A partial solar eclipse seen over Manila Bay on 26 January 2009.
What is there to see?
I have often heard that there is nothing to do in Manila other than shopping! In fact there is a huge amount to do! To experience the Philippines you must visit the provinces, but you must also experience the modern city. Manila offers world class facilities, shopping and dining to equal to many cities in the world. There is so much to see - take a look at the menu on the left for just a taster!
Makati is the main built-up area and is probably the best place to stay! Makati is divided into two areas. The largest is the Central Business District with the stock exchange, large and classy malls and high class hotels. The other part - end of Makati Avenue - comprises the red-light district with many hotels and bars. A little further on and you'll find the classy area of Rockwell which boasts a good mall and restaurants.
Legaspi Village, looking towards Salcedo Village, in Makati.
Soon to become the new Central Business District is Fort Bonifacio, locally known as 'the Fort' and formerly home of the Philippine Army who still have a small base in the area. This is a very classy area like Makati. If you want a relaxing shopping experience and good food then the 'High Street' or the adjacent 'Market! Market!' Mall is for you!
Malate is another high rise area overlooking Manila Bay. This area was formerly the main red light district, now reduced. There are still many bars though. This area might offer a good deal on accomodation, but is not as classy as Makati. The area is being improved by the Mayor and in the future I can see this area becoming more desirable.
Other high rise areas exist in Manila such as Ortigas and Eastwoods, but are not so regularly frequented by tourists. These are generally business districts with accomodation for all the city workers.
Makati Makati Ave Rockwell
Fort Boni High St
Manila is a great hub to base your activities. Whilst in Manila I would recommend two out-of town trips to Tagatay and to Corregidor, both can be achieved in a day each. I would also recommend visiting Intramuros. Then there are a number of good museums with some amazing 800 year old gold artifacts. After that you can go shopping - shops are open until late!
Where do I stay?
Makati is by far the best place to stay. I would personally recommend the Salcedo Village or Legaspi Village areas in the Central Business District which is classy with many fine dining restaurants. The End of Makati Avenue area comprises a separate area of high rise buildings in the red light district. There are many hotels at a good price in this area and lots of bars if this is your thing.
Malate also offers good affordable accomodation and there is nightlife in this area. Ortigas has accomodation too, but this is often more business accomodation.
Manila offers every price range conceivable from the bargain to the ultra-luxurious. I would recommend the luxury hotels in Makati Central Business District near Glorietta Mall. If your budget doesn't fit with this you can get a good hotel in a good location in Makati for around 2000 peso - at this price the room is usually nice and clean, but in an older building. Spend about 5000 peso a night for a good room in a modern building. Spend 10,000 peso a night for luxury accomodation. Outside of Makati hotels can be found even cheaper!
Salcedo Village in Makati
How do I get there?
The airport has one international terminal (Terminal 1). There are also two main domestic Terminals (Terminal 2 which is mainly Philippine Airlines and Terminal 3, which is mainly Cebu Pacific). The domestic airline 'Zest Air' flys from the old Cebu Pacific Terminal. Grabbing a taxi from the airport is very easy. You can get a yellow metered cab or a white fixed rate cab. Yellow metered cabs are usually very marginally cheaper and nicer cars. White cab drivers seem to have a better idea where they are going! Swings and Roundabouts! A fare to Makati is around 300-350 peso.
How long shall I stay?
Some people stay forever, but I would try to stay around 4 days in Manila (to allow for a trip to Tagatay, Corregidor, Intramuros and a day shopping). You may want to stay for longer or for less, dependent on whether you are a city person or not.
Tips and Comments