If you are going to Manila be sure check out this quick guide. I had the opportunity to spend a short time in Manila and did quite a few things. The people of Manila are very friendly and helpful and the food is delicious. This city is great to explore since there are lots of shopping malls, huge markets and the best massages!
Population: 11,850,000 million
Known as: The Pearl of the Orient
Climate: Tropical wet & dry, Tropical Monsoon
Currency: Philippine Peso (PHP)
Official Language(s): Tagalog, English
Before you Arrive
Most countries do not require a visa to enter Philippines, which is why it is one of the most desirable destinations.
But there are a list of things you must have:
1. A passport valid for 6 months at the time of departure
2. An onward or return ticket
3. Sufficient funds
4. Proof of where you will be staying
The closest airport is Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA). It is located only 8 km from the City Centre. The best way to reach the city is by taxi. There are different types of taxis and they all cost different amounts. Make sure to take a metered taxi (there will be a large line up). Metered taxis only cost 200-400 php ($6-12 cad). It takes about 20 mins without traffic, with traffic up to an hour. Taxis are extremely cheap and the safest and easiest way to reach your destination.
There are so many ways to get around Manila; Jeepney, Taxi or bus. The cheapest way to get around by far is the Jeepney, a large colourful jeep that transports people around. Depending on where you are going you will pay from 7 php (0.20 cad) and up. I think the most I ever paid was $0.50 for about a 15-20 min ride. Although there is no air condition it is very economical.
All throughout the Philippines English is widely spoken You won't have a problem trying to communicate with the locals. But here are a few phrases to impress the locals:
Hello/ How are you- Kumusta
Thank you- Salamat Po
What to See
Manila is kind of lacking in the attraction area. However you can still find things so do but you won't have a lot to choose from. First, visit Rizal Park. It is a historical urban park and also one of the largest. In the park there are both a Chinese and Japanese garden you can see for a minimal fee. Intramuros is another popular area. It is the oldest district of Manila and used to be called 'The Walled City'. Before you enter Intramuros be sure to check out Puerta Real gardens, just outside.
Manila Ocean park is another great attraction to see, they have fish that nibble at the dead skin on your feet. If you want to shop check out Mall of Asia, the 11th largest mall in the world. If you want cheap shopping then check out Divisoria, the mother of all markets in Manila.
What to Eat & Drink
I am a little biased because I already loved Filipino food before I ever went to Manila. There are so many hearty and tasty dishes to choose from. Also, they are extremely cheap! You can even eat street food for an even cheaper price. My meal (pictured above) only cost me 200 php ($5) and I couldn't even finish the meal.
Must try Dishes:
Sisig, Pinoy Chicken, Chicken Adobo, Kare Kare, Silog, Pancit and more!
Other things to try:
Leche Flan, Lumpia, Puto and more!
Where to Stay
Manila is a pretty dangerous city. I stayed at casa Bocobo, In Ermita (not the greatest area to be), which is actually in a good location in relation to the attractions. They have free breakfast each morning and the staff is extremely friendly and helpful. Wherever you do end up staying make sure to take cabs at night to stay safe.
Volcano Island-- Taal Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines is located on a small island near Luzon Island. There are many half and full day trips here from Manila.
Pagsanjan Falls-- Pagsanjan Falls is located in Laguna, about 2.5 hours south of Manila. It is one of the most famous waterfalls in the Philippines and a major tourist attraction in the area.
Anilao-- If you like snorkeling make sure to visit Anilao. There are a lot of fish and coral to see. There are day trips available from Manila.
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