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

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”.



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 us be absolutely clear on one crucial point: 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 (and quite outdated) 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.

Original Image from Wikimedia Commons. Credit: By Laura Sun – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

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 40.00, 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.

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.

Future access

MNL will be served directly by trains when the yet-to-be-completed Line 9 (Metro Manila Subway) eventually reaches the airport. Construction work has already begun, with completion expected circa 2029. 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 wonder why I haven’t mentioned Nichols Station (PNR South Main Line). This is geographically the nearest railway stop – in terms of simple ground distance – to any of MNL’s international terminals, and to T3 in particular. The reason is this: 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, a redeveloped Nichols Station will likely gain a proper road-based transfer link to MNL (perhaps in the form of a scheduled shuttle service). At that point, I might 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.

Pandemic-related measures

The wearing of face masks remains mandatory on all forms of public transport (whether by land, sea, or air) throughout the Philippines. Executive Order No. 7 (dated 28 October 2022) sets out the current requirements in respect of public health protocols throughout the Philippines. Do note that whilst mask wearing is no longer obligatory in most settings – except in public transportation, medical facilities, and other sensitive locations as specified in the Executive Order – many locals still don masks both indoors and outdoors. Private establishments might also impose stricter requirements within their own premises and ask all patrons to put on a mask before entering.

Physical distancing (or “social distancing”) remains recommended, but is not rigorously enforced in practice.

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

  1. Pingback: Airport Guide: Accessing Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) by Road | 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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