Watching U2 in Manila? Here’s your Philippine Arena survival guide

Iñigo De Paula

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Watching U2 in Manila? Here’s your Philippine Arena survival guide
Making a rock n’ roll pilgrimage to watch U2? Here are tips for having the best experience.

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Arena is enormous. The 55,000-capacity arena is the Guinness World Record holder for largest mixed-used indoor theater. It is, simply put, the perfect venue for U2.

But the Philippine Arena’s size and location (the venue is situated between Bocaue and Santa Maria, Bulacan) presents a few challenges for even the most seasoned concert-goer.

If you’re making the trip to see U2 live this December 11, here are a few tips to make your rock n’ roll pilgrimage as awesome as possible. (READ: What to expect from U2’s 2019 Philippine concert)

Eat before you leave Manila

It’s no secret that concert venue food is always overpriced. But with most venues, you could just head to a nearby restaurant. The Philippine Arena doesn’t have a whole lot of food options – you’re pretty much stuck with the concessionaire stalls. So we suggest you grab a bite to eat before you trek north.

If you really have to eat at the venue, check the outdoor food stalls at the front of the arena. There are some cheaper food options there than the ones inside the building.

The Philippine Arena is also beautiful lit up. The outdoor food stalls are a great place to take in all that awesomeness before entering the arena.

Try to get there early…and expect to leave late

The U2 concert is slated to start at 8 pm. But you’ll want to arrive at least a couple of hours early, if only to avoid the holiday rush hour traffic.

The Philippine Arena has vast parking areas, and finding a spot shouldn’t be too problematic (your mileage may vary, but during last year’s Guns n’ Roses gig, we found a parking spot less than 5 minutes after arriving at the venue).

Ironically, you might have more trouble leaving the venue. Imagine tens of thousands of people leaving at once – it took us almost two hours just to get out of the parking lot. So keep that in mind.

Park near the exits

If you absolutely need to get home early, try parking near the exits. There’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get out right away, but it’s worth a try.

Prioritize ‘Manila’ merch

Tour shirts and other merchandise will be expensive. Buy whatever design appeals to you (and fits your budget), but I also suggest getting a shirt that mentions Manila. You could probably find most designs online at a later date. But ones that reference the city the concert was in might be harder to find.

Don’t hesitate to ask for help – Philippine Arena staff are super-helpful

You can definitely get lost looking for your section. If you do, don’t worry — the ushers and security at Philippine Arena are hands-down, some of the nicest staff we’ve ever interacted with. When we got lost and asked a security guard for directions, he walked us all the way to our floor. Considering the size of the arena, that was a pretty long walk.

Trust Waze

This a personal anecdote, but hopefully, you can learn from my mistake. Traffic during the drive home from the Gn’R gig was light. But after an hour or so of driving, my friends and I still hadn’t reached Manila.

And then we saw a road sign.

We were headed for San Fernando, Pampanga.

All this time, we had been driving in the wrong direction.

It took us another hour just to find an exit and turn back. Moral of the story: If you’re not familiar with the area, let Waze guide you home. With all the cars crowding and trying to get out of parking, it’s all too easy to take a wrong exit and end up on the wrong side of NLEX. –

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