Metro Manila in the Philippines is a wonderful place to visit, bustling with life and culture.
It is the most densely populated region of the Philippines and acts as the center of culture, economy, education and government. It is also a beautiful city packed with history, as you can see from some of our photos from the region. It attracts tourists from around the world, flocking there for food, culture, gaming, sights and the nightlife.
If you happen to have a weekend to spend in Metro Manila, these are a few of the things you really should be looking to do.
If you are in the Philippines for a bit of sightseeing, then Fort Santiago is the place to start your weekend. The fort was built in 1593 by Spanish navigator and Governor Miguel López de Legazpi as he established the city of Manila, and it has played an important role in the city’s development ever since. Rappler revealed that the fort’s dungeons are now also open to the public, which makes for a more interesting experience should you choose to visit on your trip.
Manila Cathedral, or The Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to give it its full name, is another site steeped in history. It also has a heavy Spanish influence, unusual in the rest of Asia.
Manila is well-known for its varied shopping experience, from bustling malls to busy markets. Divisoria is one of the better-known market areas and a dream for the frugal traveller. It can get a bit chaotic, but if you are one for haggling and bartering then there is no better place in Manila.
For a more orderly and western experience, the SM Mall of Asia is worth a visit. It has a much more up to date feel with a new two-level expansion being built at the moment. It already boasts an Olympic-sized ice-skating rink, concert grounds, an amusement park, Science Center, SMX Convention Center, and the Mall of Asia Arena where events such as international tennis and MMA tournaments take place.
The Philippines is one of the Asian countries with the most relaxed laws around gambling, which makes it a mecca for travelers from other countries in the region. Statistics from the Philippines Department of Tourism show that in 2018, 4.8m visitors arrived just from other areas of Asia alone, with the gaming industry one of the many draws. This is because other Asian countries have much stricter gaming laws. Expatbets reveals that Thailand has extremely strict gambling laws, prohibiting any form of gambling except for the National Lottery and horse racing. Japan is another example of a country where residents cannot game as freely as they can in Manila. Those two countries combined accounted for three-quarters of a million of the visitors entering the country in 2018, showing what a draw the casinos are.
One of the best places for travellers looking to indulge in gaming is Resorts World, Manila. With live shows, great places to eat and of course, casino games, it is one of the primary gaming establishments in the city. The Solaire Resort and Casino also offers a Vegas-style experience in Manila, for those chasing that gaming excitement.
Any weekend in Manila would not be complete without sampling some of the local cuisines. As a bustling, cosmopolitan metropolis the places to eat are numerous, far too numerous to do them all justice here.
However, to fully appreciate the variety on offer, there are several outdoor food markets that are well worth a visit. Quiapo Market is a great place to start, you will find vendors peddling seafood, meat, vegetables, fruit and other foodstuffs. Lonely Planet explains the area becomes terribly busy at weekends when people tend to be out of the malls and in the markets. Concepcion Public Market and the public market under the Metro Rail Transit System Line 3 (MRT-3) are both good spots for some classic Filipino street food too and should be considered if you are in the area.