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Manila, Philippines


Manila, the capital and largest city of the Philippines, is located on the west coast of the island of Luzon at the confluence of Manila Bay and the Pasig River. Manila city is one of 13 cities that comprise the greater Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR) of the Philippines. Manila was almost completely destroyed during World War II and has been completely rebuilt into a thriving cosmopolitan city. Manila is the countrys commercial, admininstrative and cultural centre and offers a combination of age-old traditions and modern-day attractions. The original walled city, built and colonised by the Spanish in 1571, still exists today and is known as Intramuros.

The Philippines, known for its rich history and unique culture, is a fun, exciting and diverse place to visit. English is widely spoken, prices are cheap and together with the warm and friendly people of the Philippines, tourists will find their Manila experience an enjoyable and unforgettable one.

Travel to Manila

Manila Travel

Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) is situated 7km (4 miles) south of Manila city. Terminal 1 is the original international terminal. Philippine Airlines (PAL) has its own terminal, Terminal 2 (NAIA 2), that serves both international and domestic flights so PAL provides easy transfers between their international and domestic network. Terminal 3 is the new international terminal. The Domestic terminal is about one kilometre from the International Airport along Airport Drive. The Domestic Airport handles all of the domestic flights in and out of Manila excluding Philippine Airlines (PAL). If you are transferring to a domestic flight other than PAL allow time to transit to the Domestic terminal.

Cebu Pacific is the Philippines' low cost airline. They use the main Ninoy Aquino International Airport and fly to Bangkok, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Koahsuing, Kota Kinabalu, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei and Xiamen.

Taxi counters are located in the arrival hall where visitors can purchase fixed fare taxi coupons to hotels or other destinations. The coupon will display the destination in English and the local language. This system prevents taxis overcharging visitors as metered taxis are not allowed at the Arrival Terminal. [Fares USD10-15 for destinations within Metro Manila].

Diosdado Macapagal International (Clark) Airport (DMIA) is located in Clark, Pampanga, about two hours drive north of Manila. This airport is the old US Airbase and is utilised by budget carriers such as Air Asia and Tiger Airways. There are dedicated bus transfer services that meet each flight to transport passengers to Manila. [Departure tax PHP500].

Philtranco operate coach services to Pasay City, Manila or to SM Megamall in Mandaluyong, Manila. [fare PHP300-350]

Manila Transport

Manila Travel

Taxis are relatively inexpensive in the Philippines but ensure the driver uses the meter or negotiate a fixed fare.

Jeepneys are a colourful and common form of public transport in the Philippines constructed from the remnants of World War 2 army vehicles. They operate like a public taxi and are cheap, simply negotiate a fare for your destination.

MRT Metro Rail Transit system has one line running north-south commencing at Taft Avenue and ending at North Avenue, serving the cities of Makati, Mandaluyong, Pasay, Pasig, Quezon City, and San Juan. Taft Avenue is an interchanges with the LRT network. [Fares range from 10 to 15 pesos]

LRT Light Rail Transit system has two lines through Manila and is mostly an elevated train system. [Fares range from 12 to 15 pesos]

Ferry services operate all over the Philippines but become overcrowded in peak season and services still operate even in bad weather with lax enforcement of Western safety standards.

Supercats and fastcrafts connect short distances between islands on high-speed air-conditioned hydrofoil crafts. They provide a faster option than ordinary ferries, are much better maintained and have an excellent safety record. Among the major routes serviced by fastcrafts in and around Manila are: Manila-Bataan, Manila-Cavite and Batangas-Puerto Galera.


English is spoken by people in the tourism business. Many staff at hotels, casinos, shops, restaurants and museums will speak English.

Manila Weather

The Philippines is a tropical country that has a wet season and a dry season. The wet season lasts from June to October, November to February is dry and cooler while March to May is hot and dry. The average temperature is 24C to 32C with humidity of 77%. Typhoons and tropical storms are a common occurrence during the wet season particularly in the northern part of the Philippines where Manila is located.


Manila began as a settlement on the banks of the Pasig River. Prior to Spanish colonization in 1521, the Filipinos had a rich culture and were trading with the Chinese and the Japanese. In 1571, 50 years after Magellan's discovery of the islands, Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legaspi claimed the Philippines as a colony and established Manila as its capital. Spain's colonization brought about the construction of Intramuros, a "Walled City" comprised of European buildings and churches, and was replicated in different parts of the archipelago.

In 1898, the Philippines became the first and only colony of the United States. Following the Philippine-American War, the United States brought widespread education to the islands. Filipinos fought alongside Americans during World War II, particularly at the famous battle of Bataan and Corregidor which delayed Japanese advance. The Philippines waged a guerilla war against the Japanese from 1941 to 1945. The Philippines regained its independence in 1946.

The background of the people is Indonesian and Malay with a sprinkling of Chinese, American, Spanish, and Arab blood. From a long history of Western colonial rule, interspersed with the visits of merchants and traders, evolved a people of a unique blend of east and west, both in appearance and culture.

Manila Attractions

The main tourist sites of Manila are located along Manila Bay.

Intramuros is the remnants of the old walled Spanish colonial settlement, built in 1571, and is located at the northern end of Manila Bay right in the heart of Manila at the entrance of the Pasig river. Intramuros (Spanish for 'within the walls') is one of the worlds best preserved medieval cities hosting some of the city's most interesting European buildings, museums, ruins, dungeons and churches including the Manila Cathedral, the most important church in the country.

Rizal Park is located next to the walled city of Intramuros and is known as the Luneta. The Luneta was the site of the execution of Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. The park is the venue for an open-air theater featuring free classical music concerts, a planetarium, bayside restaurants, family picnics, early morning jogging, tai chi enthusiasts, and the historic Manila Hotel.

Promenade/Baywalk stretches along Roxas Boulevard between the US Embassy and the Manila Yacht Club. The promenade is popular for walking in the evening, dining at one of the al fresco restaurants, listening to live music and enjoying the Manila Bay sunset.

Manila Hotel is an historic and beautiful hotel located outside Intramuros on the edge of Manila Bay. It is a legacy of the American colonial era and the place where the American General Douglas MacArthur made his home before World War II.

Quiapo Church is famous for the Black Nazareen, a large crucifix of black wood carved in Mexico and brought to the Philippines by the Spaniards in the 17th centrury. Everyday, especially on Fridays, thousands of Catholics come to pay homage.The Church is located in Quiapo near Chinatown and the area around the Church is one big flea market selling fruit, vegetables, handicrafts, locally made clothes, export overruns and household items.

Corregidor Island is a small rocky island 48km west of Manila at the entrance of Manila Bay. It was one of the last Philippine strongholds the Americans conceded to the Japanese in World War II. Walk among the old barracks, buildings and gun emplacements all with evidence of battle damage. Sun Cruises operate a tour to Corregidor Island. The ferry departs Manila (near the Philippine Cultural Center, Roxas Boulevard) at 8am taking one hour to reach the island. The tour includes a guided island tour with lunch and departs from Corregidor at 2.30pm. [Adults US$40]

Medical Tourism. There is a growing industry of medical tourism where overseas visitors come to Manila for a medical procedure and enjoy a holiday at the same time. The cost of medical procedures is much cheaper than in Western countries and performed at modern hospitals with doctors trained to international standards. Common medical problems such as carpal tunnel symptoms, cellulite treatment, how to make your breasts bigger, how to get pregnant with a girl, how to lighten skin, how to fall pregnant are treated in Manila.

Manila Nightlife and Entertainment

Metro Manila is an entertainment paradise, with many people dining at 8pm the nightlife starts no earlier than around 10pm. The Malate district in the city of Manila offers a more artistic and bohemian atmosphere. There are many restaurants, bars and clubs along Remedios Circle, Nakpil and Maria Orosa Streets. Malate, the older Ermita neighborhood and the Baywalk that stretches between them contain a variety of venues serving a combination of food, alcohol and music.

Makati City is a treasure trove of hotels, bars, clubs and restaurants featuring live bands and music for every generation. Expats and locals frequent the establishments in upmarket Greenbelt on Makati Avenue.

Quezon City, north of Makati and Malate, is a premier entertainment hub. Tomas Morato and Tmog Avenues are the center of 'gentlemen's entertainment' offering a variety of clubs, bars and discos. Manila and Markati city is the perfect place to find out how to get a girl to have sex with you or how to get over someone because the girls are very friendly and easy to meet.

Casinos are housed in the Hyatt Hotel in Ermita, Grand Boulevard Hotel in Malate, Heritage Hotel in Pasay City and in the PRIC building across the road from the international airport terminal.

Manila Dining

Favourite areas for dining with visitors are the Malate district in the city of Manila with its many restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs along Remedios Circle, Nakpil and Maria Orosa Streets. Malate, the older Ermita neighborhood and the Baywalk that stretches between them contain many dining establishments.

Makati City hosts many restaurants especially in the Ayala Center including Park Square, Landmark, Glorietta and Green Belt shopping malls.

Manilas many large shopping complexes all contain restaurants, cafes and food courts. Manila has most of the usual American fastfood chains such as McDonald's and Burger King. Jollibee is the Filipino version of McDonald's and very common in Manila. Coffeeshops such as Starbucks and Gloria Jeans have become common in malls and commercial centers. Street food vendors are common and can usually be found in places with high amount of pedestrian traffic.

Jumbo Kingdom Floating Restaurant located on Manila Bay is a Hong Kong style floating Chinese six star restaurant offering a truly unique and memorable dining experience.

Manila Shopping

The Philippines is one of Asias most inexpensive shopping destinations where visitors can find value for money. Here you can find imported name brands from the West, as well as products handcrafted in the Philippines.

Metro Manila is a shoppers paradise. Greenhills Shopping Center located in Metro Manila is a mecca for electronics, mobile phones and the latest fashions and trends at affordable prices. Robinsons Place Ermita, SM City Manila and Harrison Plaza all feature department stores and boutiques with a varied selection in every product category. Shangri-La Plaza is a high-end mall with many foreign brand shops and housing Marks & Spencer, Crossings and Rustan department stores. Divisoria Mall near Chinatown, offers an incredible assortment of goods at very reasonable prices. Tutuban Center located on the boundary of Tondo and Binondo districts is a former rail terminal converted into a huge wholesale/bargain shopping complex with over 2000 stores open to midnight every night.

Chinatown is located in the center of Manila. In the crowded and colourful network of streets and alleyways Chinese merchants sell their goods. The districts most well known street, Ongpin, was named after a Chinese merchant who supported the revolutionaries during the fight for independence from Spain. Chinatown is a great place to visit day or night where shoppers will find delicious cuisine, copies of branded goods and many interesting shops. Shoppers can test their bargaining skills here.

SM Mall of Asia in Pasay City is the largest shopping, leisure and entertainment centre in the Philippines. With almost four hectares of floor area and almost one kilometer in length it is marketed as the the largest shopping mall in Asia and the worlds third largest mall. As well as shops there are restaurants, food court, cinemas, an IMAX Theatre, SM Science Discovery Center and an Olympic sized ice skating rink. [Operating Hours 10am to 10 pm]

Makati City Makati City Philippines is the country's main Central Business District and offers many shopping options. Ayala Center includes Park Square, Landmark, Glorietta and Green Belt shopping malls which are home to select international brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Bvlgari and Burberry. Located on Makati Avenue, there are hundreds of shops, department stores, cafes, restaurants, bars and cinemas in the area. Also in Makati City is the Power Plant Mall in Rockwell Center offering a similar selection of brands.

Ortigas Center just north of Makati City, is the other main business district in Metro Manila, where the Philippine Stock Exchange and San Miguel Corp, the Philippines largest food and beverage company, are located. SM Megamall, one of Asias largest malls, Starmall and Robinsons Galleria Complex are located here.

Beyond Manila

Tagaytay is a city located about 60km and 1.5 hrs drive south of Manila on a ridge overlooking the beautiful Lake Taal and Taal Volcano. Tagaytay Ridge is the rim of the volcano! The spectacular view of the Taal volcano within a lake within a volcano, combined with the excellent cuisine from the numerous ridge-side restaurants has made this a favorite place for visitors. At 640m (2,100ft) above sea level, the climate is characterized by relatively low temperature and humidity. Tagaytay is easily reached from Metro Manila via the Coastal Road or the South Superhighway. A trip to the volcano takes about twenty minutes by boat and unless you're in very good physical condition, the hiring of a donkey is highly recommended to take you to the top of the Volcano.

Subic Freeport Zone (2.5 hrs north of Metro Manila) is the former American military base converted into an industrial park and eco-tourism zone. Within the freeport zone tourists can experience: beautiful white sand beaches, bayside dining, forest canopy walking, diving, casino gaming, bar and club hopping, golfing, massage and other spa treatments, outlet shopping and studying English.

Beaches Resorts Boracay Beach Philippines are located within a few hours drive from Manila. Caylabne Bay in Cavite is a panorama of pristine beaches and virgin forests 80 km (50 miles) or 90 minutes south of Manila. The well-appointed Caylabne Bay Resort is a Spanish Mediterranean-themed hideaway nestled in a secluded cove along the rugged coast of Ternate, Cavite. Batangas District is about 100km south of Manila and the towns of Nasugbu, Tali, San Juan and Calatagan are lined with beach resorts. The Calatagan peninsula's white sand beaches are popular vacation and leisure sites for Manila's rich and famous. Bataans beaches are north of Manila and the area is famous in history for the Battle of Bataan which is one of the last stands of American and Filipino soldiers before they were overwhelmed by the Japanese forces in World War II. Zambales beaches are in the Subic Bay area.

Boracay Island Boracay Island Philippines is famous for its striking natural beauty, crystal clear water and pristine white sand beaches. White Beach is the most famous beach on Boracay with its 4 km stretch of fine, white sand lined with resorts, restaurants, cafes, open-air bars and discos. Only a one hour flight from Manila, Boracay offers countless water sport activities e.g. scuba diving, snorkeling, wind surfing, sailing, parasailing, water skiing, banana riding, and many others. For golf-lovers, Boracay also offers an 18-hole golf course.

Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located at Puerto Princesa City, Palawan, a one hour flight from Manila. At over 8 kilometers in length, experience an exhilirating ride on a canoe down the longest underground river in the world. The National Park, which has been inscribed in UNESCO's World Heritage List, is Palawan's most popular attraction and covers 5,349 hectares of lush forest, mountains, caves, and white beaches.