As the Tourism Philippines slogan goes, it really is "more fun in the Philippines", as I discovered last week. As part of the Tourism Philippines Mega Famil, I joined 50 other travel agents from all over Australia and New Zealand for what was one of the best trips I've taken recently. Our first stop was Manila, the capital of what is a beautiful and diverse country. Unlike other metropolitan Asian cities, metro Manila is actually made up of 16 different 'cities' spread out across the metro area. The metro area is surprisingly green compared to your typical city with many parks, trees and green spaces. In this post, I wanted to share with you 5 things to do in Manila - a bucket list of sorts.
1 - Spend the Day at One of Manila's Many Malls
I have never seen as many malls as I have in Manila. I thought the malls of Bangkok were expansive but spending the afternoon at the SM Mall of Asia was overwhelming to say the least. The Mall of Asia is currently one of the largest malls in Asia and even the world. A popular pastime for locals and an attraction for tourists, a day at the mall is fun for everyone and one of the best things to do in Manila. We spent the afternoon shopping up a storm and getting a mani-pedi at one of the many spas. Any shop you could possibly think of was there from Adidas to Zoo York and don't forget the iconic Jollibee's.
2 - Take a Visit to Historical Intramuros
Intramuros, also known as the 'walled city', is a historical part of Manila which was built by the Spanish colonial government during their rule of the Philippines. Fort Santiago guards the site and was originally located at the mouth of the river before land reclamations in the early 20th century. Today, Intramuros is a popular attraction for visitors as part of a Manila city tour and if you squint your eyes you could be strolling down a European lane, not in the middle of Southeast Asia.
3 - Have a Beer at a Local Midget Bar
Another one of the things you can do in Manila is to have a beer at a local midget bar. There are a few options including Hobbit House or even Ringside Bar where you can go to watch midget boxing. Yes, you heard me...midget boxing! That's something you don't see everyday. And if you're really feeling up to it, you can referee one of the matches for a small fee. Whilst this is not something I did in Manila, it sure is a bizarre story to tell when you return home.
4 - Watch the Sun Set Over Manila Bay
Watching the sun set over Manila Bay is one of the most iconic things to do in Manila and sometimes referred to as the 'best sunset in Asia'. There are many places to go to catch a glimpse of the sunset over the bay including Manila Ocean Park, Rizal Park and Harbor View Restaurant or you can head down to Baywalk, a 2 kilometre stretch of boardwalk that runs from the US Embassy to the Cultural Center of the Philippines. Another option is to stay at the newly opened 5-star Conrad Manila which is connected to the Mall of Asia. We did a site inspection of this property and it was ultimately luxurious and has unparalleled views over Manila Bay, especially from C Lounge.
5 - Sit in Manila's Traffic
Okay, so this may not be one of the most enjoyable things to do in Manila, but it's something to do nonetheless. The traffic in Manila is bad, I mean really bad! It can 20 minutes just to get around the corner. I actually find it fascinating the drive from the airport to the hotel and why should be driving from place to place be any different. And if you get bored watching the city pass by, you can always make a game out of counting how many Jollibee's you can see along the way.
Don't forget to download the Top 10 Most Instagrammable Places in the Philippines so you can start planning your next trip to this incredible country!
Have you visited Manila or the Philippines recently? Or is it on your bucket list? I'd love to hear your must dos in the comments below!
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