You may not fall in love at first sight, but you eventually will
The capital of Philippines is not the kind of place you fall in love with at first sight. The Spanish colonial-era mega-city is home to around 12 million people, congested, polluted and is often chaotic. But amid the confusion, there is a lot to see. We help you make the most out of a short stay in the city.
Peek into history
Start your tour with the cobble-stoned streets of the old walled city, Intramuros. Visit the 400-year-old San Agustin church, a World Heritage Site that boasts a fine collection of religious relics. Around the corner is Manila Cathedral, which sheltered wounded soldiers in the Spanish-American war. Walk to Fort Santiago, a Spanish garrison, and climb on the ramparts to watch barges cross the Pasig River.
Ride a horse carriage to the old quarter of Sta. Cruz for lunch and try the tasty fried chicken at Ramon Lee Panciteria. Alternately, buy seafood at the dampa (wet market) on Macapagal Avenue, where you can ask restaurants to cook the day’s fresh catch the way you want. End the day watching a ballet, play or concert at the Cultural Centre of Philippines. If you get hungry, try the roadside balut or duck egg.
A fresh start
Start your day with breakfast at Jollibee’s. They serve traditional Filipino breakfast meals, including tapsilog (salted beef with fried egg and garlic rice) and longsilog, as well as sweet spaghetti and hamburgers. Later, head to the mecca of flea markets — Greenhills Shopping Centre — for low budget shopping. For local souvenirs visit Quiapo. Haggle with vendors and beware of pickpockets. The Golden Mosque with gold painted dome in the neighbourhood is worth a visit.
Bit of everything
Lunch at Spiral, Sofitel Philippine Plaza hotel and choose anything from lobster, Angus beef, sushi and lechon as everything tastes great. If you want to take lessons in Philippine history, Ayala Museum is the place. They host artifacts and paintings by Philippine art pioneers like Fernando Amorsolo and Juan Luna. Late in the noon, pamper yourself with a relaxing massage at The Spa on Bonifacio High Street.
Tapsilog, spaghetti and hamburgers make a Filipino breakfast
Chomp on more Filipino dishes at Abe for dinner. They specialise in kare kare, binagoongan and binukadkad na plapla. Unwind at Cav, an interesting place, which serves cool beverages from vending machines to end the day.
Written By: Patrick D’Souza