Discovering Manila: A Comprehensive Travel Guide
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Manila, the vibrant capital of the Philippines, is a hub of trade, industry, commerce, education, entertainment, and arts. It seamlessly blends the country’s oldest and richest heritage treasures with modern metropolitan features, making it a fascinating destination to explore.
Initially a small tribal settlement along the Pasig River, Manila rose to prominence as the seat of Spanish colonial rule in Asia during the 16th century. Today, it is a bustling megalopolis with over 12 million inhabitants, boasting impressive skyscrapers and a thriving urban landscape.
What to See in Manila:
Manila, the vibrant capital of the Philippines, is an ideal starting point for a memorable vacation. Make the most of your stay with these must-see destinations in Manila and its neighboring towns:
The oldest district in Manila and historic center, also known as the “Walled City.” Built during Spanish colonial rule, Intramuros houses popular attractions like San Agustin Church, Fort Santiago, Manila Cathedral, Casa Manila, and the Rizal Shrine.
A scenic tourist spot south of Manila, Tagaytay sits on a ridge above Taal Volcano Island, an active volcano surrounded by a lake.
Perfect for a leisurely stroll and romantic sunset, Manila Bay is home to a large shopping mall, Star City amusement park, and casinos.
An active stratovolcano located north of Manila, Mt. Pinatubo’s crater lake is a must-see attraction and can be reached via a 2.5-hour trek.
Known as the country’s financial hub, Makati is a shopper’s paradise with its towering skyscrapers and numerous shopping malls located in the heart of Metro Manila.
When to go to Manila:
Manila boasts a tropical climate, making it an attractive destination year-round.
The city experiences two distinct seasons – the wet season from May to November, and the dry season from December to April. However, visitors should be aware that typhoons are common in Luzon island between June to September.
In addition to its favorable weather, Manila is a city brimming with events, live concerts, and festivals throughout the year, providing visitors with a wide range of exciting and memorable experiences.
Getting to Manila:
Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) is the premier gateway to Metro Manila, serving as the sole airport in the city. It is also the busiest airport in the Philippines, catering to numerous domestic and international flights.
In addition to NAIA, another airport that serves Metro Manila is the Clark International Airport in Angeles, located approximately 80 kilometers (50 miles) away. While it is further away, Clark International Airport is a viable alternative for travelers looking for more flight options and may provide easier access to destinations outside of Metro Manila.
Manila is a favored destination for cruise ships and leisure vessels, with its tranquil harbor serving as the chief seaport of the Philippines. The port not only caters to the city’s commercial needs but is also recognized as one of Asia’s major ports.
Travelers can take advantage of scheduled trips to other Philippine ports that depart on a regular basis, offering a unique and exciting mode of exploration throughout the country.
Getting around Manila
Exploring Manila is an adventure in itself, and riding a colorful Jeepney is an essential experience for understanding the city’s way of life. Originally converted from leftover US Army jeeps, the Jeepney has become an iconic symbol of Filipino ingenuity and is the backbone of the Philippine transportation system. Passengers can board and alight anywhere, making it the preferred mode of transport for short distances.
Taxis and buses also ply the main routes of the city, and it’s recommended to download the GrabTaxi app for hassle-free bookings. Tricycles (motorbike with a sidecar) and pedicabs (bicycle with a sidecar) are convenient for navigating inner-city roads. For a nostalgic touch, quaint kalesas (horse-drawn carriages) are still available in areas like Binondo and Intramuros.
Where to stay:
Manila offers a diverse range of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs and budget, from luxurious hotels to affordable options.
Luxury hotels such as The Peninsula Manila, Shangri-La at the Fort, and Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila offer five-star amenities and services. For mid-range options, there are several boutique hotels and apart-hotels like The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences and City Garden GRAND Hotel Makati.
Budget-conscious travelers can choose from a wide range of affordable hotels, hostels, and guesthouses. Backpackers may also opt for the various backpacker hostels in the city, offering shared dormitory-style accommodations.
No matter what type of accommodation you choose, Manila has something to offer for every budget and preference.
The Peninsula Manila is a luxury hotel located in the central business district of Makati, Manila. It offers 5-star amenities and services with a blend of traditional and modern design. The hotel features 351 rooms and suites, each elegantly designed and equipped with the latest technology and amenities.
The Peninsula Manila boasts of several dining options, including The Lobby, which serves traditional Afternoon Tea, Old Manila, which offers modern European cuisine, and Spices, which serves Asian cuisine. The hotel also has a bar, a patisserie, and a poolside bar.
Other facilities at the hotel include a fitness center, a spa, a swimming pool, and a business center. The hotel also has several event spaces, including ballrooms and meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 1,000 guests.
Overall, The Peninsula Manila is known for its excellent service, luxurious accommodations, and prime location in the heart of Makati, making it a popular choice for both leisure and business travelers.
City Garden Grand Hotel is a modern and luxurious 4-star hotel located in the bustling district of Makati, Manila. The hotel features 311 spacious and contemporary rooms and suites, each fitted with modern amenities such as flat-screen TVs, air conditioning, and high-speed internet access.
The hotel boasts of several dining options, including Spice Cafe, which serves international cuisine, Firefly Roofdeck Bar, which offers a stunning view of the city skyline, and The Pool Bar, which serves light snacks and refreshments.
Other facilities at the City Garden Grand Hotel include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, a spa, and a business center. The hotel also has several meeting rooms and a grand ballroom that can accommodate up to 1,000 guests, making it a popular venue for events and conferences.
The hotel’s prime location in Makati puts guests within easy reach of the city’s top attractions and business districts, making it an ideal choice for both leisure and business travelers.
Belmont Hotel Manila is a modern and stylish 4-star hotel located within the vibrant Resorts World Manila complex, just a few minutes away from Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The hotel features 480 well-appointed rooms and suites, each equipped with flat-screen TVs, minibars, and high-speed internet access.
The hotel boasts of several dining options, including Cafe Belmont, which offers a buffet of international and Filipino cuisine, and Rooftop 11, which serves Mediterranean-inspired dishes and offers a stunning view of the city skyline. The Belmont Lounge, located in the lobby, also serves light snacks and refreshments.
Other facilities at the Belmont Hotel Manila include an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness center, a spa, and a business center. The hotel also has several meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 200 guests, making it a popular venue for events and conferences.
The hotel’s location within the Resorts World Manila complex also provides guests with easy access to various entertainment and leisure options, such as a casino, shopping mall, and cinemas.