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Metro Manila is the Capital and the most important city of the Philippines. It is a compulsory stop for your trip to the Philippines, since majority of the international flights are directed to this big metropolitan area of 12 million inhabitants divided in 17 cities.
Even as the most modern and urbanized spot of the country, it can be the most challenging destination for a western tourist alone, specially if one is not used to wandering Developing Countries’ big metropolitan areas. Its traffic and the diversity of the areas in terms of services requires at least a help for recognizing the real tourist spots. Manila is a vibrant and crowded city where you can understand the essence of the Philippines, if you are guided to the right places.
The most important area, from a historical point of view is Intramuros: here we can have a walk in this old town surrounded by walls, with the Cathedral and the important San Augustin Church, an ancient structure shows a vital and variegated museum of the traditions, strongly influenced by the Catholic Church, of the Philippine culture.
Still in Intramuros is Casa Manila, an interesting museum showing the old-style aristocratic house of the Philippines, for a complete understanding of the cultural history and legacy of the last centuries, starting from the Spanish occupation times. Casa Manila showcases different parts of a Filipino house complete with all the furnishings and utensils, for you to have a picture of how they used to live in that era. It is situated in a pleasant complex of old-style white-stoned buildings and presents also some very interesting restaurants of the Filipino cuisine, with frequent cultural exhibitions.
Just out of Intramuros we can find the National Museum, another important place to know the history of the Philippines for art, culture and also nature. Just in front of it there is the area called Luneta (Rizal Park), dedicated to the history of the national hero Jose Rizal. In walking distance we find also other interesting areas like the Ocean Park and the baywalk with various restaurants to have some cocktails and have the perfect view of the Manila sunset by the sea.
Manila is also the place where to find the biggest shopping bargains of traditional souvenirs, made of madreperla, pearls, wood and other gifts of the Filipino tradition. Traditional clothes made with banana or pineapple fibers are also widely appreciated by tourists. In Manila is where you can also find the widest range of choices for restaurants and you can endulge yourself trying the delicious Filipino cuisine. It is anyway also possible to find cuisines from all over the world (like Japanese, Italian, Thai, etc.), if you feel like having something different once in a while.
Among other several spots dedicated to the shopping, we like also to bring tourists to Quiapo, where the famed Quiapo Church is. Quiapo is a big outdoor local market, where we can find many different kind of goods, from special herbs to dried mangoes or the very popular snack “chicharon” (made of pork skin). You can also find amulets and potions full of legends, as well as speakers to curtains to hammoks, even pet birds and infant diapers. Here we can find the most funny, colorful, busy and entertaining side of the city.
Manila also have the most ancient Chinatown of the world: if you never experienced China, maybe this can be the place that can be closer to being there. The Chinese community has a very old presence in the country and this area is a crowded old-style busy small China.
Concluding, we also have to mention the presence of areas like Ortigas and Makati, popular business districts in “New York style”, with skyscrapers, malls and where we can find the best accommodations and services.
We can organize your tours in Manila with vans, taxi cabs or even with traditional Jeepneys if you want. We can organize 1-day tour before leaving for different destinations, or, if you are not in a hurry for diving into the ocean, we can have up to 3 -day tours to enjoy the city more.