If you’ve ever been to the Philippines, you’ll know that it’s one of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia.
While the country is well known for its pristine beaches, marvelous islands, and stunning mountain regions, many don’t know that much about the cosmopolitan capital of the Philippines—Metro Manila.
Home to around 13 million people, Metro Manila is one of the most populous cities in the world. While the sprawling city may not have the best exterior, the rich history, legacy, and culture nestled within makes the name “Pearl of the Orient” apt for this bustling capital.
Be warned, though, that Manila traffic is the worst in the world, at least according to a survey by navigation app developer Waze Mobile. This means that if you want to enjoy your time here, you’ll have to learn to plan ahead and plot your routes. However, don’t let bad traffic put you off. Here are five reasons why even the worst traffic in the world is not enough to dissuade millions of travelers from exploring Metro Manila.
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Cool & fun things to do in Manila, The Philippines: #1 Intramuros
The walled “city” of Intramuros was a former colonial seat of power in Manila. Filled with museums and historical sites, the sizeable estate is a historical artifact deep within the capital—a reminder of Filipino life under Spain’s 300 years of colonization. If walking around in the summer heat is a bit too much, take a pedicab or rent a bamboo bike to get around.
You can visit the Hispanic stone fortress of Fort Santiago, dine in any of the gourmet restaurants in the walled city, or go to the Rizal museum and take in all the history the capital has to offer. Pack lightly as you’re almost certain to take home something from the numerous bookshop/antique stores in the area. If you can, reserve your walking energy for exploring Intramuros at night, when its buildings are beautifully lit by yellow streetlights.
Cool & fun things to do in Manila, The Philippines: #2 Binondo
This is where the city gets grittier but, at the same time, extremely appetising. Known as the world’s oldest Chinatown, Binondo is famous for its series of restaurants, old buildings, and apothecaries. Explore the offerings of small restaurants like Wai Ying and Dong Bei to upscale establishments like Café Mezzanine and the Presidential Grand Palace.
Cool & fun things to do in Manila, The Philippines: #3 Entertainment City
Manila is big on gaming and has one of the best entertainment destinations in the world. Spanning 8km across Manila Bay, Entertainment City hosts three major casinos: Solaire Resorts and Casino, City of Dreams Manila, and Okada Manila.
Okada Manila has top entertainment offerings, including over 400 gaming tables and world-class signature restaurants. These serve to elevate the visitor experience by combining culture, gaming, and Philippine hospitality. The area is continuously growing with new casino projects expected to be completed in 2020 and beyond. The Philippines has become a major player in the global casino scene and has helped with the industry’s growth in the region. Sandlot Games points out that the largest region for gaming is now the Asia-Pacific with a whopping 32.7% share of the global market. The fast growth of Entertainment City is a testament to how Filipinos can combine their brand of lavish hospitality with entertainment.
Cool & fun things to do in Manila, The Philippines: #4 Manila Ocean Park
The Philippines’ capital boasts one of the best city sunsets in the world and the Manila Ocean Park is one of the best places where you can enjoy this world-class sunset view. A must-see in the Philippines, the marine theme park is an oceanarium, which showcases many marine mammals, and fishes found in the country’s seas. Perfect for learning more about the country’s diverse sea life.
Cool & fun things to do in Manila, The Philippines: #5 Poblacion
Manila also knows how to party, and the hottest parties and events can be found in Poblacion, Makati City. The district has recently been transformed into a hipster hangout. Enjoy full-on rooftop parties at the Z Hostel, get a taste of authentic, 100% de agave tequila at A’Toda Madre, or pick any of the bars that serve local craft beers from the different regions of the Philippines until the early hours of the morning. Be ready to meet both locals and fellow tourists, as Poblacion is one of the city’s most vibrant destinations.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg that is the Metro Manila experience. The more you explore this gorgeous, chaotic cultural melting pot, the more you’ll uncover its hidden rewards.
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