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The City of Manila [1] (Filipino: Lungsod ng Maynila) is the cosmopolitan capital of the Philippines located in the west coast of the island of Luzon.


Manila is often described as the only capital city in Asia that resembles a Latin American city. Many visitors have described it as polluted and crowded, but there is much to discover in Manila that makes it a must-visit for the tourist. Next to Warsaw, Poland it was one of the most destroyed cities during World War II, but before this, Manila was one of the most beautiful cities in the world, having been compared with London, Paris and other European cities. Manila was the capital of the Spanish East Indies for 3 centuries and Intramuros, the ruins of the original city founded by the Spaniards in 1571, still stands today despite bombings during WWII. This modern capital city is considered as the hub of Christianity in Asia and considered as one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world with a bustling growing population of 1.5 million people. As a whole, Metro Manila is the most populous of the twelve defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines. As of the 2007 census, it had a population of 11,553,427, comprising 13% of the national population. Including suburbs in the adjacent provinces (Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal) of Greater Manila, the population is around 20 million.


For over 3 centuries Manila was colonized and administered by Spain which left a great architectural heritage throughout the Philippines, especially with respect to churches, forts and other colonial buildings which can still be seen in the ruins of Intramuros, built in the late 16th century. Manila began as a settlement on the banks of the Pasig River, and its name originates from "Maynilad," referring to the mangrove plant known as Nilad, which was abundant in the area. Prior to the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century, Manila was home to Muslim-Malays, who were descended from the Arabs, Indians, East Asians and other Southeast Asians. In 1571, 50 years after Magellan's discovery of the islands, Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi claimed the Philippines as a colony and established Manila as its capital. Manila was also briefly colonized by the British for 2 years. Manila was also part of the Spanish East Indies until 1898, when the U.S. took over the Philippines after the Spanish-American War.


Manila is but one of 17 cities and one municipality that comprise the area known as Metro Manila or the National Capital Region (NCR) of the Philippines. The NCR is in the southern portion of the island of Luzon, in between the Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog Regions, between Manila Bay and the inland lake of Laguna de Bay. The City of Manila, where most of the historical attractions are located, lies at the confluence of Manila Bay and the Pasig River.

The City of Manila is in the western part of Metro Manila. It is bordered on the west by Manila Bay, to the north by Navotas,Quezon City and Caloocan City, to the east by San Juan and Mandaluyong City and to the south by Pasay and Makati.


The Philippines has a tropical climate with two distinct seasons: wet and dry. Typhoons and tropical storms are a common occurrence during the wet season, particularly in the northern part of the Philippines, and occurs from late May till early November. Dry season starts from late November until late April. December to February is a pleasant time to visit the Philippines. Temperatures during this time range from 24-30°C (75-86°F) at its peak. From March to May, temperatures heat up but as Manila is by the coast, it rarely goes beyond 37°C (99°F).


Manila is distributed into 16 territorial districts, which are all original towns except one, the Port Area District. All of these original towns except Port Area have their own churches and several of these districts have attained identification in their own right.

The eight districts north of the Pasig River are:


English and Filipino (Tagalog) are the common languages in the northern mainland of Luzon. Tagalog is the native tongue of most Filipinos native to Manila and the surrounding Tagalog-speaking regions of Luzon. English comes second as a medium of instruction in any institution including businesses and the like (although some homes in the Philippines choose English as their first language; it depends upon preference). In Binondo, Manila's Chinatown district, Hokkien is widely spoken while Mandarin might also be known as it is taught in Chinese educational institutes.

Get in

By air

Ninoy Aquino International Airport

From overseas, most visitors arrive by plane. Manila is served by three international terminals at Ninoy Aquino International Airport(IATA: MNL)(ICAO: RPLL)(NAIA)[2].

PAL usually provides "seamless" transfers between their international and domestic network, which one cannot usually get with other carriers.

The airport is served by Philippine Airlines[3], Cebu Pacific[4], KLM[5], Cathay Pacific[6], Emirates[7], Delta Air Lines[8], AirAsia [9] and many other airlines.

The journey between terminals can take between 5-20 minutes in a taxi depending on traffic. Be wary of this if you have a connection between a domestic and international flight. There is also a regular shuttle bus service between the terminals operated by NAIA (every 15 min, ₱20). Departure tax for all NAIA airports is ₱750 for International, and ₱200 for Domestic. The airport only accepts cash payments. Make sure that you have enough cash to pay the tax when arriving at the airport. If you do not have cash you can use one of two ATMs outside the airport. The airport has two security checks, one to get to the terminal and one for departures. The ATMs are located outside of both security checks. Make sure to use the ATM before getting in or you will be forced to go out and go through security lines again.

Get in

Taxis: Coupon (pre-paid) taxis are available at the airports. Rates are fixed and dependent on the destination and generally are more expensive compared to what you would pay in a metered taxi. Coupon taxi counters usually are found immediately after exiting customs in both Terminals 1 and 2. Expect to pay somewhere between ₱500-600 for destinations within Metro Manila. Yellow Airport taxis are about half that price (₱200-300) and issue receipts for passengers.

The everyday metered taxis -- usually white with various operator names on the side -- can sometimes be found at the Arrival Terminal so you would either need to catch one unloading at the Departure Area or outside the airport complex. This may be easier said than done however, particularly when lugging around kilos upon kilos of baggage. Regular taxis cost 100-200 Pesos for the same journey to Metro Manila, although you'll probably have to insist on using the meter, or bargain down from whatever absurd starting fare they choose to name (shouldn't cost greater than 200 to get to places around Manila). If you are in NAIA 2, just go up to the departure area through the stairs/escalators just outside the arrival hall. If you are at NAIA 3, walk towards the road from the arrival area (5 min); metered taxis park beside the road.

Other: Apart from taxis, there are no regular public transport services to the airports except for buses and jeepneys plying routes that pass nearby. It will take a few minutes' walk however before you get to a place where you can board and all this effort may not be worth the hassle so most travellers opt to take a taxi.

Diosdado Macapagal International Airport

Diosdado Macapagal International Airport(IATA: CRK)(ICAO: RPLC)(DMIA), next to NAIA, DMIA is another major airport that serves the area of Metro Manila and Luzon. Mostly low-cost carriers such as Air Asia, Cebu Pacific, Spirit of Manila Airways and Tiger Airways operate here, other than low-cost carriers, Asiana Airlines also use the terminal. A departure tax(all airlines to, from and within the Philippines exclude taxes in their tickets) of ₱600 should be compulsory paid at the airport.

Get in

Bus: A bus operated by Philtranco departs and arrives in ther terminals that are located in Pasay City and in SM Megamall in Mandaluyong near the MRT Ortigas Station. Fares range from ₱300-350. Partas also operates direct service however their buses don't run often, check their schedule in advance to make sure. Another option is taking a Victory Liner bus, this option is cheaper however time consuming, buses depart from their terminal near EDSA and arrive at their own terminal in Clark; the journey lasts 90 minutes to 2 hours depending on the traffic and fares range around ₱130-140 , take a taxi to the entrance of the airport and costs about ₱400-450.

Taxi: Taking a taxi from Manila to the airport will cost around ₱3000-4000.

By boat

Ferries run all over the Philippines, but should you not reserve a first class cabin be prepared for uncomfortable cramped conditions. There seems to be lax enforcement of Western safety standards.

Supercats and fastcrafts connect short distances between islands on high-speed air-conditioned hydrofoil crafts. Not only do they provide a faster option than ordinary ferries, they are also much better maintained and have a remarkable safety record. Among the major routes serviced by fastcrafts in and around Manila are: Manila-Bataan, Manila-Cavite and Batangas-Puerto Galera.

By bus

The Strong Republic Nautical Highway has made inter-island travel by bus possible. Major islands are connected by Roll On - Roll Off ferries which can carry cars, buses and cargo trucks. An example is the Manila to Boracay route which goes via Batangas, Calapan and Roxas in Mindoro then Caticlan. Philtranco [10] and ALPS The Bus, Inc. [11] serve various inter-island routes and has a terminal in Cubao, Quezon City. Needless to say, however, that these trips can take quite a bit of time and may not be worth the savings if you have only a few days to spend in the Philippines.

Normal provincial buses serving other parts of Luzon also have terminals in various portions of Metro Manila. The Cubao area in Quezon City and the Bonifacio Monument area in Kalookan City is where buses serving the northern portions of Luzon (e.g. Baguio, Zambales) have their terminals.

The Buendia Ave. or Taft Ave. intersection in Makati and the area near the Taft Ave. and EDSA intersection in Pasay is where buses to the south (e.g. Batangas, Laguna) have their terminals.

Get around

Jeepneys are usually the cheapest and fastest way to get around the city with a trip costing not less than 7-8 Pesos however it is not suggested to use it at night as crimes have increased relating to jeepneys. Taxis are affordable, comfortable and you can get where ever you want at any time, flag down rates cost P30 however if a taxi driver gives you a fixed price and doesn't follow the meter refuse it as this is illegal, you can contact local police for cases like this. Tricycles are also fast and affordable but for some people it might not be as comfortable as it seems, it is similar to Thailand's tuk-tuk; small and uncomfortable, prices are based on the distance of your destination from your origin. Water buses are cheap and OK, and runs through the Pasig River which now is fortunately odourless thanks to the efforts of NGOs and the local government, Water bus stations aren't decent but who cares? The Pasig Ferry River Service have some stations around Metro Manila. LRT and MRT are cheap and fast however during rush hours (especially from 8-10AM) expect to squeeze in a bit.


The main tourist sites of Manila are located along Manila Bay.



Manila has seen a drastic improvement in its museum offerings with the recent renovation of old favorites such as the National Museum of the Filipino People and the Ayala Museum. Other must-see museums in the city are the Bahay Chinoy (Chinese House), Casa Manila, San Agustin Museum and the Museum of Filipino Political History, the "Museo Pambata" children's museum'.

Nature and Wildlife



Apart from the bustling Philippines capital as is a remarkable melting pot of Asian, Oceanic, and Latin cultures, which was thick with history and flavor upon most of travelors interests. The best way to get a feel for Manila shopping is to go to a ‘tiangge’, a market of stalls, where everything can be bargained. Market! Market!, St. Francis Square, Greenhills Shopping Center and Tiendesitas are examples of such. If you are interested in a western type malls, you cannot pass SM Mall of Asia, currently 4th largest mall in the world. Warning to shopaholics and their spouses. You could spend a week there and still you haven't seen every shop or had to time to ice skate. That's right, there is a ice rink as well.



The workforce in Manila covers everything from daily, minimum wage earners to expats being driven in Beemers. Standard working time varies, especially with the proliferation of Call Centers, but the usual working hours are 8AM-5PM. Given that the traffic within the Manila escalates exponentially as the day begins, it's always better to leave early for meetings.

There is also a local saying known as "Filipino Time" wherein it was expected that the attendee would be late by up to one hour. However, this has been significantly reduced through the years, although the bad traffic is usually (and realistically) cited as the main cause for missing one's appointment.

Makati City is the country's main CBD, or Central Business District, and, on every given weekday, it seems that all roads lead here. Multinational firms and big businesses hold offices here.

Ortigas Center, which cuts across the borders of Mandaluyong City, Pasig City and Quezon City, seems to be the alternative CBD, with companies such as the Asian Development Bank headquarters and the World Bank Manila office located in this vicinity.


Manila has most of the usual American fast food chains such as McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Subway, Dairy Queen, Shakey's Pizza, Taco Bell, Dunkin Donuts, TGIF, Italianni's, Outback, and KFC. Jollibee, the Filipino version of McDonald's is very common in Manila. Coffeeshops such as Starbucks and Seattle's Best have also recently become quite common in malls and commercial centers. Meals could be as low as US$2 to 3 in most fast food joints. A typical burger meal with fries and a drink would fall under this range.


Street food peddled by ambulant vendors is quite common and can usually be found in places with high amount of pedestrian traffic. Note however that street food in Manila and elsewhere in the Philippines may not be as clean as what you would find in Bangkok or hawker centers in Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. There is very little (if any) regulation and hygienic practices of these establishments vary from place to place. The variety of street food available is tremendous however and may reward the truly adventurous traveler. Some notable examples are the following:

For a taste of street food without the accompanying risk, try out the following establishments:

Most sit-down and casual dining restaurants in Manila would fall under the mid-range category. You could generally eat well for under US$10 per person. At some establishments, this price will even allow you to partake of a buffet and eat to your heart's content.


Bohemian Malate, the older Ermita neighborhood and the Baywalk that stretches between them contain a variety of venues serving a combination of food, comedy, alcohol and live music.


Check for hotel listings in the appropriate districts

You can sleep in a Manila Hotel for as cheap as 50peso per night if you wish. Don't expect many luxuries at this price though!

Manila has a lot of hotels, inns and apartelles. Most of these accommodations can be found within Roxas Boulevard overlooking Manila Bay, or in the districts of Ermita and Malate. Manila's hotel accommodations are 20 to 30 minutes away from the international and domestic airport.

There are many major international hotel chains which have a presence in Metro Manila. Rates are still generally cheaper here compared to the same class of hotels in western cities. A stay in these hotels however, would be considered a luxury by Philippine standards particularly since these rates would represent a month's income for some Filipinos.


Payphones are very common in the city center. The use of mobile phones is also very extensive. To use your mobile phone, it has to be at least a dualband GSM phone. Globe and Smart are the Philippine's largest mobile carriers and they invite you to use them as a roaming partner (inquire from your home carrier if they have Globe and Smart as a roaming partner).

To call anywhere within Metro Manila, simply dial the 7-digit telephone number from a payphone or a landline. If you need to call anywhere else within the Philippines, dial 0 + area code + telephone number. To make an international phone call, dial 00 + country code + area code + telephone number.

Internet cafes have become a common sight in Metro Manila. Most malls would have at least one internet cafe. Most internet cafes provide broadband speeds. Netopia and Pacific Internet are common chains. Netopia also has a branch at the MRT Ayala Station. Cheap overseas calls can be made at Netopia branches via their VOIP service.

Most coffee shops now also have WiFi services available so you can surf the net while sipping a cuppa. Airborneaccess.net and WIZ are the most common WiFi providers. Ask around if usage is free of charge, otherwise, as the case is often, you will have to buy an internet access card at the counter.

Stay safe

Manila is a city where one should exercise caution. A popular scam as of recent days is for someone to approach you and pretend they recognize you. They will say they work at your hotel (i.e. room service, security, or whatever) and that they know you from there. They then say it is their day off and since they just happened to bump into you they want to show you something nice that is nearby; perhaps only a 2 or 3 minute ride away by taxi. They may be very convincing even to a seasoned traveler. It’s a scam. Do not ever get into a car or go anywhere with anyone you don’t know (the trick to making this scam work is that they try to convince you that they DO know you and have helped you at the hotel on a previous occasion). Of course, if you ask them which hotel they will not be able to answer. They are best fended off if you just ignore them, or if they persist, say something like "Are you going to leave me alone or should I call the police?" This makes them do an about face and leave pretty quickly.

Theft is common as well as pick pocketing. You should act cautiously as you would in any poor country, especially considering if you do not look Filipino, theives and scam artists are likely to see you as an easy target. Travelers from other Asian nations especially South East Asians should have no problem blending in with the crowd however. One has to use common sense of course. Don't wear valuable jewelry or anything else to broadcast your wealth. Displaying that expensive mobile phone or digital camera out in the open is also a good way to attract the undue attention of petty thieves.

Get out

Around the capital are numerous attractions for people desiring a quick daytrip away from the hustle and bustle of this mega-metropolis.

Related Information


A list of contributors is available at the original article on Wikitravel. Additional modifications may have been made by users at TRAVEL.COM [22].

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply.

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