Manila: Holidays

A bustling city with a laid-back, casual nature

Backpacking

Backpacking in Manila

Manila and the Philippines in general offer plenty for the backpacker, trekker or less traditional tourist. The increase in budget airlines such as Air Asia and Tiger Airways is opening Manila more and more to the backpacking crowd. Manila features several budget-priced or backpacking hotels for the thrifty traveler. At Townhouse Hotel Manila in Paranque, which caters to the backpacker crowd, dormitory rooms start at under €3, while those in need of more creature comforts can avail themselves of private rooms with air conditioning and cable TV for around €15 and everything in between.

In the bohemian backpacker district of Malate, prices (and hipness) are just slightly higher. Friendly’s guesthouse in Malate features free wireless Internet, kitchen facilities, laundry service and a weekly “Wine and Cheese Night”. Since Malate is also the center for nightlife and local student culture in Manila, it is an ideal place for backpackers. As always, one should exercise common sense and caution when backpacking and not expect the same level of security as in the business districts or in more expensive accommodation.
 

City Breaks

City Breaks in Manila

Manila may be one of the ultimate city break locations in all of Asia, with an abundance of restaurant, accommodation and entertainment choices to suit any taste. Whether it’s sightseeing in historic Intramuros, shopping and dining in stylish Makati, nightlife (both gay and straight) in Malate, or being pampered at one of Metro Manila’s innumerable urban retreat health spas, all budgets and desires are catered to. 1-1.5 hour massages start at only €2 or €3. Sound unbelievable? How about a “Fish Spa” at Manila’s new Oceanarium where “Doctor Fish” nibble away at the soles of your feet? If that’s too far-out, simply take in some shopping and dining in the marine-themed mall or just walk around and observe the breathtaking variety of tropical flora and fauna in the Oceanarium’s many tanks and 25 meter Living Ocean tunnel walkway.

Manila is hot and humid year round and as with many large cities, traffic and petty crime can be a nuisance, particularly for foreign-looking tourists, but the more developed shopping and business districts such as Makati are as safe as anywhere in the West. Relief from hot muggy weather and pollution can be found in the cool hills of nearby Tagaytay, a popular resort town located 55km from Manila.
 

Beach

Beach in Manila

Manila itself does not have any beaches, but several are within a short distance and make for easy day trips or mini breaks, the most beautiful and popular of which are located in Batangas province. Only a few hours from Manila, Batangas is home to many fine beaches and top diving sites. The closest beach to Manila is Caylabne Bay in Cavite, which is only 90 minutes by car and quite secluded considering its proximity to the capital. Another popular destination is the municipality of Puerto Galera in Oriental Mindoro, which boasts many beautiful, pristine white sand beaches and is only a 3.5-hour journey from Manila by bus and boat.

Camping

Camping in Manila

Though Asian metropolises aren’t normally associated with camping, a few beautiful camping destinations are accessible from Metro Manila. One of the closest camping facilities to Manila is located at Taal Lake Yacht Club in Batangas, at only one hour’s journey, with tent rates starting at only €2.50 per night. Marinduque Island is reachable by bus and low cost flights from Manila and features beach camping. Several campsites close to Manila are also run by Christian organizations.

Cruises

Cruises in Manila

Though Manila is not a normal destination for holiday cruise ships, short cruises or ferry rides in and around Metro Manila are an exciting way to experience Manila’s history, architecture, urban culture and surrounding nature. Popular cruises include a Corregidor Island tour, with its canyons and military ruins, and the natural beauty of a Pagsanjan Falls tour, complete with canoe ride amid waterfalls and steep canyons. Boat trips along the Markina and Pasig rivers also offer an interesting alternative to road travel when traversing the city.

Culture and Arts

Culture and Arts in Manila

Manila’s culture and arts scenes are thriving. Manila is home to several cultural museums, which display a wealth of cultural and anthropological history, while Manila’s fine and modern art museums showcase the country’s premier artists’ works. The rich colonial heritage and native Malay culture mix with Chinese and other Asian influences, creating an exciting cultural blend that is truly unique to Manila and the Philippines, and can be experienced in the city’s art, architecture, language, food and music. This mix makes Manila an exciting destination for culture and arts holiday enthusiasts.

Disabled Needs

Disabled Needs in Manila

Manila may not be the ideal holiday destination for the disabled tourist, although disabled access is mandated in government buildings and facilities. Many buildings now have pathways and restrooms designed for disabled people, particularly in the shopping and business districts in Makati City, but the standards may fall short of those in western capitals. Transport by chauffeured van is also a common way to get around in Metro Manila, and may help make Manila a viable alternative for the disabled traveler in search of an exotic city break. A culture of service and respect towards foreign tourists also compensates for the lack of disabled-friendly facilities and terrain.

Family Holiday in Manila

Manila has much to offer as a Family Holiday destination. Filipinos are very family-oriented and therefore many of the city’s common tourist destinations provide great options for family holiday activities in Manila. Not to mention magnificent megamalls, which are like indoor mini cities and include ice skating, children’s fantasy parks, go carts, rides, family restaurants, billiards, bowling, video arcades and multiplex cinemas featuring many English language films. Manila’s many parks, zoo and new Oceanarium, Oceana Park (featuring an incredible array of marine life, plus shopping, restaurants and concert venues) are also very family-friendly. Also of interest for families are the nearby beaches at Batangas and Puerto Galera, and the popular family resort destination of Tagaytay (55 km from Manila), which provides a cool, refreshing respite from the heat of the city.

Gay and Lesbian in Manila

Manila is an excellent gay and lesbian urban holiday destination. The Philippines and Manila in particular are known as very accepting and tolerant for gay and lesbian lifestyles. Openly gay and lesbian couples are a common site in clubs, malls and on the streets of Metro Manila, and are not closeted like in many other Asian countries. The prevalence of homosexual and queer culture makes Manila an ideal gay and lesbian holiday spot. Manila’s district of Malate, originally an exclusive residential area for Americans living in Manila, has become the country’s gay Mecca; a center for gay nightlife and venue for the annual Gay Pride Parade. Manila is also home to many gay, lesbian and transsexual organizations, bars, gay-friendly restaurants and resources. Manila Out is a regularly distributed magazine for news, advertising and intellectual writing for gay and lesbian readers and may be found throughout Metro Manila.

Hen Destination

Hen Destination in Manila

For hen parties Manila offers a wide selection of hotels, venues, clubs, bars and other nightlife options to suit any budget. English is widely spoken and is the language of business, so arranging hen nights should be easier than in most Asian countries. Restaurants come in all price ranges, national flavors and range from the very informal to the luxuriant.

Malate is a popular location for restaurants and nightlife in Manila, and therefore a great choice for hen parties. Accommodation for hen holidays is also diverse, ranging from budget guesthouses to five star hotels. Spa treatments, pampering and beauty services are exceptionally affordable, with massages from around €2 or €3 and up and are usually offered within the hotel, or if you are staying at budget lodgings, inexpensive spas are plentiful in the centers of Makati, Ortigas and Manila and in any of the Metro Manila’s many shopping malls, making Manila a location with many choices for hen celebrations.
 

Stag Destination

Stag Destination in Manila

For stag parties Manila offers a wide selection of hotels, venues, clubs, bars and other nightlife options to suit any budget. English is widely spoken and is the language of business, so arranging stag nights should be easier than in most Asian countries. Restaurants come in all price ranges, national flavors and range from the very informal to the luxuriant.

Malate is a popular location for restaurants and nightlife in Manila and therefore a great choice for stag parties. Accommodation for stag holidays is also diverse, ranging from budget guesthouse houses to five star hotels. Spa treatments, pampering and massage services are exceptionally affordable, with massages from around €2 or €3 and up and are usually offered within the hotel, or if you are staying at budget lodgings, inexpensive spas are plentiful in the centers of Makati, Ortigas and Manila and in any of the Metro Manila’s many shopping malls, making Manila a location with many choices for stag celebrations.
 

Honeymoon

Honeymoon in Manila

Manila is a great destination or stop during a honeymoon holiday. The wealth of first class hotels, spa facilities, cultural tourism and proximity to beaches and resorts make honeymooning in Manila a fine option. Romantic city and bay views, first-rate hospitality and mix of modern urban, Asian colonial and old world charm are all reasons to consider Manila for your Honeymoon getaway.

Party Holiday - Singles Life

Party Holiday - Singles Life in Manila

Manila’s singles life is lively, exciting and makes the Philippine capital a fantastic destination as a party holiday. Easily reachable from other Asian destinations and culturally more “western” than the rest of Asia, single holiday makers will feel at once at home yet still in an exotic foreign metropolis. Filipinos are extremely friendly and hospitable and will make single travelers feel very welcome. The dizzying array of nightclubs, live music venues, bars and restaurants are enough for any taste and budget for a single or party holiday. Malate is the center for nightlife and local student culture in Manila and therefore the perfect location for accommodation during a party or singles holiday.

Couples Holiday

Couples Holiday in Manila

Manila is a great destination or stop for a couples holiday. The wealth of first class hotels, spa facilities, cultural tourism and proximity to beaches and resorts make couples holidays in Manila a fine option. Romantic city and bay views, first-rate hospitality and mix of modern urban, Asian colonial and old world charm are all reasons to consider Manila for your couples getaway.

Golf Activity Holiday

Golf Activity Holiday in Manila

There are several golf clubs in and around Metro Manila, which make the area a good location for those wishing to take a golf holiday in very warm weather. Keep in mind that it is best to go during the dry season (January – May) to avoid heavy rains and typhoons. For golf holidays in Metro Manila, try Manila Intramuros Golf Club, Fort Bonafacio Golf Club, Makati Golf Club, and Wack Wack Golf and Country Club in Mandayulong City. There are also many courses within the surrounding areas, such as Mimosa Leisure Park (near Clark Airport) most of which have onsite accommodation or nearby hotels. Check for individual rules regarding membership before you plan your golf holiday in Manila.

Scuba Diving Activity Holiday

Scuba Diving Activity Holiday in Manila

While Manila itself does not have diving facilities, there are classroom-based diving courses offered within Metro Manila and several quality diving locations reachable via short brakes or day trips, the closest being Batangas (with its beautiful white sand beaches on the South China Sea), a 2.5 hour journey from Manila by car. Other popular diving holiday destinations include Puerto Galera with its charming coves and beaches, and Subic Bay for diving among sunken ships such as the USS New York.

Shopping Holiday

Shopping Holiday in Manila

Manila is a simply a shopper’s paradise. If you’ve never experienced an Asian megamall, get ready for a shopping holiday like no other. Shopping in Metro Manila, from bargain hunting to luxury shopping can be experienced on levels unknown in Europe and most of the world. SM Megamall in Ortigas (750 shops), Mall of Asia in Pasay (near Ninoy Aquino International Airport) and bargain-themed Greenhills are just a few of the many shopping holiday options available in Metro Manila. For example, Festival Supermall in Alabang features over 600 stores plus countless other facilities.

Megamalls are like indoor mini cities, also including ice skating, children’s fantasy parks, go carting, rides, enormous food courts, family restaurants, billiards, bowling, video arcades and multiplex cinemas showing English language films. Many Manila malls are divided into large separate areas for computers/electronics, clothing, fine art, local crafts, and of course food. Shopping is a national pastime among Manila’s middle and upper classes, so you will not feel like a greedy tourist! Due to their being air-conditioned, Manila’s malls also offer a cool respite from the city’s hot, muggy climate.
 

Well-being and Spa

Well-being and Spa in Manila

Manila can be a terrific place for a spa holiday and most of the nicer hotels have spas and in-room massage and beauty treatments. Metro Manila is also home to innumerable urban retreat health spas, where all budgets and tastes are catered to. 1-1.5 hour massages start at only €2 or €3. Sound unbelievable? For something different, try a “Fish Spa” at Manila’s new Oceana Park where “Doctor Fish” nibble away at the soles of your feet! For a bargain wellness spa not far from Manila, visit the Sanctuary Spa at Maya Maya in Batangas on the South China Sea, which features air-conditioned traditional Filipino Cottages and a variety of wellness treatments starting at about 8€.

Winter Sun

Winter Sun in Manila

Holidaymakers in search of winter sun will certainly find it in Manila. Manila is a hot, tropical city year round and therefore never experiences winter conditions. To experience winter sun and escape the cold, it is recommended that you come to Manila after the rainy season. The driest months are January though May, leaving plenty of time to escape the cold and find warm tropical temperatures for your winter sun holiday.