Manila, the gateway to north Philippines and Luzon
When planning a trip to Philippines you might need to plan ahead. Manila is the gateway to the north, Luzon island. So if you are planning a trip in the north trekking amongst world heritage rice teracess or hiking up the mountains then Manila is a good starting point.
Manila is a hectic capital with almost 1.7 million residents (2014). It is chaotic, hectic and can feel a bit overwhelming at times. But if you like big cities and don’t mind the crowds then Manila is not really all that bad.
Getting of the airport to get a taxi can be a bad first impression as many taxi drivers try to get a way with a good deal. Good for them but not so good for you. Upon our arrival we tried to get a taxi which the driver suggested 800 Peso for a trip that takes approximately 20 minutes. Next driver said 500 Peso. After a bit of arguing and bargaining we managed to get a deal for 150 Peso. Later at the hotel we where told that a taxi journey should never cost more than 150-250 Peso depending on the location of the hotel.
When you get in the taxi and drive off the driver will start dealing with the price again. Telling you that it is very far and that the amount you first agreed on does not even pay for gas. Stand your ground and point out that you agreed and that is final and they will eventually give in.
Taxis can take you everywhere but so can Jeepneys and tricycles. A Jeepney is like a long open taxi mostly covered in shiny aluminum or steel and then decorated with text or patterns. They usually have one destination for one Jeepney. You can hop on and of pretty much anywhere on they way and you pay as you get off. It is often the cheapest option and the choice of most locals.
Tricycles covered the area you are picked up in or they could charge more if you wish to go longer distance. You can find a tricycle almost everywhere.
If you are in Manila for shopping then you will probably not leave the city empty handed. Manila has many shops and malls scattered all over the city.
Mall of Asia is the biggest mall in south east Asia and is the most well known and most visited by both locals and tourists. They have everything from hardware stores to more fancy brands. You need a lot of time to visit the mall since it is enormous. They have everything you need here.
Robinson malls have a few places in the city and most and them are multistorey complexes with everything you need from shopping to restaurants.
We did not stay long in Manila since we where heading south. If you wish to go south you can either take a domestic flight from Manila airport to one of the many airports in the country like for example Cebu or Puerto Princesa. If you are heading north there are night buses to Banaue leaving at around 9 in the evening and you arrive 8-9 hours later.
There are also ferries and buses (Ceres Bus company) heading for Cebu if you wish to travel south and don’t want to travel by air.
Good to know
Be aware of pickpocketS and scams while you stay in Manila. Most hotels will advise you to keep a close eye on your belongings. And if someone is overwhel!mingly nice to you it is probably too good to be true. There have been reports of people being scamed of large amount of money through robberies and scams.