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Our arrival to Manila Airport had one mission, to navigate the chaotic scene and get into an official metered taxi in the most efficient way possible.
Research for the Excursion
We prepared for our arrival by researching as much as we could. We became familiar with the rates people said were normal for the kinds of taxis and the distances to be traveled. We informed ourselves and mentally prepared ourselves to ignore scams and go only with the official information we knew.
Cash Exchange for the Taxi
We arrived to Terminal 3 which at the moment of writing is the best and most up to date terminal. Upon exiting baggage and customs we went for an exchange booth in the arrivals hall. There were many different booths and honestly the exchange was fair, a gamble in any airport, of course we knew the rates ahead of time, essential for a trip to any country so as not to lose money on commission or fees.
There are three types of taxis available on the outside which can be explained more in depth here. The best value and safety combination we decided was to take the fixed rate taxi. In order to get a good recommendation and not to be led on by any touts, we approached a police officer who pointed us in the right direction. We went outside and at first it was hard to make out the signs. People approach you immediately and the curbside action is chaotic. A gentleman with an official looking vest determined what we were looking for and started trying to lead us to over to the line of metered taxis by the stand. It became clear to us however that he was not approaching the official sign and counter, but trying to put us in an official cab that he had an arrangement with.
Getting the Taxi
Once at the stand we ignored our first suitor and saw the list of fixed rates for neighborhoods and sections of the city. The Price we were quoted was slightly higher than what we’d read online. By knowing where our hotel was located we were able to correct the stand operator who was trying to sell us a rate slightly more expensive. Being firm and sure of our destination allowed us to get the proper rate.
Overall our experience was not too hectic and we were mentally prepared to deal with how things work in the Philippines. Rather than overpaying or thinking poorly of the country, being informed allowed to to take charge of the adventure and to know how to play the game.