Places to visit in Metro Manila
When asked to name some of our favourite places to hang out in The capital of the Philippines, Metro Manila, it took us a while to put together simply because it can depend a lot on the mood you are in at the time and who you plan to meet with. When coming in from more developed, western environments, a bustling city in a tropical developing country can be an exciting new change with so much to experience and explore. Metro Manila can provide very different experiences depending on what you're looking for.
Whenever you feel the need to reconnect with a more developed, western environment, visit the Greenbelt area in Makati's Central Business District - considered to be one of the most well thought-out shopping and dining areas in the city. A wide range of international cuisine is on offer as well as many of the more popular brands from around the world. With a great mix of restaurants and shops in a relatively quiet, green space, it can provide a little breathing space for anyone needing a short break from the city's congested sidewalks, streets and hi-rises. Food:
Go to Spicy Fingers for Happy Hour or Barcino
for wine and tapas.
When you are looking for hip, lively streetculture scene The Collective
in Makati, is where to be. This little enclave of shops and restaurants organizes weekly events, from small concert, to art exhibits and everything else in between. Expect to meet a lot of open minded and cool people. You might want to give the vegetarian Vietnamese bread a try.
Are you ready for something intense? Make your way down to the Chinatown/Quiapo/Divisoria area in Old Manila. You'll know you've arrived once you find yourself floating in a sea of human foot traffic drifting alongside an endless parade of passenger jeeps, tricycles and cars.
In Chinatown, you'll find some of the best dimsum outside Hong Kong and Singapore. Everything around you is compact and well-worn - from the sidewalks and streets to the shops and restaurants, which should make for a pretty interesting experience. Try the Macau Egg Tart at Macau Bakery in Ong Pin Street, which is the mainstreet in Chinatown.
Shopping: If you're in the mood to shop and are hunting around for a ridiculous bargain, well both Quiapo and Divisoria can itch that scratch best. They only catch about this area is that it feels completely disorganized and chaotic to the outsider, so bring a local guide/friend along with you in order to decipher the codes and mysteries within this beehive of an area.
If you are in Manila and you are wondering - why on Earth did I ever choose to stay in these stone jungles? - a good way to gain perspective on the city is to attend a tour around the historical parts of Manila by Carlos Celdran
. Carlos is not a standard tour guide, but rather a guide of his proper genre! Be prepared for a breathtaking journey around Manila that you would never suspect ever existed.
: Inspired by the abundance of the tropical fruit in the Philippines and wondering how you can get even more benefit? Discover the art of raw food preparation. A great activity for health-minded foodies. Be prepared to discover amazing flavours, new ingredients and their scrumptious combinations. Classes are being offered at Dahon Kusina
by the raw chef Asha Peri.
Food: Vincent is Bipolar
in Maginawa Quezon City. It is a very small restaurant, Vincent opened it to let people experience the impact of food on health. Definitely go, have a look and eat.
Going out: Enjoy Cubao X in Cubao, it is a venue in open air where you can have drinkes or food in a bar or restaurant of your choice. The vibe is vibrant and a lot of students come here to spend their evenings. They wear cool and creative clothes. Just go and see the place and experience it by yourself, it is authentic.
Activity: So if you want to get out of Manila for a daytrip, just to relax, swim and see some green. Wawa-dam is the perfect destination. Take a FX from Aurora Avenue at Gateway mall, Cubao that will drive you to Montalban (one hour, when traffic is not too busy, about 50 peso). Then take a jeepney saying Wawa for another 20 minutes (9 peso). From the Wawa "terminal", a parking along the river, follow the path next to the river for 10 minutes. Here you will find the dam and the old waterreserve. This is where the drinking water from Manila used to come from. Now you will find some bamboo picknicktables and a great spot for swimming. On the other side of the river you can go caving.
Transport in Manila
Metro Manila is notorious for its traffic jams with trips averaging at speeds as low as 6–8 kilometers per hour. A trip that should take 20 minutes will last an hour or more especially during rush hour. There are many different ways of travelling through Manila, but don’t expect it to be convenient and always watch your belongings because of pickpockets.
MRT (Metro Rail Transit), LRT 1 and LRT 2 (Light Rail Transit 1 and 2)
Minimum fare: P7.00 – may cost higher depending on how far your destination is. You can ask the driver about this.
In Metro Manila, you will also see ‘pedicabs’. These are like tricycles but with bicycles instead of motorcycles.