Understanding Metro Manila

Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR) is the commercial, industrial, and financial center of the Philippines. It is composed of the following areas:

  • Manila (the capital)
  • Municipality of Pateros
  • Cities:
    Quezon City
    Las Piñas
    San Juan

Metro Manila is also the location of the country’s main international airports and the gateway to most provinces in the Philippines.

Many say that Metro Manila is very difficult to navigate especially if you’re a tourist. I would agree to that because information is very disorganized. Though there have been attempts to inform the public about the Metro, updates are rare and information eventually expires.

Adding to the problem is the fact that there are millions of people living in Metro Manila. Every corner seems to be very congested because of the number of houses and establishments.

But population aside, Metro Manila is not that big (613.9 km²). And going from one place to another is easy as long as you familiarize yourself with the city and the transportation routes.

Let me help you understand Metro Manila by showing you what it looks like.

This is a photo from the Metro Manila City Atlas book.

MM cityatlas

Looking at the map, these are the districts you have to take note of because you’ll find hostels, provincial bus stations, tourist destinations and the airports in these areas:

  • Quezon City – North (location of most provincial buses)
  • Makati City – Central (location of most backpackers hostels)
  • Taguig – East (the location of the famous shopping center called BGC)
  • Manila – West (the “Old Manila” district where most tourist destinations are)
  • Pasay – South (location of the airports)
  • Paranaque – South (location of a few hostels)

To make it clearer, here’s the Wikipedia version of the map:

MM wikipedia

Not visible on both maps is EDSA (Epifanio de los Santos Avenue). It is the main road that connects the north area to the south, and it intersects with other roads that lead to the west and the east. In Google Maps, you will see it as the “Pan-Philippine Highway”.

To show you where EDSA lies, here’s the Google map data:

EDSA Google Map.png

*EDSA is that red line drawn on the map

EDSA is important because:

  • In the middle of EDSA, there is a train line called the MRT or the Manila Metro Rail Transit System. It runs from Quezon City in the North all the way to Pasay in the South, which allows you to make a stop in important areas to access public transportation hubs.
This is the MRT track. It’s in the middle of a big avenue known as EDSA. Photo courtesy of Nukie Timtiman
  • Along EDSA, there are various bus stops where you can ride or disembark from a public metro bus.

Though locals don’t usually say “we’re going south” or “heading north” because we specify the place or destination if we want to go somewhere, it’s still important to familiarize yourself with Metro Manila and where its cities or districts are located.

Read this to know the different types of transportation running in Metro Manila
Read this to understand how to commute in and around Metro Manila
Read this to stay safe in Metro Manila

*All map images in this particular page are not mine and I included them here for information purposes only*