Early morning skyline
photo by bingbing

The City of Manila (Filipino: Lungsod ng Maynila) is the capital of the Philippines located in the west coast of the island of Luzon. Up until World War II, Manila was considered one of the most beautiful cities in Asia but the war put the city into complete ruins. It was the second most destroyed city after Warsaw, Poland.

Historic, bustling, awe-inspiring, Manila is a blend of cultures and flavors that offers an endless serving of places to see, sights to behold, and experiences to never forget.


The old Manila very much resembles a Latin American city with many historic churches and forts, specially in Intramuros, the original city founded by the Spanish in 1571. Manila was the capital of the Spanish East Indies and for over 3 centuries received much influence from Spain, including the Catholic religion. In 1898 the Philippines were taken over by the US, and the country achieved independence in 1946. Upto the 1950's most educated Filipinos spoke Spanish fluently. Today Filipinos speak English as well as Tagalog, Ilocano, Cebuano or other native languages, but the culture has much Hispanic influence. Manila has the usual developing world city problems of choking smog, traffic, appalling poverty and homeless animal overpopulation. This, however, should not dissuade any traveler from visiting this city for it is a warm, exciting and diverse place that is ripe for discovery by any adventurous tourist. English is a second language; do not worry about getting around. Traveling expenses are cheap compared to the experience tourists will be rewarded with. Delve in Manila's rich culture, hype up with the nightlife, or treat yourself to that most coveted dream vacation.


For over 3 centuries Manila was colonized and administered by Spain who left a great architectural heritage throughout the Philippines, especially churches, forts and other colonial buldings. This can be seen in the old part of the city, called Intramuros (the fortified city) built in the late 16th century. Manila began as a settlement on the banks of a river, the Pasig River, and its name originates from "Maynilad" which refers to the mangrove plant known as Nilad, which was abundant in the area. Prior to the arrival of Spanish in the 16th century, Maynilad was populated by Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic community descended from the Indians from India, Arabs settlers from the Middle East who sailed to the Philippines, and Chinese and Japanese. In 1571, 50 years after Magellan's discovery of the islands, Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi claimed the Philippines as a colony and established Manila as its capital. Manila was part of the Spanish East Indies until 1898, when the US took over the Philippines after the Spanish-American War.


Manila is but one of 17 cities and 1 municipalities that comprise the area known as Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR) of the Philippines. The NCR is located in the southern portion of the island of Luzon, in between the Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog Regions, between Manila Bay and the inland lake of Laguna de Bay. The City of Manila, where most of the historical attractions are located, lies at the confluence of Manila Bay and the Pasig River.

The City of Manila is in the western part of Metro Manila. It is bordered to the west by Manila Bay, to the north by Quezon City and Kalookan City, to the east by San Juan and Mandaluyong City and to the south by Pasay and Makati.


With the Philippine's tropical climate, it basically has two seasons: wet and dry. Typhoons and tropical storms are a common occurrence during the wet season particularly in the northern part of the Philippines, occurring from late May till early November. Dry season then starts from late November until late April. December to February is a pleasant time to visit the Philippines. Temperatures during this time would range from 24 to 30°C (75 to 86°F) at its peak. From March to May, temperatures heat up but as Manila is by the coast, it rarely goes beyond 36 to 37°C (97 to 99°F).


For over 3 centuries Manila was colonized and administered by Spain who left a great architectural heritage throughout the Philippines, especially churches, forts and other colonial buldings. This can be seen in the old part of the city, called Intramuros (the fortified city) built in the late 16th century. Manila began as a settlement on the banks of a river, the Pasig River, and its name originates from "Maynilad" which refers to the mangrove plant known as Nilad, which was abundant in the area. Prior to the arrival of Spanish in the 16th century, Maynilad was populated by Hindu, Buddhist, and Islamic community descended from the Indians from India, Arabs settlers from the Middle East who sailed to the Philippines, and Chinese and Japanese. In 1571, 50 years after Magellan's discovery of the islands, Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi claimed the Philippines as a colony and established Manila as its capital. Manila was part of the Spanish East Indies until 1898, when the US took over the Philippines after the Spanish-American War.


With the Philippine's tropical climate, it basically has two seasons: wet and dry. Typhoons and tropical storms are a common occurrence during the wet season particularly in the northern part of the Philippines, occurring from late May till early November. Dry season then starts from late November until late April. December to February is a pleasant time to visit the Philippines. Temperatures during this time would range from 24 to 30°C (75 to 86°F) at its peak. From March to May, temperatures heat up but as Manila is by the coast, it rarely goes beyond 36 to 37°C (97 to 99°F).

Getting there

By air

From overseas, most visitors arrive by plane. Manila is served by three international terminals at Ninoy Aquino International Airport . Philippine Airlines (PAL) has its own terminal, called Terminal 2 (NAIA 2), that serves both international and domestic flights. PAL usually provides "seamless" transfers between their international and domestic network, which you would generally not get arriving with other carriers.

At NAIA 2: at the departure area, charging stations for laptop users are available.

Most other international airlines use NAIA Terminal 1, which is gradually being replaced by the newly built modern NAIA Terminal 3 (NAIA 3). Currently (October 2008) all Cebu Pacific flights are based at NAIA 3 with more airlines being phased over. Other domestic airlines use the old domestic terminal. All 4 terminals share the same runways. The journey between terminals can take between 5 and 20 minutes in a taxi depending on traffic. Be wary of this if you have a connection between a domestic and international flight. There is also a regular shuttle bus service between the terminals operated by NAIA (every 15 minutes, 20 Pesos). Departure tax for all NAIA airports is 750 Pesos for International, and 200 Pesos for Domestic. The airport only accepts cash payments. Make sure that you have enough cash to pay the tax when arriving to the airport. If you do not have cash you can use one of two ATMs outside the airport. The airport has two security checks one to get to the terminal and one for departures. The ATMs are located outside of both security checks. Make sure to use the ATM before getting in or you will be forced to go out and go through security lines again.

Coupon (pre-paid) taxis are available at the airports. Rates are fixed and dependent on the destination and generally are more expensive compared to what you would pay in a metered taxi. Coupon taxi counters usually are found immediately after exiting customs in both Terminals 1 and 2. Expect to pay somewhere between 500-600 Pesos (10 to 15 USD) for destinations within Metro Manila. Yellow Airport taxis are about half that price (200-300 Peso) and issue receipts for passengers.

The everyday metered taxis -- usually white with various operator names on the side -- can sometimes be found at the Arrival Terminal so you would either need to catch one unloading at the Departure Area or outside the airport complex. This may be easier said than done however, particularly when lugging around kilos upon kilos of baggage. Regular taxis cost 100-200 Pesos for the same journey to Metro Manila, although you'll probably have to insist on using the meter, or bargain down from whatever absurd starting fare they choose to name. If you are at NAIA 3, walk towards the road from the arrival area (5 minutes):metered taxis park beside the road.

Apart from taxis, there are no regular public transport services to the airports except for buses and jeepneys plying routes that pass nearby. It will take a few minutes' walk however before you get to a place where you can board and all this effort may not be worth the hassle so most travellers opt to take a taxi.

Low cost carriers such as Air Asia and Tiger Airways utilize the Diosdado Macapagal International Airport (DMIA) in Clark, Pampanga. This can be anything from a 90-minute to three-hour ride, depending on the traffic. These airlines have dedicated bus transfer services that transport passengers to and from the DMIA via newly renovated toll roads. You can catch the bus by Philtranco either from its terminal in Pasay City, Manila or from SM Megamall (behind building A) in Mandaluyong, Manila. From Pasay the fare is 350 pesos and from SM Megamall 300 pesos. Departure tax for this airport has been increased to 500 peso.

Air travel between islands is reasonably priced, with tickets averaging P4,000 to P5,000 round trip to most popular destinations. Promotions, particularly the "Go" fares offered by Cebu Pacific airlines, have pushed domestic round trip prices to the P2,000-P3,500 range.

Cebu Pacific is the Philippines' principal Low Cost Airline. They use Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3. International routes include:- Bangkok, Guangzhou, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Hong Kong, Kaohsuing, Kota Kinabalu, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Macau, Osaka, Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei and Xiamen.

By boat

Ferries run all over the Philippines, but should you not reserve a first class cabin be prepared for uncomfortable cramped conditions. There seems to be lax enforcement of Western safety standards.

Supercats and fastcrafts connect short distances between islands on high-speed air-conditioned hydrofoil crafts. Not only do they provide a faster option than ordinary ferries, they are also much better maintained and have a remarkable safety record. Among the major routes serviced by fastcrafts in and around Manila are: Manila-Bataan, Manila-Cavite and Batangas-Puerto Galera.

By bus

The Strong Republic Nautical Highway has made inter-island travel by bus possible. Major islands are connected by Roll On - Roll Off ferries which can carry cars, buses and cargo trucks. An example is the Manila to Boracay route which goes via Batangas, Calapan and Roxas in Mindoro then Caticlan. Philtranco and ALPS The Bus, Inc. serve various inter-island routes and has a terminal in Cubao, Quezon City. Needless to say, however, that these trips can take quite a bit of time and may not be worth the savings if you have only a few days to spend in the Philippines.

Normal provincial buses serving other parts of Luzon also have terminals in various portions of Metro Manila. The Cubao area in Quezon City and the Bonifacio Monument area in Kalookan City is where buses serving the northern portions of Luzon (e.g. Baguio, Zambales) have their terminals.

The Buendia Ave. or Taft Ave. intersection in Makati and the area near the Taft Ave. and EDSA intersection in Pasay is where buses to the south (e.g. Batangas, Laguna) have their terminals.


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

  • Intramuros - At the northern end of the Bay lies the remnants of the old walled Spanish settlement of Manila, Intramuros (Spanish for 'within the walls'). Intramuros contains some of the city's most interesting museums, ruins, and churches including the Manila Cathedral, the most important church in the country.

  • Manila Hotel - Just outside Intramuros and on the edge of Manila Bay is the beautiful and historic Manila Hotel, a legacy of the American colonial era and the place where General Douglas MacArthur made his home before World War II.

  • Rizal Park - Right outside the walled city is Rizal Park more widely known as the Luneta. The Luneta is the venue for the best museums of the city, bayside restaurants, an open-air theater featuring free classical music concerts, a planetarium, early morning jogging and tai chi enthusiasts, and the Manila Hotel. It is a popular meeting spot for family picnics and was the site of the execution of Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines.

  • Nature and Wildlife - While there are few parks or sights of natural settings within Manila if you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city it may be worth visiting Paco Park just north of Ermita and Greenbelt Park in Makati. The Manila Zoo however is a sad sight, leaving much to be desired for the animals kept there, including a lone elephant with nothing more than a concrete floor and a caged orangutan without a single branch. Many of these animals in the wild roam over territories that measure hundreds of square kilometers, yet the entire Manila Zoo is only 0.055 square kilometres.

  • Baywalk - South of the Luneta is the renovated Baywalk a linear park adjacent to Manila Bay. This promenade has now been all but shut down by a new mayor as at July 2007, most of the bars and restaurants are just empty shells.

  • Malacañang Palace - Manila is the host of the official residence of the president of the Philippines. While heading your way here, you will see wonderful places. People can roam the garden afterward.

  • Chinatown - Manila has one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, where one can find exotic Chinese goods and delicious cuisine.

  • Churches - There are some various impressive Spanish-era Cathedrals that are more impressive than old Spanish Missions in California. Among the best churches of Manila are San Agustin Church, ; the all-steel San Sebastian Cathedral; and Las Pinas and its bamboo organ.

  • Museums - Manila has seen a drastic improvement in its museum offerings with the recent renovation of old favorites such as the National Museum of the Filipino People and the Ayala Museum. Other must-see museums in the city are the Bahay Chinoy (Chinese House), Casa Manila, San Agustin Museum and the Museum of Filipino Political History.


Manila has most of the usual American fastfood chains such as McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Subway, Dairy Queen, Shakey's Pizza, Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, TGIF, Italianni's, Outback, and KFC. Jollibee, the Filipino version of McDonald's is very common in Manila. There are also other pure Filipino restaurants across the city such as Kamayan (Filipino food), Mannang (Filipino food), Mann Hann (Chinese food), Dencio's (Filipino food), Gerry's Grill (Filipino food), Nanay Q (Filipino food), Goldilocks (bakeshop), Red Ribbon (bakeshop), Greenwich (pizza and pasta), Go Nuts Donuts, Tokyo Tokyo (Japanese Food) and Chow King (Chinese Food). Coffeeshops such as Starbucks and Seattle's Best have also recently become quite common in malls and commercial centers. KrispyKreme Doughnuts has recently opened in 7 sites in Metro Manila. Meals could be as low as US$2 to 3 in most fast food joints. A typical burger meal with fries and a drink would fall under this range.

Being the only former Spanish colony in Asia, Manila has the best Spanish food in the Far East.

Street food peddled by ambulant vendors is quite common and can usually be found in places with high amount of pedestrian traffic. Note however that street food in Manila and elsewhere in the Philippines may not be as clean as what you would find in Bangkok or hawker centers in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. There is very little (if any) regulation and hygienic practices of these establishments vary from place to place. The variety of street food available is tremendous however and may reward the truly adventurous traveler. Some notable examples are the following:

  • Chicharon - Deep fried pork rinds, usually eaten while having a beer.

  • Balut - boiled duck embryo, generally safe to eat as the whole duck egg is intact and well cooked. The sight of the fully formed duckling complete with wings, ribbed feet and beak may not be too easily swallowed by the squeamish however.

  • Isaw, Helmet, Adidas and Betamax - grilled chicken (or pork)intestines, head, feet, and blood respectively

  • Banana Cue - bananas fried in hot oil coated with caramelized brown sugar and served on a barbecue stick. There is also kamote cue which is sweet potato served the same way.

  • Barbecue - the term barbecue in the Philippines usually means bite size pieces of pork marinated,skewered and charcoal grilled. Chicken barbecue (bbq for short) is also common.

  • Kwek Kwek and tokneneng - boiled eggs (duck, chicken or quail) covered in an orangey batter and deep fried in hot oil. Usually dipped in vinegar with onions, chili peppers and garlic.

  • Silog - Short for sinangag (Garlic fried rice) and itlog (fried egg), silog is one of the most common and popular breakfast dishes in Manila. Typical silogs are identified by their accompanying viand, ie tapsilog (Filipino tapa, which is fried cured beef strips), longsilog (longganisa), bangsilog (bangus, or milkfish), tocilog (tocino, which is sweet cured pork), hotsilog (hotdog, and cornsilog (corned beef).

  • Sizzling sisig - A dish made from parts of pig’s head and liver, usually seasoned with kalamansi and chili peppers.

For a taste of street food without the accompanying risk, try out the following establishments:

  • Balut Eggspress - serves balut, kwek kwek and one day old chicks, which are quite literally day old chicks marinated and fried in hot oil then eaten whole including the bones. They have a stall in the MRT Ayala Station.

  • Nanay Q - serving special pork and chicken BBQ, liempo, grilled fish and shrimps. They also serve special Pinoy dishes such as Beef Caldereta, Menudo, Pinapaitan, Gambas and Sinigang. Sisig is also their specialty. They have branches at Robinsons Pioneer and Edsa Central. You may visit for more info.

Most sit-down and casual dining restaurants in Manila would fall under the mid-range category. You could generally eat well for under US$10 per person. At some establishments, this price will even allow you to partake of a buffet and eat to your heart's content.

  • Terry's Selection, Lower Ground Level, Podium Mall, 18 ADB Avenue, Mandaluyong, tel: +63 2 6385725 or 26. Specialties: Tapas.


Bohemian Malate, the older Ermita neighborhood and the Baywalk that stretches between them contain a variety of venues serving a combination of food, comedy, alcohol and live music.


Manila has a lot of hotels, inns and apartelles. Most of these accommodations can be found within Roxas Boulevard overlooking Manila Bay, or in the districts of Ermita and Malate. Manila's hotel accommodations are 20 to 30 minutes away from the international and domestic airport.


  • THE MELTING POT, Unit 5-K, Azotea de Bel-ar Condo, Polaris St., Makati City, Philippines. ☎ +(632)393-9189, +(632) 812-6535 or mobile (63917)832-8539 c/o Lani, (63917)803-9428 c/o Kidz. A new, comfortable and friendly 7-bed & breakfast budget accommodation in the cozy central district of Old Poblacion (now Burgos area), Makati, Metro Manila. For only US$16 for an individual overnight stay, the place is literally at the center of many things, less than 30 minutes from the airport, 10 minutes to the Ayala Center where you find the Glorietta and the Greenbelt Malls, close to the Metro trains, US$2-taxi-ride away from major tourist attractions, etc. It is a strategic take-off point to the prime tourist destinations of this country’s 7,107 islands. The backpackers joint comes with free internet access and common area for guests. It exudes a modern atmosphere and peaceful vibe, which closely complements the diverse character of the area, catering to various needs from mundane to spiritual, laid-back to upbeat, western to oriental. http://www.ourmeltingpot.net/

  • Ginhawa, #100 K-6th Street, Kamias, Quezon City, Metro Manila. ☎ +63 2 441-0658 or mobile (63928)554-5825, (63915)3270457. Situated in the residential district of Quezon City, this place is not the usual accommodation for tourists, but very accessible to public transportation and truly affordable at the cost of P350.00/person for an overnight stay. Ginhawa, which in English literally means comfort or well-being, is a half-way house for itinerant beings searching for deeper meaning and broader perspective of the Philippines in their travel experiences through cultural immersion and relational bonding with healers, transformation facilitators, environmentalists, student leaders and professionals. The house, which is some 15 minutes away from the premiere University of the Philippines, is also a well-maintained community center for integrative or complementary renewal and transformation work which draw from both eastern and western traditions, such as Reiki Healing, Dance Movement Therapy, Body-based Meditation, etc. A pick-up arrangement from the airport, anytime, any day, can be arranged at a cost of P500 or roughly US$10 per person. The center’s service vehicle may also be used to bring the guest/s to the nearest Metro Station, upon prior arrangement with the guest house administrators.

  • Makati Apartelle, 4411 Montojo St. near corner Chino Roces Ave. and Kalayaan Ave., Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: +63 2 8974219, 8973787 or 8974218. E-mail: makatiapartelle@yahoo.com. Offers one-bedroom fully furnished units at PHP895/day for single or double occupancy in a three-story building. Walking distance to food outlets, supermarkets and public transportation. One short jeepney or taxi ride away from the Makati Central Business District and the malls/nightlife of either Makati or Ermita, Manila. Patronized by Filipino and foreign guests. Each unit has an air-con, cable TV, refrigerator, 1 double bed (sleeps 2 people), living and dining room sets, private bath with hot shower,an intercom/telephone for free local calls, electric kettle, electric stove (upon request at extra charge),chinaware and kitchen utensils. Free WIFI at all floor lobbies. Linens and towels provided, daily housekeeping provided, utilities included. Extra bed can be provided upon request. All-female friendly staff. Very clean, safe and inexpensive. Maps and library available. Their website, for further information, pictures and location map, is http://www.makatiapartelle.com

  • Green Mango Inn, 365 Aguirre Avenue (near El Grande Avenue & 7 houses from BPI Family Savings Bank), BF Homes, Sucat, Parañaque City, Metro Manila. Tel: +63 2 8208730, 7102223 or 4151692. E-mail gh_realty@yahoo.com. Nearest 4 airports, Metro Manila's only garden-style bed & breakfast guesthouse with charming colonial-style architecture and handmade mother-of-pearl "capiz" seashell windows. Free WiFi for your laptop computers, also affordable internet computer. Only P 300 Pesos each dorm bed with air-conditioning and and free locker, P 700 Pesos or P800 Pesos for each private room good for 2 persons. Owned by young traveler and multi-awarded writer to promote affordable but fun tourism. Hot & cold showers. All new rooms and facilities with international cable TV channels. Nice extensive library. Big clean guests' kitchen, elegant patio for dining room under giant Mango tree (eat free delicious mangoes if in season!) and also beside organic vegetable garden (you can eat fresh vegetables here), lounge & social areas in reception lobby and in the verandah with orchids and hanging plants on pillars and walls.

  • Friendly's Guesthouse , , 1750 Adriatico St. Corner Nakpil St., Malate, Manila, Philippines, Offers good clean accommodation aimed at backpackers and travelers. Hostel has large living areas, a big kitchen and free wi-fi. Their website (for further information) is http://www.friendlysguesthouse.com

  • Townhouse Hotel , +63 2 7161262, #31 Villa Carolina Townhouse, 201 Roxas Boulevard cor. Bayview Dr., Tambo Paranaque, Metro Manila Philippines, Not the cleanest and located in a dilapidated area, but only 3km from the main nightlife district. They also have an extensive library & friendly Filipino staff.

  • Windsor Inn, +63 2 7118679 & +63 2 7836781 & +63 2 4112311, #1748 A. Maceda Street, Sampaloc district, across 7-11 store of Dimasalang Street, 3-story classical-style architecture mansion converted into an affordable inn in the heart of an ancient part of Manila called Sampalodc (Tagalog for

  • Hotel Indah Manila 350 A J Villegas Street, Ermita, Manila. Tel: +63 2 5361188, 5362288. Rates start at P2000 This modest 76-room hotel is the ideal choice for practical travelers who demand clean and comfortable accommodation in an accessible location. Facilities include Café Indah and conference and function rooms. Comprehensive service suite includes airport and city transfers, tour assistance, and laundry service.


  • The Legend Villas , +63 2 6331501 to 10, 60 Pioneer corner Madison Streets,Mandaluyong City 1550

  • Binondo Suites , +63 2 736-6501, +63 2 736-6501, 801 Ongpin and S. Padilla Streets, Binondo, Three-star Standard Business Hotel in the heart of Chinatown, Manila.

  • CSB Hotel , Arellano Avenue corner Estrada Street, Four-star hotel near Taft Avenue, accessible to public transportation and tourist areas. Close to Central Business District. Known for its quality furnishings, terrific food, and value for money.

  • Garden Plaza Hotel and Suites , +63 2 5224835, 1030 Belen Street, Paco, Strategically located in the heart of Manila, The Garden Plaza Hotel and Suites offers excellent proximity to all things exciting. The hotel is a daily witness to the Manila’s gorgeous sunsets and active nightlife. A short distance away is Malate and Ermita. At night, Manila’s main tourist belts are pulsing with life.

  • Lotus Garden Suites Manila , +63 2 5221515, 1227 A. Mabini corner Padre Faura Sts., Lotus Garden Hotel is a three star hotel now emerging to be one of the most preferred standard hotels in Manila, Philippines.

  • Fersal Inn - Manila #1455 A. Mendoza Street corner Alvarez Street Sta. Cruz. Tel: +63 2 9112161 loc. 148 DL: +63 2 9122691. Discount hotel in Manila - Official website of Fersal Inn-Manila in Manila. Strategically close to the university belt, malls, shipping lines, night markets, and parks.

  • 'brings' you nearer (just 5 minutes away!) to your Airports (NAIA Terminal 1 and 3, Centennial Airport, and Manila Domestic). It is situated 5 minutes away from the new tourist shopping destination, the world's third largest, the SM Mall of Asia. Makati And Manila's Commercial districts are just 15 minutes away.


There are many major international hotel chains which have a presence in Metro Manila. Rates are still generally cheaper here compared to the same class of hotels in western cities. A stay in these hotels however, would be considered a luxury by Philippine standards particularly since these rates would represent a month's income for some Filipinos.

  • Diamond Hotel , +63 2 5283000, Roxas Boulevard cor. Dr. J. Quintos St., The Diamond Hotel is a true five-star hotel overlooking Manila's South Bay. The hotel has 500 rooms and suites and is operated by a world-class staff. The rooms are beautifully appointed and the suites are large and often have the greatest views of the surrounding area. The hotel has several dining choices including the Palm Court Cafe on the ground floor, Yurakuen Japanese Restaurant, also on the ground floor, and Restaurant Le Bellevue, a French restaurant on the 27th floor. For drinks, there is the Palm Court Bar, both inside and poolside, and the Sky Lounge Music Bar on the 27th floor. The Sky Lounge and Le Bellevue cannot be beat for watching a famous Manila sunset over the bay. Yurakuen Japanese Restaurant has an unsurpassed setting and ambiance. The hotel also houses a pool, towering waterfall, and a wonderful spa and gym. After your workout relax in the steam room or sauna, or schedule a trained masseuse to relax tired muscles. A wonderful destination itself, the hotel is located close to shopping, sightseeing, and museums.

  • The Heritage Hotel Manila , +63 2 8548888, Roxas Boulevard corner EDSA, Pasay City, A five-star deluxe hotel, it is minutes away from the international and domestic airports, business hubs; convention centres and SM Mall of Asia, the largest shopping mall in the Philippines.

  • The Manila Hotel, One Rizal Park, Roxas Boulevard. tel: +63 2 5270011, Fax: +63 2 5270022, . Right beside Rizal Park and a short distance away from Intramuros and the Baywalk Area in Manila.


Apart from the bustling Philippines capital as is a remarkable melting pot of Asian and Latin cultures, which was thick with history and flavor upon most of travelors interests. The best way to get a feel for Manila shopping is to go to a ‘tiangge’, a market of stalls, where everything can be bargained. Market! Market!, St. Francis Square, Greenhills Shopping Center and Tiendesitas are examples of such.


English and Filipino (Tagalog) are the common languages in the northern mainland of Luzon. Tagalog is the native tongue of most Filipinos (if not, Spanish). English comes second as a medium of instruction in any institution including businesses and the like (although some homes in the Philippines choose English as their first language; it depends upon preference).


Manila is distributed into 16 territorial districts, which are all original towns except one, the Port Area District. All of these original towns except Port Area have their own churches and several of these districts have attained identification in their own right.

The eight districts north of the Pasig River are:

  • Binondo - country's Chinatown before the arrival of Spaniards in 1571 and the city's main center for business

  • Quiapo - Hometown of the Black Nazarene and also a place which offers cheap prices on items ranging from electronics to native handicrafts

  • Sampaloc - means tamarind fruit is the district wherein the University of Santo Tomas, Asia's oldest university and the famous Dangwa Flower Market is located (near Windsor Inn at Maceda Street).

  • San Miguel - known as the University Belt District and the location of residence of the Philippine Government, Malacañang Palace

  • San Nicolas - shares Divisoria Flea Market with other co-district is the hub for the adventurous shoppers that may venture for cheap buys

  • Santa Cruz - is on the edge of Chinatown, which is the district of usual frenzied mix of commercial and residential premises

  • Santa Mesa - from the Spanish term Holy Mass, this district marks the first shot of the Filipino-American War

  • Tondo - the largest, historically 1100 years old, it is one of the first provinces to be established and rebelled against Spain and is now the Southeast Asia's Most Densely Populated District

The other eight are:

  • Ermita - one of the two Tourist Belt (another is the Malate district) is the former Red District and offers numeorus coin and antique shops aside from nightlife business

  • Intramuros - taken from the Latin, intra muros, literally "with in the walls", the History Town of the Philippines and considered as Old Manila itself during Spanish times

  • Malate - known as the center of bohemian night life in the city and in the metropolis

  • Paco - lies city's historic but mysterious octagonal park cemetery

  • Pandacan - district home of many of the country's literary and musical geniuses

  • Port - the country's chief seaport consisting of North and South Port where one can witness the dramatic sunset of Manila Bay

  • San Andres Bukid - was previously part of Santa Ana, this district has a touch of Moslem culture and has a mosque

  • Santa Ana- known as Sapa in ancient times, this district is the old capital of Namayan Kingdom which is the precursor of modern Metro Manila


  • University of the Philippines

  • Ateneo de Manila University

  • De La Salle University - Manila

  • University of Santo Tomas

  • Miriam College

  • Mapua Institute of Technology

  • Polytechnic University of the Philippines

  • Far Eastern University-Manila

  • University of the East

  • San Beda College

  • '''St. Scholastica's College, Manila

  • '''DLSU College of St. Benilde

  • Colegio de San Juan de Letran - Manila


The workforce in Manila covers everything from daily, minimum wage earners to expats being driven in Beemers. Standard working time varies, especially with the proliferation of Call Centers, but the usual working hours is from 8AM to 5PM. Given that the traffic within the Manila escalates exponentially as the day begins, it's always better to leave early for meetings.

There is also a local saying known as "Filipino Time" wherein it was expected that the attendee would be late by up to one hour. However, this has been significantly reduced through the years, although the bad traffic is usually (and realistically) cited as the main cause for missing one's appointment.

Makati City is the country's main CBD, or Central Business District, and, on every given weekday, it seems that all roads lead here. Multinational firms and big businesess hold offices here.

Ortigas Center, which cuts across the borders of Mandaluyong City, Pasig City and Quezon City, seems to be the alternative CBD, with companies such as the Asian Development Bank headquarters and the World Bank Manila office located in this vicinity.


Payphones are very common in the city center and to make a call, it will cost around US$0.02 per minute for a local call, slightly more for a national call and US$0.40 per minute for an international call. The use of mobile phones is also very extensive among the locals of in Manila. To use your mobile phone, it has to be at least a dualband GSM phone. Globe and Smart are the Philippine's largest mobile carriers and they invite you to use them as a roaming partner (inquire from your home carrier if they have Globe and Smart as a roaming partner).

To call anywhere within Metro Manila, simply dial the 7-digit telephone number from a payphone or a landline. If you need to call anywhere else within the Philippines, dial 0 + area code + telephone number. To make an international phone call, dial 00 + country code + area code + telephone number.

Internet cafes have become a common sight in Metro Manila. Most malls would have at least one internet cafe. Most internet cafes provide broadband speeds. Netopia and Pacific Internet are common chains. Netopia also has a branch at the MRT Ayala Station. Rates usually run at less than US$1 per hour. Cheap overseas calls can be made at Netopia branches via their VOIP service.

Most coffee shops now also have WiFi services available so you can surf the net while sipping a cuppa. Airborneaccess.net and WIZ are the most common WiFi providers. Ask around if usage is free of charge, otherwise, as the case is often, you will have to buy an internet access card at the counter for around US$2 per hour.

Stay Safe

Manila is a city where one should exercise caution. A popular scam as of recent days is for someone to approach you and pretend they recognize you. They will say they work at your hotel (i.e. room service, security, or whatever) and that they know you from there. They then say it is their day off and since they just happened to bump into you they want to show you something nice that is nearby; perhaps only a 2 or 3 minute ride away by taxi. They may be very convincing even to a seasoned traveler. It’s a scam. Do not ever get into a car or go anywhere with anyone you don’t know (the trick to making this scam work is that they try to convince you that they DO know you and have helped you at the hotel on a previous occasion). Of course, if you ask them which hotel they will not be able to answer. They are best fended off if you just ignore them, or if they persist, say something like "Are you going to leave me alone or should I call the police?" This makes them do an about face and leave pretty quickly.

Theft is common as well as pick pocketing. Manila, Philippines and other cities in Asia are of course more safe than say Los Angeles, Chicago, or New York and safer than any other big U.S city. But if you are a 6 ft+ Caucasian with blonde hair you are bound to stand out like a sore thumb. Travelers from other Asian nations especially South East Asians should have no problem blending in with the crowd however. One has to use common sense of course. Don't wear valuable jewelry or anything else to broadcast your wealth. Displaying that expensive mobile phone or digital camera out in the open is also a good way to attract the undue attention of petty thieves.

Get out

Around the capital are numerous attractions for people desiring a quick daytrip away from the hustle and bustle of this mega-metropolis.

  • Metro Manila (around Manila) is an administrative region where Manila is located. Manila is just one of the cities in this region of over 600km2. Many historical landmarks can be found within this region such as Manila's University of Santo Tomas, Quezon City's Memorial Circle, Pasig's Ninoy Aquino Airport and many other landmarks.

  • Tagaytay (1 hr south of Manila) is a city located on a ridge overlooking Taal Lake. The spectacular view of the Taal volcano in the middle of the lake, combined with the exquisite cuisine from the numerous ridge-side restaurants has made this a favorite weekend excursion for Manila residents.

  • Taal (1 hr south of Manila, near Tagaytay) is a heritage town containing many Spanish period homes that were built from the spoils of coffee, sugar and other 19th century export crops. A number of these homes have been turned into heritage museums that allow one to imagine what life was like during those times.

  • Antipolo City (30 km east of Metro Manila) Manilans make their annual summertime pilgrimage to the shrine of the Nuestra Senora dela Paz y Buenviaje (Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage) in this hilltop town. Once there, you can partake of the delicacies such as roasted cashew nuts and kalamay (glutinuous rice pudding). The Hinulugang Taktak Falls are nearby and prove a welcome respite to the city's hustle and bustle. On the way up to Antipolo via the Sumulong Highway are restaurants and bars which provide an excellent view of the Metro skyline.

  • Subic Freeport Zone (2 1/2 hrs north of Metro Manila) This former American military base has been converted into an industrial park and ironically, an eco-tourism zone. Within the confines of the freeport one can partake of practically all of the activities that most tourists generally experience in the Philippines: sun-tanning on whitesand beaches, bayside dining, studying English, forest canopy walking, wreck diving, casino gaming, survival trekking with native Aeta guides, bar hopping, golfing, getting a massage (one spa even offers synchronized massage with two masseuses) and other spa treatments, outlet shopping, you name it.

  • Baguio (5 hrs from Metro Manila by bus, 50 mins by plane) lies further north and up in the mountains of the Cordilleras. With its cool climate and pine trees, Baguio is said to be the summer capital of the Philippines.

  • Beaches There are a number of beach resorts within a couple of hours drive from Manila for those in search of the sand and sea. The closest among the top resorts is Caylabne in Cavite, a little more than an hour away from the metropolis. The towns of Nasugbu, Tali, San Juan and Calatagan in Batangas are lined with beach resorts for people of different budgets. North of Manila are the beaches of Bataan and Zambales. Montemar Resort in Bataan is accessible by fastcraft and van from Manila Bay in one and a half hours. The beaches of Zambales cluster in and around the Subic Bay freeport.

  • Scuba diving For those wanting to experience spectacular dive, the seaside resorts near Anilao in Batangas offer breathtaking dive spots. Anilao is where most Manila residents get their diver's license. Sabang (Philippines) is also another option for a short dive trip (popular for weekends) that does not require a plane but offers great diving.

  • History A must-see for any history buff is Corregidor Island. Corregidor is one of the last Philippine strongholds the Americans ceded to the Japanese in World War II. The various facilities and barracks used are still there for all to see. The gun emplacements are still there, as are the skeletons of several of the buildings, all with evidence of battle damage. Tours are run from the docks in Manila (near the Philippine Cultural Center), and are approximately $40. The fee includes the boat out and back, the guided tour, and a lunch.

Contact & location

Be the first one to add a review

Already have an account? Log In
Will never be displayed

The photos displayed on this page are the property of one of the following authors:

bingbing, Jun Acullador, Moody 75, IRRI Images

Some photos courtesy of: . The photos provided by Flickr are under the copyright of their owners.

This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

Stefan ErtmannRonald T, Diego Coruña, Peter Fitzgerald, Marchan T. Padla, Amita Chollate , Ronald T., cornerkick, Tess Flores, Nicolas, David, Holger Mette, Joe E, Manila Luzon, Ramon Miguel C. Samson, Medel, Greg Petty, Elmer W. Cagape, Rodney Zandbergs, Paul, S. Hall, Julie Arnaiz, Johny Canal, Ulf Harnhammar, Michele Ann Jenkins, Jani Patokallio, Andrew Haggard, Tim Sandell, Ravikiran Rao, Colin Jensen, Ricardo, Tom Holland, Eric Polk and Evan Prodromou, Fawn88, Tatatabot, Vidimian, Phooey, Cheshire2000, Texugo, Eunice, Buddhag1, Episteme, PhilippInfo, Jr traveller, Monsterbaby, Petska, Jonboy, Rgtanjuakio, Brendio, Huttite, WindHorse, InterLangBot, Mikito, Idril and Nzpcmad

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

Share this:

My lists

People who've been here (1)

People who'd like to go there (1)

Going to Manila?
... and need recommendations

Ask your friends on Facebook

Ask on Twitter