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.
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.