Most Asian capitals are unfairly dismissed as being chaotic, over-populated and beleaguered with traffic. Although this may ring true for Manila, especially at first glance, scratch beneath its surface and discover the irresistible energy and benevolent locals that keep tourists coming back for more.
The first thing that visitors off Manila flights notice is that the city doesn’t have a centre, instead there are remnants of the walled Intramuros. Built in the 16th century by the Spaniards, this ‘city within a city’ is Manila’s oldest district and its traditional city centre which once housed churches, schools and hospitals. To get your bearings of the city, begin at the Intramuros and make your way towards Rizal Park where a huge three-dimensional map of the country sits as well as a Japanese Garden, planetarium and children’s amusement park.
Art buffs taking Manila flights will have lots to keep them busy during their flight since visiting all the museums and galleries will require some planning as the city is spread out. But if there’s only time to visit one museum then the Ayala Museum is should be provides the best examples of Filipino art and culture.
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- Visit Casa Manila in the Intramuros area. The three-storey furnished house is a beautifully restored colonial Spanish home.
- Organise a trip to Corregidor, the island which was fought over in World War II by the Japanese and Americans. Here you’ll find the haunting Malinta tunnels to explore and a small museum that houses weapons and uniforms.
- Stroll down Ayala Avenue and explore its trendy boutiques, restaurants and nightclubs.
- For a fun night out, nothing beats the Amazing Philippines Theatre, a theatrical live show featuring transvestites dressed in extravagant who provide nightly performances.
- Considered the national sport of the country, basketball is huge here and avid basketball lovers won’t want to miss a season game at the Araneta Coliseum which is managed by the PBA – Philippines’ NBA equivalent.