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Manila – Philippines
The Philippines! Is my second home because this is where my mom hailed from. She’s a native of Pampanga which is 1 h 27 min or about 49 miles away from the country’s capital of Manila. Let me share what this wonderful country is all about. Join me as I tour the best places in the Philippines!
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. This is a metropolis where the political and financial centers of the country are found. It is a melting pot where the richest families, business elites and ordinary workers come together. As of the latest data, Metro Manila is home to more than 12.8 million people.
For the dedicated urbanite, Manila is one of the best places to visit in the Philippines. From the best hotels to the best clubs to huge casinos, and onto world-class entertainment centers, all of it can be found here. Truly a cosmopolitan center, Manila boasts various restaurants serving food from all around the world. Can you believe that most of them are usually found inside a single shopping mall? And there are a lot of malls throughout the metro!
In the World Atlas list of the biggest shopping malls in Asia, four are found in the Philippines. Three of them are right here in Manila: SM North Edsa, SM Megamall, and SM Mall of Asia. All of these malls are huge with more than 5 million square feet of space for the first two and over 4 million for the last. So, of course, you can literally find anything under the sun here: from groceries to clothes to toys to exercise gear to pet shops. Add in the travel agencies, medical clinics, spas, and even hotels. Name it and it’s most probably inside the mall’s compound.
Like any other bustling center of a country, Manila has its share of horrendous traffic, crazy habits and whatever makes a multi-cultural point simply exist and thrive. So if you need to decompress, it is easy to hop into any of the country’s 7,100 islands to go for a little R&R. Here are my best tourism spots in the Philippines.
Tourism in Manila will not be complete without looking at this historical site. A slice of Spain right in the midst of the bustling metropolis, Fort Santiago in Intramuros (Latin term meaning “within the walls” stands where the first fort of Manila stood. The Spaniards who conquered the country used this fort as the seat of their power.
The present fort is walled in adobe and houses not only the bunkers of the soldiers but also the Museo ni Jose Rizal to entice the visitors to look into the historical moments of the Philippines’ national hero.
The view from outside the room where a lifesize and lifelike statue of Jose Rizal is featured gave me the chills. This room is where he spent his last night before being executed in the nearby park, Bagumbayan or Luneta Park. That night, he wrote his final poem “Mi Ultimo Adios” or “My Final Farewell”.
The bronze markers here depicts the final steps that Rizal took on his way to his execution. It is a really very solemn visual reminder of his heroism, don’t you think so?
IT’S MORE FUN IN THE PHILIPPINES!
The country’s Department of Tourism has a great campaign promoting all the best places in the Philippines. Aptly titled It’s More Fun in the Philippines, you can join in with your best photos and help promote the country with your own real-life travel shots in their Instagram page #itsmorefuninthephilippines. Get started and I guarantee you won’t run out of places to add on to your travel bucket. After all, there are more than seven thousand islands to choose from!
Conde Nast Traveller, the best authority on all travel-related matters, had always included the Philippines in its best destinations. The 2019 edition of their world’s best islands in the world included three islands – Boracay, Palawan, and Cebu – in the Top 5 in Asia. How cool is that?
BEST TIME TO TRAVEL
The Philippines has two major seasons – wet and dry. Stormy months from around the end of June to around mid-October is not at all comfortable for travelers Coe country stands still whenever this happens. Now the dry season, starting in November and lasts until May, is the best time to travel to the Philippines.
From November to February is my favorite time to roam. The weather is cool and is perfect for traveling. You can easily appreciate the places you can go to like Baguio, the summer capital of the Philippines and the Banawe Rice Terraces which is another UNESCO World Heritage site. Baguio and Benguet are known for their flowers, fruits, vegetables, and their small but sweet strawberries. They celebrate the Panagbenga Festival — the local version of the California Rose Parade – and the Strawberry Festival in February to promote the province’s best products. Everyone loves the enchanting smell of all those flowers on their elaborately made floats!
March to May is the perfect beach season. Boracay, El Nido, or Batangas are some of the best places to get your tan and dive in the warm waters of the Philippines’ seascapes. The gorgeous beaches are hot with some sea breezes cooling the worst of it. Enjoy the beach with a tall glass of lemon iced tea, coconut juice locally known as ” buko”, or a tangily refreshing green or ripe mango juice. Trust me, the last one is absolutely worth it! Nothing so far can equal to the absolute delight of eating sweet Philippine mangoes. This girl can probably devote a whole article just lauding the joys of savoring this sumptuous fruit!
I am highly recommending everyone to wear casual shirts and shorts or pants while traveling. Most places, outside of the major hotels and some religious sites, do not have a strict dress code. You won’t have problems navigating on your own because English is widely spoken and written everywhere. So you won’t have problems navigating on your own and can easily get your questions answered promptly.
In Manila, the best way to travel is via Grab. Just download the app on your phone and you can easily book a trip around the Metro. Be prepared for a long wait during rush hour though. You can also use your hotel’s concierge car service to ferry you around.
Outside of Manila, it’s best to either go with a tour group or hire a personal tour company to take care of yours and your family’s itinerary. They are safe and would even suggest some other sites that may interest you.
MY SPECIAL PLACE
I am a young traveler and there’s still so much of the world that I want to see. I enjoy traveling and experiencing new places. Education is found in learning new cultures and being inspired by the developments of other nations. You can’t beat first-hand knowledge that traveling can teach you. There are just too many things left to explore around the world.
But you know what makes traveling worth it? It’s the peace that comes from knowing that you have a special place to go home to. The Philippines is that sweet anchor to me. It’s far from perfect, mind you. There’s too much traffic, too much politics, extreme economic scales, and all other negative points. But, it has a lot of good things as well. Good food, energetic work pace, and a lot of good people that you can get close to. I have family nearby and friends to be happy with. And to me, that’s the best definition of home.