Despite most people say you should skip Manila, as it is not nice and dangerous, I can recommend to give it a chance, as it is not as bad at all as its reputation. Manila is a fast growing city and a great place for city lovers. The city never sleeps and you can eat and drink almost 24 hours. Some parts are always overcrowded and polluted, but in other areas you feel like being in another city. Read my Manila City Guide below for more information.
Things to do in Manila
Stroll along the whole Manila bay from the south up north until you reach the nice and green Rizal park. You will have a great view over the whole bay of Manila. You will pass new buildings as well as poor areas. From the Rizal park you can continue directly to Intramuros.
In general I felt safe all the time, just sometimes I felt a little bit uncomfortable, but that’s all. However, some local people advised to not walk along Manila bay during the night.
When you walk from Manila to to Intramuros, you will pass the nice Rizal park.
Intramuros is the historic old Spanish part of Manila. It is a big area with old buildings, green park-style spaces and surrounded by walls. It was built around the 1570s and still remains as a monument.
Bonifacio Global City
Bonifacio Global City (BGC) in Taguig is known for food, shopping, nightlife and business. It is a very new and modern neighborhood.
Venice Canal Mall
The Venice Canal Mall is close to BGC and is a new shopping and dining mall. Within the open air area is a nice water canal and even gondola rides are possible, as you would be in Venice.
Makati is another district for great food and nightlife.
Spend little money at a crazy shopping day in one of the big and cheap malls.
Pasig and Quezon
Pasig or Quezon are more known for local food, local people and universities.
What and where to eat & drink in Manila
A lot of locals which work nearby in the offices in the skyscrapers spread out after work to the restaurants and bars. In the bars and clubs in Makati you will find nowadays a mixed crowd of locals, expats and travellers.
If you are up to a Japanese dinner, I can recommend to go to the restaurant called “Little Tokyo”.
BGC in Taguig
Go to the BonChon restaurant for delicious fried Korean chicken.
Another must do is the Din Tai Fung, the famous Taiwanese restaurant for Dim-Sum (have a look at my Taipei City Guide for more details about the Din Tai Fung).
Check out the Bugsy’s Sports Bar or Big Bad Wolf for some drinks before you head to a club. After that you should move to “The Fort Strip” where you can shake your body at the Club Haze or Prive Club.
Where to stay in Manila
Stay at an AirBNB in Makati or Quezon. If you wanna stay at a hostel I can recommend the “Z Hostel”.
Transportation in Manila
There are chicken busses in Manila to drive around the city. They are super cheap, but I never used the chicken busses personally.
The more comfortable and common way is to use an Uber taxi. I can recommend to an Uber wherever you go.
Important: There is always a lot of traffic and traffic jams in Manila. So always calculate much more time than you think it will need. One time it took me 2 hours for 5km.
- Curious about the whole Philippines? My post about the Top things to do in the Philippines – Ultimate Itinerary will give you some useful advice.
- On my post about the Things to do in El Nido you will find more information and pictures.