The Philippines is a fascinating part of the world and its capital, Manila, is no exception. This bustling metropolis is growing by the day as people arrive from the surrounding areas and new developments are built. Those heading for Manila should note that rather than being a traditional city with a defined centre, it is more like a collection of towns.
Even if you’ve chosen the Philippines as your second home, taking flights to Manila means you can make time to explore the hub of the city as a visitor, soaking up the areas of Ermita and Malate, the markets of Binondo and the frenetic commercial centre of Makati where residents and visitors alike come to shop, drink and eat dishes of garlic-ladenadobo.
Head to Intramuros for an astonishingly Spanish vibe, among grand colonial buildings like Fort Santiago, or get a top-up on Filipino history by visiting the Ayala Museum. If you don’t mind hanging around with the tourists for a while, a trip down the Pagsanjan river by canoe is popular for good reason.
As well as the city itself, take some time out to explore the surrounding area. There are plenty of destinations within easy reach of the capital, such as the majestic Mount Pinatubo. This volcano last erupted in 1991 and the brown peaks and white smoke at its crater are truly awe-inspiring. Over time, trees will grow again on this mountain, so those who want to see the landscape in its current bare and dramatic form should plan an excursion sooner rather than later.
Don’t forget to leave time for the journey to Corregidor. Located around 48 kilometres west of the capital, this rocky island served as a major bastion of the Philippine’s Allies during World War II and its ruins of tunnels, buildings and other structures are steeped in dramatic military history.
No matter how long you spend in the Pinoy archipelago, Manila and its surrounds are worth investigating. A city of colonial relics and 21st century shopping, flanked by remote mountainous regions and populated by colourful ‘jeepney’ vehicles, it has to be experienced to the full.