The capital and largest city in the Philippines, Manila is home to close to 12 million people, making it one of Asia’s largest cities. In Manila, you’re likely to come across Tagalog and Spanish colonial cultures, which have intertwined to produce a friendly vibe which has been supplemented by rapid redevelopment work going on in the city centre. As you might expect for a city of its size, there’s a lot going on in Manila. It has a huge number of modern shopping malls complemented by old-style bazaars and markets, while there are plenty places to learn about the city’s history and cultures. The city is also a great base from which you can explore the rest of the Philippines.
To make travelling as simple as possible, especially in tight spaces, a smaller car is the best possible vehicle for the area. Parking would be easier with one as well.
Driving in Manila
Road Driving Side
Urban Speed Limit
Rural Speed Limit
Motorway Speed Limit
Important things to note
Although Filipino and English are the two most widely-spoken languages in Manila, some also speak Spanish and Arabic as well as Mandarin.
For easy access by road to the city centre and inner suburbs, the best road to take is the South Luzon Expressway.
Rush hour in Manila is pretty hectic. Avoid driving on early weekday mornings if you can, as gridlock is a common problem.
Highlights & Hotspots
Intramuros is the old, walled part of the city, which was built during the time of Spanish colonization. Within this part of Manila, there are several museums and ruins as well as the city’s towering cathedral, the most important place of worship in the country.
Established in the early part of the last decade, the National Museum of the Philippines has a huge number of exhibits ranging from the archaeological and botanical to the cultural and artistic. Over a million different artefacts are on show here.
The Chinatown district of Manila is one of the largest of its kind in the world. Here, there are market stalls, street food vendors, unique shops selling everything from spices to textiles and restaurants. It feels like a world away from all the shiny new skyscrapers in downtown Manila.
One of the most scenic parks in the city is Baywalk. Here, just a stone’s throw away from several luxury hotels and restaurants, you can get a clear view of the sunset while strolling along Manila’s impressive bay.
Ninoy Aquino International Airport is the city‚Äôs main airport, lying around 4.5 miles south of downtown Manila. It‚Äôs the busiest airport in the country, serving a huge range of domestic and international destinations from four different terminals.
The airport can be reached via Sales Road, which goes northeast towards the South Luzon Expressway. This road ends as it reaches the centre of Manila.