To understand how Manila went from being perceived as a stopover point to a popular tourist destination, we asked international travellers what they love most about the Philippines’ capital city. *
The walkways at Bonifacio Global City
Manila is filled with shopping districts, from the high-end luxury Bonifacio High Street to the megamall Robinson’s Place, which covers over a quarter-million square metres of retailers. The must-shop experience in Manila, however, is the SM Mall of Asia. The fourth biggest mall in the world, SM Mall of Asia has a wide range of shops, restaurants, and even an ice rink. Maximise your shopping time by staying nearby at the Park Avenue Guesthouse.
Dining for curious and busy travellers
The diverse makeup of Manila means that international and Filipino cuisines are well represented. And rather than speciality eateries, the trend is for a little bit of everything. Curious and busy travellers will love the city’s street food vendors serving up plenty of Filipino classics like bola bola (deep-fried dough balls, flavoured with meat and seafood), sinigang (a spicy, sour soup) and puto bungbong (sweet rice cakes). If you don’t have the time to search out local flavours, book an accommodation with its own restaurant and knowledgeable, local staff like the New World Makati Hotel.
The Cultural Center of the Philippines
Manila’s reputation as a party city doesn’t do justice to the many different kinds of entertainment on offer. While the big casinos and nightclubs are as popular as ever, there are also plenty of less-known bars and clubs worth seeking out. Head to the Cultural Center of the Philippines for a roster of big, established performers like the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra. Jazz fans will find a welcoming atmosphere at the Tago Jazz Cafe weekly open mic nights. Finally, the Salon de Ning in the Makati district-based Peninsula Hotel recreates a Shanghai drinking den, complete with 1930s cocktails and music.
The National Museum of the Philippines, Pambansang Museo
We’ve already mentioned the high-quality street food scattered throughout Manila. But dining out isn’t the only budget friendly activity available. Many of Manila’s museums are free – including the National Museum, the Metropolis Museum and the Ateneo Art Gallery. There are also free film screenings organised by some of the local expat groups, such as a weekly French classic from the Alliance Française de Manille and Korean films from the Korean Cultural Center. Booking a budget friendly place to stay is easy as the city is full of well-appointed hostels like the Crossroads Hostel Manila and the Park Avenue Guesthouse.
** The data scientists at Booking.com looked at the activities most endorsed in Manila by international travellers. This is part of a series looking at the top 10 trending destinations for 2018.