Introducing the city

£1.00 | P63.97

GBP | PHP

Gasoline £0.66 | P42.53

One-way ticket £0.31 | P20.00

Beer £0.78 | P50.00

Main Course £3.13 | P200.00

About Manila

Persistence is key to exposing Manila's cool and creative soul. Like the walls of Intramuros fort, Manila is tough on the outside but outgoing and trendy on the inside.

Delirious with fever, its streets are clotted with commotion; commuters give a wide berth to children splashing in paddling pools, belching jeepneys size each other up as they stop-start through traffic and hawkers wait impatiently on customer orders. Madness is Manila's forte. This is a city that has endured natural disasters and the havoc of World War II, with a gritty determination to carry on, no matter what the odds.

This pursuit of happiness is surely made of the same stuff as the American dream. Since the War of the Pacific, the stars and stripes are a favourite for car paint jobs, graffiti and fashion. That's not to say Manila has forgotten her roots, the artisan markets veiled from main roads by fluttering canvas drapes sell traditionally weaved and carved crafts, bone handled flick knives and Igorot chess sets. The Spanish walls of Intramuros, the Cathedral and breezy, colonial style parks are sanctuary to all.

The 'Pearl of the Orient' is all the better for its unconventional and haphazard style of getting things done.

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Weather

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When Should You Visit?

Manila has a tropical monsoon climate and so temperatures remain high year round. Visit in December or January, two months which are outside the rainy season and two of the coolest in the year.

Manila has two seasons, the wet and the dry. April temperatures can max out at 35-36 degrees Celsius making it rather uncomfortable to walk around. The rainy season from June to October can see the streets grind to a halt in typhoon rains.

We recommend carrying a bottle of water no matter what time of the year you are visiting Manila. Many cafes and restaurants are air conditioned so make strategic pit stops to cool down and hydrate.

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Travioor top tips

Map
Jeepney
Taxi

Insider Info

  • Carry a map. Even the most streetwise are susceptible to getting lost in Manila. Street names are often updated and changed.

  • Public transport is modelled on US military jeeps, customised with kitsch interior design and flashy paint jobs. They are a lot of fun, watch the drivers neatly fold pesos between their knuckles and pound on clown horns. Here's a couple of pointers: Sit near the back for an easy exit (you won't be the only one with this idea) and shout, 'para' to make the driver stop. Carry small change and pass fellow passengers' money towards the front.

  • The airport has poor public transport links. To bypass the overpriced taxis at arrivals, head for the departure level (fourth floor) and exit to find the regular ranks of white taxis.

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Food and drink

Main Course £3.13 | P200.00

3-Course Meal £15.63 | P1,000.00

Cappuccino £1.90 | P121.38

Beer £0.78 | P50.00

The Scene

Unlike the more Islamic south of the Philippines, Manila's cuisine is characterised by sweet, sour and salty flavours. Makati is a restaurant hotspot and cheap and adventurous street fare can be found all over. A good starting point is adobo (pork or chicken braised in soy sauce, vinegar and garlic, served with rice).

Slurp at balut (fertilised duck egg) is considered to be an effective aphrodisiac, a rumour somewhat confirmed by the tendency of balut hawkers to emerge at night. Never has the chicken or eff conundrum been so aptly presented. Balut has acquired a distinctly Filipino reputation despite being of Chinese origin.

On the other hand, Chinese food in Manila is generally of Cantonese origin, especially the fare found in the Bonondo district.

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History

Manila’s Story

Early Filipino's are thought to have arrived from Australia, the Indonesian archipelago and southeastern Asia probably by land bridges. A nomadic lifestyle sustained by hunting and fishing was gradually phased out by Malayan rice farming technologies.

In 1571, after selecting a promising port town in Luzon, the Spanish monarchy invaded Manila and predictably constructed a fort. The Islamic sultans and Filipino rebellions were crushed and new trading terms soured relations with the Chinese. Throughout history Manila has existed as a trade centre, well placed with China and Japan to the north, southeastern Asia to its West and the length of Indonesia southward.

The battle for Manila in early 1945 was brutal and fierce. Blasted by American naval and land artillery, Japanese forces murdered and mutilated civilians in the lead up to certain allied victory. Present day population of 1.6 million occupies an area of 38.55 kilometres squared and contains the densest human population area on earth.

Language

Kamusta | Hello
Salamat | Thank you

Tagalog

The Austronesian language of Tagalog is the official language of Manila. A large majority speak varying levels of English and older generations tend to be the Spanish speakers.

Manileños are unsuspecting of westerners understanding anything beyond basic Tagalog.

  • Magkano ho ito: How much is this?
  • Pasensya ka na: Sorry bear with me.
  • Aanhín pa ang damó kung patáy na ang kabayo?: What use is the grass if the horse is already dead? (they won't expect you to know this one!)

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Need to know

+63 Dialling Code
911 Emergency Services

Get The Low-Down

  • Petty theft is common.
  • Pan your day trips thoroughly, the spaghetti roads and densely populated neighbourhoods present unforeseen difficulties.
  • Public transport to the airport and docks is poor, have some cash for a taxi.
  • Travel to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
     

VISA INFORMATION

Find out about the visa requirements for The Philippines click here.

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Travioor Recommends

1. Markets

Be prepared to haggle but don't lose your cool, a big no-no in this part of the world. Try out Silahis in Intramuros for organic crafts and Quiapo market for rattan goods.

2. Fort Santiago

The second fortification to be erected on this site which replaced the pre-Hispanic defences. During Japanese occupation it housed prisoners in gruesome conditions.

3. Smokey Tours

Cockfighting, bicycle and slums tours are penetrative activities to understanding Manila. Keep an eye out for accommodation offering free tours too.

4. Quiapo Church

Visit this fascinating attraction at seven on Friday mornings to see devoted Filipinos pray for small miracles and rub fabrics on the statue ebony carved statue.

5. Shop

Head for the Greenbelt in Makati for designer labels, Greenhills in San Juan for pearls and the Shangri-la mall for odd bits like antiques and comics.


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