The Philippines have drawn over the recent years more attraction of the tourists. There are a lot of good reasons to vacation in this country. The climate is tropically warm, but the temperatures are not too high to survive for European people. The visitors are dazzled by the beauty of the nature. The prices are low or at least reasonable. The filippino people are kind and friendly. A lot of them are speaking fluently English.
The majority of the tourists are vacationing on Visayas islands, Boracay, Bohol, Cebu and Palawan. You have two options for the route to Visays. You can fly directly to Cebu or take a flight to Manila and transfer there to a domestic flight. The flights to Manila seem to be cheaper than to Cebu, that`s why the travelers mainly prefer to fly through Manila. From Manila there are frequent flight connections to all over the country.
Ninoy Aquino´s International Airport in Manila differs from the international airports of Europe in some respects. The International Terminal has been renovated recently and look to function much better than some years ago. What surprises a traveler are the long distances and tricky connections between the terminals. There is no public transport from the terminal to the other. So you have to pick up a taxi and note that you might be stuck in traffic jam while transferring to the other terminal.
If you are staying in Manila for some time and you are going to carry on by plane, recommend to you to make a reservation at a hotel not too far from the airport. Going back to the airport take your time and leave early. The traffic rush may be very tough. In some cases to proceed 5 km by taxi will take even one hour.
Despite of these troubles a taxi is for a foreigner the most practical way to go in Manila. Taxi cabs are not of the latest model, mainly imported second hand cars, but usually they are running quite well. The drivers speak ordinarily English or then “taglish”, a mix of Tagalog and English. The cabs are not outfitted with navigators. The drivers don`t always know the location of the streets due to the huge size of Metro Manila. So find the location of the place you are heading to from the map before you pick up a taxi and ensure where you are going to. The street numbers don`t help so much, because the buildings are not numbered in logic order. So you have to find out the corner of the streets, where your destination is located. There might be sometimes slight flaws in your taxi service, however you`ll be comforted by the cheap prices.
If you are staying in Manila you have good chances for shopping. There is a large variety of shopping malls in the cities of Metro Manila. The most famous are Mall of Asia, at Manila Bay, at the South end of EDSA, Greenbelt`s mall, Glorietta`s, Landmark`s and SM`s shopping centers in Makati City, SM Mega Mall on EDSA, in Mandaluyong City. Walking around these malls you`ll find an endless amount of shops, the ones have a wide range of different retail products and the other ones are specialized in certain products or a brand only. The malls are not mere for shopping. The filipinos spend their spare time often in the malls. The malls are leisure time hubs with restaurants, cinemas and churches. In Asia Mall there is even an ice rink with an option to rent the skates.
The most popular credit cards are accepted by the big stores and the restaurants in the cities. Cash you need you can raise from ATMs. All of them are not accepting international credit cards despite a sticker of a brand on a machine. US dollars are easy to exchange, euros instead are not all over accepted to change.
Intramuros in old town of Manila, founded by the Spanish in 1571, is one of the most prominent tourist attractions in South Luzon. It was built for the fortress to protect the inhabitants with the high walls. Beside the military and administrative function Intramuros served for centuries as a center for business, education and religion. The historical buildings that draw attention from the visitors are Manila Cathedral (photo), San Agustin Church and Museum (photo).
The China town of the Philippines, Binondo (photo), was built up within the range of the Intramuros cannons in order to keep the control by the Spanish. It is traditional business hub founded by Chinese immigrants. They yielded economic growth, but on the other hand the Chinese were a threat for the Spanish rulers. That`s why the location of Binondo was exactly dictated. Walking there you can be in touch with Old Manila.
Wish to you a good stay in the Philippines!