Whether you’re in Manila for a stopover or you’re staying to explore, checking in at a hostel can be a great way for you to experience the real Filipino hospitality and meet fellow travelers along the way.
Quick Introduction to Manila Hostels
Average price per bed: Ranging from $6- $15 per night, Manila’s hostel prices can be relatively higher compared to its neighboring countries in Southeast Asia. Rates depend on the amenities that the hostel offers as well as the type of room that you’re booking.
Check in and check out: The average check-in time for most hostels in Manila is 14:00 (2PM), while the check-out time is before 12:00 noon. In case you’re arriving earlier, most hostels are open to keeping your luggage at their front desk until your check-in time. You can always ask or contact your hostel beforehand for easier and hassle-free arrangements.
Manila Tourism Tax: There is no standard rate on Manila’s tourism tax, although most published rates are a little higher for foreigners.
Transportation: Manila is known for its hellish and extremely crowded transportation systems, but it is possible to find a workaround if you know what time to travel.
Times to avoid are 7AM-9AM as well as 5PM-8PM as it tends to get really crowded and hard to go to places.
There are different modes of transportation in the city but we don’t recommend taking the trains as it is not as efficient as railroads in other countries. Good options to go around are:
P2P (Point-to-Point) buses as well as car rental services.
Grab, a phone app that you could use to book transfers (like Uber). This way, you can avoid unnecessary charges as the app already shows the price for the duration of your trip.
Safety in Manila: Probably no more dangerous than the next city, Manila has its share of pickpockets and petty criminals that you have to look out for. We have created a safety guide below and shared some tips and tricks on how you can make the most out of your trip to the city.
We picked these hostels as they standout with their design, facilities, and overall vibes.
We have also considered their locations and their accessibility to other establishments in the city. You can check out our map and neighborhood guide by the end of this article, which will make navigating in the city much easier.
Aside from the hostels, we also recommend that you take a look at Airbnb options in the city. This is quite common in Manila and there are some good options for places that you can stay as well.
Z Hostel is located in Makati, one of Metro Manila’s central business districts.
It is located near banks, parks, and malls, and is relatively near Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Manila’s main airport), accessible with a 9.3km drive.
Since this hostel Makati is located in the middle of Poblacion, one of the city’s hot spots for night outs, there are tons of bars that you can swing by, enjoy, and experience the true Manila party scene.
The place is bustling with bars and restaurants for almost every cuisine – Indian, Japanese, Korean, American, Italian – you name it, you’ll eventually find something around this area.
After a night of partying at the hostel, you can get a good cup of coffee at Commune, which is just 550m away – or a quick 8 minute walk. Seriously, a top location!
Who stays at Hostel Z?
Anyone who’s down to party!
Z Hostel has hosted guests from all parts of the globe – from England, USA, Australia, France, Netherlands, and many other countries. There really is no limit to who you can meet in this hostel.
A franchise from a chain of hostels all over south east Asia, Lub D Makati boasts premiere accommodation and facilities for guests, providing well-thought spaces like a chill out lounge, a co-working area, and a rooftop bar and restaurant.
They offer comfortable dorm and private rooms with air conditioning and great views of the city.
Aside from the usual provisions like hairdryer and toiletries, Lub d also offers coin-operated washing machines and dryer for convenience. They also serve à la carte breakfast for an additional fee.
Because of their functional areas, Lub d makes a great hostel for digital nomads who are also looking for work spaces while traveling.
Location of Haven Backpackers: Near the airport Ninoy Aquino International
Compared to the other two, Haven Backpackers Hostel is the one nearest to the airport, just located 6km away from Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
This hostel would be great for those who have flights to catch. This is your ultimate Manila airport hostel because you can just take a rest and then get ready for your flight.
While it’s a little far from the busy party scene, Haven Backpackers Hostel compensates for its accessibility to other spots in the greater Manila area, like the Cultural Center of the Philippines (3.5km away) and National Museum (4.5km away).
Who stays at Haven Backpackers?
If you are a backpacker and solo traveler looking for an affordable hostel, then Haven Backpackers Hostel is the place for you in Manila.
This is also perfect for travelers who are looking for a place to stay while waiting for their next flight or arriving very late at night.
If you have been looking for a cheap hostel manila, you have just found it.
Haven Backpackers Hostel is the best hostel in Manila for:
As we’ve mentioned on the earlier part of the article, Z Hostel prides itself for being a social hostel, offering guests a multitude of opportunities to meet new people.
It has a roof deck bar and it’s located in Poblacion, one of the best places to party and experience the Manila nightlife.
This hostel would best suit you if you are an extrovert who thrives when meeting new people. There are tons of opportunity for you to meet fellow travelers and even party-loving locals when you stay in this hostel.
Lub d Philippines Hostel prides itself for its convenience and functional spaces. If you are looking for a fuzz-free hostel that offers top-notch accommodation and facilities, then this hostel is definitely worth checking out.
Lub d Philippines Hostel is also located in the middle of one of Manila’s central business district, Makati, which make it easy to navigate around and explore.
It also has an amazing selection of restaurants and bars, so you can definitely find something for you.
This hostel would best suit you if you are someone who wants to find a good balance between socializing and working.
A restored mansion redesigned to become a home for adventurers and travelers, Tambayan Capsule Hostel & Bar offers a modern accommodation with sleek capsules and private rooms.
Located near most of Manila’s historical sites and museums, this would be a great treat for travelers who would like to know what the city is all about.
They are also located near bars and also has their own (located at the rooftop) but other than that, Tambayan Hostel has more of a “hotel” set-up, giving guests more opportunity to enjoy their own company.
This hostel would best suit you if you are interested in visiting some historical sites in Manila or if you are just looking for a place to rest before a flight (around 20 minutes from the airport).
Party, booze, and meeting new friends while traveling? Yes, please! Check out the best party place in Manila.
Manila may be busy and can come across as chaotic sometimes, but the party scene in this side of the world is still amazing. Filipinos are one of the friendliest people out there, and you will definitely experience this if you try the nightlife in Manila.
You can definitely check out some of our favorite hostels to party (they have bars!) but you can also enjoy the nightlife by joining in at pub crawls.
How about some saving tips to survive Manila with less than 20 Dollars a day? Yes, you read perfectly, you can survive Manila with just 20 Dollars a day in your pocket!
We bring you these real travel recommendations, from friends to friends. We will introduce you to a hidden bar, a hipster food court, a local garden, a bar with the best jamming bands in Metro Manila, and much more!
But first, a little basic knowledge.
The Philippines’ busiest and most populated region, Manila, has a different charm that only a few could fully understand.
The city spills with traffic and its streets swarm with people from all walks of life.
Unlike most of the tourist destinations in the country, Manila does not boast itself of nature — instead, it reflects a different side of the country, one that shows the reality of what Filipinos have to live with every day.
Manila has a unique personality that you would either love or hate.
It’s the rebel amongst the tropical paradise destinations of the country, one that would never cease to exist because of the vital role that it plays.
It is home to skyscrapers and shanty towns, to people from different walks of life, to a mishmash of the country’s personality and rich history.
It’s a culturally confused metropolis but at the same time a culmination of what the Philippines is about: An eccentric blend of diverse influences
Alright, now you know. Now let us find out how you have a blast in Manila for $20 and less:
Circumvent Manila like a pro-commuter1
Bunk beds as accommodation
No more lonely nights with Manila’s Happy Hour
Detoxify your mind, body and spirit for FREE
Release your inhibitions and Party like no one knows you
1. Circumvent Manila like a pro-commuter1
Going around Manila can be literally taxing with your wallet if you’ll give the cab driver the freedom to roam you around.
Hence, travelling like a local is a must.
The modes of transportation around the city are often via JEEPNEYS, BUSES, TRICYCLES and MRT (electronic trains).
The jeepneys are jeep hybrids from WW2 widely use to go around Manila and have labels signaling your end destinations. For each destination, with less than 1 dollar, you can roam around Manila and go to the Mall of Asia which is the largest mall in Asia.
The buses and MRT however, with less than 2 dollars, you can go to the three common terminals in the city such as the Alabang Terminal, Pasay Terminal and Cubao Terminal, which are the gateways to the wonderful beaches, mountains, and volcanoes in the Philippines.
For instance, the Alabang Terminal houses the buses that lead to Taal Volcano in Tagaytay and the Mayon Volcano in Bicol, as well as, the buses that could take you to the island of Boracay.
2. Jump into bunk beds
From the airport, you can rest your tired body and grab an accommodation in nearby hostels.
A bed in most of the Manila Hostels can only damage your wallet for as low as 10 dollars a night. Since you are reading this guide, you most likely made your choice already.
Congrats, thanks and sorry for bringing this up again.
Yet, it is true. Hostels in Manila and Philippines are can be high quality. Make sure you check our complete guide to the best hostels in Philippines – with itinerary and more tips for a perfect Philippines backpacker guide.
3. No more lonely nights with Manila’s Happy Hour
You read it right!
Manila could be the happiest place on earth with its daily Happy Hours in quite numerous bars on weekdays.
Never miss this opportunity, since beers could go as low as 1 dollar per pint and cocktails could dip to as low as 2 dollars for a buy one take one promo.
One good example is Spicy Fingers Bar in Greenbelt Makati. Have a Cocktail from Monday to Friday, 6pm to 8pm for only 1 dollar.
They have the longest happy hour with shots and drinks priced at 50 pesos each.
If you just want to be tipsy right away, try their Weng Weng and Liquid Cocaine. Please be warned though, this is not for the faint of heart.
After a glass or 2 of WengWeng or Liquid Cocaine, you will never remember the best night you just had and the rest is Facebook or Instagram History. This place also delivers absolute entertainment having the best jamming bands in Metro Manila where you can also belt out your lungs and sing on stage.
Please do not be an idiot: Always drink responsibly with hostel mates and stay at safe hostels! Manila safety is so-so but let’s just be responsible for the sake of it all.
4. Detoxify your mind, body and spirit for FREE
After days of intoxicating and partying time, dispel your gut with toxins and revive your senses with the taste of urban nature.
Enjoy the blushing heat of the morning sun in some of Manila’s wonderful urban parks. Sweat it out while jogging and doing park yoga in Makati’s Ayala Triangle.
It has nice looking gardens with pathways and a few restaurants and cafes.
The location is also very convenient for a commuter like me. Plus it’s always accessible to almost everything.
Or in the afternoon if you want to awaken your inner bohemian and artistic flair you can commune with still life artists and painters in Taguig Bonifacio Uptown Global Park where Guhit Pilipinas used to hang out and teaches still life paintings and photography tricks.
Then if you are still up for an afternoon stroll, grab a bike near the Cultural Center of the Philippines for about 1 dollar per hour and pedal around the historical Spanish remnants in Luneta Park and the walled city of Intramuros in Manila, as you savor and meditate life with the lingering beauty of the sunset along Roxas Boulevard, a scenic view entirely for FREE.
5. Release your inhibitions and Party like no one knows you
With only 4 dollars in tow, your can enjoy 5 bars, 5 shots and a great company in Party Manila’s organized Pub Crawl event. Their motto:
“No one parties alone”
They also have quirky themes that you’ll love. At a standard, Party Manila’s Pub Crawl offers five joints pubs + clubs that come along with five FREE shots.
They used to start the drill at H&J Bar in Makati and be sure to be early to get all the 5 shots! Was able to join this kind of event in Boracay though and it was way too crazy, but soon will try to have a version of it in Manila too!
Armed with your 20 dollars to spare in a day and with these 5 practical tips at heart, you’re now ready to board and explore Manila as if you’d been in Manila before.
Things to do in Manila
While most tourist spots in the Philippines are located far from Manila, it doesn’t mean that there are no good spots that you can enjoy in the metro.
Whether you’re in the city for a day or two, here are a few options on what you can do. This is your Manila guide:
1. Party and meet some new friends
Manila may not have the biggest nightlife, but the city has some decent places to party and meet some new friends.
One of the spots that you can visit if you’re in the mood for some booze is Poblacion in Makati, where tons of bars, restaurants, and hostels are located.
Some places that you can check out are:
Run Rabbit Run.
Most bars in Poblacion offer speak-easy drinks and has a more chill, laid back vibe.
If you are looking to dance the night away, you can visit the nearby Bonifacio Global City where most of the popular clubs are. You can check out:
Palace Pool Club,
Nectar (a special LGBTQ+ club),
Early Night, and
2. Museums and historical sites
While Manila has heavily evolved and has become one of the most industrialized cities in the country, there are still a few places that hold the interesting history of what the Philippines went through in the past.
Most of those are located in the heart of Manila, where the National Museum is located.
This museum holds the largest collection of the country’s artifacts, paintings, and sculptures.
Another place to visit is Rizal Park, which is just a few meters away from National Museum.
This historical park holds close to the country as it is where their national hero, Jose Rizal, was executed in 1896.
While you’re at it, you can also visit Intramuros, which is just adjacent to Rizal Park. This walled city was created by the Spaniards as defense for foreign invasions.
Today, Intramuros is home to multiple historical locations like Fort Santiago and the San Agustin Church (UNESCO World Heritage Site).
3. In city activities
If you are just looking to pass some time in Manila but is not really interested with history or party, there are also tons of fun activities that you can try within the city.
You can find multiple branches offering wall climbing:
ROX Bonifacio High Street
Tandang Sora, Quezon City
Rates: Min. $ 4
3. Ninja Academy (Parkour)
Rates: from $ 8
4. Commander Shooting Range (Target Shooting)
Cubao, Quezon City
Rates: Starts at $ 6
5. Trampoline Park
Shaw Boulevard, Pasig City
Rates: Starts at $3.50
6. City Kart Racing (Race Track, Karts)
Circuit Makati, Makati City
Rates: Starts at USD 39.80
7. Lazer Maxx (Laser Tag)
Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan
ETON Centris, Quezon City
Rates: Starts at USD 4
8. The Dessert Museum (Instagrammable Museum)
S Maison, Conrad Hotel, Pasay City
Rates: Starts at USD 14
4. Shop ‘til you drop in Manila’s biggest malls
Manila has some of the biggest malls in the country so if you’re in the mood for buying stuff, then you’re in the right place. Some places that you can check out are:
SM Mall of Asia (Pasay),
SM Megamall (Mandaluyong), and
There are also some “shopping districts” in Manila like Divisoria and Greenhills but be wary when visiting. While the prices are cheap, it can be really, really crowded.
This also a favorite spot for most petty criminals plus some sellers tend to ask for bigger prices from foreigners.
If you plan on visiting, make sure to bring only the essentials, be aware of your surroundings, and bring a Filipino friend to help you haggle down most prices.
5. Explore outside of the city
If ever you find yourself stuck in Manila for more days than you intend to, feel free to explore outside of the city and into the nearby provinces.
Get yourself a Manila tourist attractions map if you want to make a do-it-yourself day tour.
There are also Bunk 502 nice spots for mountain climbing, swimming, diving, and surfing just a few hours away.
Here are our recommendations:
Good spot for: Diving, Beach Bumming, Day hikes
Travel time: 3-4 hours from Manila
Mt. Gulugod Baboy (Hiking for beginners, Beach)
Pico de Loro (Hike)
Mt. Batulao (Hike)
Laiya (Beach Bumming)
Good spot for: Day hikes
Travel time: 3-4 hours from Manila
Good spot for: Day hikes, Nature Trips
Travel time: 3-4 hours from Manila
Good spot for: Surfing, Beach bumming, Chill nightlife
Travel time: 4-6 hours from Manila
Urbiztondo (Surfing, Nightlife)
San Fernando (Surfing, Nightlife)
Tangadan Falls (Hike)
Tips for traveling in Manila
One of the biggest challenges in Manila is transportation.
Aside from the heavy traffic, most transportation systems are inefficient, with buses and trains spilling with crowd trying to get to one place to another.
While there isn’t much that can be done, there are still a few things that you can do to make the most out of your trip to Manila.
Here are some of our tried and tested tips that you can use when you visit this bustling city.
1. Grab App
Grab is a cab / carpool / car hailing app that’s almost similar to Uber.
You can book a ride going from one place to another without worrying that your driver is overcharging for your fare. For additional convenience, you can also easily connect the app to your credit card but you also have an option to pay in cash.
Are you a daredevil who’s interested to roam around the streets of Manila on a motorbike?
Then Angkas App is for you. You can use it to book motorbikes (like Uber!) and a driver will pick you up and bring you to your destination.
Just be sure that you’re prepared for the ride: traffic and driving in Manila is way different than most places and this kind of experience might not be the best for everyone.
3. Take advantage of P2P Buses
Want to save some fare going to one place to another? You can check out P2P Buses or Point-to-Point buses.
Fares are just around USD 1.50 to 2, depending on the place that you’re going, plus the buses are fairly new and not crowded.
You can find these buses on most major malls in Manila or even at the airport. Make sure to check schedules and pick-up places online before trying it out, though.
4. Use Maps.Me
Internet is slow in the Philippines and WiFi isn’t always available. Make sure to stay on track on where you’re going by downloading maps that can be accessible offline.
You can use apps like maps.me, which is totally free of charge.
5. Buy a local SIM card
As mentioned, internet is not always readily available, so you if you want to, you can buy cheap prepaid cards in most stores in Manila.
There are also available internet promos that you can take advantage of, with rates as low as USD 1 for 3 days of internet.
Travel safely in Manila
Manila is probably no more dangerous than your next destination.
While it’s a safe place to visit, but be sure to be on the look for petty criminals and pickpockets especially on crowded areas.
Here are some helpful tips that you can follow to keep yourself safe while traveling in this busy city:
Stay alert especially on crowded areas
Keep your valuables near to you or leave them at your hostel if you’re going out to party (bringing important things and getting drunk / tipsy may not be the best combination).
If you’re about to have your money changed, make sure to double check and count your money before leaving the counter.
It’s best to have these changed in malls or banks rather than small money changers along shanty streets. Better be safe than sorry.
Kalesas (two-wheeled horse-drawn cart) drivers in Manila are known for overcharging tourists and foreigners. Make sure to agree to a price for your ride beforehand and be sure to inform them that the price is for the whole ride and not per person.
When riding a taxi, make sure to tell your driver that you are going to pay by the meter and not a contract price. Most drivers would ask for ‘contract’ prices which are way too big than the usual rates.
You can also opt to use Grab, a ride hailing app, that gives fixed rates upon booking.
It’s always best to know where your embassy is located. Just in case of emergencies.
There might be a few things that may worry you, but don’t let it stop you from enjoying your trip. Be alert, stay aware, and have fun!
Manila only has one airport, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), but it has four different terminals.
Chances are, you may land in NAIA 2 or 3, but if you are flying out to domestic destinations, you may be asked to board in a different terminal.
Take note that these terminals are a few minutes away from each other and it would usually require you to take a shuttle / taxi for transfers.
We enjoy Omio.com and Kiwi.com to find cheap flights all over Asia including Manila, Bangkok and more. This new website has super cool features like a so-called radius search. Just draw a circle over Asia and find the cheapest rates for the area.
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Your Smart Packing List
It is time to see what you should pack in your backpack or suitcase. Make sure you always pick a quality hostel, it totally reduces the things you need to pack. Here is our ultimate hostel packing list. It features 23 items you should really throw in your backpack.