Guide to Manila, Philippines: What to see, where to stay and much more

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The skyline of Manila, Philippines.

Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, is a city full of joy and wonder. The name strictly only refers to one specific city, however, it is also used as a blanket term for a wider area which includes Pasay, Makati and Quezon City. This buzzing metropolis is perhaps the most densely populated in the world, so if you’ve ever driven through rush-hour traffic there, you’ll know what we mean! The Philippines is a developing nation and many people flock there looking for work, hence the dense population. There is so much to do, see, eat and hear that once you arrive, you’ll never want to leave.

The climate and best time to visit

To be honest, any time is a great time in Manila, however, more specifically one may want to arrive during one of two seasons, depending on their preference. The dry season begins in December and lasts until May, whereas the rainy season is from June to November. One can expect high temperatures between March and May, usually exceeding 40°C and 90 per cent humidity. Many people like visiting between December and February because these are cool months and you can expect some of the cheapest flights to Manila.

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Where to stay

Manila is a large area and hotels are relatively inexpensive. In our opinion, Poblacion is as one of the best places to stay because of its location near some brilliant restaurants, shops, bars and stores. If you’re looking for a boutique hotel experience, La Casita Mercedes is a seven-room hotel that was renovated from an old Filipino house. We would also recommend City Book of Ra Hotel, a four-star hotel with very well equipped rooms at a competitive price.

Things to do

Tour Intramuros on a bicycle

One can really see the city when travelling on a bicycle. If you go on a tour group, this is a wonderful way to visit historic Intramuros, the walled old city founded during the Spanish colonial period. It is best visiting this area on a bicycle because you can cover a lot of ground. Look out for bamboo bike tours, which are eco-friendly and also you’ll be riding really cool looking bikes!

Visit Manila Cathedral

One can find all the former famous archbishops buried here in a crypt underneath the altar. It’s a very majestic and surreal sight to behold, with beautiful European style architecture and a definite favourite for weddings. If one goes during Sunday mass, they will really feel like they’ve been transported to a divine place. This is one of the most worthwhile places to visit in Intramuros. One can even expect to see the occasional carriage passing by the doorway!

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Go to the National Museum

This is Manila’s foremost museum and contains the most renowned works of art in the Philippine art world. It contains arguably THE most famous work of Filipino art, Spoliarium by Juan Luna. There are three main buildings in the National Museum, the planetarium, the National Art Gallery and the Museum of the Filipino people which contains many historical treasures. Visiting the National Museum will really show you what Filipino life is all about.

See some wildlife at Manila Ocean Park

The oceanarium at Manila Ocean Park houses almost 14,000 different sea creatures, with 250 species that are only found in Southeast Asia. One can marvel at 3000m³ of water, housing all of this beautiful wildlife. This Park is also a place for seeing some cute Humboldt penguins which have been bred over many years as part of a breeding programme. One of the highlights is the brilliant curved walkway tunnel inside the oceanarium which is simply stunning to walk through.

Go for a shop at Greenhills Shopping Center

This really quirky and fun place to shop is really a sight to put on any Manila map. One can make use of their bargaining skills and find almost anything, from jewellery, fashion accessories shoes, watches, bags et cetera. There are a lot of high-quality knockoff goods that may look like the real thing, so if this isn’t your bag then beware. However, on the whole, it will be an interesting shopping experience.

Sunset spot at the Mall of Asia

This iconic spot is one of the best vantage points for seeing the sunset from, plus you can do some great shopping beforehand. Located in Manila Bay, some sights here are truly a delight to witness. One can also find many places to eat, such as a row of alfresco restaurants that face Manila Bay nearby. One can pick up a bucket of beers from one of his restaurants and then go up to see beautiful sunsets. This natural light show is one that shouldn’t be missed.

Go and get a massage

What better way to unwind and with a massage at the end of the day? You can expect to find a high-quality level of service and a full body massage for a very cheap price. There are a number of legitimate parlours all around, so ask at your local hotel to see where the nearest is. One of our favourites is Nuat Thai in Poblacion – they really do pull out all the stops to ensure a comfortable and relaxing experience.

Enjoy your Manila Philippines visit

After one visit, they will certainly agree that Manilla is one of the best cities in the Philippines. Manila Philippines provides so much entertainment and cultural experiences for a wonderful and fulfilling trip. Make sure that you find your best time to visit and book a flight right away. He certainly won’t regret it!

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