Last fact-checked: 20 March 2020
If you have been considering cosmetic surgery or aesthetic treatments but are put off by the high prices at home, then plastic surgery in Manila, the vibrant Philippines' capital, could present a much more affordable solution.
Discover more about traveling to Manila as a medical tourist, including what kinds of treatments are available, how much you can save, what to expect when you're there, as well as how to find and book at a quality-checked facility through Medical Departures.
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. Thanks to a growing number of world-class clinics and hospitals offering all kinds of plastic surgery procedures (many of which we have partnered with), it has become a prime medical tourism destination for patients from all over the world.
Known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient’, Manila is situated on the island of Luzon at the mouth of the River Pasig, which flows into Manila Bay. It is a famously large and congested city, and while poverty does exist in some neighbourhoods, it does offer upscale areas home to quality hospitals, high-end malls, fine-dining restaurants and rooftop bars and five-star hotels.
The city is affordable in terms of both the cost of plastic surgery and cosmetic treatments, as well as day-to-day living and accommodation expenses. In the Philippines, most of the population speaks English, so you won't face any communication problems.
Manila is located on the eastern shore of the Philippines, just off the coast overlooking the South China Sea. The city is the political, financial and business capital of the country.
Some examples of the cost of plastic surgery procedures in Manila:
Breast enlargement in Manila: average cost AUD 4,000 - compared to AUD 16,500 in Australia.
Eyelid/Eye bag removal surgery in Manila: average cost AUD 1,500 - compared to AUD 8,000 in Australia.
Facelift in Manila: average cost: AUD 3,500 - compared to AUD $25,000 in Australia
The Medical Facilities:
Medical facilities in Manila are located all over the city. No matter where you stay, you will find clinics reasonably close by. It is also home to some top-end hospitals that do all kinds of procedures and treatments, including plastic surgery and cosmetic treatments. The Philippines has at least four hospitals accredited with the Joint Commission International (JCI).
The Doctor Training and Qualifications:
Doctors undergo extensive training before obtaining their degree(s). Prospective surgeons have to have initially studied certain subjects like biology, medical technology, pharmacy, psychology or other science subjects; then, they have to pass a national medical exam with a high percentage to qualify for medical school.
Mandatory medical courses last four years, after which a student receives an M.D. degree. After this, a one-year internship is compulsory. Budding doctors have to sit for a licensure examination and only if they pass can practice. Speciality and subspeciality studies then follow and take many years - a residency program can take three to six years.
Medical Departures ensures that this whole qualification process has been followed to a tee by each and every doctor and surgeon we work with in the Philippines.
The Tourist Locations for Pre and Post-op Recovery:
Manila has numerous high-end hotels, resorts and chain hotels. You can also find budget accommodations, though the rates at good quality hotels are also very reasonable. You may want to stay close to the sea (from where you can do a little bit of island-hopping via boat) or you may want to stay in the city centre if your clinic or hospital is closer.
When you do your hotel booking check that all the amenities you require are available and also see the local transport options from your hotel to the hospital and to other attractions you may want to see. Many hospitals and clinics also arrange the services of a personal caregiver or nurse to meet your post-surgery requirements and these are at reasonable rates.
Manila is quite safe, but you should always be careful when visiting crowded areas where pickpockets may operate. Always keep your valuables in the hotel and carry very little cash with you.
Common sense will go a long way in ensuring your own safety here - or in any other unfamiliar city around the world; don’t indulge in risky behavior and take precautions as you would do in any big and unknown city. The country, in general, has a low tourist crime rate.
Doctors in the Philippines study a great deal for a long time. They are well educated and trained, so you need have no fears regarding their qualifications and training. However, surgery has some risks wherever you elect to have it done in the world, and no procedure can ever be guaranteed completely, simply because we are all different and our bodies react differently. However, you can mitigate any problems by choosing clinics and doctors with verifiable credentials.
Booking with Medical Departures:
Medical Departures always carries out due diligence before listing clinics and hospitals. All the clinics and hospitals listed with Medical Departures are trustworthy and reliable having been pre-screened by us. Our checks include:
When booking treatment at a reputable provider, the chances of anything going wrong is incredibly low. However, if there is any problem whatsoever, perhaps one that arises from an unforeseen medical complication, then Medical Departures will be here to help and sort out the problem.
For added safety and your peace of mind, you can purchase extra medical insurance to cover any additional and unexpected costs, so you will not be out of pocket for extra medical care, stay and flights if you have to travel back to see your surgeon. For a small additional cost we think this is something that is well worth taking out.
Around 90% of Filipinos speak English. Doctors study in the language and you will not have any communication problem with locals anywhere in the country.
You should have no payment problems paying with an international credit or debit card. Alternatively you may want to use wire transfer or any other international payment option. You should carry some local currency or you can get your money changed at the airport for small cash expenses, gratuity, tips, local transport and purchases at small shops, stalls and markets. Almost all items and expenses can be paid for with an international credit or debit card.
All medical facilities are open throughout the year so you can actually make a trip any time. However, as Manila is in the tropical belt and if you plan to be outdoors, you need to check which time of the year will be most comfortable for you. The Philippines is prone to a lot of rain and even typhoons, so you should avoid that time. From December to May the risk of typhoons is low. During the winter months, the weather is relatively better, cooler and drier.
During March through May, the weather can be quite hot and even humid and you may find it uncomfortable, though Manila is near the sea, so it does not get scorching. However, December to February is cool and pleasant. This is also peak season, so prices will be on the higher side, though the Philippines as a whole is relatively cheap.
The major downside of getting plastic surgery done in Manila is that, obviously, you are not at home, so you may well feel out of your comfort zone. Apart from that, there is really no downside as long as you are mentally prepared to go to a foreign country for medical procedures, which you would not be able to afford otherwise.
If you are having a major procedure done, then it is best to travel with a companion who can take care of you or handle any problems if they occur or just be there for you, for emotional and moral support.
After a major surgery, you may be required to spend one or two nights in the hospital, so you should be prepared for that as well. For minor procedures or if you only need local anesthesia you will be allowed to leave the clinic as soon as you are mobile. At the same time, if you require additional help, you can hire a private nurse or attendant from the hospital or clinic at affordable rates and this person can take better medical care of you.
The upside of plastic surgery in Manila is that you can afford to stay in a nice hotel, you can choose the hotel and the hospital and you will be well taken care of in both.
Simply put, there is so much to see and do in Manila! With a rich and diverse cultural history, you have a mix of the old and new to see with a splendid blend of both Asian and European influences, which can especially be seen in the architecture and food.
It is a predominantly Catholic country so it has lots of churches to see, with great architecture. The San Agustin Church is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is worth a visit. You can also visit museums, cathedrals, parks, take in shows or go for a sunset dinner cruise.
Manila has a vast number of restaurants, cafes and eateries, ranging from high-end fine dining, restaurants in star hotels, clubs, bars and cafes as well as small roadside eateries, hawker stalls and street food. There are many Filipino must-try delicacies that are available only locally and for the refined palate there is local fusion cuisine as well.
You are spoilt for shopping options at Manila from high-end large malls like SM (the SM Mall in the Manila Bay area is the third biggest in the world) Greenbelt, Glorietta or others. Be warned these are huge places and it would be virtually impossible to go through an entire mall in a day. For instance, the SM Mall has an IMAX theatre, Science Discovery Center, Ice Rink, Bowling Alley, shops and restaurants apart from other attractions. You can also visit local flea markets and shops.
Every month there is some festival or other and people celebrate with gusto. If you are there in December, then check out the Marikina Christmas festival that is held in three areas of the city and has markets, amusement parks, fireworks and food. In December as well is the Sapatero Festival that focuses only on shoes made in the Philippines. At other times of the year, you'll find music and book festivals, religious festivals and more.
Those with a little more time to spare can also head out of the city and visit one (or a few) or the Philippines stunning tropical islands, beaches and holiday resorts, with many reachable via a quick flight. from the capital.
In case you are in Manila for major surgery that will entail rest and recuperation before heading back home, then you should plan to get in your activities before your surgery. If you are having only a minor procedure, then you can plan your holiday accordingly. For those not sure about what they will and won't be able to do in the city after surgery, do consult your surgeon who will be able to provide useful advice.
Manila’s airport is the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. It services most international airlines and is the major international airport in the Philippines. Manila also has a smaller airport on its outskirts called Clark, which is mostly used by low-cost carriers.
Approximate flight times from other destinations to Manila
The actual time to reach your destination will vary and depend on the number of stopovers and the layover time. Some of the approximate flight times to reach Manila from different destinations are:
Los Angeles – 12 hours 40 minutes
New York – 18 hours
Toronto – 17 hours
Osaka – 4 hours
Frankfurt – 14 hours
London – 15 hours
Sydney – 8 hours
Auckland – 14 hours
Traveling around the city is relatively easy because taxis are available quite easily. However, "easy" doesn't necessarily mean quick; Manila has some of the worst traffic in the world, so do try to avoid rush hours and leave early when travelling large distances across the city in a taxi. You should try to go by meter and resist paying a fixed charge.
Local buses and rail (LRT and MRT, three different lines) are also available and are reasonably priced. You can also get Jeepneys, shuttle vans and pedicabs.
Nationals from the UK, Canada, the US, Australia and EU days can stay for a month without a visa, provided they have a return ticket and passport validity of six months. If you plan to stay longer then you can apply locally or apply for a longer visa from your home country. If you are coming from another country then it is best to check whether or not you require a visa before arrival.
Please note that visa requirements are subject to change. Check the Philippines' official visa requirement status here.
To get started, browse our full list of verified clinics in Manila here - and see what procedures are available, prices, surgeon profiles, patient reviews and more.
Book your free appointment directly through our site or contact us to get a no-obligation quote for plastic surgery in Manila. Our Customer Care Team can also help you with other aspects that'll make your trip to the Philippines as smooth as possible, including insurance, financing, hotel booking and more.
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Philippine Immigration. The Republic of Philippines Bureau of Immigration. 2020.
Joint Commission International. Website accessed: 20 March 2020.
How Many Islands Are There In The Philippines? World Atlas. Website accessed: 20 March 2020.
Carpenter, William. Philippines: A Friendly Country for English Speakers. Investopedia. 19 August 2019.
Escalona, Katrina. The 21 Most Beautiful Islands in the Philippines. The Culture Trip. 9 August 2018.
Applying for a Philippine Visa. Embassy of the Philippines. Website accessed: 20 March 2020.
Dumlao, Artemio. 5 Philippine cities among 10 safest in Southeast Asia. The Philippine Star. 8 April 2018.
Manila. Lonely Planet. Website accessed: 20 March 2020.
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