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Why fly to Manilla?
It is fervently pious and consumption-crazy, spicy and hot as well as zen and cool, all of that in one big heaving mass. Your trip to Manila will be well -worth several years of dinner-table worth of stories.
The city sits on beautiful Manila Bay, which is considered one of the top protect natural harbors in the world and has played an important role in the country's economy for more than five centuries. Beyond its role as a commercial harbor the beauty of the sunset over Manila Bay is almost worth the flight alone.
Manila is a vibrant country with a complex history that has resulted in strong Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish influences in the culture. These influences can be seen from the city's architecture as well as weaved into many aspects of the lifestyle.
Some of these influences are represented in the many museums and galleries spread out all over the city including the Bahay Tsinoy which sheds some light on the Chinese influence in the country. The Metropolitan Museum of Manila and the National Museum of the Philippines are two important museum stops that provide a glimpse into the city and country's layers.
The Intramuros is an example of some of these layers. It is the old walled city within the city of Manila, built by the Spanish in the early 16th century. Many of the old buildings were destroyed during the waves of colonization, however the Spanish citadel sits high and majestic as one of the few large structures that has withstood. It's stone walls make for a comfortable visit in the heat of the city.
The strong sense of history hasn't prevented the city from surging forward into modern mall madness. Manila has become a bit of a shopping mecca in the Philippines and as a result the Western-style malls have multiplied. One of the most interesting and a little strange concepts is the modern church and mall combo of Greenbelt 3. The sounds of mass sing out morning, afternoon and evening while shoppers scurry in and out of boutiques in the shopping center right beside it.
Manila has seen an increase in popularity in recent years and with that officials have been making a concerted effort to beautify and greenify the built-up city. New parks have been built and where the space is limited, gardens on the vertical have sprung up, making the city's already mixed-spread of opposites even more so.
One of the best and most fun parts of visiting Manila is tasting the food. As you can imagine, a country with influences from countries that have very different dishes does make for an eclectic kitchen. Dishes range from pancit, which is noodles with pork or beef and has Chinese influences to lechon, which is whole roasted pig and has some Spanish touches. For a trip to the wild side there is balut, if you are a sensitive eater, reader the explanation of what that is might not be for you. Balut is essentially somewhere in between an egg and a fully formed duck or chicken, so something like an egg but with some of its features formed.
An interesting dessert is the halo-halo which is an unusual combination of beans, various fruits like jack fruit, yam, coconut, custard, Filipino-style caramel, ice and topped with ice cream.
And that dessert, sums up the city. An unusual combination of flavors, but you will be surprised at how well all of it comes together with a pow!
Sitting close to the equator, Manila has a tropical climate with temperatures hovering above the 20-degree mark for most of the year. The city experiences a dry spell in the winter months from December to May, while the summer months come with a risk of tropical storms and typhoons.
When to fly to Manila
Flights to Manila are very popular in December and January due to holidays in the west and great weather in the city. The early summer months are also popular despite the tropical storm risk.
The best flight rates are generally available in September and October and April with people traveling far less during those months to exotic locales.
Getting into Manila
The Nino Aquinoy International Airport is your gateway into Manila. Located less than 10 minutes outside of the center, getting into the city is fairly easy. From the airport you can take a bus or a jeepny, which is a type of minibus, or shuttles can take you to the light rail connection. Often times, however, taxis can prove to be the easiest method when you first arrive.
Getting around Manila
Light rail and metro rail transit are the quickest choice when getting around this congested city. Taxis and buses are readily available and the in-between option of jeeps that travel along a fixed route. For a unique local flavor you can hop into a motorcycle or bicycle operated rickshaw like contraption. State-run ferries for a nice ride down the Pasig River.
- Plan a visit to Rizal Park, the beautifully manicured area also has a children's amusement park, planetarium as well as Japanese Gardens.
- The Manila Ocean Park is also a great trip if you have children, providing a unique chance to get up close with with marine life.
- Head to Manila Contemporary to get a taste of the city and country's cutting edge art scene. Follow it up with some trendy window shopping on Ayala Avenue and a fashionable but traditional Filipino dinner of Adobo, which is delicious pieces of chicken or pork bathed in a garlic and bay leaf soy sauce.
- Take the time out for a manicure and pedicure, there are many options and the prices are so affordable you could go for a second round just before you fly back home.
- If you love shoes, you have come to the right city. This is where you will find the ultimate shoe museum, which houses the infamous shoe collection of Imelda Marcos, the country's former first lady.
- For some straight-up down-home local culture had to one of the many outdoor markets that take place through the weekdays in many of the city's large neighborhoods. Or visit Binondo, where you will come face-to-face with the city's Chinese heritage. From shops selling everything under the sun to lovely family-run restaurants dishing up piping hot noodles and other delicious Chinese delights.
- Compare flights to Manila from Australia on AirfaresFlights.com.au.
City of Manilla More information at
Manila International Airport More information at
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