Arrival in Manila
As part of the traveller registration and health declaration, as of time of writing (17th January 2023) all arriving passengers are required to complete their travel declaration prior to arrival.
Additional details are available at https://etravel.gov.ph/entry-guidelines
Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA)
This is the recommended airport as your destination to participate in APRICOT 2023. It is very close to the Sofitel (the conference venue), and there are also several international hotel chains located opposite the airport’s Terminal 3.
There are four terminals at NAIA. Terminals 1 and 3 serve international airlines, and Terminal 2 is for Philippine Airlines. There is also a Domestic Terminal at NAIA. Check with your airline which terminal you will be arriving at.
NAIA is like any other airport; immigration is followed by baggage claim followed by customs. The arrivals area outside customs can be crowded with greeters (hotels, tour guides etc). This is where all the facilities are. Note that once you exit the arrivals area, you cannot re-enter the building, so make sure you have all your belongings, local currency, local SIM, etc before exiting.
Note: Manila is also served by Clark International Airport about 80km north west of Manila. There is an express bus linking Clark with NAIA (takes about 90 minutes).
Delegates are encouraged to acquire any local currency they might need on arrival at NAIA. There are several banks offering competitive currency change services in the arrivals area after exiting the Customs Hall.
We recommend that you check the exchange rate of your own currency with the Philippine Peso before departure so that you are aware of current rates. Or carry US Dollars or other major international currencies for more certainty.
Exchanging foreign currency is possible elsewhere in Manila, and the hotels will of course be more expensive than the rates available at the airport.
You'll need local currency for any taxi fares as taxis do not accept credit cards. From NAIA (T1/T2/T3) to the Sofitel or Lime Hotel will be from 500-800 pesos depending on the driver, traffic, and how scenic a route is chosen.
Mobile SIM cards
Mobile SIM cards for tourists are available in arrivals at NAIA in each terminal after exiting the Customs Hall.
These are physical SIM cards offering 40GBytes and upwards of data and local calls for stays of 14 days or more, from around 1000 Pesos (US$18).
There are two Mobile Operators with kiosks at the airport, Globe and SMART. Visitors may choose the appropriate plan to suit the length of their stay.
The vendors make a copy of your passport photo page, and will register and set up the SIM in your phone for you. It's a relatively quick process and they ensure your SIM is working before you leave. Receipts are only provided on request.
Using a local SIM might be an option to consider rather than relying on roaming.
Transportation to Hotels
Some of the hotels will offer a guest pickup service, and many international arrivals choose this option. Arrange the pickup with the hotel when booking accommodation.
The Sofitel offers airport transfers to all guests (at a cost). The Lime Hotel does not offer any pickup option.
Otherwise there are several public transportation options available. The recommended way is to use the Grab App (available across most of Asia). Follow the signs out of the Arrivals Hall and look for the Grab stand, which is where your Grab will be waiting for you. There is also a Grab booth (may or may not be operational) where the attendant can book a Grab for you if you don’t have the app. But it is better to come prepared with the app already installed on your phone.
Otherwise, there are fixed rate taxis (fixed rates to various hotels), the official airport taxi (yellow taxis) which can be pricey, but generally are to be recommended over regular taxis. There is a check-in booth at kerbside where you will be given a docket for your destination hotel. It is recommended that you have the address of your hotel written out, even for well known places like the Sofitel, as drivers might make a show about not knowing where the hotel is. Make sure the driver turns on the meter, and make sure you know where your hotel is and what the general route to it is (print it out before you leave home). The driver will usually follow a map application to find the quickest route. You are unlikely to get a receipt, even if you ask.
The regular taxis are cheaper, but are more likely to cause first time travellers issues (over charging, not using meters, taking scenic routes etc), and are to be avoided.
Note that taxis do not accept credit cards. Cash only, and in local currency only. So make sure you have sufficient cash to get to your hotel.
Transport locations per Terminal
- No Grab kiosk
- Fixed rate Taxi Between Bay 5 & 6 (Booking App Kiosk; P850 to Sofitel)
- Fixed rate Taxi Between Bay 3 & 4 (ASSI Booking App Kiosk; P850 to Sofitel)
- Airport’s metered Taxi (Yellow) after Bay 6
- Grab kiosk at Bay 6
- Coupon (fixed rate) Taxi at Bay 11 (P530 to Sofitel)
- Airport metered Taxi (Yellow) opposite Bay 15
- Regular metered Taxi (White) opposite Bay 22
- Grab kiosk at Bay 4
- Fixed rate Taxi at Bay 4 (ASSI Booking App Kiosk; P850 to Sofitel)
- Coupon (fixed rate) Taxi opposite Bay 5 & 6 (P530 to Sofitel)
- Airport metered Taxi (Yellow) opposite Bay 8
- Regular metered Taxi (White) opposite Bay 13
Arriving at your Hotel
Most hotels in Manila implement security screening for all guests on arrival. Be prepared for this extra requirement when you arrive at the hotel.
Note that the Sofitel requires all guests and others entering the premises to have a vaccination certificate - so keep that available for your arrival in case it is requested. A digital copy is acceptable.