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If you go to Philippines you cannot avoid to spend at least one day in Manila, its capital.
First of all let me say that, arriving from Europe (I took a plane from Italy – Bologna International Airport), you will probably have to consider at least two weeks traveling around Philippines, as it is a very long journey.
I personally spent 1 night and approximately 3 hours visiting the city before catching my plane for Puerto Princesa. So here are my personal tips – for you to save time and enjoy it.
1. Check all the available flights, that may be direct or include some stop-over and the timing, as sometimes you can gain or loose some precious hours because of a different time-zone.
I decided to flight Emirates leaving in the early afternoon, with a short stop in Dubai (Dubai Airport is also worth a visit, the duty free is massive!) and then straight to Singapore, where I landed in the early afternoon and spent 24 hours enjoying the city….but this will be in another post! I then took a flight to Manila arriving there in the late evening.
2. Select a hotel which is close to the main attractions.
If you only have 3 hours to spend in the city, you MUST visit Intramuros, the historic center of Manila. Originally, it was considered to be Manila itself at the time when the Philippines was under the Spanish Empire colonial rule. The architecture of Intramuros reflects the Spanish colonial style and the American neoclassical architectural style, since the Philippines was a colony of Spain and the United States before it was granted its independence in 1946. I decided to stay in the White Knights Hotel Intramuros, a very nice and cheap solution.
3. Enjoy the city.
Take a nice breakfast just outside the Saint’Augustine Church, while waiting for its opening. Visit the Church and the Chiostro. This is a Roman Catholic church under the auspices of The Order of St. Augustine, that in 1993, was one of the four Philippine churches constructed during the Spanish colonial period to be designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Cross the street and admire the beauty of Casa Manila, a museum depicting colonial lifestyle during Spanish colonization of the Philippines. Casa Manila is a copy of the 1850s San Nicolas House that was once located in Calle Jaboneros. The architect of Casa Manila was J. Ramon L. Faustmann. It was constructed by Imelda Marcos during the 1980s and modeled on Spanish colonial architecture.
Take a 5 minutes walk to reach the magnificent Cathedral, a Roman Catholic, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, the Principal Patroness of the Philippines. The cathedral serves as the seat of the Archbishop of Manila.
Only few minutes away from the Cathedral visit the Fort Santiago, a citadel first built by Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi for the newly established city of Manila in the Philippines. The defense fortress is part of the structures of the walled city of Manila referred to as Intramuros.
4. Reserve your taxi to the airport.
It is not very easy to find a taxi in Intramuros so it would better if you reserve one through your hotel. Although it’s only 12 km far, reaching the airport during rush hours can be a tough challenge! Always calculate at least 1 hour an half, sometimes more, to get to the airport and check in advanced in which Terminal you flight will be, because from one terminal to another it could take an additional hour to drive!
There is just one more thing to do… Book your flight tickets and enjoy the beauty of this country!