/MRT stations. There are even regulations governing liquids and dangerous goods that rival those of airports in complexity and strictness.
And have I mentioned the risk of petty crime?
Seriously, don’t take the trains to or from the airport. JUST DON’T. Take a car (hired or private), a taxi, or a dedicated airport bus service instead.
That said….if you’re travelling extremely light and willing to squeeze onto trains with limited seating and no dedicated luggage space, and if you’re willing to contend with strict baggage rules that may vary by the line and time of day and mood of the security guard, and if you’re willing to accept the possibility of your property being confiscated (or simply being refused entry), and if you’re willing to expose yourself to petty crime, etc. etc. – please just take my advice and don’t use the trains – then I can’t deny that it’s theoretically possible to indirectly transfer to/from Manila’s urban rail network using one of several stations north of the airport. You’ll still need to cover the remaining gap by road, though.
For reference, here’s a simplified map showing central Manila’s key railway lines, not including the PNR network or lines under construction. Line 3 (yellow) and Line 1 (green) converge at the southern tip, meeting via Taft Avenue and EDSA Stations. The airport complex is located a bit further south of that area, roughly at or just beyond the lower edge of the map.
Via Taft Avenue Station (Line 3) or EDSA Station (Line 1)
The most convenient rail-based access points for the airport are Taft Avenue Station (Line 3 MRT) and EDSA Station (Line 1 LRT), which are connected to each other by way of a pedestrian overpass.
The two railway stations are 2-3 kilometres away from MNL T3 as the crow flies, but the Airport Loop bus provides the necessary link. For PHP 20.00, this shuttle service will take you from the arrivals level of MNL T3 to a stop near Taft Avenue Station.
To show the distance between the bus terminal (near the train stations) and T3, here’s a direction-query result pulled up from Google Maps. Note that the route plotted below is NOT intended to accurately depict the Airport Loop’s course, and intermediate stops (if any) are omitted – this map is purely for illustration only. For one thing, I gather from various sources that the bus takes a different route going north from the airport, with an intermediate stop in the Baclaran area.
Here’s a close-up of the neighbourhood around the two train stations. EDSA Station is at the top, Taft Avenue Station is near the middle, and the outlines of connecting walkways are visible surrounding the intersection in between. The Airport Loop shuttle arrives at (and departs from) the bus terminal just south of Taft Avenue Station.
In the following Google Street View frame, the elevated Line 1 track leading to EDSA Station is visible on the left-hand side. Part of Taft Avenue Station can be seen on the right. The pedestrian walkway connecting the two stations is in the middle, curving around the side of the Metro Point shopping mall.
Via Baclaran Station (Line 1)
It’s also possible to use Baclaran Station (Line 1 LRT) as a jump-off point for accessing the Airport Loop shuttle from the same bus terminal. However, this may add a bit of extra time and distance to your walk. If you’re heading south on Line 1, it might be a good idea to get off one stop earlier – at EDSA Station – and walk to the bus stop from there.
Here’s a video – not by me! – filmed by someone who walked to the Airport Loop bus stop from Baclaran Station. I’ve skipped the start point ahead to where they disembark at Baclaran. Note: the commentary is in Tagalog/Filipino (the local language) and the video quality could be better, but the clip is nonetheless useful for showing what the route looks like.
MNL will be served directly by trains when the yet-to-be-built Line 9 (Metro Manila Subway) eventually reaches the airport. Preparatory work for the subway line’s construction has already begun, with completion expected in 2025 or – allowing for the almost inevitable delays – within a few years thereafter. The approved plans call for a station to be built right next to T3, whilst unconfirmed proposals involve an extension that might serve one or both of the other international terminals and carry the line further until it meets an extended Line 1 west of the airport.
Some readers might also be wondering why I haven’t mentioned Nichols Station (PNR South Main Line). After all, it’s probably the nearest railway stop – in terms of simple ground distance – to any of MNL’s international terminals, and to T3 in particular. The thing is, I’m reluctant to recommend Nichols Station at the moment given the poor state of PNR’s infrastructure and the lack of safe, convenient connections between there and T3. (I’ve seen some sources mentioning that it’s possible to walk from one to the other, but my own view and the consensus on this TripAdvisor thread is that it’s NOT a good idea.) However, once the massive North–South Commuter Railway project is completed sometime in the next decade or so, I can imagine a redeveloped Nichols Station gaining a proper road-based transfer link to MNL…and at that point, I may consider adding it here as an option. But not yet.
Now permit me to reiterate the advice I offered earlier. DON’T TAKE THE TRAINS. Just don’t. If you can, try to forget that this page even exists and stick to my guide for accessing the airport by road.