Things to do in Manila
Manila is a densely populated city of 12 million people, with the attendant problems of overcrowding, crime and urban pollution. However it is a beautiful city to visit and tourists who take care to avoid any obvious dangers will be well rewarded. The city is home to an almost exclusive Christian population, and features four basilicas which are worth a visit. The Basilica Minore de San Sebastian is built solely from steel, while the San Agustin Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the city's most popular attractions, having survived wartime bombings and numerous earthquakes.
Fort Santiago is the city's most visited attraction, a former active military base best known for the imprisonment of Jose Rizal in the late 19th Century. The Intramuros fortress, built in 1571, sits on the Pasig River and is another key attraction. Culture lovers should also head for the ornamental gardens of Rizal Park and the National Museum of the Filipino People.
Manila offers a range of shopping experiences, from intimate bazaars and arts shops to major shopping centres. Greenbelt Shopping Centre offers a great experience, and is surrounded by good quality restaurants and bars, set amid parkland. Food lovers are well catered for, with diverse fare on offer including restaurants dedicated to local seafood, cafes bursting with Spanish-influenced dishes, and the high-end Sala restaurant.How far is the airport from city centre and which airlines fly to Manila from UK?
Manila's main airport is Ninoy Aquino International Airport, located 7km south of the city. It is served by many carriers from the UK, including KLM, British Airways, Etihad, Emirates and Aer Lingus. Flights to Manila can be boarded from most major UK airports including Manchester, Heathrow, Gatwick, Bristol, Birmingham and Newcastle.How to get to city centre from the airport?
Local buses provide a regular service between the city and the airport; travellers can also opt for the extremely popular "jeepney" cars, though travel by this method can be more risky due to poor emissions standards and unpredictable drivers! A rail network also links the local area, and travellers can also hire cars and travel on the South Luzon Expressway, a major passenger route.What are the visa requirements for EU and non-EU nationals?
Residents of over 150 countries are now freely permitted to enter the Philippines for up to 30 days, provided they hold a passport valid for over 6 months. This includes all UK travellers and most from both EU and non-EU nations. Tourists wishing to stay longer must apply for a visa, which can permit single entry for up to 60 days, or apply to the Bureau of Immigration for an extended visit.
How to get around Manila?
The jeepney service is popular, though it suffers from poor driving standards and can pick up or drop passengers in the middle of the road at times! Local buses are cheap and widely available, and those with air conditioning can be used for a small additional cost. Driving is not for the faint of heart, with extremely busy and dangerous conditions prevalent at most times. Elevated tram services offer an alternative, though can become extremely congested in peak periods.What’s the best time to visit Manila?
Manila is generally hot and humid all year round, with daily temperatures generally in the 25-30°C range. December to May tend to be drier months, while the June to September period can see heavy rainfall on most days. Typhoons are also a feature of the rainy season, and are best avoided.