Asia > Philippines > Manila

See: Why hire a car in Manila ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

Sprawling Manila or Metro Manila as residents often know it is really one vast city of cities, made up of many different centres, loosely connected by a very limited metro system, and much more strongly bound by vast multilane highways.

Please note that is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Manila car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Manila is in car rental price band: 7/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Manila? 

No. Car rental is expensive by global standards.


Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Manila between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 1/10

Non car score:2/10

Balance: 6

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -


Why? Visiting Manila using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Manila ?

  • Even though trains run right past the city’s main Nino Aqoy International airport there is no direct connection to the terminal, and there are still only 3 Metro lines serving this vast city of more than 10 million people.
  • If we were only writing a car hire guide for expats and other longer term visitors to Manila, then we would probably say that the best way to get around this mess would still be to do so in a car of some sort, even if we know that that still ends up contributing even further to the mess!
  • There is no national rail network in the Philippines – only local suburban services. This is hardly surprising, given that the country is made up of so many islands.
  • As a tourist, you may find a car useful if you want to play the congestion game, but for many visitors it’s not worth the hassle.
  • Walking in Manila is a nightmare – you will have to contend with giant zebra crossings where few drivers give way, or you will need to stomp through giant over-bridges. Both are extremely unpleasant in the heat.
  • With a rental car, you can easily reach various resort hotels to the north of Manila within the same day, and sometimes within just 2-3 hours’ drive.

Why not? Visiting Manila without a car

Why don't you need a car in Manila ?

Our Manila car hire advice guide has to look at what we would recommend for any tourist visiting the city for the first time. As a starting point, we file Manila in the same basket as cities like the Indonesian capital Jakarta, with all of the most impressive scenic destinations in the Philippines being some distance away from the capital. In all honesty, if you happen to be arriving into Manila on a long haul flight and then wanting to transfer elsewhere, the chances are that you will do this by air, and spend as little time in Manila as possible.

  • For the places within the city itself that are worth visiting, then there’s really no point in trying to do this in a hire car, either make your best of Manila’s public transport system or just take taxis.
  • Head towards Mt Marivales by bus. Getting out of Manila by bus is surprisingly easy, relative to driving in a hire car. Even with stops, bus timings are only marginally longer, with a service frequency of upto every 20 minutes, even in quite remote areas.
  • To head out of Manila and reach the most scenic parts of the country, just jump on a ferry from the main port.

Ratings: How does Manila compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Manila? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Manila, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?



Do you need to hire a car in Manila? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Manila (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Manila? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel


Car hire basics:


Public transportation basics:


Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):


As you start ....

Does Manila airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No






Has our advice for Manila car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 6

2019 - 6

2021 - 6

Average score - 6



As a first time visitor, we really don’t think you need a car in Manila, but you may still want to give it a try.

We do want to dismiss driving in Manila completely without pointing out that there are still some great roads just beyond the capital, including the very un-straight “Roman Road “, which winds its way around the other side of the Manila Bay. So our general Manila car advice is that it really isn’t worth bothering, but if you don’t have an opportunity to fly elsewhere, then driving around locally on Luzon Island can still provide some great sightseeing opportunities, all within a day trip of the Philippines capital.

Even if our Manila verdict leans towards quite a resounding “no”, if you are going to hire a car here, it might be something to consider on a very short term basis.

Do you need a car in Manila? Verdict – no