Metro Manila

Metro Manila (Filipino: Kalakhang Maynila) is the National Capital Region and the prime tourist destination in the Philippines. The metropolis is the Philippines' center of commerce, education, and entertainment. It is located on the island of Luzon, bordered by the province of Bulacan on the north, Rizal on the east, Laguna on the south, Cavite on the southwest, and Manila Bay on the west. Though it is the smallest region in the country, Metro Manila is the most populous of the twelve defined metropolitan areas in the Philippines and the 11th most populous in the world with a population of 16.3 million people.

Regions

Metro Manila regions - Color-coded map
1st District (Manila)
The bustling, crowded and noisy City of Manila, which in Metro Manila terms is the "old city center", is home to much of the country's history and culture. It is the only city in Metro Manila which is divided into districts, of which there are sixteen.
2nd District (Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, Mandaluyong, San Juan)
The northeastern corner of Metro Manila is home to universities, parks, suburbs and the former capital of the Philippines. Metro Manila's second business district, Ortigas Center, is located here, as well as the the country's largest shopping mall.
3rd District (Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas, Valenzuela)
A largely working-class area, it has a notorious reputation for being flood-prone during rainy season, with some areas below sea level. Also known as the gateway to northern Luzon, it is home to heritage houses and Metro Manila's largest fish market.
4th District (Makati, Pasay, Taguig, Pateros, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Las Piñas)
Bustling commercial districts, quiet suburbs and the gateway to southern Luzon and the rest of the Philippines. Metro Manila's financial district, the twin business districts of Makati and Fort Bonifacio, is located here.

Cities

Metro Manila is home to the country's business districts, wealth extremes as well as major shopping centers, with a combined population of 11 Million and growing.

Other destinations

Understand

Locals refer to Metro Manila simply as Manila. However, the City of Manila forms only the city proper of Metro Manila. Consisting of 16 cities and 1 municipalities in 630 square kilometers, the metro is the national capital region, and the center of Philippine culture, arts, commerce, industry, and tourism. Metro Manila likewise serves as the pivot point to other exciting, popular destinations in the Philippines such as Boracay, Cebu City, Davao City and more.

People

Metro Manila's population is a diverse mix of Multi-racial people as well as people from different classes either from the richest businessmen to the poorest of the poor. The streets of Binondo in Manila is Metro Manila's Chinatown, while the district of Paco is known as Little India and Japantown. European and American enclaves are found in Business districts where urban life is enjoyed and much similar to western lifestyle. Koreans forever everywhere and anywhere have resulted to Koreatown which is located in Makati City's Burgos St. which features many Korean restaurants, shops and groceries. The growth of immigrants is due to cheap cost for education and living in the Philippines. This is also a home to many of the rich and famous which most reside in Forbes Park as well as home to many homeless and poorest of the poor who seek job opportunities in this metropolis. Efforts have been made to clear slums in order to clean the Pasig River which have been reportedly successful and sustainable.

Religion

Religion is a major key role in a local Filipino's life, Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian temples are found, the Golden mosque is located in Quiapo; the Filipino-Muslim district, while cathedrals, churches and chapels of various Christian denominations are scattered around mostly of Roman Catholic faith. Processions of holy images are carried through in some cities of Metro Manila and during these times streets are crowded with a little space to move around or sometimes no space to move around.

Economy

Metro Manila is a haven for investors and businessmen alike and the region accounts about 30% ($124 Billion) of the total GDP of the Philippines. It is also where major Filipino companies have their headquarters. Business, commercial and Financial districts include; Makati, Ortigas (Pasig and Mandaluyong) and Taguig, this is also where the Philippine Stock Exchange (PSEi) is located.

Talk

Communication with the locals is easy because almost everyone is bilingual. While Filipino is the national language which is based on Tagalog, English is the primary language of trade, government, media and education not only in Metro Manila but in the whole Philippines as well. Spanish-speakers may recognize some words in Tagalog, since some of its vocabulary is Spanish-derived. A minority of Min Nan (Hokkien), Hindi, Tamil and other Indian languages, Korean, Japanese is spoken by Korean and Japanese immigrants, Filipino-Muslims residing in Manila or any other part of the country know how to read and communicate in Arabic, and other ethnicities/immigrants speak their native languages. Some Filipinos have knowledge of Spanish.

Get in

By air

Metro Manila is served by two airports: the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) located within the area, and the Clark International Airport located in Pampanga.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport

The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) (IATA: MNL), located eight kilometers south of Manila in Pasay and Parañaque, is the main airport serving Metro Manila. The airport is divided into four terminals: Terminals 1, 2, 3 and 4 (previously known as the Domestic Terminal). Terminal 1, long regarded as one of Asia's worst airport terminals (if not the worst), is currently undergoing renovation and several areas of the terminal have been renovated. The newer Terminals 2 and 3 are regarded as being far nicer than Terminal 1, with more amenities to boot.

A variety of public transportation options connect NAIA with Metro Manila.

Clark International Airport

The Clark International Airport (IATA: CRK) in Angeles City, Pampanga is 85 kilometers north of Manila and is a popular hub for low-cost carriers. AirAsia, Cebu Pacific and SEAIR maintain hubs at Clark, with other airlines—including legacy airlines such as Asiana Airlines and Dragonair—also connecting Clark with points throughout Asia.

Some airlines which serve Clark have dedicated bus transfer services that transport passengers between Metro Manila and the airport via the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx). There are also four daily direct buses operated by Philtranco between Clark and its terminal in Pasay via SM Megamall in Mandaluyong, which costs ₱300 (to SM Megamall) or ₱350 (to Pasay). Jeepneys also connect the airport to bus terminals in Angeles, where it is also possible to take a bus to Manila.

By boat

All ferries and most boats serving Metro Manila dock at the Port of Manila in Manila proper, which is divided into two halves: the North Harbor on the northern side of the Pasig River in Tondo, and the South Harbor on the southern side beside Ermita and Intramuros. 2GO Travel , the largest ferry operator out of the Port of Manila, operates out of the Eva Macapagal Super Terminal at Pier 15 in the South Harbor, though a few ferries operate from Pier 4 in the North Harbor, which was recently expanded with the construction of the newly-opened Manila North Port Passenger Terminal. Cruise ships docking in Manila will dock at either terminal, though most dock at the Super Terminal.

Some boat services do not dock at the Port of Manila: these include Sun Cruises ferries to Corregidor Island, which dock beside the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in Pasay, and boats to Cavite and Bataan, which dock at the SM Mall of Asia further south.

By road

The Philippines' two major expressways: the North Luzon Expressway (NLEx) and the South Luzon Expressway (SLEx), terminate in Manila. While there is currently no direct interconnection between the two (Stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway, when completed, will connect both expressways together), both expressways terminate at Epifanio de los Santos Avenue: the North Luzon Expressway terminates at the Balintawak Interchange in Quezon City, while the South Luzon Expressway terminates at the Magallanes Interchange in Makati, with a further expressway-like segment continuing on as the Sergio Osmeña Highway between Magallanes and Quirino Avenue in Paco, Manila. A third expressway, the Manila-Cavite Expressway which connects Metro Manila and Cavite, terminates at the intersection with MIA Road in Pasay, and continues on as Roxas Boulevard.

Other highways of the Philippines also terminate in Metro Manila. The MacArthur Highway (formerly the Manila North Road) to northern Luzon, which for much of its length runs parallel to the NLEx, terminates at Monumento in Caloocan, while the Manila East Road, connecting Metro Manila, Rizal and Laguna, terminates in Pasig. The Pan-Philippine Highway, the national road which stretches from Laoag to Zamboanga City, is not signposted in Metro Manila, but major thoroughfares which are part of the Pan-Philippine Highway system in Metro Manila include the MacArthur Highway, Rizal Avenue, Padre Burgos Street and Taft Avenue.

The Strong Republic Nautical Highway (SRNH) system has made it easier to travel between islands by car, and major islands are connected by roll on-roll off (RO-RO) ferries which can carry cars, buses and cargo trucks. The SRNH system connects to the Pan-Philippine Highway network, which continues on to Metro Manila.

By bus

NOTE: Metro Manila is currently implementing a new bus terminal scheme for provincial buses, wherein buses will no longer enter Metro Manila, but will terminate at one of three central bus terminals located at the extreme ends of the city. Passengers will then connect onward to city buses. The first of these terminals, the Southwest Interim Transport Terminal (SITT) beside Uniwide Coastal Mall in Parañaque, is currently in operation, and all buses from Cavite and Batangas now terminate here. As the scheme is progressively being implemented, information in this section is expected to change.

Buses to Metro Manila from other parts of the Philippines are cheap and efficient, particularly to destinations in more northern parts of Luzon (such as Baguio). However, taking a bus to Metro Manila can be very bewildering, as it is one of only two major cities in Southeast Asia (the other is Singapore) that does not have a central government-run bus terminal. Each bus company (and there are dozens) usually has its own exclusive terminal—in many cases two or more—serving its own set of destinations. However, the good thing is that bus terminals are normally clustered around a particular part of the city, so it is not that difficult to find a bus to a particular destination.

Bus terminals in Metro Manila are normally clustered around the following areas:

By rail

Long-distance train services operated by the Philippine National Railways are currently suspended due to track rehabilitation works on several portions of the South Main Line, with no clear timetable yet as to when service will be restored. Be sure to follow the PNR website or Facebook page for the latest announcements. PNR commuter services within Metro Manila, as well as service to Biñan, Laguna, are unaffected.

The Philippine National Railways (PNR) currently operates two overnight intercity services: the Bicol Express between Manila and Naga, Camarines Sur, which resumed on June 29, 2011 after a five-year absence, and the Mayon Limited between Manila and Ligao in Albay. Additional services are expected in the future as the rehabilitation of the PNR network progresses. Train service is comparable to (or slower than, due to delays) buses in terms of speed, but is more comfortable owing to the use of donated Japanese coaches for the service.

Long-distance trains terminate at Tutuban Station in Tondo, Manila, close to Divisoria and west of the LRT-1 Doroteo Jose station and MRT-2 Recto station. In addition to Tutuban, long-distance trains stop at España Station in Sampaloc, close to the University of Santo Tomas. Pasay Road Station in Makati is the most central long-distance station, located just outside the Makati central business district.

Get around

If you need to use public transportation try sakay.ph, it will show you the right type to your destination.

By car

The metropolis has an extensive system of highways connecting the various cities and municipalities. The major roads include ten radial roads, which branch out from central Manila and five circumferential roads which form concentric arcs around downtown Manila. Most of these roads are very important transportation arteries. One is the C-4 (Circumferential Road 4) also called Epifanio de los Santos Avenue or more popularly known as EDSA. Some other other important roads are R-1 (Radial Road 1) or Coastal Road/Manila-Cavite Road; R-3 or South Luzon Expressway (SLEX); R-7, which consists of Espana Avenue, Quezon Avenue, and Commonwealth Avenue; R-8 or the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX); and C-5 going from Bicutan to Libis (simply referred to as C-5).

However, driving in a private car is not recommended for people who are unfamiliar with Manila because many drivers there ignore such things as stoplights and lane markings and most also have no idea what right of way means (although this behavior has been decreasing significantly over the years). Public transport is very cheap however but may get very crowded during the rush hours in the morning and early evening (7 AM to 10 AM and 4 PM to 7 PM). Traffic also tends to crawl during these times so best avoid being on the move in these occasions. Another fact to take note is, just like any city in South-East Asia, drivers in Manila tend to be reckless, but road signages are very common, though some are not that visible, and are also well abided and respected by at least 75% of Manila drivers despite the fact that this signages are quite different from international standards because of its very dominant pink color.

When driving, be cautious of pedestrians crossing illegally. Be also aware when driving in narrow streets, where children usually play, given Manila is a crowded metropolis. Be also aware of the existing Number-Coding Scheme, where some vehicles are not allowed to ply Metro Manila streets from 7AM to 10AM, and from 3PM to 7PM, Mondays to Fridays, i.e. cars with license plates ending in numbers 1 and 2 should not go out of the street on the said schedule every Mondays, 3 and 4 every Tuesdays, and so on and so forth. Makati City however observes the Number-Coding scheme the whole day.

The price of petroleum is relatively comparable to that paid in the US but expensive in the eyes of locals.

By jeepney

Jeepneys

Jeepneys are evolved versions of the Jeep which American Armed Force units used as utility vehicles during the war years. Usually built with a reconditioned surplus diesel engine from Japan coupled to a locally fabricated chassis, jeepneys come in a wide range of colors and decorations that are limited only by the owner's/driver's imagination and taste. Over time, it has become the most common means of public transport in the Philippines. Recently however, the introduction of more modern buses as well as the more efficient train lines have lessened the importance of the jeepney. They still do travel all over the city, particularly in routes which are too small to be serviced by buses - but know exactly where you are headed before getting on. Once inside, pay your fare or "bayad" directly to the driver by telling him where you want to get off and how many people you are paying for. It is a norm all over the country that if you are seated far from the driver, one just need to say "Bayad po" while extending the hand with your fare to the driver and someone will readily take your fare and pass it until it gets to the driver. Giving back of change or "sukli" if the fare given is in a large denomination will come in a similar manner, and a polite expression of "Thank you" or "Salamat po" as a sign of gratitude is encouraged.

The fare structure begins with a minimum fare for the first four kilometers and increases every additional kilometer thereafter. As of February 2011 minimum fare is P 8 (14 US cts) while the per kilometer additional fare is P 1.25. Do not however expect that a driver will be able to give any change for very large denominations, e.g. P500 or P1000.

You can also request the driver to inform you that you are near to your destination. Note that loading and unloading zones for jeepneys are rarely followed so people hop on and get off practically at will. Saying "para" or "para po!" is the standard way to tell the driver that you need to get off. Caution - Jeeps are designed to carry small people - and can get very cramped for anyone over 6ft tall particularly if the jeepney is fully loaded! This arrangement is cramped even for the size of the locals who are small by Western comparison and some would regularly complain. Though not widely practiced, some people would pay for the price of two to avoid getting cramped by someone else as the fares are anyway extremely cheap. Jeepneys usually seat anywhere from 0 to 30 people.

By taxi

Taxis are very affordable by western standards but pretty expensive for locals and almost all are now air-conditioned and use a meter to compute for the final fare. The taxi rates start at PHP 40 (USD 0.90) for the first 500 metres and an extra PHP 3.50 (USD 0.08) for every succeeding 300-metres or 2 minutes of stopping.

Some drivers may take advantage of tourists, but closer regulation by authorities and even by mall operators, are curbing this practice slowly. Many taxis are in a poor state of repair and drivers drive erratically. The LTFRB (Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board) has now instituted hotline numbers to report erring drivers. Just take note of the cab name and number. Mall operators also closely monitor the operations of taxis that use their taxi racks by ensuring that cab drivers do not choose only passengers bound for nearby destinations. Do not hire taxis waiting at bus terminals; they will charge much higher fare (100% more than normal fare). Just walk out from any main bus terminal, and you will find plenty of cabs.

Be wary especially during traffic as drivers will ask for a minimum fare higher than what the meter requires you to pay. Also during rush hour (both morning and evening), as well as other times when there is heavy traffic (such as heavy rains), it is not unusual to see taxi drivers hesitant to drive you if your destination involves EDSA or an area full of offices; it is extremely difficult to hail a cab during these hours. During the early morning, passengers are strongly advised to bring smaller denominations of bills (as well as coins) as drivers usually don't have ready change.

By bus

Buses are common in the major thoroughfares of Metro Manila and most will pass through EDSA. The common routes are as follows:

Bus routes
Origin/Destination Destination/Origin Way/s
Baclaran Navotas EDSA and Ayala/EDSA alone
Baclaran SM Fairview EDSA and Ayala / Quezon Avenue and Espana
Baclaran Malanday EDSA and NLEX (North Luzon Expressway)
Baclaran Sta. Maria, Bulacan EDSA, Ayala, and NLEX/MacArthur Highway
Grotto Ninoy Aquino International Airport EDSA and SM Fairview
Malanday Ninoy Aquino International Airport EDSA
Alabang/Pacita Navotas SLEX (South Luzon Expressway) and EDSA
Alabang/Pacita Novaliches SLEX, EDSA and NLEX
Alabang Malanday SLEX and EDSA
Alabang SM Fairview SLEX and EDSA
Quiapo Cainta Ortigas Avenue, San Juan and Sta. Mesa

There are both ordinary and air-conditioned buses available. Conductors collect your fare once on board and they are ready with change although it is suggested you have coins during morning rush-hours ready. Just tell him/her where you want to get off. Like the jeepneys, buses do not have route numbers identifying their routes and often do not observe loading and unloading areas except for some highly regulated zones where they are bound to get a ticket for not doing so, most notably in Makati's central business district. As such, it is not uncommon for people to get on and off in odd places. Buses sometimes load and unload in the middle of the road and couldn't care less about the traffic they may cause. Furthermore, they don't have a timetable for when to stop at a particular area although buses bound to the same place stop at a particular area seconds from each other. The fare structure of buses is almost the same as that of jeepneys where a fare matrix is provided and fares increase at a constant rate per kilometre after the first few kilometres. While EDSA has a bus lane (two lanes wide on each side), these are generally packed with buses from city/provincial routes funneling down the thorughfare, and are rarely followed. It is not uncommon to see that a bus won't go until it is fairly packed so it's best to avoid an empty bus. This is because the drivers and conductors are paid depending on how many passengers they take-in. If your route/destination is along EDSA, it is best to take the MRT-3 (see below) to avoid the traffic.

By minivan

FX (minivans) are a relatively new transport mode available now. They are more expensive than jeepneys, but cheaper than taxis. FX follow the jeepney practice of having a fixed route but like taxis are usually air-conditioned. You likely will have to share the ride as the FX can take up to 10 passengers at a time, but it's reasonably comfortable.

By tricycle

Tricycles (motorcycles with modified side cars) These are common for short trips in areas where jeepneys do not travel. In Manila proper you are unlikely to see any. However, in outlying suburbs and towns they are more common. Another variant is the pedicab which is merely a bicycle with a side car.

By rail

MRT Line 2 of the LRTA System

Travelling by rail is so far, one of the fastest options. Here are some options to choose from:

Fares in all lines can go as cheap as 15 pesos and it is air conditioned albeit quite crowded during the morning and early evening rush hours. Entering the systems requires a ticket which like other countries, must be inserted onto the turnstile. Alternatively, magnetic plastic cards are increasingly becoming available to access the system although surcharges to both top-up the card and to pay for actual travel apply.

Single-journey and stored-value tickets are available for each of the lines. You can transfer between lines at the following areas:

However, unlike most other countries, you will need to exit the system and purchase a separate ticket to ride on the other lines except if you're in possession Strong Republic Transit Flash Pass or if you are transferring between LRT-1 and MRT-2 due to being operated by the same operator. Also be prepared for long queues at the entrance as security personnel will check to see if bags are loaded with prohibited items.

Lines 1 and 3 are expected to be crowded during rush hour and while the journey itself can be fast, expect to wait a long time before riding and be mindful of your personal belongings as pickpockets are not uncommon.

On foot

It is not recommended to walk in Manila since many street sides are infested with vendors and peddlers. If walking is inevitable, just remember that you should always walk on areas were pedestrians walk (common sense), and crossing a street is not a problem, if you know how to cross the street correctly. Walking at night is not also recommended, especially for women. Walking in groups is a safe option if you are going at night. The business district of Makati is walkable as well as Taguig.

See

One should see Metro Manila's numerous attractions.

Plazas, Parks and Nature Reserves

Rizal Park

When it comes to parks, , Luneta park and Intramuros are the most popular destinations. Luneta Park (also called as Rizal Park and Rizal Monument) is home to the Rizal monument; a statue of the Philippines' national hero, Jose Rizal. It is one of the most significant and most important places in Philippine history from the Spanish colonial era to the EDSA revolution. The walled former city of Intramuros served as a settlement for the Indianized-Malay-Muslims, then it was taken over by the Spanish and fell into ruins during the World War II, it is one of the most popular icons of the Philippines. See Plaza de Roma in Intramuros where a statue of King Carlos IV of Spain stands, Plaza de Goiti or now known as Plaza Lacson is where a statue of Arsenio Lacson; said to be one of Manila's greatest mayor stands, next to it is Roman Santos building which would again make you think you're somewhere in Rome, Italy because of it Greco-Roman architecture. Plaza Miranda stands infront of Quiapo Church in the Filipino-Muslim district of Quiapo, an unfortunate event occurred here on 1971; the Plaza Miranda bombings. Manila Zoological and Botanical Gardens is one of the oldest zoos in Asia unfortunately it is criticized for its inadequate care towards animals as well as its dirty surroundings and animal rights activists are demanding to free the animals due to this while Ninoy Aquino Parks and Wildlife Center have rare animals such as water monitors and the Philippine deer, it also treats injured animals even if it isn't part of their zoo. La Mesa Dam EcoPark is the haven for most Filipinos after a tiring week of work and a getaway from the noisy and polluted metro, not only is it an ecopark but is also a dam which provides water to Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Manila Ocean Park is larger than Singapore's Sentosa Underwater World, construction is incomplete however it had already opened to the public, tickets cost 350 for a child, 400 for adults. Quezon Memorial Circle is a shrine and a national park, it is where the remains of late President Manuel Quezon and his wife are rested. While Greenbelt Park is located in Makati and is worth seeing.

Places of worship

Manila Cathedral

Religion is one of the major aspects of life of a Filipino, the diverse population of the Philippines follows the world's major religions; Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism and some following the Jewish faith and part of the Church of the Latter Day Saints, some forms of paganism, animism or any other kind may somehow exist. Manila's population follows almost all of those religions.

Christian faith

EDSA Shrine

See Basilica Minore de la Immaculada Concepcion or Manila Cathedral in simple words in Intramuros, it is a historic church which served 2 funerals for 2 Filipino presidents as well as bishops' funerals. Basilica Minore de San Lorenzo Ruiz or Binondo Church in Chinatown caters to Chinese Filipinos, seen here is the synchronization of Western architecture, Catholic faith and Chinese influences. Our Lady of China chapel is located in this Church. See the miraculous Black Nazerene or Itim na Nazareno in Basilica Minore de Jesus Nazareno or Quiapo church which is believed to give miracles and blessings, during January it is crowded as well as the streets of Metro Manila too, as a procession is held, during Fridays the church is filled with devotees.

Churches and sanctuaries

Other faiths

The Golden Mosque is located in the Quiapo district which is somehow the Filipino-Muslim district of Manila, its dome is made of gold and is built in order of the Marcoses.

Museums

Ayala Museum

Monuments

Shop

Tiendesitas

There are generally two kinds of shopping destinations in Manila: the mall and the tiangge ("chang-ghe"). The Manila mall is more than just a shopping experience but a cultural destination as well. The largest malls in Metro Manila are practically their own cities within the city: complete with boutiques, supermarkets, department stores, restaurants, cinemas, medical facilities, hotels, schools, offices, gyms, serviced apartments, spas, convention centers, art galleries, bowling alleys, museums, ice skating rinks, and even a chapel for Sunday masses. In February 2006, Manila upped the ante on shopping malling with the opening of the gargantuan SM Mall of Asia exactly adjacent to Manila Bay, said to be the largest mall in the region. Simply put, shopping malls abound in Metro Manila, and the shopping experience is second to none, even by western standards. An entertainment city is planned by the government and has since broken ground in 2008 adjacent to the Mall of Asia which will feature 5-6 star hotels, casinos, high-end condominiums, shopping malls, theme park, an observation tower that is set to be one of the tallest in Southeast Asia and Manila's version of the London Eye. Already a Neochinatown has sprung nearby as well as the new Marriot Resort Community (Newport) is currently under different phases of development.

Tiangge

However, if you wish to experience the "ultimate Manila shopping experience", one has to shop at a tiangge. Tiangges are small makeshift stalls clustered together that sell anything and everything you can imagine think bazaars). But at bargain basement prices. In these places, one has to haggle, particularly if you are buying wholesale (defined as at least six pieces of the same item). The best tiangge complexes are in the Greenhills Shopping Center, Tiendesitas, Market! Market!, St. Francis Square, Tutuban Center Mall, Divisoria Mall, and 168 Mall. Go crazy buying quality clothes and shoes, pretty fashion jewelry and things for the house at very reasonable prices!

Shopping Malls

Metro Manila is by-far the most expensive urbanized area in the Philippines, but cheaper compared to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, and Brunei. According to the Mercer Human Resource Consulting Cost of Living Survey of 2008, Manila is the cheapest to live in Southeast Asia for expatriates.

Eat

The Food Village at Tiendesitas

A tourist or visitor may be amused or perplexed to see Filipinos eating most of the time. Apart from the three major meals of the day, there are snacks in the morning and in the afternoon called merienda which are integral part of a typical Pinoy's everyday life. Metro Manila's diverse racial community had brought the rise to international cuisine, from just one corner of the street a Filipino would be eating Shawarma (more commonly known as Doner or Kebab for some westerners), another one would be enjoying his kimchee, while others would enjoy their night with sushi, some would desire Indian and Thai curry for their lunch while some would prefer the typical American breakfast in fastfood stores. For Chinese cuisine go to Chinatown where they serve Hokkien dishes; American steakhouses, high class Japanese, Korean, Indian and Thai restaurants lurk around Makati, Koreantown have cheaper options as well as Japantown (Little Tokyo). Usually if you prefer to splurge, Makati is one of the best options. Typical Filipino cuisine and streetfood are found in the streets of Manila which provide the best options, the cost could be $1-2 per serving or even lower.

Filipino Fastfood

America's influence is palpable in the Philippines, and you'll be hard pressed to find a mall without the requisite McDonalds and KFC. Filipino fastfood chains that capture the essence of Filipino food compete strongly for Philippine tastebuds however, and they may be a safe place for the tourist to try the local fare. The following are a list of fastfood chains that have branches all around the Metro, and in many cases around the country.

Where to eat

Drink

The epicenter of Metro Manila's famous nightlife is the Greenbelt in Makati where some of the city's best restaurants, cafes, bars and karaoke joints cluster around a park in the middle of the main business district. The Fort, Serendra and Bonifacio High Street are three different clusters that offers high-end restaurants, bars and shops in the nearby city of Taguig. Bohemian Malate and the adjoining Baywalk contain a variety of venues serving a combination of food, comedy, alcohol and live music in Manila. Other nightlife clusters in the Metro are Eastwood, Araneta Center, and Timog all in Quezon City.

The introduction of American hip hop music has had a noticeable effect on Philippine night life, serving as the soundtrack to a high-spirited Manila youth culture. Many nightclubs now rival first-world standards both in terms of luxury and vibrancy.

Additionally, there are numerous venues in which to catch elements of an active Philippine alternative rock community. Some venues, such as saGuijo Cafe in Makati, have risen to some prominence.

Sleep

Check city articles for listings

Hotels range from P500 to P10,000 above or more if you want to stay in a luxurious place, popular hotels such as Shangri-La and Mandarin Oriental are found in Manila and Makati while Marriot hotels just opened a branch in Newport City. Hotels include common frills such as laundry service, telephone, TV etc. Motels have a bad reputation and perception by Filipinos as they are viewed as meeting places for illicit sex and things alike however it is the one of the cheapest options available. Condominiums are perhaps doubling and doubling in years which is a result of a growing economy in the country and investment. If you are staying for a long period of time, Condos are OK and most of them are found around financial districts and often near to commercial establishments.

Stay safe

Aside from pickpockets and cellphone-snatching, Manila is relatively safe for almost all tourists, especially Caucasian-looking people Koreans. Tourists are expected to receive warm welcome from locals especially if they are somewhat connected to the locals (for example, you are married to a local or you have a boyfriend/girlfriend who is a local).

Violent crime is quite evident in some parts of the metro, but this usually happens among locals, and tourists should not worry a lot, since there are many police and frequent police patrol cars within Metro Manila, especially tourist areas.

Bag-snatching is also common, but, of course, common sense will reduce that threat. Most victims are rich locals.

Be also aware of stray dogs, but they are not a problem in financial districts such as Makati CBD and Taguig and can be seen only in residential outskirts and non-commercialized suburbs of Metro Manila.

Cope

Embassies and Consulates

Metro Manila is where most countries have their embassies as it is the main gateway to the Philippines.

  • Argentina, 104 H.V. Dela Costa St., Salcedo Village, Makati City,  +63 2 845 3218, e-mail: . Mon-Fri 10AM-4PM.
  • Australia, 23rd Level, Tower 2 RCBC Plaza, 6819 Ayala Ave., Makati City,  +63 2 757 8100. Mon-Fri 8AM-4:30PM.
  • Austria, 4th Floor, Prince Building, Thailand (Rada) Street, Legaspi Village, Makati City,  +63 2 817 9191. Mon-Fri 7:30AM-3:30PM.

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