If you’re planning to visit Manila for the first time, knowing the basics when it comes to money will make your trip a lot easier, and more enjoyable.
There’s always plenty to think about when you’re traveling to a new place for the first time. As a tourist, you need to consider a lot more than just which food you want to fill your face with and which bar to boogie in in the evenings; you’ll also need to consider where you stay, how you’ll get around, and how to get to grips with the basics like phone data and especially- how to take care of your money.
We’ve taken the guess work out of it by compiling this basic guide with essential advice for first-time travelers on money in Manila. Here’s what you need to know:
The local currency in Manila is the Philippine Peso; as a general rule of thumb, one US Dollar is around 50 pesos. A smart move for any traveler who isn’t so good at their fast maths is to download the XE Currency Converter app (which is free) and keep it handy whenever you’re unsure how much you’re being charged for something.
How to Get Money in Manila
When arriving in the Philippines, there are two ways you can get your hands on some local currency; either bring cash with you, or access it through a local ATM. If you bring cash, you are likely to get the best deal if you are exchanging US Dollars as opposed to a less widely used foreign currency; you’ll also be able to exchange US Dollars in more places.
Exchanging Money in Manila at the Airport vs. Outside
When it comes to exchanging money at the airport, be warned, you’re almost invariably never going to get a good exchange rate. The rate will be marginally less horrific if you are exchanging USD, but it’s still not going to be as low as somewhere else outside the airport, so you’re better off finding somewhere else.
Using the ATM to Take Out Money in Manila
The other option is to take money out of your international account through a local ATM. Most ATMs in Manila will service any Visa or Mastercard, so if you have a card from a big international provider then you shouldn’t have a problem. Of course, you should always check with your bank first to see what their international fees are, but in general, ATMs in Manila tend to give a very reasonable exchange rate.
What to do if Your Card Doesn’t Work
If you find yourself in an emergency situation where your card doesn’t work and you can’t access your money, don’t panic. There are always other solutions! Rule number one when traveling abroad: stay cool, no matter the situation.
One of the most popular and fail-safe solutions for accessing money from your bank account is to use Western Union. WU is a money transfer service that allows people (or in some cases, banks) to send money to each other through any of the local Western Union branches. The branches are located in every major city and (even many big towns) all over the world; Manila has many branches.
You have two options thereafter; either ask a friend or family member to wire you money through Western Union, or call up your bank and let them know your situation- they will be able to send you money in Manila directly from your account, which you will then be able to collect at your nearest Western Union branch.
Have you had any experiences with money in Manila that you would like to share? If it happened to you, it’s relevant to other travelers- feel free to share your stories in the comments section.