(Photos courtesy and photographed by Nick Tam: Taken at the underground museum in Fort Santiago. This is not open to public, we were just lucky that the guard was so friendly and showed us this dungeons. It’s creepy in there.)
Finally, you decided to see what’s in the Philippines after the other neighboring Southeast Asian (SEA) countries. I know its a bit of a mission to visit here because the border crossing by bus does not apply here because we are separate group of islands among the other SEA countries, but Philippines have similarities and differences from them just like any others.
Okay, so your first destination is Manila. What to do here? I usually say, not much really, but I will tell you at least where can you go to have a bit of taste of Manila.
Usually, backpackers will stay at the red district of Manila which is Malate (Ermita). Well, its normal just like people will stay in Pattaya when in Thailand, although there are other backpackers places around manila that offers cheaper deals and cozier ambiance. Perhaps the convenience of being accessible to almost anything you can see here, then Malate is the place to stay in the Metro. So, for where to go and how to get around Manila, I suggest you read on.
(Carriage during the Spanish Colonial Era in the Philippines)
Where to Go in Manila?
Mall of Asia – Malate is near the biggest Mall of Asia, where you can do zip line, enjoy fresh seafoods, shop to the max, ice skates, 3D cinemas, tech museum, food, even enjoy the sunset at the bayview and fireworks at night.
Manila Ocean’s Park – This park is our giant aquarium which offers cool water activities such as fish spa, aquanaut voyage, liquid pool lounge, trails to Antarctica (penguin interaction) coming soon, musical fountain show, and glass bottom boat ride. Entrance fee starts from Php 500 which includes the marine show and tour to the aquarium, additional activities mentioned above will have separate charges.
Fort Santiago – Is a historical park in Manila, all you get to see here is our national hero Dr. Jose Rizal’s works and things he used when he was alive. It’s a bit boring though, but just like it was going to Vietnam’s War Museum.
Rizal Park- Also, there’s Luneta Park or Rizal Park that is just few blocks away from Malate. It’s just a huge park with Dr. Jose Rizal’s famous statue landmark, with children’s playground, some musical plays at the Quirino Grandstand on some days, good bay view for sunset, and around that area you can also have buffet dinner on a cruise for Php250 while enjoying some music.
And if you are an eco-traveler, you might want to leap to Sagada, Palawan, Davao, Caramoan, Siargao, Bohol, Legazpi, and Boracay! That is where the jewels of marine riches, greener pasture(literally), rain forests, and caves. Let your 21 days of stay worth remembering! (but I think you will have to extend too).