Planning a layover on the way to the beach? Here’s what to see in Manila, how you can experience affordable luxury, and where to go to eat some of the best food for cheap.
Getting To Manila and Navigating the City
It’s a 3.5-hour flight to Manila from Shanghai, and return tickets can go as low as RMB1,200 during off-peak season. Sights are very much spread out in Manila, so set aside some cash for transportation via taxi or jeepney (those colorful tuk-tuk like vans). We recommend downloading Grab or Uber for car sharing.
What To See
Start early by heading to Intramuros, the historic walled area. Book a horse-drawn cart tour in advance, starting at just under RMB300 for a trip around the square, passing by Fort Santiago and a number of churches, including Manila Cathedral. Alternatively, you can walk on top of the wall for a bird’s-eye view of the streets below. Take a pedal bike to Chinatown for about RMB20.
Go on a day trip to Taal Volcano, located just 60km out from the city center. It may be the second most active volcano in the Philippines, but the view hiking up the crater lake is breathtaking. Guided tours are your best option, starting from RMB800.
Alternatively, you can take a 1.5-hour ferry to Corregidor Island. This island provided the first line of defense for the Filipino and American soldiers from invading Japanese forces during WWII. The in-depth tours and preserved sites will certainly impress history buffs.
What To Eat
The Philippines loves their pork, so be prepared for one heavy meal after another. We recommend Kanin Club, a popular local chain offering home-style Filipino dishes. Get a plate of crispy Liempo, crunchy sticks of deep-fried pork belly; a bowl of Sinigang, an appetizing tamarind-rich broth with beef ribs cooked tender; and Dinuguan, a semi-dry stew of pig’s blood, topped with more deep-fried pork. The best part? A meal at Kanin Club will only set you back about RMB65 if you’re sharing a meal.
Where To Stay
We recommend staying in Makati, the financial center of the Philippines, and is much safer, cleaner and easier to navigate. Stay at none other than The Peninsula Manila. Here, you can experience luxury living for as low as RMB800 during off-peak season. The Peninsula Manila is also within walking distance of the Salcedo Saturday Market, home to a plethora of Filipino street eats, knick-knacks, and art. Also nearby is Ayala Museum, a four-floor exhibition of Filipino art and heritage.
If you’re not here on a layover or business trip, you’re most likely passing through to one of the Philippines’ many beautiful islands. Manila has its charm, but the hectic pace can wear you down. Venture out to party island Boracay for a quick and easy beach trip. Stay at Dave’s Straw Hat Inn, tucked away from the noise of partygoers. Or take the adventurous route and journey to Siargao, the “Surf Capital of the Philippines” for pristine beaches and crystal clear waters. Rent a motorbike and explore the island.
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