Manila is a city bursting with life and excitement. The facilities are well-maintained, and the government of the Philippines has made plans to update the amenities to top-notch sites and give the entire city a face-lift of sorts. So now is the perfect time to visit this sprawling, lively city by the water. The restaurants offer great food and surprisingly good service.
The museums and historical sites in Manila are quite fascinating and offer insight and knowledge into the history and culture of the area. The Filipino heritage is a unique and interesting one, and you can explore it in depth at a number of destinations. Mount Pinatubo is one of the wonders of the world, an exquisite location that is a must see. A few days may be enough for Manila, but they will definitely be an action-packed and exciting few days. The city is very warm the entire year, and the heat can be stifling during the spring and summer months. You may encounter days of rain, but the parade never stops. A little rain or heat certainly won't stop the Filipino locals from having a raucous party. A little weather will not stop you either, because you are sure to get caught up in the fun and excitement of the city. There is a plethora of water sports available in Manila, and dining or relaxing on the beach is quite enjoyable. You can also attend sailing and whitewater rafting excursions that are outstanding. It may seem that the city is disorganized and difficult to navigate, but that's okay, because the taxi service in Manila is reliable and affordable. Getting around is easy, and this is a good thing, because there certainly is a lot to see and do.
Docking & Local Transportation
Cruise ships dock at the Port of Manila. From there, you can take a bus or cab to downtown Manila.
Manila is known for its congested thoroughfares, so its wise to choose your transportation options carefully. Taxis are everywhere in Manila, and the meter runs in absurdly low increments of $0.03! However, don't let a driver convince you that the meter is broken, as they will often try to do, in order to charge you triple the fare. Manila also has a system of elevated trains, running from Caloocan in the north to Baclaran in the south. Tokens cost a modest $0.25. If you are truly adventurous, you can rent a car while in Manila, but don't say I didn't warn you about the horrific traffic. Contact Dollar rent-a-car (2/896-9251) for more information.
The Pagsanjan Falls Tour is a fun-filled rapids ride down a sparkling river. You will board a canoe and be steered through rapids, around boulders and lush vegetation, and through a glistening cave. The trip is exciting and will really get your adrenaline pumping, but you are sure to get wet, so do not bring valuables that could be damaged by the water. However, a waterproof camera is a must to capture the adventure and wonder that you will encounter on your excursion.
Mount Pinatubo is a volcano that last erupted in 1991. The landscape around the mountain is peculiar, and you get a true sense of the wide destruction that was caused when this volcano exploded. Near the crater, you can still see smoke rising and sulfuric ravines, two fascinating sites that are sure to humble and impress even the most seasoned nature observers. This is certainly one of the best sites in the Philippines, and perhaps even among the top visual destinations in Asia. The hike through the crater lake is a glorious one, but it will take an entire day, so be prepared. All travel agencies can arrange a tour for you. By contacting Woodland Park Resort Hotel on MacArthur Highway (451/892-1002) you can be set up with a fabulous hiking tour of Mount Pinatubo.
Zamboanga is located at 1619 Macario Adriatico Street (2/525-7638) and features outstanding seafood and Filipino cuisine. All of the marine life you could want is offered here. The dishes are authentic and delicious, with the finest spices and sauces. The staff is friendly and eager to help you decipher what is the best dish for your palate. Fisherman's Delight, a scrumptious assortment of shellfish, crabs, oysters, and crustaceans, is one of the most popular items on the menu. It is spiced perfectly, as are the delectable rice, vegetarian, and noodle dishes. Le Soufflé can be found on the 2nd floor of the Josephine Building (2/812-3287) and is great for dinner but even better for dessert. This French pastry haven serves a number of sophisticated meals, perfect for a romantic evening. Perhaps the best feature is that patrons can request a particular meal, and the head chef promises to do everything in his power to prepare it for you. His motto is "If the ingredients are here, we will do our best!"
After dark, Manila really heats up. The Prince of Wales Pub is located inside the New Plaza Building (2/815-4274) and is the friendliest and most frequented pub in town. The décor is decidedly English, and the food here is great. The selection of beer is respectable, and everyone inside is happy and eager to have a good time. Tourists and expatriates adore this cozy little bar, especially because both the conversations and taps are free flowing. Jools is located at 5043 P. Burgos Street (www.jools.ph) and is the best cabaret in Manila.
The Shangri-La Plaza can be found between Edsa Avenue and Shaw Boulevard and features a number of upper crust stores and boutiques. Ruston's Department Store is inside as well, and it is a popular location for clothes, souvenirs, and other items. Robinson's Place is located on M. Adreiatico Street and sells all kinds of knickknacks, jewelry, rare antiques, woodwork, and coins. Among the most fascinating items are hand drums and pottery inside the Hanuman Music and Crafts store.