If in the previous article I was offering you some general impressions about Manila, this time I want to talk more about the things that I managed to do in the capital of the Philippines, in the two days, or actually, the 2 nights that we spent here.I want to start by saying that I have read many articles on “what to do in Manila” or “things to see in Manila”, and if I wanted to follow their advice, I would have probably said no in the first place, to the “Pearl of the Orient”, as the city used to be named.
Most articles written on this subject do not recommend visiting it, claiming the idea that you have nothing to do in Manila, and that is total chaos that you must exclude from your itinerary. I refused to believe it, and I wanted to convince myself, especially as my principle is that every place has its beauty and there is always something to learn or to experience.
Therefore, I created a small itinerary, which I tried to respect almost entirely, although I was very tired after the very long flights. So, these are the things that I’ve done or visited in Manila and that I recommend to you:
Explore the streets
You can’t feel the vibe of this city or any other if you do not get out of your comfort zone. So, my advice is to go out there and visit the streets, the markets, the shops, the restaurants and to get in contact with local people, find out their stories or ask them for advice and recommendations on the place where you are. Filipinos are very sociable people, and most of them know English to the conversational level, so it will be simple enough to wear a dialogue.
It is true that Manila is still one of the most densely populated cities on the planet, and this is felt especially in the hellish and very dangerous traffic if you ask me. Locals use scooters, tricycles, and jeepneys to travel, and often do not respect traffic rules, squeezing as much as they can to reach the destination in time. It is good to have in mind this aspect, especially if you’re not accustomed to such chaos in traffic.
It is preferable not to walk alone, but have at least one partner with you, especially if you deviate from the main avenues. There are some poorly lit areas, so you might feel unsafe, especially as a woman; not to mention that some locals can become quite annoying. In a couple or in a group, chances are slim that anyone will try to tease you.
Visit the Baywalk
Baywalk is a promenade that borders the ocean in Manila Bay, where you can have a beautiful view, and where you can also watch the sunrise. The port is near, so it is possible to have a chance to capture an image like the one below. As for the actual area, unfortunately, the beautiful palm trees planted in a straight line on a distance of 2 km, are put in the shade by the sad image of the huge number of homeless people. Their home is a simple tent, made of cellophane and palm leaves.
However, Baywalk is a reference area of Manila, and you should not miss it. After the walk, give a run to Starbucks. It is close, beautifully decorated, and the atmosphere is warm and welcoming. If at some point, you find a lot of well-armed guards, do not panic! The US Embassy is just very guarded. I recommend you avoid the area in order to not be questioned.
⇒ Also read: 10 things to do in Coron, Philippines
Go to see Rizal Park
Cross Roxas Boulevard, leave the urban jungle behind and refuge in the most famous park in Manila, Rizal Park or Luneta National Park. I admit, given that I had heard so much about it, I expected to find something spectacular, impressive, but it wasn’t quite so. When we went, Celine Dion’s music could be heard from all the speakers, making a great team with the dancing fountains. Besides the seating area, the park has a fabulous history.
Significant historical events took place here. The most notable are the Declaration of Independence of the Philippines to the United States, obtained on July 4, 1946, and the largest gathering in the world, during the visit of the Pope; no less than 6 million people gathered to participate in the event.
What else can you visit in Rizal Park? A gorgeous Chinese garden, a Japanese garden, orchids, and butterflies united in the same pavilion, sculptures that tell stories of the capital’s troubled past, but also a relief map of the 7000 islands of the country.
⇒ Also read: TOP 7 best beaches in EL NIDO, Philippines
Shop in one of the largest malls in Asia
Suggestively called Mall of Asia, the shopping center definitely worth a visit, at least for its fame. No longer ranks first when it comes to the surface, but remained in the top 5 in the Philippines and 11th in the world. If you are a shopping addict or you are just curious to see what a mega mall looks like, I recommend you allocate a few hours without the hope that you’ll get to visit it all.
It is divided into four buildings, so you’ll be faced with a big decision, which is to choose one of them. Hard, very hard! 😀 Unfortunately, I can not help you in this regard. For me, the mall is a maze, and I have no idea in which portion of it I spun when I visited.
Test Filipino cuisine
Which is delicious. Yes, rice will be always present on your plate, but surprisingly, the food is not boring, and that’s because you can have rice in various combinations of chicken, beef, pork or fish with various sauces and side dishes of vegetables and exotic fruits. Sounds appetizing, doesn’t it? The best part is that a full menu in the capital of the Philippines will not burn your pocket. You can eat hearty with less than $ 5.
⇒ Also read: 18 things you must see & do in El Nido, Philippines
Makati is the financial district of the Philippines and one of the 16 cities that make up Metro Manila. Skyscrapers are not only home to all major corporations, banks, and other major institutions, but they form a beautiful skyline of the city, which I managed to capture from my window seat inside the aircraft but also from the pedestrian level, on a short walk.
Spend a day in Ocean Park
I left what was best at the end, and I’m saying this based on my experience of more than half a day spent here. Ocean Park is situated near the Baywalk and Rizal Park, so it will be handy to visit them all in one day. No need to book tickets before, it is sufficient to present yourself at the counter and choose your desired program, and then enjoy it right after that.
We have chosen Sea Breeze Express, which includes 11 activities and different attractions, but only 8 of them were available: Oceanarium, Jellies Exhibit, Birds of Prey Kingdom, Sea Lion Show, Penguin Talk Show, Fish Spa, Back of the House, World of Creepy Crawlies. Sea Lion seemed to me the most successful, but Oceanarium hasn’t been below expectations, as well, with beautiful and colorful aquariums, fish banks and other gorgeous marine animals. For tickets and additional information, please visit the official website.