Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, on the island of Luzon can be found sprawling along the Eastern shore of Manila Bay. It has been called the 'Pearl of the Orient - but today it is typical of a megacity that has seen unbridled growth over the last decades. There is lustre and beauty to be found in the city however - one merely has to commit to exploring its wonders. It is, without doubt, a city of contrasts and that is part of its charm. Skyscrapers and modern air-conditioned malls compete for space with shantytowns and street hawkers vie for business with high-end eateries. The city, of 14 million people is the second largest in the Philippines (after Quezon City) has been the major hub of industry in the Philippines for over four centuries. It was destroyed during World War Two during the battle for its liberation from the occupying Japanese by U.S.forces - but has since emerged as one of the most vibrant destinations in Southeast Asia. Manila has something to offer each and every tourist no matter their interests. It is an urban sprawl that boasts incredible nightlife, bars, museums, fabulous art galleries, incredible markets and some of the best food in Asia - including one of the most flavoursome cups of single-origin coffee to be had anywhere in the world.
Manila boasts a wealth of attractions for those who are interested in the city's history and the culture of the Philippines. Those visiting Manila should not pass up the opportunity to visit the Walled City (Intramuros), where the remnants of Spain's colonial occupation of the Philippines come to vivid life. Cobblestoned streets, colonial villas and tall church steeples immediately transport one back in time. While there do not neglect the stunning Casa Manila with its shaded courtyard and restaurant. For a further dose of history visit the fourteenth century Fort Santiago which has been occupied by the Americans, the British and the Japanese. It is now a museum boasting luxurious gardens and exhibitions that reveal the life and times of national hero José Rizal.
For a dose of nature (albeit helped along by the hand of man) head to Bonifacio Global City (known locally as BGC). It is here that locals and expats come to relax, shop and socialize. It boasts some excellent restaurants. Philippino food is a delight - be sure to try out La Picara when in BCG. Great meals with a tropical flair influenced by local, Spanish and pan-Asian cuisine. For a sumptuous Italian experience pamper yourself at Osteria Daniele and enjoy dishes such as the exceptional Risotto al Limone - lemon and saffron risotto with seared foie gras. However, it's worth noting that wherever you go in Manila you'll find culinary delight.
The traveller to Manila is spoiled for choice when it comes to enjoying one (or more) of the festivals that are so much a part of life in this vibrant city. Some festivals and celebrations that should not be missed include the Baile de Los Arcos. This is a citywide party in honour of the Virgen de la Rosa, Saint Peter, and Saint Paul. Young women present a dance they rehearsed for months as an offering to the saints for the blessings they have granted in the past year. However, perhaps the greatest of festivals held in Manila is the Feast of the Black Nazarene. On January 9th each year millions line the streets of the city for a procession toward a statue of the fallen Jesus weighed down by the cross. It is a time of dancing, singing and stage plays. There are numerous other festivals throughout the year that will reward the traveller who wishes to find out just what makes this city so fascinating.
A trip to Manila is filled with opportunities to enjoy a vibrant and exciting destination - and one that will reward exploration with an insight into the culture and history of n=both the city and the Philippines as a whole. Add to this the attractions of great food and friendly people and you have the recipe for a perfect travel destination. Cheap flights from elsewhere in the region are available and many international airlines fly directly to the city -so book your ticket to adventure today.
For those who want to enjoy the outdoor Manila experience the best time of year to visit is between the months of September and December (December is especially rewarding due to the fact that the city is bedecked with Christmas lights and decorations). This period of year also sees cooler weather which makes exploring the city that much more of a pleasure. For those who want to avoid the tropical rain the period of January to April is also an attractive option. The public transportation system in Manila can appear daunting at first glance, but once the tourist grasps the essentials getting anywhere in the city should pose no great challenge. The three Manila monorail systems will get the visitor to most major areas of interest. The Manila Metro Rail Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT) systems follow the major roads in the city. The abundance of jeepneys (think of an extremely colourful bus built on a secondhand Japanese truck chassis) offer a cheap and (mostly) comfortable way to get around the city. There are also tricycles and taxis in abundance. The majority of those who call Manila home speak Filipino - but most are fluent in English so communication is rarely a problem.
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From Canada you have the options to fly from Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver to Manila.
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