Manila is often seen as just an unpleasantly hot metropolis many visitors would prefer to avoid. Rachel Hand explains why you should consider a stop over in Manila to explore this vibrant city.
With the Philippinesas one of this year’s top destinations, many travellers are flocking to its islands and beaches to experience South East Asia while avoiding the tourist crowds of neighboring countries. If you’re heading to the Philippines, there a good chance you’re flying into Manila, don’t write it off as just an unwelcome stopover. The city has much to offer guests; it’s all about finding your inner Manila.
Manila is a densly populated city that is sweaty and busy. If you just set off walking from your hotel you will certainly see something but if you’re on a short visit, it’ll be better to plan your trip so you can visit the places that interest you without succumbing to heat exhaustion.
Like many capital cities, Manila offers a range of options for the visitor, from shiny new malls and business centers to historical buildings and iconic landmarks. Due to its colorful history with first records dating from the tenth century and more recent Spanish and then American influences, Manila offers a fascinating cultural melting pot.
So research before you go and plan what to see, bearing in mind that traveling from one area to another can take hours. Plan to focus on one or two parts of the city per day instead of trying to race across the entire conurbation and you will have a more fulfilling experience.
Getting further into Manila
If you don’t have time for much planning, take a tour and let someone else guide you to the inner Manila. Old Manila Walks offers a range of walking tours focused on historic Manila, including a tour of Intramuros, the walled traditional quarter of Manila, and a culinary tour of Chinatown; being on the streets amidst the hustle and bustle offers a different experience to the usual city bus tours, getting you closer to the real Manila.
Eat your way around Manila
Aside from sightseeing there is a more Filipino way to understand Manila: eating. Due to its cultural influences from the diverse islands of the Philippines, from the Chinese, Spanish and Americans, Manilaoffers an experience for the taste buds unrivalled in South East Asia. Eating is a popular activity in Manila. Select a busy establishment packed full with locals and you can be sure of a culinary treat. Being in Manila is a great opportunity to taste new, and sometimes bizarre, foods and eating Filipino-style can be a good way to socialize with the locals.
Whatever you decide to do in Manila, don’t leave without experiencing something of this unique city. With focused sightseeing or a walking tour combined with eating native and socializing, you can enjoy your stay in this hot and busy city, by learning something of the culture, tasting the food and meeting the locals. Rather than just passing through the Filipino capital city, you can find your innerManila.
What are some of your favourite places in Manila? What other suggestions do you have for readers who are considering a visit? Let us know in the comments below.