For our 5-day Singapore and Malaysia trip, we booked an outgoing flight from Clark instead of NAIA (Manila) International Airport.
Aside from the cheaper airfare, I was also interested to visit the Clark International Airport for the first time. The Clark Airport is the closest thing the Philippines has to a low cost carrier terminal, particularly because the it operates as the international hub of some budget airlines.
If the airfare was the same, flying out of Clark would definitely be more of an inconvenience taking into account the 3-hour drive from Manila and the negligible difference in airport fees.
Still, it was a great experience to transit through the Clark Airport. It was a glimpse into the future since the Clark Airport is being planned as the long term replacement of NAIA.
First view of the Clark International Airport
Manila to Clark
We had the pleasure of driving to Clark thanks to our brother-in-law. Travel time from Manila via the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) took two hours and 40 minutes.
Commuting to Clark should take 2-3 hours or more depending on traffic conditions. Philtranco bus line has a direct service to Clark International Airport from SM Megamall or their terminals at Pasay and Cubao (P300 bus fare from Pasay and P350 from SM Megamall/Cubao)
Clark, an Air Force City in the Philippines
Clark International Airport
Clark International Airport (more formally known as the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport) is located at the Clark Freeport Zone, which in turn is situated within the boundaries of Angeles City, Pampanga. This former US military air base can be found approximately 64 kilometers north of Metro Manila.
The Philippine Government is planning to transform Clark International Airport as the main international gateway of the country. I actually agree to having a long term replacement of NAIA. It would be better to have an airport isolated from the towering high-rises of Metro Manila.
For this to happen, a high speed mass raid transit system should be built between Clark and Manila. This part will take a loooong time to materialize knowing how slow government projects take to finish. I have a strong feeling NAIA will still be the primary gateway for at least another decade.
Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) Passenger Terminal
Construction works at the DMIA Passenger Terminal
Flight Check-in at Clark Airport
We checked-in for our flight to Singapore three hours before scheduled departure. The terminal fee for international flights was a bit cheaper at P600. Philippine Travel Tax (for outbound Philippine passport holders) was the same at P1,620.
The Philippine immigration officers did not give us any inconvenience. I noticed it was easier going through the immigration counters if traveling on a group.
One odd thing I noticed was the lack of free WiFi at the pre-departure area. You’d think that after paying the terminal fee, passengers should get to enjoy complimentary WiFi internet. Unfortunately, WiFi access was only limited to the check-in area.
Clark to Singapore Flight
We boarded the plane at 11:40nn (30 minutes before departure). Coming out of the temporary boarding gate, it was my first time seeing the full view of the Clark International Airport. The glass walls look good! not as good as the Iloilo Airport, in my opinion, but still leagues ahead compared to most Philippine airports (especially Terminal 1 of NAIA).
Clark International Airport Passenger Terminal
View of Mt. Arayat from the runway
At 12:10nn, we already up in the air. It was my first time seeing aerial views of this side of Luzon Island.
North Luzon Expressway (NLEX) interchange. Mabalacat exchange?
Aerial view of Clark Freeport Zone
Aerial view of Clark International Airport (Clark Air Base)
Yokohama Tire Philippines
SM City Pampanga, the largest mall in Central Luzon
Arrival in Changi International Airport, Singapore
Three hours and thirty minutes later, we were already in the territory of the Lion City. As you could imagine, we started getting really excited to start our adventure in Singapore when the Changi Airport came into view.
Aerial of Changi Airport Budget Terminal
Changi Airport Terminal 1
Changi Airport Terminal 2
Changi Airport Control Tower
Changi Airport Runway
Taxiing to the budget terminal
Singapore Changi Budget Terminal
There are 4 passenger terminals at the Changi Airport in Singapore. The budget terminal looked very basic, which is expected for a low cost carrier terminal. I do like the green views from the glass windows and the spacious halls.
Even though it was only a budget terminal, the experience was pleasant because of the convenient arrival procedures.
Passageway to the Immigration Counters
Changi Free Shuttle Service Pick-up Point
Changi Airport Budget Terminal Shuttle
After boarding out of the plane, we walked directly to the Singapore immigration counters. We presented the white colored arrival card that we filled out during the flight. After the officer “stamped” our passport, we went through the luggage claim area and headed to the currency exchange booth.
We only exchanged a fraction of our money to Singapore dollars (S$). We thought we’d get a better deal if we exchange most of our money at the city center.
Exiting the arrival area, there was a free shuttle service right outside the terminal. We were headed for the Changi Airport MRT station located at the basement level between terminal 2 and 3.