There’s one place in the Philippines that’s recognized as the Pearl of the Orient, and it’s none other than the country’s capital, Manila. Manila is the cultural, financial, political, and historical hub of the Philippines. In an archipelagic country with over 7,000 islands, it plays an outsize role in the past, present, and future of the Philippines. If you’ve ever wanted to visit, here’s a guide on how to get to Manila to start off your trip.
Manila: A Brief Overview
Located strategically by the bay and protected on all sides by islands, the Zambales Range, as well as the peninsula of Cavite, it’s prime geographic location for a port city. And that’s what Manila was and has been throughout its history— even as a Muslim settlement in the pre-colonial era, it’s played an important role in trade and politics in the Philippines and the region.
After the Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi first sailed up the Pasig River and set up camp, Manila became the center of all goings on in Luzon, and later on the Philippines. For most of the Philippines’ history, Manila has been the capital and center of political and economic power.
Why You Should Visit Manila
Probably one of the major things that sets Manila apart is its ability to bring together both the modern and the historic. It’s home to the famous walled city of Intramuros, one of the major pockets of history in the Philippines. It’s also close to everything you need, with connections that allow you to enjoy the best of the National Capital Region.
Manila is also home to the country’s biggest international airport. Formerly known as the Manila International Airport, but now renamed to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (airport code: MNL), it’s located in Pasay City just adjacent to Manila. NAIA has a capacity of 2.5 million passengers per year in its international wing and 5 million in its domestic wing
If you’re planning to make a multi city trip throughout the Philippines, then Manila is the first and best stop. Landing in the city will give you access to some of the richest modern Philippine culture available, from sumptuous restaurants to shopping delights and much more.
Manila Travel Guidelines
It’s important to remember that whenever you travel, safety should come first. Under the new rules of the global COVID-19 pandemic, there are a few restrictions for travelers taking flights to Manila. The Department of Tourism (DOT) Philippines hub has more information, but basic requirements include the following:
- All foreign nationals except those fully vaccinated and those coming from travel-restricted countries in the last 14 days will need to undergo a 14-day quarantine period in an approved quarantine facility, with 10 days at the accredited hotel and 4 of the remaining days at home under the supervision of the Local Government Unit (LGU).
- Foreign nationals coming from travel-restricted countries will not be allowed entry into the Ninoy Aquino International Airport or Manila.
- Foreign nationals who are fully vaccinated and/or come from ‘Green’ countries (contact DOT for more information) will only need to undergo a 7-day facility-based quarantine period, and after getting cleared through RT-PCR test may proceed to home-based quarantine for 7 more days.
- Filipinos arriving in Manila under a repatriation program of the Philippine government must undergo an absolute 14-day quarantine in an approved quarantine facility.
- Non-OFW Filipino nationals will also have to undergo the standard 14-day quarantine, with 10 days in an accredited facility and 4 days at home under the supervision of the LGU.
- Wearing of face masks and face shields in airport facilities and airlines is mandatory.
How to Find Flight Deals to Manila
Getting to Manila depends on where you’re coming from, but if you’re headed out from another country or island then the best way is through finding cheap flights. Luckily, with NAIA located in the heart of Manila, you don’t have a problem getting around once your flights arrive.
Finding flights is pretty easy. Most major airlines have flights to Manila, and for those that don’t you can easily find connecting flights from other cities. Not only that, there are a ton of different airlines that offer lower budget flights to Manila or out of Manila. We’ll list a few of these options below so you can pick the Manila airlines that best work for you.
Cheap Flights to Manila – Philippine Airlines
The Philippines flag carrier Philippine Airlines offers a range of different ticket prices, including more affordable seats on flights. While it’s definitely on the pricier side for local airlines, you can still find a good price for your tickets if you take a look at their promo fares.
The airline covers domestic and international routes, with affordable prices for both. Whether you’re headed to a city somewhere else in the Philippines, or a city in an entirely different country, Philippine Airlines flight tickets are likely to fall within your budget.
You can book flights through the Philippine Airlines website or through a travel agent. Philippine Airlines has flights coming from a variety of destinations to Manila, and from Manila to a variety of destinations.
Cheap Flights to Manila – Cebu Pacific
Another popular local airline is Cebu Pacific Airlines. Cebu Pacific is well known for offering travelers affordable prices and travel deals. It’s part of one of the largest budget airline networks between Asia and the Philippines, and offers travelers both domestic and international flight options.
Cebu Pacific’s main headquarters is found in Cebu, but there are quite a number of flights from the airline flying out from Ninoy Aquino International Airport. International airports within the region are likely to have Cebu Pacific flights destined for Manila. Places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, and neighboring countries like Malaysia and Indonesia are among some of the best spots to get a Cebu Pacific flight to Manila.
Although Cebu Pacific flights are mainly concentrated around the Asian region, the airline is a Category 1 so it is also able to offer flights to and from Europe and the U.S. Under the pandemic, the airline’s flight networks are a little more limited. Be sure to check in with your travel agent to see what options are available to you.
Cheap Flights to Manila – International Airlines
As the capital city of the Philippines, Manila is the main destination for nearly all international flights to the Philippines. There are definitely more flight options if you’re taking flights from neighboring countries and territories.
However, if you’re coming from further away, you can opt to fly with airlines like Cathay Pacific, which offer longer-range flights in multiple cities and continents. More regional airlines like Malaysia Airlines are also a good option for flying in and around the region.
While fares for more international airlines are going to vary according to country of origin and airline classification, scoring an affordable ticket to the Philippines is possible especially if you decide to go with multi city flights. If a long haul flight is too expensive, passengers can opt to break up their flights by switching to a regional airline from an intercontinental airline.
It should be noted however that under current pandemic travel guidelines, passengers flying in from certain countries are restricted from entering the country. Your location in the 14 days prior to your flight to Manila is also important in determining which travel restrictions will apply to you. Be sure to check in with the Department of Tourism and IATF guidelines before booking your flights to Manila, to ensure smooth sailing for the rest of your trip.
James Gonzales is a Filipino-American travel enthusiast and writer currently based in the Philippines. After living and working in New York for 10 years, James decided he wanted to see more of the world and leave the city behind. In the course of saving up for what would become an epic trip across Asia, he wrote about previous traveling experiences for various travel websites and publications based in the Lower East Side.
James focused on journeying through the Philippines in the hopes of understanding his roots, and began Daydreaming in Paradise to share his thoughts and experiences. He’s always looking for like-minded travelers to trade stories and swap tips with, and he hopes you’ll join him on his journey.