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Living in Manila

Living in Manila is a dream for many expats who hope to settle down in the Philippines. After all, life in Manila, the country’s culture and business hub, is as diverse as it is exciting. Read our guide on Manila and find out more about healthcare and transportation in the Philippine capital.
Eating your vegetables is just one way of staying healthy while living in Manila.
  • Manila is rich in history and culture and is home to many sights. The historical San Augustin Church in Intramuros is certainly a must-see.
  • Manila has high-quality hospitals available for expats, but a down payment is usually required.
  • Driving in Manila is far from easy, so taxis and buses are cheap alternatives.

Religion in Manila: Predominantly Christian

More than 90% of people living in the Philippines, including the capital, are Christian, the vast majority of them being Roman Catholic. The strong influence of the Christian faith in the city dates back to the Spanish rule. This is also reflected in the fact that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila is the biggest church in the entire country, with offices located at the Minor Basilica of Immaculate Conception.

As you can imagine, living in Manila as a devout Catholic is fairly carefree. The city is home to an abundance of churches, four of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, including the San Augustin Church in Intramuros, which is also a popular wedding choice. The city is home to other faiths too, of course. Buddhist and Taoist temples are scattered all over the city, particularly in Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown. Mosques, Hindu temples, and Sikh temples are available as well.

The Place to Go for Culture and Museums

Manila is also a major hub for cultural events and home to many museums. For instance, millions of devotees come to the city each year to celebrate the Feast of the Black Nazarene. In addition, Manila Day is observed each year on 24 June, as each district throws its own fiesta.

Bahay Tsinoy, one of the city’s most important museums, exhibits documentations of Chinese influences on life in Manila. A few blocks away, the Intramuros Light and Sound Museum chronicles life during the Philippine Revolution at the end of the 19th century, and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila is the place to go if you wish to learn more about Filipino arts and culture. You should have no trouble leading a rich cultural life in Manila.

Healthcare Coverage Not Widely Available

As you prepare for living in Manila, you should take the time to ensure you have sufficient healthcare coverage. As vibrant as life in Manila may be, the out-of-pocket spending on medical services has increased significantly in recent years, while government spending has been in decline. At this point, people living in Manila pay half of their medical costs themselves.

Healthcare coverage is rather low, as less than half of the population is covered. However, public health insurance does not guarantee you financial protection or high-quality medical services. The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PHIC), which is responsible for public healthcare, offers only limited benefits. The medical costs covered by the PHIC haven’t increased much since 1995, and more often than not patients end up having to cover the remaining expenses.

Doctors and Hospitals in Manila

Unlike people in some other parts of the Philippine archipelago, expats living in Manila benefit from well-equipped, highquality hospitals and medical centers. Most of the city’s hospitals, however, require a down payment when you are admitted. Similarly, you will need to pay your medical bills before you take your leave. You can settle the bills with your health insurance company at a later point for reimbursement. Make sure to inquire whether your insurance provider will cover all healthcare costs.

 The most popular hospitals among expats living in Manila are:

Be on the Safe Side

When living in Manila, although it is a relatively modern and well-developed city, you should always keep in mind that various infectious diseases are always a concern in Southeast Asia, particularly food- and water-borne diseases such as bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever, as well as mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, and Japanese encephalitis.

Aside from diseases, the Philippines are prone to natural disasters. Typhoons and other weather conditions are common threats in the country. Manila frequently suffers from extreme flooding, for instance. Luckily, the city was spared from the catastrophic typhoon damage in November 2013, but several tropical cyclones do hit the country every year.

In fact, the Philippines are at the top of the list of countries affected by natural disasters. So, you should make sure to always stay safe and to take the necessary precautions. For example, do not forget to register with your embassy! In the event of a storm or flood, this will make it much easier for you to get assistance. 


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jacques Paillard

"All expatriates in my company joined InterNations because it really helped me get accustomed to my new life in Manila. "

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

"The idea of getting to know other expats in Manila was very appealing to me, and I've greatly expanded my network in the Philippines. "

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