We got to Manila via flight from Boracay. Getting from the airport to our hostel we used a Grab taxi, which works out cheaper than agreeing a price at the airport.
Where to stay in Manila?
This was a pretty modern hostel situated close to the city centre, but Manila is a massive city!
They were renovating a few of the floors, so there was the smell of fresh paint on entry and workers were coming and going constantly. All were polite however, just like the majority of the Filipino population!
For our first night we were the only ones in our 6 bed dorm (result!), however that shortly got filled.
There was a really nice bar on the rooftop for socialising and the place was very clean. A great hostel at a reasonable price.
Things to do in Manila
Shop at the SM Mall of Asia
Getting here from our accommodation was a bit of a mission, and to get there cheaply involved mingling with two local jeepneys.
The jeepneys travel all over Manila, so you can practically get them to anywhere if researched. It just takes a little confidence as they can be overwhelming.
The jeepney drivers often try to short change or charge a ‘tourist’ rate. We had other passengers sticking up for us on a number of occasions. The people here are so friendly.
It can also be a tight squeeze and if you are sitting by the window you are expected to pass money along. This is something I had became accustom to!
The mall is massive and we were on the hunt for valentines gifts for/from one another. We came away with Havianas, new bikini (for Kel of course!), floral shirt and tropical swim shorts. A good shopping session had all around, considering we hadn’t shopped like that in a few months!
The mall was very busy and outside on the promenade were people waiting for sunset, amongst the bars and fairground rides.
Baywalk Roxas Boulevard
We walked along here towards Rizal Park and Ocean Park – we were deeply disappointed.
Hoping it was going to be a scenic walk, we were greeted with a horrible sewage smell and a dirty sea. There were lots of poor/homeless here which was quite saddening.
As ‘one of the things to do’ we brought cheap tickets to this through Klook. On arrival there were hundreds of school groups which pretty much took over the park for the rest of the day.
It didn’t bother us too much, until we started seeing children spitting on the lonely crocodile in the small enclosure and really disrespecting the enclosures as well as other visitors.
That be said, there was lots to see and we both enjoyed our experience here, spending a total of 4 hours!
The highlights included getting really close to the penguins, attempting the fish spa, watching jelly fish bounce on the jets, getting hawk photos and Kel getting to kiss a sea lion on stage. I think she may have been picked as we were two of only seven or so western tourists.
Some new experiences in there, which is always good.
Do a wash at Tap Tap Laundrette (310 peso wash and dry)
As you can see, we are really struggling with what there is to do here.
After 3 weeks of enjoying the Philippines we chose to have a quiet day and refresh our suitcases. We found this really friendly launderette near by which offered a cheap and efficient service.
Where to eat in Manila
Try sweetcorn in a pot (20 peso)
We found this little stall in the main city, I think there were a few of them. The sweetcorn came in a warm plastic cup with butter and cheese powder. It was delicious and cheap, but horrendously bad for you.
Try Japanese oreo cake (10 peso)
These little desert delights are sold all over the city streets on stalls, and make for a good local treat.
Zarc’s Burger (658 peso for two)
This was an American/basketball themed restaurant that has reviews of selling the best burgers in town, and they didn’t disappoint. We both left here feeling satisfied. It was certainly a treat for us, there’s only so much cheap street food you can deal with!
Popular with locals, Mang Inasal serves up chicken and rice dishes. It also sells this traditional colourful desert for cheap which goes by the name halo-halo, meaning mixed together.
And it’s a right mix! It contains ice cream, rice, sweetened beans, ice, milk and god knows what else. I actually started to enjoy this treat… just a little!
Manila worth a visit?
We would have much rather spent our days in Manila elsewhere in the Philippines in all honesty, however it did serve a purpose for us.
We did some shopping, some washing and enjoyed ourselves at Ocean Park. Plus Manila is cheap to fly in/out of. We wouldn’t recommend spending any longer than 2-3 nights.