Welcome to Manila, Philippines!
A crossroads where East meets West, Manila is a melting pot of cultures and traditions. Manila has become a thriving metropolis filled with towering skyscrapers and streets that are steeped with history. Officially crowned as the most densely populated city on earth, expect to witness unbelievable sights and hear overwhelming sounds. This guide will take you through Manila as a worldwide local, helping you to discover the city’s little gems.
Manila is the gateway to the Philippine islands, and is often used as a quick stop for the country’s beautiful destinations. Behind the stresses of unbearable traffic and the cramped concrete jungle, you are able to see simple, local charms that make you appreciate the city. From the friendly locals to its vibrant traditions, Manila may just surprise you.
Don’t Miss Chinatown
With close cultural ties to China, Manila unsurprisingly has the oldest Chinatown in the world, located in the Binondo district, where a labyrinth of streets and alleyways merge into a bustling neighborhood. Smell a savory aroma as you walk through stalls and holes in the wall, serving Chinese fare to traditional Filipino cuisine. Exploring the oldest Chinatown in the world will satisfy your craving for delicious food.
Worldwide Local Tip: For a taste of authentic Chinese food, head over to Dong Bei Dumplings, in Chinatown, for traditional dim sum, serving up tasty steamed dumplings. Prices are cheap, and it provides a good atmosphere, with locals and tourists dining together.
Old World Manila
During World War 2, Manila’s beautiful colonial architecture and buildings were unfortunately destroyed, paving the way for modern buildings. There are, however, a few old world structures still standing today. The Spanish garrison of Intramuros may gain the attention of history buffs, however little is known about the Escolta district. A previously forgotten place, is becoming a hub for local artists and collaborators, creating a bohemian vibe in the neighborhood. There are remnants of old buildings, like the Calvo building and Manila Central Post Office. Its derelict buildings are in contrast to the lively atmosphere creating an eerie allure, that is truly wonderful to experience.
Worldwide Local Tip: It’s said that one of the most magnificent sights in the world is the Manila sunset, and Manila Bay is the best place to watch for the most stunning views. You can grab a meal by the bay as you gaze upon the amber sphere disappearing into the horizon.
With this city’s seemingly never-ending traffic, getting from your Manila hotel to the sights can be difficult. Take an alternative route with a lesser known way to travel the city. The Pasig River Ferry takes you through some of Manila’s landmarks, such as Escolta and the presidential palace of Malacanang. It’s a peaceful way to traverse through the city, offering a different view along the banks of the river.
Worldwide Local Tip: If you are looking for a bargain buy, make your way to Greenhills Mall. It’s an airconditioned market where you can buy everything from knock-off clothing to cheap electronics, all in one building. Be sure to haggle for a good price!
Have a Spectacular Time in Manila, Philippines!
Never pass up a deal on cheap flights to Manila. The city may be intimidating for first-timers, but exploring it as a worldwide local will guide you through its fascinating charm and allow you to meet some of the world’s friendliest people. Experience the city with a different perspective, and you will discover Manila through the eyes of a local.