Manila is a crazy place, not my favorite city and just like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi, traffic is killing this city and pollution almost killed me. There were moments I had a hard time breathing when walking on a bridge, with traffic going in both ways. Where as in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh city you still see traffic moving, in Manila at many places it’s just a stand still situation.
My decision to come to the Philippines and to stop in the capital was just to tick off another country in Asia on my Asian trip. I was in Brunei and wanted to fly to Seoul in South Korea but I saw that it would be a lot cheaper if I would fly to Manila first and fly from there to Seoul. So I might as well stay 2 days in Manila, so I did and I’m happy I didn’t stay longer cause there is not so much things to visit. The places worth seeing in Manila you can tick off in a day, just like I did and the 2nd day, I just spend my time at the Greenbelt mall, cause there was nothing else to do. It made me think about my last day in Panama City where I also killed time at the mall, and I’m not a fan of shopping or walking around in malls, cause in my own country I never go to one.
The places that are worth visiting in Manila such as Intramuros and Rizal park are both in walking distance. I walked from Intramuros to Rizal Park, after crossing roads full of traffic like I was crossing a highway, insane.
Completely different from places like Boracay or Palawan where most people go if they visit the Philippines, the beautiful islands, but then again these Paradise looking Islands are nice places to go with your girlfriend, but if you are single like me it’s not really a place to hang out that’s my personal opinion, just laying on the beach and swimming around in the clear blue water is maybe nice but I’m not really a beach person that’s why I got bored in Belize and had to get out of the islands and do some excursion on the mainland. Will I ever go back to the Philippines to enjoy the beautiful nature and do some Island hopping like some Filipino friends recommended me ? Maybe, who knows but I doubt it.
Where to stay ?
The hostels and hotels where most tourists and backpackers stay would be in Makati, a city on its own in the big Manila metropolis. Here are all the bars and good quality restaurants, malls are in walking distance and it’s one of the safest places in Manila.
It’s far from the sightseeing places like Intramuros and Rizal Park which are all situated in the old Manila, and to take a cab or even a public bus or jeepneys, forget it, it will take more than an hour to get 8km further that’s how bad traffic is in this city.
So how did I get to old Manila ?
The best way is to take the ferry boat on the Pasig river. From Makati I crossed the bridge to Hulo where I took the Ferry at Hulo terminal station. 30 minutes on the ferry where I could enjoy the different views on the city. The only time you can’t take pictures is during the 5 minutes that the boat is passing the Presidents house, the captain of the boat will warn you to put your camera away and tell you when you can film or take pictures again.
I got off at Escolta station. It’s near China town, but I wasn’t interested in going there, it looked a bit dodgy and besides I have been in many Chinatowns around the world already such as LA, San Francisco, London and offcourse China itself, so it was an easy decision for me to skip it.
I crossed the Jones Bridge and by going straight eventually I got to the old city walls of the old Manila.
Here I was at Intramuros, walking on the city walls, that dates back from Spanish Colonial times, when Spain ruled the Philippines. The Walled City was constructed by the Spanish imperialists to defend the city from foreign invaders. The Spanish got involved in a war with the British and they lost. I made a stop at the Gallery of Presidents and took a picture of the current president of the Philippines, mister Duterte before going towards the Santiago Fortress. Once I entered the Fortress, there was a small statue of José Rizal at the inner court. Rizal who’s the national hero of the Philippines led the resistance against Spanish rule for what later became a revolution towards independence.
Rizal Park is a tribute to José Rizal and there is another statue of him guarded and surrounded by Philippino flags. It’s nice to have a park like this in the middle of this crazy city where it’s hard to find a calm place.