Airport Full Name
Manila International Airport
The airport is situated four miles (7km) south of the centre of Manila.
Passenger services at Manila airport include shops, restaurants and bars; ATMs, banks with currency exchange, left-luggage and postal services. The airport is hot and uncomfortable, however there is an excellent lounge, the Manila Lounge, which offers showers, clean toilets, drinks, magazines and newspapers for only US$11, or free for Diners Club members.
Train: The Metro-Rail Transit station at Baclaran is 3 miles (5km) from the airport, and trains run regularly between 5am and 10pm. There is an airport shuttle that operates between the Terminal 3 and the station for PHP 20, or you can take a taxi or jeepney.
Taxi: Yellow taxi cabs leave from the stands outside each terminal. They charge a flagdown rate of PHP 70 in addition to a fee of PHP 4 per 250m. Coupon taxis, with desks in the terminals, charge a flat rate depending on the destination and are often cheaper.
Bus: There is an airport bus service that travels to the city centre every 15 minutes or so for about PHP 50. There's also a city bus service that leaves from outside the arrivals areas of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.
Tel: +63 (0)2 833 1180.
Climate Details (C)
Travel Guides: Manila
Manila, the somewhat daunting capital and pulsating hub of the Philippines, is situated on the east coast of Luzon, the most northerly island, the largest and the most developed. The city was founded in 1571 on the site of a Muslim settlement. The city is made up of 16 areas which were once towns in their own right, and its major tourist attraction is the old Spanish walled city known as Intramuros, which contains some historic buildings and ruins.
Modern Manila is a morass of traffic and people, polluted and chaotic, an industrial metropolis that grew from the ashes of war when in 1945, the United States' forces fought to recapture it from Japanese occupation. It is also a city of theatres, libraries and museums, and the home to the University of the Philippines. The neighbourhoods of the metropolis vary from wide avenues full of palatial homes to squatter camps where the poorest of the poor scratch out a living.
Visitors to the Philippines cannot avoid using Manila as a starting point for their exploration of the other provinces and islands, because most charter flights to the outlying islands leave from the city's airport. The city is also within reach of day and weekend getaways on the island of Luzon; this makes it a good base for travellers intent on touring. One thing no visitor should miss is a famous Manila Bay sunset: a light show created out of the high humidity conditions coupled with the effects of cloud over the city's harbour. This remarkable sight allows a short respite from the more unpleasant aspects of the sprawling city. View the sunset from Rizal Park, Roxas Boulevard or from a cruise boat that plies around Manila Bay.
The roads in Manila are notorious for heavy smog and traffic congestion, especially at peak hours. Public transport is inexpensive and plentiful, including the elevated light rail system (LRT) and the Metrostar that has helped to alleviate some of the congestion. Travelling above the chaos, it is fast, clean and efficient, although very crowded during the evening rush hour. There are numerous bus companies that comprehensively service the city, as well as local jeepneys(brightly coloured converted jeeps used as minibuses) that can be hailed anywhere; they are best for shorter journeys, and are the most popular form of transport. Buses and jeepneys are the cheapest form of transport for areas not covered by the LRT. Taxis are also inexpensive and convenient, although traffic is bad and some drivers try to overcharge visitors. There are also calesas(horse-drawn carriages) used by tourists for short trips, and tricycle pedicabs available for hire. No matter how you travel through Manila, be aware of pickpockets.
Established by the Spanish in the 16th century, Vigan is a charming town, full of gorgeous architecture and redolent of the Philippines' colonial history. Located about 250 miles (400km) from Manila on the island of Luzon, Vigan is the best-preserved example of a planned Spanish colonial town in the whole of Asia - a distinction which has seen the town earn a place on UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites. Full of cobblestone streets and buildings which fuse Spanish-Colonial architecture with Filipino and Oriental designs, Vigan is a fascinating and highly photogenic place. There is much to see and do in Vigan, including the hugely impressive Baroque-style St Paul's Cathedral; and the opportunity to spend a night in one of the grand colonial houses built by wealthy Chinese traders in the city's 'Mestizo' district, some of which now double as hotels. The best time to visit Vigan is in January, when the annual Fiesta celebrations bring parties, variety shows, beauty contests and a generally carnival-like atmosphere to the streets.
Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park, Manila
The Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park is located in the Filipino province of Palawan, about 30 miles (50km) north of the city of Puerto Princesa. Although it is a little 'off the beaten track', tourists to the Philippines are strongly encouraged to make the trip to see the underground river - which, by all accounts, has emerged as the one of the very best things to see in the Philippines in recent years. In fact, the spectacular Puerto Princesa Subterranean River has not only been inscribed in UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites, but - in November 2011 - was also named as one of the New7Wonders of the World. The well-maintained National Park contains an area with a limestone karst mountain landscape, and the famed river follows a 5-mile (8km) course through a large cave complex before merging with the South China Sea. Visitors can take boat rides along the underground river, and marvel at the huge stalagmites and stalactites, the interesting limestone rock formations, and the echo-filled chambers they pass by. The world's longest underground river - coursing through an area of appreciable biodiversity - nature-lovers and adventure-seekers alike will be delighted by a visit to the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park.
The island of Palawan is an elongated stretch of thickly forested landscape bordered by coves, beaches, lagoons and limestone cliffs, stretching from southwest of Luzon towards Malaysia. The island's Tubbataha Reef is extremely ecologically important to the Philippines as a feeding ground and nursery for marine life, and the area is archaeologically important too. Caveman remains have been discovered on the island dating back 22,000 years. The main attraction on the island, however, is the underground river, St Paul's Subterranean Cave near Sabang, about two hours by road from Puerto Princesa. The cave extends more than five miles (8km) and contains the world's longest underground river. Palawan is still 'off the beaten track', but it can be reached by a flight from Manila.
Binondo (Chinatown), Manila
Established in 1594, the city of Manila's enclave of Binondo is the oldest 'Chinatown' in the world - and remains to this day as one of the largest, most authentic, and most culturally intriguing to foreign visitors. Binondo was established by the Spanish at the end of the 16th century, when they gave some tax-free land that lay outside the bounds of Manila to (converted) Catholic Chinese immigrants, along with self-governing privileges. The immigrants, who hailed mainly from China's Fujian province, soon established a bustling community - and these days, Binondo is one of modern Manila's most vibrant areas, constantly buzzing with trade and activity. Most visitors to Manila visit Chinatown to shop at the wholesale stores, where everything under the sun may be purchased (and usually at good prices); or else to sample the wide range of exotic cuisine. One of Binondo's best features is its converted movie theatres, which now house top-quality restaurants turning out traditional Chinese fare.
National Museum of the Philippines, Manila
The large and comprehensive National Museum of the Philippines preserves and showcases the cultural, historical and natural heritage of the islands with collections housed in two different buildings (both located within Rizal Park). Exhibits are categorised in five divisions: art, botany, zoology, geology and anthropology. Among the many archaeological exhibits is the skull of 'Tabon Man': the oldest human remains found in the archipelago. The section devoted to the Filipino People includes the preserved remains and treasures of the San Diego Spanish galleon that sank in Philippine waters in 1600. A deeply interesting place to visit for tourists to the Philippines looking to grips with the local culture.
Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 5pm
San Agustin Church, Manila
Within Intramuros stands Manila's oldest stone church, San Agustin, which was completed in 1606 and has since survived the ravages of time and successive invasions. The church has a magnificent and intricately-carved door, a Baroque pulpit, and an 18th Century pipe organ. A museum is housed in the Monastery alongside the church, which holds paintings of saints and other religious art. The Sacristy houses a collection of richly embroidered vestments, and Philippine notables are buried in the crypt. An extremely worthwhile tourist sight for visitors to Manila.
Daily from 8am to 12pm, and 1pm to 6pm
Free, but a donation is requested for the museum
Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Manila
Subic Bay is a unique project on the site of a former United States Naval base. It was buried under ash after the eruption of Mt Pinatubo in 1991 and has since been transformed into a buzzing eco-tourism and commercial hub, only five minutes from Philippines International airport and a two-hour drive northwest of Manila. Most of the area, which is enclosed by a security fence, is covered in dense forests teeming with flora and fauna, including rare butterflies and bats. There are also lovely unspoiled beaches to enjoy, exceptional scenery, forest trails, watersport activities, coral reefs and shipwrecks to explore, numerous sports facilities and duty-free shopping centres.
Rizal Park, Manila
The 58-hectare (143 acre) Rizal Park is named for Dr Jose Rizal, renowned Philippine anti-colonialist, writer and philosopher. The park is one of the largest in South East Asia, and is a green lung much used by the residents of Manila for recreation and entertainment. The park features numerous ornamental gardens, a chess plaza and a skating rink. In a pond on the east side of the park the Philippine archipelago has been recreated in miniature. There are also some museums and public buildings within the park, and after sunset a sound and light exhibit featuring the martyrdom of Dr Jose Rizal is displayed. On Sundays there is a free concert in an open-air auditorium. Rizal Park is a wonderful place for tourists to go and soak up a little of Manila's everyday life, in a lush and beautiful natural setting.
Daily from 7am to 7pm
The oldest part of Manila is the medieval Spanish walled enclave of Intramuros on the southern bank of the Pasig River, packed with historic buildings and churches, many of which are being or have been restored. The reconstruction of Intramuros has allowed for the inclusion of several parks and performing venues, art galleries, souvenir shops and restaurants, so that the area has become an attractive, entertaining and interesting tourist Mecca. Fort Santiago, for example, was where political prisoners through the ages, from Spanish to Japanese occupation, were held, tortured and sometimes executed. Today it is a lush park full of flowering trees and homing pigeons, where visitors can take a ride along the promenade on a horse-drawn carriage. Then, in the Barrio San Luis along Juan Luna Street there are five colonial residences that have been beautifully restored. All in all, a visit to Intramuros is a must for tourists to the Philippines: it is one of the best sights and experiences the country has to offer.
This small island, shaped like a tadpole, has become a memorial and open-air museum commemorating the World War II stand of Filipino and American troops against the Japanese invaders. The island is the largest of several at the entrance to Manila Bay, laying off the tip of the Bataan Peninsula, about 26 miles from the city. Its strategic position made it a prime candidate for the last stand against the Japanese in the Pacific War, and its three-and-a-half square miles (9 sq km) of dry land remains littered with the detritus of battle. Guided tours of the island are available by arrangement with the Corregidor Visitor's Information Centre in Manila.
There are regular ferry services available from Manila
Las Pinas, Manila
Although the village of Las Pinas, 12 miles (20km) from the centre of Manila, has now been swallowed up in the suburban sprawl of the city, it has kept its character and is a favoured stop on most tours of Luzon because of its famous bamboo organ. The organ is housed in the San Jose Church, and has a very unique sound that draws international organists here every year in the second week of February for an Organ Festival. Another attraction at Las Pinas is the Sarao Jeepney Factory, where visitors can watch these unique Filipino vehicles being assembled and learn how they came to be the favoured form of transportation on the islands.
Half-hour bus journey from the city centre
San Jose: Monday to Saturday from 9am to 4pm. The organ can be viewed Monday to Friday from 8am to 12pm
American Cemetery and Memorial, Manila
Providing a quiet spot to retreat from Manila's rat race, the American Cemetery near the Makati commercial centre is a welcome oasis, much visited by tourists, especially veterans of World War II. The hillside cemetery contains thousands of white marble crosses marking rows of graves of those who died in battle. The circular memorial contains the names of those missing in action engraved in marble columns; while huge wall mosaics depict battle scenes from WWII, and a small memorial chapel is located on site.
Malacanang Palace, Manila
The name of the Malacanang Palace, now the seat of government and official residence of the Philippines head of state, comes from the vernacular 'May Lakan Diyan', which means 'there lives a noble man'. This gracious villa has been a noble residence on the north bank of the Pasig River since the 18th Century, when it was built for a Spanish aristocrat. In 1825 the Spanish Government bought the property as a summer house for the Governor General, but it later became the permanent seat of the head of state. There is now a museum housed in the palace that features mementos from each of the Philippine's presidents, including the notorious Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.
Monday to Friday from 9am to 3pm
This fascinating region in northern Luzon is known for being largely untouched by Western civilisation, and gives a glimpse of the true Philippines. In a string of villages around Banaue people live according to age-old tribal traditions. The main attraction in the area is the Banaue Rice Terraces, a UNESCO World Heritage site dubbed the 'eighth wonder of the world' by locals. Constructed about 3,000 years ago, the terraces start from the base of the Cordillero Mountains and extend upwards for thousands of feet, cleverly irrigated by channelled streams and springs. The terraces bear testimony to the ingenuity of the ancient Ifugao people. There are more terraces at Batad village, which also sports a waterfall and natural swimming pool, and at Sagada there are a series of ancient burial caves in the mountainside with the famous 'hanging coffins' perched on limestone outcrops.
Tagaytay City, Manila
Tagaytay is one of the most-visited tourist destinations in the Philippines, famous for the Taal Volcano. The volcano is unique in that it sits on an island in a lake, and has another lake within its vast crater. The views from the ridge on the access highway to the volcano are legendary and breathtaking. As Tagaytay itself is the favoured 'summer capital' for Filipinos wishing to escape the capital during the unpleasant summer heat, the area provides plenty of recreation opportunities and good hotels and restaurants. Other sights in Tagaytay are the 'Palace in the Sky', an unfinished complex originally meant to be a home for former president Marcos and now used as a viewpoint and park; and the huge flower farm, abloom all year round, on a slope at Barngay Guinhawa.
Bus from the centre of Manila (about 45 minutes)
Feast of the Black Nazarene
Thousands of pilgrims from all over the country flock to Manila to be part of the procession accompanying the Christ statue known as the 'Black Nazarene' through the streets, in the hope this will protect them from harm and ensure health, wealth and happiness for the coming year. The raucous cacophony of the procession lasts for about six hours. Traditionally all devotees marching along with the carriage bearing the statue and the colourful brass bands have to be barefoot. Traffic is disrupted in the city centre for the duration. For more information, email email@example.com
9 January 2012
From Quipo Church and through the streets of Quipo
This classy restaurant located at Clark Freeport in Manila is the perfect place for a fancy night out. With chic and sophisticated décor, and a vast collection of wines (some up to 40 years old), diners can sip on fine wines and enjoy classic French dishes like the baked pumpkin & crab gnocchi with horseradish sauce and tomato concasse, or the pan fried veal picatta served with warm potato salad, broccoli florets and beurre noisette sauce. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Reservations essential.
Clark Freeport, Pampanga
With a Caribbean flavour and colourful laid-back atmosphere, Cafe Caribana is the perfect location for a relaxing meal out. Dine on Jamaican Jerk Boneless Chicken in this charming two-storey house, or enjoy a fruity yet powerful cocktail at the Jamaican-themed bar. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
628 J. Nakpil Street, Malate
Established over 25 years ago, Cafe Ysabel has been a firm favourite for locals and tourists alike. Specialising in Kapampangan and international cuisine, diners can enjoy dishes such as hot smoked miso glazed honey salmon served with wasabi mayonnaise, the classic Chateaubriand and braised lamb shanks served with truffled mash potatoes and grape salad in an antique Filipino house. Open daily for breakfast lunch and dinner. Bookings recommended.
455 P. Guevarra Street, San Juan Metro