Although we love the Philippines, the one thing that has always been our biggest challenge is making sure we don’t get ripped off by taxi drivers in Manila. A quick google search will yield many stories of scams. After numerous frustrating encounters with drivers who try to take advantage of tourists, ex-pats, and even locals, we finally have it figured out! Please be sure to read these taxi tips before you arrive in Manila!
- Only take metered taxis. In Manila taxis with a meter usually have a rectangular decal attached to the right part of their front window that say they are meter certified. These are usually white Toyotas.
- Previously only yellow metered airport accredited taxis were allowed in the airport, but according to Rappler, as of April 2015 white metered taxis are now allowed in Terminals 2 and 3 during peak hours. However these are not airport accredited taxis like the yellow metered taxis who can be tracked, so always exercise caution.
- The flag down rate for a yellow metered taxi at the airport is 70 pesos and it is 40 pesos for white metered taxis in the city. Makati City is where most people stay in Manila, and it should cost between 200-300 pesos to get there in typical traffic. In light traffic from Makati to the airport we’ve even had fares under 150 pesos.
- If you see a meter decal, ask the driver if they will turn on the meter before getting in, or you may find yourself hopping out of a lot of taxis!
- If a driver tries to tell you the meter is broken and offers you a flat rate (on a printed rate card or otherwise), do not get in the taxi. They are typically charging at least double the going rate, and taxis are required by law to use meters. Do not listen to any excuses or stories they may have no matter how convincing they may sound. We’ve had to deal pretty aggressively with drivers in the past and are not above threatening to call the police.
- Be sure to have lots of small bills for taxis as many drivers will say they don’t have change.
- Manila has horrible traffic. If you are going to Makati City from the airport, it is well worth the 20 peso fee to take the Skyway (an elevated road) and cut down on your travel time and taxi fare. You can let your driver know you want to take the Skyway and they will ask you for 20 pesos.
- Take a picture of the taxi driver’s id which is usually painted in white on the passenger door or the outside of the car. It doesn’t hurt to let the driver see you do this!
- We always like to make conversation with the drivers to let them know we aren’t tourists, have been to Manila many times, and are familiar with the area.
- Be aware of your surroundings. If you have internet, use a map app like Google Maps or Waze to make sure you’re headed in the right direction. Some travelers have reported drivers intentionally dropping off people at wrong terminals to get additional fares!
- Drivers are familiar with the larger hotels in Makati, but they will have a hard time finding smaller hotels so be sure to have a map of your hotel area and know big nearby landmarks.
- Taxis hailed for you by large hotels are generally a little higher priced as they can be trusted and their information is kept by the hotel.
- If you have a comfortable air conditioned ride at a fair rate, feel free to tip the driver at least 50 pesos!
- It is well worth purchasing a sim card at the airport so you can use Uber on your phone. We didn’t have internet on our phones the last time we were in Manila so we had mixed results, but our local friends swear by it. You can be assured a clean car and a fair rate when using Uber.
- Taxi stands in front of major malls are a great place to hail metered taxis.
- You can take a picture of the license plate and report abusive drivers on taxikick.
- Most drivers will be playing 80’s American love songs and singing along!
We’ve made taking a taxi in Manila sound scary, but we’ve done it dozens of times with our young children. It just makes sense to keep all these tips in mind!