By Draper Startup House

Metropolitan Manila at night


“Of all the cities in the Philippines, why Manila?” If you are curious to find out, our travel guide provides great insights to answer not only your questions or doubts, but also, providing heaps of essential tips and guides that will serve you with clear strategic direction critical for setting a business in Manila. Ready to become a successful entrepreneur?

Our team at Draper Startup House Manila is here to support your entrepreneurial journey in what’s nicknamed as “The Pearl of the Orient” and giving you the Filipino’s renowned brand of hospitality.”


Before traveling, prepare yourself for the new normal. Make sure to plan ahead and this applies to everyone, be it locals or foreign travelers. Always check the Flatten the Curve website for more information on travel restrictions to the Philippines. Stay informed and purchase essentials such as travel and health insurance from providers such as Safetywing Nomad insurance and Safetywing Remote health insurance to protect yourself should there be the unfortunate situation where you’d need to undergo testing and treatment.


Manila ranks 36th among the world’s top 100 emerging startup ecosystems, providing opportunities for early-stage startups to scale and go global.

According to the Startup Genome’s 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report, local fintech transactions amounted to $5.7 billion and are expected to hit $10.5 billion by 2022. It ranks 5th in the activation ecosystem for connectedness, quality of local relationships, as well as in exit growth index. Moreover, Manila was 6th around the world in output growth and 9th in funding growth.

But there’s more! About 7-8% of the economy’s growth is generated from infrastructure projects. Setup and labor costs are also affordable, this is why companies in countries such as Canada, the United States, and Australia have set up offices in Manila, making it one of the global leaders in Business Process Outsourcing. Excited yet?

Manila for you means:

  1. Ease of expansion with other potential businesses and collaborators
  2. Fast technological efficiency enabling creative solutions
  3. Diversity in human capital
  4. Qualified workers at an affordable cost
  5. High emphasis on building and empowering both global and local startup ecosystem
  6. Heighted manpower without compromising cost nor quality

Or, check out the Startup Genome for more information.


The Philippines is a melting pot of cultures. They say Filipinos “party like Latins, do business like Americans, and have the entrepreneurial spirit of Asians!” And we 100% agree! Diversity is innate, but first things first, we need to understand the basics of setting up a business in Manila.

Metro Manila: What people commonly refer to as Manila is actually a metropolis consisting of 16 cities and 1 town. The City of Manila, the country’s capital, is one of those 16 cities.

Language: The official languages are Filipino and English.

Currency: The local currency is called Philippine Peso. If you are visiting from outside the country, the best places for currency exchange are at Licensed Money Chargers since the rates are 10-20% lower than banks.

Buildings in Manila, The Philippines

Payments: Credit cards are widely accepted and mobile payments are gaining traction. Therefore, you can choose from many popular payment gateways such as; Dragonpay, Paymongo, Ipay88, Paynamics, Pesopay, Bancnet, and mobile wallets such as Gcash, Paymaya, and

Climate: There are two seasons – dry and rainy. Dry season is from December – May while the rainy season is from June – November.

Banks: We suggest following banks; Unionbank, Security Bank, and BDO.

Tax and Legal Partners: When it comes to legal and tax help, it can be tough to find the right partners. It usually takes time to build trust and to know who can provide you with credible information for your business. But here are some of the country’s trusted organizations to help you with your legal concerns and tax filings; Taxumo, LexMeet, and Enter PH.

Startup Visa: The Department of Foreign Affairs in the Philippines (DFA) grants three types of startup visas as follows:

  • Startup Owner Visa
  • Startup Employee Visa
  • Startup Investor Visa

For foreign owners, you would be required to take an endorsement from a host agency. Then you can get the visa which is valid for 5 years which can be renewed or extended after 3 years. For more details check out here.

A Jeepney in Manila


Top Travel Tip: Most modes of transportation don’t carry a fixed price, so hone your haggling skills.

Other Warnings:

  • Do not accept private vehicle rides from strangers
  • Do not hitchhike, it is too risky
  • Be aware of your surroundings

Wondering whether is it even safe to travel? Here are Manila’s most common modes of transport and we will tell you the pros and cons of taking each.

Jeepneys: It is a fun and unique option that is only available in the Philippines originally made from military jeeps left by the U.S. military after World War II. However, we don’t recommend it for a newbie lone tourist traveling in Manila. Check out our other tips about crime in the Philippines and how to avoid it.

Private Transfer: Taking private transfers will cost you more but it is a much safer option than riding from a random stop by. You can book private airport transfers through Bookaway (to Makati only) or Klook.

Taxis: Our personal recommendation would be traveling by taxis as it is safe, metered, and inexpensive for foreign travelers. Do not ride taxis with broken or no meters or if by any chance you ride one with a tampered meter, please report it to authorities. Choose Grab or Angkas for the most convenient travel experience in the metro and even if you don’t have a smartphone or data/wifi connectivity, Grab booths can be found almost everywhere.

Buses: There are buses and minibuses operating around the city. It is the cheapest mode of transportation to get you across the metro but some drivers have a reputation of racing other buses to get more passengers.

Looking for more and other ways of transport? Check out Manila transport guide.


As a foreigner or expats, setting up a business can be challenging as there are strict regulations that you should know and follow. The good news is that it can be relatively easy if you understand how the government works. You don’t need $75,000 for an investment visa — far from it. In fact, you can start a business in the Philippines for as little as $125 (Henderson, 2020).

Affordable Cost of Living:
Compared to any other metropolitan city, living in Manila is comparatively affordable. Check out the latest cost of living to help plan your budget in advance.

Venture Capital:
The following are Manila’s most prominent Venture Capitalists that can help you turn your creative ideas into viable projects and startups.

  1. Draper Startup House Ventures is a global syndicate created for the sole purpose of helping entrepreneurs receive better access to funding while helping to cultivate a network of entrepreneurial growth.
  2. Kickstart Ventures (Ayala) exists to fund early stage innovation.
  3. Future Now Ventures, a specialised investment firm focusing on fast growth companies developing cloud, mobile and enterprise technological services.
  4. Narra, a venture management and advisory group that has invested in private high-technology companies with potential for accelerated growth.
aerial view of Manila

Prominent Startups in the Philippines:

The following Filipino startups will make you proud to be Pinoy!

  1. Revolution Precrafted, is the Philippines’ first unicorn! An exclusive group of the world’s leading architects, artists, and designers who collectively pursue the desire to make high-design attainable for everyone.
  2. Coins.PH, a financial services platform founded in 2014 by Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Ron Hose and Runar Petursson in Metro Manila, Philippines. accepts Bitcoin payments online, from anyone, anywhere- including who don’t have access to credit cards or bank accounts.
  3. PayMongo provides you a platform to manage and market your customer base. With a seamless interface you can create campaigns and target them to your customers. The First Filipino startup to be part of the exclusive Y Combinator accelerator program.
  4. KUMU is a popular local live streaming app.
  5. Cashalo, a fintech platform that delivers digital credit to Filipinos – helping them elevate their financial well-being.

Startup Incubators:

Here are some training providers you can seek help from.

  1. QBO, a platform that supports Filipino startups, connects and develops the local startup ecosystem, and forwards tech and innovation.
  2. StartUp Village, an incubator/accelerator that enables startups to bring their unique ideas and business concepts to reality.
  3. StartUp Training, a platform that serves business leaders and entrepreneurs to build solutions centered on sustainability and innovation.
  4. Launchgarage, is a tech innovation hub in Manila that provides a venue for open collaboration, knowledge sharing, events, acceleration.

Co-Working Spaces:

Common Ground, the best coworking space available in Manila with more than three coworking spaces in the central location. There are plenty of other startup hubs and coworking spaces to choose from such as:

Or you can work with us in Draper Startup House Manila in our shared coworking spaces that provide a perfect environment for entrepreneurs to learn, connect, get work done.

Events and Communities:

Draper Startup House (DSH) Manila is hosting regular events such as webinars, pitch nights, and artist meet-ups. Check out the DSH Manila socials here Facebook and Instagram for upcoming events.

As for the communities, Techstars, a global accelerator that also supports in building a vibrant startup ecosystem for entrepreneurs around the world, including Manila. Other communities of business, technology, and startup enthusiasts are TechTalks and Startup Grind Manila. Due to COVID, there are no upcoming events by Startup Grind Manila at the moment, but you can always look out for future events.

Monument in Manila
Government Building in Manila, The Philippines
Old building in Manila, Philippines
Street food in Manila


Some quick trivias before we proceed: Manila is the most densely populated city in the world (Wikipedia, 2016). Also, Manila is infamous for its rush hour traffic that in 2019, Waze called it the worst place to drive in. And while it isn’t an urban utopia that some might aspire to live and work in, there’s something amidst the “beautiful chaos” that both locals and tourists fall in love with.

Tourist Destinations in Manila: Intramuros is a historic walled area within the city of Manila which was the seat of government during the Spanish Colonial Period. With its centuries old churches and dungeons, a fun way to get around it is by travelling using a Bamboo Bike.

Binondo is the world’s oldest Chinatown. Located across the river from Intramuros, the district is popular for its gastronomic tours. Make sure to check out the Binondo Food Work:

Length of Tour: 3.5 hrs | Cost: ₱ 1,600 per person inclusive of food |
Grab Fare from Poblacion: Around ₱ 339 each way | (Destination: Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz of Manila).

Rizal Park is one of the largest urban parks in Asia. The 58-hectare park was the site of the execution of National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal which further ignited the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spain. You can also explore the nearby museums such as the Planetarium, Manila Ocean Park, and the National Museum of the Philippines which are all located near the vicinity.

Length of Visit (Museum): 2-3 hrs | Entrance Fee: FREE | Grab Fare from Poblacion: Around ₱ 321 each way | (Destination: Rizal Park).

Other Tourist Destinations in Manila:

  • SM Mall of Asia (MOA): One of the largest malls in the world. Grab fare from Poblacion: Around ₱ 321 each way
  • Bonifacio Global City: One of Manila’s prime business districts. Grab fare from Poblacion: Around ₱ 200 each way

Food: Manila is a gastronomical experience with Local, Malay, Chinese, Spanish, American, and Japanese influenced-dishes. Check out the collection of must-try delicious and mouth-watering foods of Manila.

Follow all the links below to pick your favorite food in Manila.


Draper Startup House in Manila provides you with the best opportunity to explore, engage, and connect with people who are creating the future, including yourself. DSH Manila is located in one of the hottest and trendiest locations in Metro Manila, 500 meters away from the Makati Central Business District as well as the upscale Rockwell Center. This young, urban, and gutsy destination is also an up-and-coming area for arts, music, and festivals. Our living spaces and shared co-workspaces provide the perfect environment for entrepreneurs and independent minds to be inspired, to learn from each other and get work done.

When you are ready – Come stay with us to join the network of the larger entrepreneurial community. The only all-in-one accommodation for resource-building through learning, co-working, funding, and much more—-let’s GO BIG, pay it forward, and drive progress!

Lounge area at Draper Startup House in Manila
Exterior of Draper Startup Hostel in Manila
Dining are at Draper Startup House in Manila, The Philippines
Courtyard at Draper Startup House in Manila
Giulianna Crivello at Draper Startup House in Manila

If you are raising funds and are ready to take your business to the next level, please apply below


Draper Startup House for you means:

  1. Access to opportunity
  2. Involvement in community + support quickly — Draper Startup House in Manila has everything to take care of your needs: from meetups and networking sessions, to pointing you to the best food in the heart of the city, or connecting you to the relevant business partners, and much more.
  3. Meeting your capital requirements
  4. Continuous progression updates—Draper Startup House in Manila will be launching new services soon. Content creation rooms, studios, and food incubators will be our new additions for maximum expansion of current service offerings.

If you have any questions feel free to reach out at

Event at Draper Startup House in Manila


We hope you find this blog post insightful, and if you do, please share it with anyone who you think might be interested and useful for their goals! Our blog post is created to educate and improve business opportunities for many entrepreneurs like yourself who want to make use of their best time in one of the booming startup cities like Manila.

Let’s GO BIG, pay it forward, and drive progress—💪

Join our entrepreneur network for free and experience the best startup ecosystem with us!


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