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 Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is one of Asia's best-kept secrets. As the capital of the only predominantly Catholic country in the Orient, it presents a unique blend that feels slightly out of place, yet vibrantly infused with Latin American and Caribbean influences. Music and dancing are ubiquitous, and the city's warmth and enthusiasm can easily rival that of Bangkok. Manila's rich history, shaped by centuries under Spanish religious influence and decades of American consumerism, has led to the saying that the city spent "400 years in a convent and 50 in Hollywood".


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Shops usually open from 10am to 8pm, but shopping malls close at 9pm or 10pm. Smaller shops close for lunch between noon and 2pm. There are many 24-hour convenience stores and drugstores. Malls are open on Sundays and public holidays.


1.8 million


Ruins at Fort Santiago and buildings along the Pasay River, in Intramuros, Manila, The Philippines. Jon Bilous/shutterstock

The City

Metro Manila is an urban sprawl that has swallowed up 11 cities and five towns in the past two centuries. It’s a place of opposites: old and new wealth and poverty, grandiosity and decay. Smog, traffic jams and a general air of decay make a less than favourable first impression, but just beneath the surface lies a fascinating and pulsating place to enjoy. The Filipinos call it ‘The City of Our Affections’ where the people’s love affairs with fashion, music, entertainment and sheer fun are on bright and beautiful display.

By day, the original, medieval walled city of Intramuros delights with its history and elegant Latin architecture. By night — and it can be a very long night — the bright lights of Ermita and Makati beckon with jazz pubs, clubs, karaoke lounges, 24-hour diners and trendy bars. The Filipino people’s zest for life, natural friendliness and ease with the English language make them the perfect hosts, always ready to invite you to their daily party. This is a fun city where your shoulders loosen in relaxation and only the muscles you use to smile are seriously stressed.

Horse Drawn Carriage parking in front of Malate church , Manila Philippines Tappasan Phurisamrit/shutterstock

Do & See

Manila’s colourful history has created an interesting range of attractions to keep the energetic sightseer busy for several days. There are plenty of historical sites to admire and museums where you can learn more about the city and its culture.

Take a stroll along Roxas Boulevard and witness the famous Manila sunset after exploring the UNESCO World Heritage-listed San Agustin Church and one of the oldest churches in Manila — the Manila Cathedral. And don’t forget the stunning nature the city has on offer like the beautiful Taal Volcano with a breathtaking view, or take a guided tour to the small rocky island of Corregidor.

For sure, there are plenty to explore including shiny gems in a city with a bustling, sprawling and unique atmosphere. The cosmopolitan city of Manila is Asia’s best-kept secret and it is just waiting to be explored.

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Roxas Boulevard

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Fort Santiago


Club Intramuros Golf Course


Rizal Park


Manila Cathedral

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San Agustin Church

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The Manila Hotel

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National Museum of Fine Arts

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Corregidor Island

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Taal Volcano

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Manila Ocean Park

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City Tour With A Segway


Manila Luxury Spa

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While Philippine cuisine may not be universally acclaimed as among Asia's best, Filipinos have a deep love for food, particularly enjoying a leisurely long lunch traditionally eaten with their hands from a banana leaf. Manila stands out as one of the most affordable cities for enjoying a diverse array of international cuisines — including Thai, Chinese, Japanese, French, and Italian — each meeting global standards. Coupled with excellent service and beautiful dining settings, Manila offers a delightful experience for those looking to wine and dine.

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Via Mare



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Casa Armas Tapas Bar y Restaurante




Harbor View Restaurant


G Point Smörgåsbord & Bar


Cabel Filipino Heritage Cuisine


Banana Leaf

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Nobu Manila


The Aristocrat


Bistro Remedios

Coffee Shop Bar Counter Cafe Restaurant Relaxation Concept Rawpixel dot com/shutterstock


Manila's coffee culture is flourishing, with countless local cafes and major international chains to choose from. The city's baristas are passionate about their craft, ensuring that whether you prefer your coffee hot or iced, strong or mild, black or flavoured, you'll find the perfect brew to satisfy your taste. And when you're in the mood for something sweet, Manila's cafes offer an enticing selection of desserts and pastries to complement your coffee or tea.


Hizon's Cakes & Pastries

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Cupcakes By Sonja

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Mary Grace

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Pancake House


The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf


J. CO Donuts & Coffee


Habitual Coffee

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The Washery Laundromat & Café

Makati Skyline at night. Makati is a city in the Philippines` Metro Manila region and the country`s financial hub. It`s known for the skyscrapers and shopping malls. r.nagy/shutterstock

Bars & Nightlife

Filipinos take fun seriously and Manila’s bars are among Asia’s liveliest. Happy hour is everyone’s favourite time of day — and lasts long into the night at certain hangouts. Great service, ice-cold drinks, and music nearly everywhere.

Manila is party central. Venues stay open until 5am at weekends and 3am midweek. The nightlife centres are on JM Nakpil Street, Makati Avenue or Pasay Road in Makati and throughout the Malate and Ermita districts. The palace, Manilas biggest destination is also a great place to head for when in the party mood.


Newport World Resorts Casino & Bars

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The Tap Room


Bar Rouge

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Revel at The Palace

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XYLO at The Palace

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Sky Deck View Bar


12 Monkeys Music Hall & Pub

Portrait of young couple shopping in the mall Pressmaster/shutterstock


Manila one of the most exciting shopping destinations in Southeast Asia thanks to the giant malls so-called 'megamalls' where you basically will find everything your heart might desire. The malls are open seven days a week and generally the doors opens at 10 or 11. These air-conditioned malls are also a welcome escape from the tropical heat and many families and friends are regularly spending the entire days to stroll around the stores or to have a bite to eat. Many of these malls are not just for shopping, but also boasts with theatres, spas, ice-skating rinks and cinemas, making them to a huge entertainment complex.

When you get tired of the malls, head over to one of the bazaars (called tiangge) or the markets that overflows with the hottest trends and some amazing bargains to bring back home. You can easily stock up on clothes, shoes and accessories without breaking your wallet but make sure to bargain and try to aim to pay about 30 to 40 percent lower than the original price.

Clothes, shoes and accessories are the best deals but be aware the size of the clothes tends to be smaller in Asia.

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SM Mall of Asia


Greenhills Shopping Centre


Divisoria Market


Ayala Malls (One Ayala)


Shangri-La Plaza

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San Andres Market


Seaside Dampa / Seaside Market


Silahis Arts & Artifacts

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Balikbayan Handicrafts


Robinsons Place Mall


168 Shopping Mall

Philippine Navy's dragon boats in Manila Bay, Philippines Antonio V. Oquias/shutterstock

Tourist Information

Passport / Visa

The Philippines can be visited visa-free for up to 30 days by citizens of all European Union member states, all ASEAN member states, the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Malaysia, Israel, the UAE and most countries in Latin America. A valid return or onward ticket and a passport that is valid upon entry and for at least six months beyond the period of stay are required to enter the Philippines. If you are unsure whether or not you need to apply for a visa, contact the embassy or consulate in your country.





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Best Time to Visit

The dry period between November and April is the peak tourist season in the Philippines. Hidden areas and remote islands are fully accessible, and temperatures are very mild, especially from December to February.

During the wet season, from May to October, you can still enjoy sunny days, but bear in mind that typhoons can occur.

The months of May and November are considered low season, which means smaller crowds and lower prices for flights and accommodation. The weather is still pleasant, nonetheless.





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Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), also known by the abbreviation NAIA, is 7 kilometres from the centre of Manila, located south of the city, and southwest of Makati City's Central Business District.

A taxi is for sure the quickest, most efficient and safest way to travel to and from the airport. You can book a taxi at an official desk at the airport or grab a taxi outside the terminal. The journey can take between 30 minutes to one hour, depending on the time of day and the traffic. There are two types of taxis: yellow and white. The yellow taxis are the officially registered and certified taxis at the airport and one of the best and safest means of transportation. The white taxis (street taxis) are not allowed inside the airport's arrival (only arriving at the departure level) and if you decide to take one of these, be careful, the driver can give you a higher fixed price without using the meter.

Another option is to arrange for a hotel transfer to pick you up. This you should arrange in advance, but it is one of the most expensive options.

Address: Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Ninoy Aquino, Manila




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Jeepneys, originally made from converted US military jeeps, are a popular and colourful mode of transport in Manila. These 16-seat vehicles operate on pre-set routes with a fixed fare. Routes are displayed on the front of each jeepney. To ride, simply flag one down and let the driver know when you'd like to disembark.





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Taking a taxi in Manila is an affordable way to navigate the city. You can hail a taxi on the street or book one by phone, but it's important to ensure that it is registered and metered. If a taxi driver claims the meter isn't working, it's advisable to find another cab. Also, carrying small peso notes is wise to avoid overpaying; drivers may claim they don’t have change even when they do.

The best app for summoning a taxi in the Philippines is Grab.





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In the Philippines, the postal system operates through PHLPost, which manages mail delivery and services across the archipelago. For travellers in Manila, postal services are easily accessible at post offices and postal kiosks in major areas, ideal for sending postcards and parcels. Rates are reasonable, and services are reliable, though delivery times can vary, especially for international mail.

Address: Central Post Office Building, Liwasang (Park) Bonifacio, Magallanes Drive, Intramuros, Manila


Phone: +63 923 442 7017


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Drug stores abound in Metro Manila, many operated by market leader Mercury Drug.

Address: Mercury Drug San Andres, 660 San Andres Street, Malate, Manila


Phone: +63 2 8911 7854


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Country code +63
Area code: (0)2





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The Philippines uses American-style power sockets with two flat prongs as well as European-style sockets with two round prongs. Expect 220 volts at 60Hz.





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