ManilaCopyright: Jon Bilous/Shutterstock.com
ManilaThe Philippines’ capital is one of Asia’s best-kept secrets. The capital of the Orient’s only catholic country seems somehow out of place, vibrant with Latin American and Caribbean undertones. Music and dancing are everywhere, and the smiles and laughter rival Bangkok’s in their warmth and enthusiasm. Manila’s rich history, shaped by Spanish religion and American consumerism, has led to the saying that the city spent "400 years in a convent and 50 in Hollywood." This blend of diverse cultural influences has resulted in a city of extremes that is sure to pleasantly surprise any unsuspecting traveller.
The CityMetro Manila is an urban sprawl that has swallowed up 11 cities and five towns in the past two centuries. It’s a place of opposites: old and new wealth and poverty grandiosity and decay. Smog, traffic jams and a general air of decay make a less than favourable first impression, but just beneath the surface lies a fascinating and pulsating place to enjoy. Filipinos call it “The City of Our Affections” where the people’s love affairs with fashion, music, entertainment and sheer fun are on bright and beautiful display. By day, the original, medieval walled city of Intramuros delights with its history and elegant Latin architecture. By night - and it can be a very long night - the bright lights of Ermita and Makati beckon with jazz pubs, clubs, karaoke lounges, 24-hour diners and trendy bars. The Filipino people’s zest for life, natural friendliness and ease with the English language make them the perfect hosts, always ready to invite you to their daily party. This is a fun city where your shoulders loosen in relaxation and only the muscles you use to smile are seriously stressed.
Do & See
Manila’s colourful history has bequeathed an interesting range of attractions to keep the energetic sightseer busy for several days. There are plenty of historical sites to admire and museums where you can learn more about the city and its culture. Take a stroll along the Roxas Boulevard and witness the famous Manila sunset after exploring the UNESCO World Heritage-listed San Agustin Church and one of the oldest churches in Manila, the Manila Cathedral. And don´t forget the stunning nature the city has on offer like the beautiful Taal Volcano with a breath-taking view or take a guided tour to the a small rocky island of Corregidor. For sure, there are plenty to explore including shiny gems in a city with a bustling, sprawling and unique atmosphere. The cosmopolitan city of Manila is Asia’s best-kept secret and it is just waiting to get explored.
Few would claim Philippine food was among Asia’s best. However, Filipinos love food, especially a long lunch, eaten with their hands off a banana leaf. Manila is one of the most affordable places to enjoy Thai, Chinese, Japanese, French, and Italian food to international standards. Excellent service and beautiful settings make Manila a happy place to wine and dine. So here are the top restaurants in Manila, Philippines:
The coffee culture in Manila is continuously growing and evidently, there is a wide variety of local cafes, including big international chains to choose from where the baristas are passionate about their coffee. Whether you like your coffee hot or iced, strong or mild, black or flavoured, you will for sure find a place where to tickle your taste buds. When the craving for something sweet kicks in, do not worry, there are plenty of desserts and pastries to pair with your coffee or tea. Here are some the best cafes in Manila:
Bars & Nightlife
Filipinos take fun seriously and Manila’s bars are among Asia’s liveliest. Happy hour is everyone’s favourite time of day – and lasts long into the night at certain hangouts. Great service, ice-cold drinks, and music nearly everywhere. Manila is party central. Venues stay open until 5am at weekends and 3am midweek. The action centres are on JM Nakpil Street, Makati Avenue or Pasay Road in Makati and throughout the Malate and Ermita districts. The palace, Manilas biggest destination is also a great place to head for when in the party mood.
Manila one of the most exciting shopping destinations in Southeast Asia thanks to the giant malls so-called `megamalls´ where you basically will find everything your heart might desire. The malls are open seven days a week and generally the doors opens at 10 or 11. These air-conditioned malls are also a welcome escape from the tropical heat and many families and friends are regularly spending the entire days to stroll around the stores or to have a bite to eat. Many of these malls are not just for shopping, but also boasts with theatres, spas, ice-skating rinks and cinemas, making them to a huge entertainment complex. When you get tired of the malls, head over to one of the bazaars (called tiangge) or the markets that overflows with the hottest trends and some amazing bargains to bring back home. You can easily stock up on clothes, shoes and accessories without breaking your wallet but make sure to bargain and try to aim to pay about 30 to 40 percent lower than the original price. Clothes, shoes and accessories are the best deals but be aware the size of the clothes tends to be smaller in Asia.