The ultimate megacity, Manila is a chaotic mix of towering skyscrapers and expansive shanty towns. The roads hum with constant traffic and activity but, somehow, this giant city not only survives, it thrives. It truly is the ‘Pearl of the Orient’.
The Philippines are most popular during the dry season, between April and November. This is a great time to visit if you want to try and see some of the more remote areas of the country. But if you’re just sticking to Manila and the vicinity, you can travel at any time of year.
The cooler months are perhaps more comfortable in a city of Manila’s size. These fall between December to February. And the wet season is between May and October. Although you’ll still enjoy hot sunny days at this time of year, as well as smaller crowds and lush green scenery.
As always, flights tend to be more expensive during the high tourism season, so go off peak for the best chance of finding cheap tickets to Manila.
If you want to have a great time in Manila right now is the time to book. That’s because in general, the more time you can give yourself before you go, the more choice of available flights there is. And this usually translates into better deals.
But even if you’re going at short notice, there are still some tricks you can use to find great deals.
Using Expedia, you can choose to see flexible dates for flights and this will broaden your chances. Some days of the week are more popular for travel than others, so even an adjustment of 24 hours could save you money.
There are three main airports in the greater Manila area that offer scheduled passenger services. However, the most widely used is Ninoy Aquino International Airport. This is the country’s busiest airport and a major air hub. Clark International sees a smaller amount of international traffic.
Located four and a half miles south of Manila proper, Ninoy Aquino handles more than 35 million passengers a year.
External transport connections are good, with nine bus routes connecting the terminal to the city. All four terminals are served by local jeepney routes serving Paranaque and Pasay, amongst others. The airport is also connected indirectly to the Manial LRT Line 1 rail services.
Indirect and direct flights to Manila are available from a number of different carriers.
Three lines of the Strong Republic Transport System traverse Manila, with most of the tourist sites located on the yellow line. So, taking the train is a good option for many journeys.
The city is also served by lots of bus routes, although the system can be a little confusing at first. Look for route numbers written on the buses themselves and ask a conductor if you’re not sure.
The iconic jeepneys also buzz around the city, and it’s an experience in itself riding one of these colourful creations.
For short distances you can catch a tricycle or pedicab, or even a calesa – a traditional horse drawn carriage.
Manila is home to one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, where you’ll find all sorts of exotic goods.
At the northern end of the bay is the Intramuros, the old Spanish walled settlement where you’ll find many of the city’s most interesting museums and ruins, as well as Manila Cathedral. Other landmarks include the Baywalk, Coconut Palace and Mabini Shrine.
Climbing one of the city’s vertiginous skyscrapers is a great way of getting the best views of this vast metropolis.
Back at ground level, there are various walking tours available of the downtown area.
Your passport needs to be valid for the duration of your stay and it’s worth checking with your doctor or medical professional if you need yellow fever and other injections before you travel.