Having heard some bad things about Manila Airport, we weren’t exactly too keen on having to transfer there. Our friends who have travelled through it didn’t particularly enjoy their experience, and there are plenty of negative reports about it on the internet.
Coming back from El Nido, we needed to wait at the airport for about 11 hours until our next flight, which was at 4:55am. We didn’t want to go into Manila itself: we still had another 2 flights to go and we just wanted to relax until it was time to depart. We knew we would be exhausted by the time we arrive back in China. Before arriving at the terminal, we both decided we would just stay at the airport and relax there.
Our plane landed at the airport at around 2:30pm… and we took the shuttle to our terminal. Oh my god the place was mad! There were people everywhere, because they check your documents even before you enter the terminal, there was a big queue outside waiting to get in!
When we got in, there were loads of people. And this was where we would be staying for the next 11 hours……
At this point we were starving, so we asked where we could get some food. Apparently in the terminal that we were in, the options available to us was the cafeteria or a place called Jollibee, the Filipino equivalent of McDonalds. So we opted to go to Jollibee.
The food wasn’t too bad, it’s just because everyone else had the same idea of eating there… there was a big queue and plenty of people eating!
So after our meal, we found the waiting area…. right next to the restaurant stuck in the corner of the airport. And it definitely wasn’t big enough for the amount of people there. The seats were metal and nearly every one of them was taken.
Looking at the waiting area… we really didn’t want to have to spend our time there…. it definitely wasn’t relaxing. So after a short discussion, we decided to rent a room in a hotel nearby. All we wanted to do was relax, and we weren’t going to be able to do here.
Now we had to find someone who could help us organise this. We went over to a security man and lady and we asked them where could we do this. They told us to wait nearby and they would call an airport hotel for us. Both of us were so surprised! They were busy doing their job but they decided to help us out and the man left and started talking on the phone. They were so nice and helpful.
The lady told us to sit at the waiting area and when the car arrived she would find us. And so we waited until she beckoned us to follow her. We were blown away by their helpfulness. They really didn’t need to help us, but they did. Throughout our whole holiday we were amazed at how friendly the people in the Philippines are. And this was one example of it!
So when we arrived at the hotel, we were so so happy we decided to book a room. We didn’t really want to be spending money for a hotel that we weren’t even spending a whole night in. But at Manila airport, it was just too crowded, busy, and certainly not somewhere I wanted to spend all day at.
If you are transferring through Manila, my suggestion is to think about lay over times and whether it would be better booking a hotel or maybe go into the city and explore.
When we arrived back at the airport at 2am, thankfully it was much much quieter!
*TIP: When entering the airport, there is a security person who will check your documents (they don’t allow people who aren’t travelling into the airport). Make sure you print out your ticket details. Luckily for us we had ours to show. It just makes it easier for yourself if you have it in paper for them. I don’t know what will happen if you don’t have your flight details for them to show.
**TIP: If you decided to go to the fast food restaurant, you will need to put your bags through security all over again when entering the airport. The food court is technically inside the airport, but after eating, you need to exit the airport AGAIN and re-enter through security. Pretty annoying!
***TIP: For us, when we arrived at our gate, there was a table where we had to allow security people to check our bags AGAIN. They opened our small bags and searched inside, while they just felt our big bags. This may not happen you but just be aware of it.
So we survived Manila airport, but I don’t fancy visiting it anytime soon!