Internet is somewhat inexpensive in the Philippines, but any chance to get free public WiFi access, we’ll gladly want to know more of. It’s a good thing free WiFi is not a rarity especially here in Metro Manila. Usually the first and almost-fail-proof place to go to when in search for free WiFi is to just go to Metro Manila’s endless list of supermalls as they usually offer free WiFi mall-wide, just ask the friendly security guard or concierge to see if there is one or look for the familiar “Free WiFi” sign installed on the entry doors.
If in case they don’t have it, go inside the mall and look for a coffee shop – most of the time they have it (although there are cases where WiFi is nada or offered for a fee) – when you’re in desperate need for internet right now, this route is definitely worth trying. Other than that, here are some of the best places where you can get free WiFi (plus tips and tricks) in Manila and other cities in the Philippines.
Free Airport WiFi
Possibly the first thing you will do when you arrive at Manila airport terminals is to turn on your smartphone’s WiFi signal and look for free WiFi, because of course, you wouldn’t want to miss out on those social media updates or less excitingly, those dreaded work emails. You will also want to immediately connect with people back at home to let them know you’ve safely arrived, book an Uber or Grab ride, and contact friends outside the airport through apps such as Messenger, Viber, Whatsapp, or Line, all popularly used here in the Philippines.
When arriving at or departing from Manila’s airport terminals, just turn on your device’s WiFi and you’re sure to find free WiFi access all over the airport, most likely to have the keywords NAIA, MNL, Manila, Free, WiFi, Globe, and Smart in its hotspot name. Just connect to it, accept the terms and conditions, and you’re connected.
Mall-wide WiFi access
Pinoys are known for having a “mall culture” and the mall operators certainly know that and bank on this “culture” even more by offering free WiFi mall-wide as an answer to Metro Manila’s intense mall competition. After all, there are a number of malls options near you anywhere you are in the metro so these mall operators scramble to give mall-goers another valid reason to go their place instead.
Your hotel room better have free WiFi
The bigger and more established the hotel is, the more likely you’re gonna get free WiFi – if you’re staying with them, that is. Manila hotels have long been giving free WiFi access to its guests, so it’s already more of a default and it is pretty much expected for hotels to provide free access because customers have long been used to it. When booking, check beforehand if the hotel you want offers free WiFi because if not, definitely you can find better “connected” options in the same area.
Internet is also free aboard P2P Buses
Not to be confused with the regular commuter buses, P2P (Point-to-Point) buses which run at limited (for now) and fixed routes across the metro provides free WiFi access to onboard commuters. P2P buses are easily recognizable from the other bus types: P2P buses have designated point-to-point stops and they look cleaner, newer, bigger, and yellow-er. Aside from the P2P buses, premium provincial long-distance buses heading in and out of Manila offer free WiFi, too.
Coffee = free internet at coffee shops
Same as with most hotels in Manila, it is expected for coffee shops across the city to have some form of internet access for patrons, whether paid or not, fast or slow, or in between. Even newly opened cafes would make sure to offer WiFi to its guests because it’s believed that not having it would be a deal-breaker, especially since a lot of customers would come for the coffee AND the internet anyway. There are tons of hip and trendy cafes offering local brews all over the city that it’s easy to find one near you (especially in financial districts), but if you just want to be more on the sure-er side of getting WiFI, just go to the nearest Starbucks and ask if they have free WiFi (differs with each Starbucks branch). Given all this and just so you’re aware, note that with all those cafes offering free WiFi, you’re sure to find few ones that not offer any sort of internet option at all.
“Juan, Konek!” free public WiFi
The government has been pushing its efforts to increase the public’s access to the interwebs in public spaces, and one of the results of this is the “Juan, Konek!” free public WiFi. Through this you can get free WiFi access in Metro Manila public transportation terminals such as the MRT, LRT, and PNR train stations. You can get instant internet access without registering, but you’ll get more free data if you register. Read our guide to the “Juan, Konek!” free public WiFi to find out how to connect.
MNLgo Tip: It goes without saying but we’ll say it anyway. Free charging stations are a rare sight in the city, except of course your hotel room and the airport and cafes (the latter two you have to be lucky to find a vacant outlet especially during rush hours – in these cases having your own portable outlet extender would be a great idea), so make sure to bring your own portable battery charger for when you run out of juice. Also never forget to always have your charger cables with you but in case you do not have it, the mall is your go to place to buy one. Other than that, if you’re really out of juice and you’re too desperate to charge, then try to ask the wait staff at the restaurant you’re eating at in a very polite and friendly tone and see if they can do something for you (no guarantee though). 🙂
Final Words & free WiFi alternatives
Because free WiFi is, well, free anyway, optimal service is not guaranteed. Some offer sluggish internet while others are real fast, some you can surf for hours while others limit your free access to an hour or so, so free WiFi might only be suitable if you just wanted to quickly book a ride or check cinema schedules and not when you are working on an important deadline. Relying on free WiFi could also mean you being stuck at that place for as long as you need internet and that you can only check websites and not key in private information as we all know that data can be passed through public WiFis.
Depending on your need, sometimes it might be better to just get your own pocket WiFi and connect your devices to it anywhere you are, especially if you’re traveling different parts of the metro and the Philippines. Pocket WiFis are not too expensive and you can bring them with you anywhere, after all. Having your own prepaid SIM (or travel SIM, if you’re here for a short term travel) would be another alternative and it lets you make calls/text on top of browsing the net.