Do you need a car in Manila?

Should you rent a car in Manila Philippines > Manila

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.

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Why should you rent a car in Manila?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Manila?

Manila Car hire summary

Overall drive rating



Cheapest rate for one week




How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?





Free parking score

Total 562 - of which 328 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • 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? Why not? Ratings Comments

Manila public transport quick facts

Train score



Water travel score


Overall public transport score


Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)


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.


Car rental in - Manila Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Manila?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.

Is it worth hiring a car in Manila?

Based on value for money

Should you rent a car in Manila?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Manila if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?


Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Manila if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?


What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Manila if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?



Final score:


Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

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

Would you hire a car in Manila?

Have you driven in Manila? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Manila?
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