Surviving Manila

Surviving Manila

Almost every city in the world is a joy to come to. Philippines' Manila is just one unique city you would want to visit in your lifetime. This must-see destination offers a variety of cultures and experiences you will surely love to reminisce.

Like all other tourist spots, surviving a city that has a language different than yours is a nice challenge for every adventure-seeker. To help you enjoy Manila more, here are some tips that are definitely a great help on your trip:

Surviving Manila

-Get a map.

The city of Manila has a lot of streets crisscrossing on each other. You might eventually find yourself being in the same street even if you have felt that you have walked a good kilometer from it. To ensure that you get track of where you are, get a reputable map from a trusted bookstore. Manila is home to a variety of bookstores like the National Bookstore and Powerbooks. Finding your trusted map is just a breeze.

-Learn Filipino.

Although the Philippines have a good lot of English speakers, it is still best to learn a few Filipino sentences so you could easily traverse from one point to another. To ask where a place is, say "Saan po ang (name of the place?) which literally means "Where is ____?" To say thank you, use "Salamat po". Remember that urban locals will understand you better if you speak the language.

-Bring water with you.

Be sure to have bottled water with you wherever you go. Being a tropical country, Manila can be very hot for you. Having bottled water will ensure that you keep yourself hydrated. You can always opt to buy one in local convenience stores but it is still best to pack one to cut down any hassle.

-Have enough coins or loose change.

A trip to Manila will never be complete without riding a jeepney. So, better be sure to have enough loose change to pay for your fare. If you plan to take a lot of jeepney rides, be sure that you have extra coins so you wouldn't need to bother asking for your change every now and then.

-Get a tour guide.

Want to make sure that you don't miss out on Manila's best spots? Hire a tour guide. There are a lot of tour guides in Manila. Try coordinating with your travel agency. It is most likely that it has connections to the best Manila tour guides.

It's Definitely More Fun in Manila: A Guide to Shopping in Manila

Manila is a vibrant city where business and pleasure merge seamlessly. As any Manila travel guide will tell you, shopping in Manila is one of the many "must-dos" in this dynamic city. You can find just about anything and everything here with its countless swanky malls, bargain centers, flea markets, and trade expos. In Manila, shopping is both a necessity and a pastime. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos flock to the malls every day to shop, relax, dine, and play. It is no wonder then why 6 out of the 25 largest malls in the world are found in the Philippines, 4 of which are located in Manila.

Shopping malls here are like miniature cities. They come complete with supermarkets and department stores, theaters, spas and wellness hubs, amusement complexes, churches, and religious centers, and in some cases skating rinks, all while being fully air-conditioned. The SM Group of Malls, a family-owned conglomerate, currently holds the most number of malls in the Philippines. Among its biggest are SM City North EDSA (currently the biggest in the country and third in the world), Mall of Asia (located along the Manila Bay), and SM Megamall (in Ortigas Center). Another family-owned chain of malls, the Robinsons Malls, also has a handful all over Metro Manila, including Robinsons Ermita (near Malate) and Robinsons Galleria (also in Ortigas). The Ayala family has a number of malls in Manila as well, like the posh Greenbelt Center, Glorietta Malls, and the Landmark (all in Ayala, Makati), as well as Market! Market! (at The Fort, Taguig).

If malls are not your thing, you can always head out to Bonifacio High Street in Taguig for an outdoor stroll, dining, and shopping experience. Patterned after London's High Streets, shops and restaurants are lined up in rows. As an added bonus, kids, and even pets can play in its sprawling child-friendly grounds. Located in the upscale neighborhood of The Fort, Bonifacio High Street even house clubs and bars, perfect for an after-shopping drink or two.

If upscale shopping complexes and upmarket malls do not tickle your fancy - or your budget - then it's time to head out to Manila's bargain centers. The metro is home to a number of flea markets and bargain hubs where locals and tourists can haggle on prices of just about any merchandise under the sun. While haggling is uncommon in malls, it is the practice in wholesale and retail centers in Manila, including Divisoria (the most popular), 168 Mall, Tutuban, Tiendesitas (very pet-friendly), and Greenhills Shopping Center. For electronics, particularly cameras, head out to Hidalgo Street and Binondo for the best deals. Do not be afraid to haggle to get the best deal for your money.

Manila also has a number of weekend lifestyle, food (usually healthy and organic), and alternative merchandise markets. These include Salcedo Market (open on Saturdays, 7 am to 2 pm), Mercato Centrale (open on weekend mornings until 2 pm), and Midnight Mercato (open Fridays and Saturdays, 10 pm to 3 are). There's also Distrito Night Market (open Wednesdays to Fridays, 9 pm to 3 am) and Banchetto (venue usually changes, also open at night). These flea-market type venues are just perfect for food shopping.

There are just so many fun things to do in Manila, shopping first and foremost. After an all-day spree, this travel guide suggests that you head back to your Manila hotel to freshen up and rest for another day of sightseeing or, if budget still allows, shopping in Manila.

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