How to get a metered taxi at Manila NAIA – an illustrated guide

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There are two types of taxis available at Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport.  This guide will show even first time visitors how to find their way to get a regular Manila taxi to their hotel rather than an official “Yellow” airport taxi and save themselves about half on taxi fares.  But, read our cautions.

Official, designated airport taxis are yellow, like this one.

The official yellow airport taxi as shown above.  After collecting your baggage and going through customs, watch for transportation and taxi signs and then for a line of the yellow airport taxis.  The taxi stand worker will ask where you are going and assign you a taxi. These taxis are in good condition.  The flag down rate for these taxis is P70, whereas an ordinary taxi is P40.  The rate per kilometer is also higher.  In total, you pay about twice as much as you would taking an ordinary taxi.  Taking a yellow airport taxi to Ermita will cost P400 or 500 versus about P200 for a ordinary taxi.

We recommend that the first time visitor to Manila, solo travelers and those arriving at night take the official yellow taxis to their hotel.  There is less of a chance of the taxi driver taking advantage of you and less of a chance of a taxi driver taking you to a remote spot and robbing you.  We like Manila and the people of Manila and find most (but not all) of the taxi drivers to be good guys just trying to survive,  but some are not so good and will try to cheat you or worse. Manila is more dangerous than a place like Hong Kong.  One has to be more alert and resourceful in Manila about personal security.  What can go wrong?  The  driver can demand more money than the meter shows is owed, or maybe he never turned on the meter and demands an arbitrary amount.  Worse, your taxi driver can turn into a dark alley where accomplices are waiting to rob you.  If you are a foreigner, or an overseas worker just arriving in Manila, you can be expected to have money, and nice cameras and cell phones.

If you decide to take a regular Manila taxi, here’s an illustrated guide.  Basically what we’ll show is how to get from the arrivals hall on the first floor to the departures hall on the second floor.  Let’s get started. Once you have collected your luggage, do not join the stream of arriving passengers exiting the terminal to get a taxi.  Below you can see the exit-parking-taxi-bus exit to the left.  Ignore that exit and walk down the corridor to your right.

 

Follow the “departures” route.  At the end of the corridor you’ll see a Burger King restaurant.

Keep walking past the Burger King, staying in the same corridor.  Ignore the departures sign.

Immediately after the Burger King turn right and you’ll see the stairs and escalator leading up to the departures hall.  If you have heavy luggage, there are elevators beyond the stairs.

In this photo, we are now in the departures hall.  The escalator we took up can be seen on the right.  Walk toward the front of the departures hall.  You’ll see door and windows ahead of you.

You probably will not be able to exit the terminal at the first exit you see.  Continue to you left until you find an exit which allows you to leave the terminal building.

Here is an open exit from the departures hall.  Exit here.

Ahead of you is a roadway.  Cross it to the island.  This is where regular, metered Manila taxis are dropping off their passengers at the departures hall.  Last time we were there, there was a security guard (who can be seen just in front of the taxi) who directed us to the first available taxi.  In general these taxi drivers are very happy to get a fare instead of leaving the airport empty.  Before getting in, tell the driver where you want to go and if he will use the meter.  If he will not agree to use the meter, ask the next taxi.  Getting driver to use the meter from the airport usually will not be a problem.  Once you and your luggage are in the taxi, make sure the driver clicks on the meter.  The flagdown fare is currently P40 or about $1.

Here’s another trick I use.  As the taxi moves off, I pick up my cellphone and call (or pretend to call) my wife.  I loudly tell her I am just leaving the airport in taxi number such and such and that I’ll call her back when I get to the hotel.  The taxi driver will know that my wife will have his taxi number and so will be cautious about any nefarious plans.

It also helps if you know, or seem to know where you are going so you don’t seem the inexperienced lost lamb.  Besides,  your taxi driver may not know where the place you want to go is located.  Try to be prepared.  Taxi drivers will know the big hotels but I am surprised at how frequently I have to show taxi drivers how to get to smaller hotels and restaurants.  Don’t show them a map.  Most drivers cannot read maps.

When you arrive at your destination, don’t pay the driver until you get your luggage out of the trunk.  If you pay him first, he may drive off with your luggage.  If a taxi driver has been good, I generally tip them.  They have a tough life!

Please note that these specific instruction apply to NAIA Terminal 3 only although the cautions and alternatives ar similar at the other NAIA terminals.

Finally, these photos show what a terrific job is being done at maintaining Terminal 3.  I have heard complaints about Manila being the worst airport in the world but for me I have only praise for the great job being done at Terminal 3.

Comments (16) Write a comment

  1. Dont take the yellow taxi, better off taking Grab or Uber. You will end up paying double or triple the price. Even though it is metered some taxi driver jack up the price.

    I was taking a yellow taxi from terminal 1 yesterday to cubao. We didnt even get edsa and the meter was allready at 443 pesos. I pointed it out the driver that his meter seems fast, he imediatly made excuses about white taxi being allowed to naia and that they had increase there price. I told thats ot right and he reset the meter. I the meter still ended at 650 by the end of the trip. Grab would have been less then 500.

    So dont take yellow taxi conplete ripoff.

    Reply

    • Agree that Uber may be a good alternative, although we have not used them in Manila as yet. Feedback on Grab and Uber in Manila is very welcome.

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    • Not sure. We have not used terminal 1 for years. In any case the rules are always shifting, so what is true yesterday may not be true today. Our advice — just get a yellow official airport cab and pay a little extra. There are too many horror stories from those using regular white cabs.

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      • Hi. Yes well, 3rd world country can’t expect much more. I’ll just use an uber. ThankS!

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  2. Do not board a metered taxi without the logo because they will charge you triple the amount of an ordinary metered taxi.. Airport metered taxi will charge you more than an ordinary taxi so beware of the taxi without the name printed on the body .

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    • The official airport taxis are yellow. When yo exit the arrivals hall turn left and there will be a line, sometimes very long, of people waiting to get a yellow taxi. There is an attendant who will ask where you are going and assign a taxi to you. There are regular white taxis dropping people off at the departures hall above. They are not supposed to pick passengers up but sometimes do. Sometime touts will offer rides to people waiting in line for a yellow airport taxi. They will walk you to a white taxi on an adjoining road or parking lot. There have been so many reports of regular white taxi drivers, sometime with accomplices, robbing passengers that we think it’s best to stick with the official yellow airport taxis. I have not seen taxis without a name on them. You mean just a white vehicle with no taxi company name? I would never get into any such vehicle.

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  3. I arrived from a local flight in NAIA Terminal 3 today. After getting my luggage, I went up the Departure Area to supposedly flag a regular metered-taxi. However, together with some passengers, the security guards didn’t allow us to exit at the Level 3 Departure Area. They said that as of yesterday, July 26, 2013, loading of passengers at the Departure Area was no longer allowed. They said passengers were only allowed to take the yellow airport taxis since yesterday. Boo NAIA! o_0

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    • Gilbert,

      Many thanks for this important intelligence. Probably too many people were charging up the stairs to get a regular taxi and the yellow airport taxis were suffering and complained. To me that means there may be too many yellow taxis. It does not make sense for regular taxis to leave the airport empty.

      Bob and Carol

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    • Ok if we ride only the yellow taxi how much they will charge the balikbayans two yrs before a flat rate of P3}0 until the bus trasfortation answer asap now na ty

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      • Carol saw a new report that they are letting passengers exit the departure area but will not let taxis pick them. I suppose the yellow taxis pay to use the terminal and the regular taxis don’t.

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  4. Well, I had to travel to Manila a few times last year, for visa application etc. Each time I arrived at NAIA 3, I took a yellow cab to get to places in Intramuros, either hotel or directly to Bureau of Immigration. The ride was always metered, and I haven’t paid more than Php 240 per trip, plus a good tip—though none of the drivers asked for it. So I strongly suggest to opt for a yellow. Those are in good condition and, as Mike pointed out, also tightly regulated.

    Getting back to the airport is a different story. The chance to catch a yellow taxi out in the city are, well, next to null, and I never was successful in hiring a regular taxi to NAIA with meter turned on. The demanded fare was Php 350 to 400, which is not far from twice as much as I paid for the same route in a yellow taxi. The best bet is, when staying in a hotel, asking the receptionist to call a taxi for you; those drivers are mostly well-known to the hotel personnel and supposedly reliable.

    Reply

    • Willy,

      Thanks for sharing your Manila taxi experiences. We have had better luck getting on the meter fares on regular taxis from Manila to NAIA. Much depends on the time of day. When it’s busy they try to negotiate higher than meter rates, when it’s slow they are happy to get any customer. Also, our experience that the taxis affiliated with hotels (or doormen etc.) expect to get more than meter, probably because they have to pay something for their hotel relationship. I guess experience varies!

      Bob

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  5. My BIGGEST Frustration with Manila is the Taxi’s. I have had them try to take advantage of me as a Forigner with my Filipina Wife with me. Most as you say are very good guys getting by. I ALWAYS leave a very good tip for these guys. Gas prices what they are and all. However, I have had entire days ruined by Taxi Drivers attempting to take advantage of my being from another country. I don’t care for Manila and Limit my Visiting there. Give me Iloilo City and Small Town Cabatuan anyday!!!

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    • Are you sure you have the right airport, NAIA doesn’t look like this the last time I went i home in 2013. Rick, you don’t have to be a foreigner to be taken by the taxi drivers especially when you travel alone and arrived at night. I was charged 1400 from the airport to the Victory liner bus station in Caloocan city. He took me for a ride, I notice that we were going around the same street several times. I should have just took his offer 4000 to Olongapo.

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  6. I frequently fly into and out of NAIA and I ALWAYS take yellow cabs or even the “fixed price” vans which are even more expensive if there’s a long line for the yellows. The yellows are a little more expensive but I have not found them to be double the whites. They are also tightly regulated. I travel to Marikina which is quite a ways from the airport. Wouldn’t even consider a white taxi, not worth the potential trouble or aggravation. Be safe, take the yellow.

    Reply

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