The capital of the Philippines, Manila is a complex of cities and counties that make up a megalopolis like a jigsaw puzzle. With an area of only 38.55 km², Manila is considered one of the most densely populated cities in the world. However, this does not include the entire agglomeration, since Manila is not a single city, but a kind of archipelago of Greater Manila and satellite cities. Besides Manila proper, the metropolitan area consists of Caloocan, Navotas, Malabon, Valenzuela, Marikina, Pasay, Pasig, Mandaluyong, San Juan, Makati, Taguig, Paranaque, Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, and Quezon. There are some other settlements, but we don’t need to go into the local administrative divisions.
Manila is located on the island of Luzon in the Pacific Ocean. The name “Manila” is translated from Tagalog as “there is nila”. And the nila is the kind of grass that floats on the river and colors the water a fantastic green.
Like all cities with a long history, Manila has a so-called Central City, Metro Manila. There is an ancient fort and modern megamalls, as well as, of course, a waterfront promenade with ethnic restaurants and small outdoor bars.
And if we are already in Central City, it is not unreasonable to wonder about the history of Manila itself. It dates back about 500 years – from the day in 1571 when the Spanish conquistador Lopez de Legazpi founded the colony here. However, he did not come into the open field. Even before the Spanish, Manila existed and even flourished as a Muslim center of one of the principalities. Legazpi built a new capital here under the Spanish banner, and for security, he separated the Intramuros district, fenced off from the rest of the city by a high fortress wall, under the protection of which the Spanish conquerors lived with their families. Gradually, Manila became the main stronghold of the Spaniards in Asia; many palaces, monasteries and temples were built there, a theological seminary was opened in the 17th century, and the first university in Asia was opened in the 18th century.
Founded: 1574 Area: 38.55 km 2 Population: 1,780,100 (2015) Currency: Philippine peso Language: Filipino Official website: http://www.manila.gov.ph
Flight time: from Moscow – from 13 hours 10 minutes (1-4 connections) from St. Petersburg – from 15 hours 30 minutes (1-4 connections) from Kazan – from 19 hours 30 minutes (1-4 connections) from Ekaterinburg – from 17 hours 15 minutes (1-4 connections) from Novosibirsk – from 12 hours 40 minutes (1-4 connections)
Barely in the 19th century, the Philippines regained independence from the Spanish, but soon fell under American influence. In August 1898, during the Spanish-American War, after the Battle of Cavite, the Americans occupied Manila. And during World War II, Manila was captured by Japanese forces. During the Battle of Manila in 1945 the city was pretty much destroyed by U.S. bombing raids.
How to get there
There are no direct flights from Russia to Manila yet. However, you can get to the Philippine capital with one connection.
Manila’s Ninoy Aquino Airport is considered the largest in the country, most international flights to the Philippines pass through it. Then there is a flight to the resort cities.
The most popular among Russian tourists are flights from Moscow to Manila with connections in Abu Dhabi, Doha, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Tokyo or Singapore. For example, the flight from Moscow by “Qatar Airways” (with connection in Doha) to Manila will take about 17 hours. If you use the services of “Emirates Airlines” it will take 18 hours to reach the Philippine capital via Dubai. It will take you just over 14 hours to fly from Moscow to Cebu (with connection in Hong Kong) with Cathay Pacific airline of Hong Kong. The average flight cost varies from 25 to 40 thousand rubles depending on the route and time of year. Sometimes it is cheaper to fly by splitting the entire journey, for example, by buying tickets Moscow – Hong Kong and Hong Kong – Manila on a local airline or with the help of low-cost airlines.
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Climate and weather in Manila
A subequatorial climate reigns here. There is a distinct difference between the wet and dry seasons in Manila. The dry season begins in the second half of December and lasts until May, the wet season lasts the rest of the year, and reaches its peak somewhere around August, when there is more than 400 mm of rainfall per month. The average temperature in the city varies from +25 ° C in January to +29 ° C in May. However, if we talk about the country as a whole, the climate here is very variable and varied, so if you are going from Manila to other places in the Philippines, the weather can be very different there. You can read more about the country’s weather differences at Weather in the Philippines
Weather in Manila by Month
|Temperature during daytime, °C||Temperature at night, °C||Water temperature, °C||Precipitation, mm|
Reviews by Month
Transport in Manila is very specific. The subway here is short and connects only a few districts. Lines differ in their design: LRT1, a land line, runs along Rizal and Taft Avenues; LRT2, a land line, except for one station, runs from Manila in the west through Quezon City to Passau in the east; MRT3, a land line, runs along Epifanio de los Santos Ave.
The most popular means of transportation in the Philippines is the jeepney. It is a hybrid of an American Jeep and a minibus, usually painted in the most colorful and fancy designs.
If you use a cab, remember a few simple rules. Firstly, “knock down” the price by half without any hesitation, and secondly, only drive according to the meter. And know that fraud in the Philippines primarily involves long cab rides with tourists who do not know the city. In general, there are a lot of crooks and beggars in Manila, you’ll have to get used to it.
Read more about getting around the Philippine capital (modes of transport, nuances of payment, fares, and so on) in the article “Public Transport in Manila” .
Photos of Manila
Manila is a typically East Asian city, a frighteningly confusing and large. Before looking for a hotel or outlining a plan to walk around the capital of the Philippines, it is worth getting to know more about its “womb” and all the crazy number of districts and zones that comprise it.
For starters, it’s worth understanding what Manila is. It’s a metropolitan area made up of 16 surrounding cities and 1 municipality, which goes by the name of Metro Manila or the National Capital Region. And the city of Manila itself, which in turn is divided into 16 districts. Let’s start with the bigger one.
The metropolitan area of Manila, in addition to the heart of the city, which includes the main attractions and many hotels, includes the famous city of Quezon (the former capital) and the financial centers of the Philippines Mandalayong, Makati, Pasay and Taguig. The following can be said briefly about them:
- Quezon City is famous for its huge shopping malls (along with Mandalayong and San Juan),
- Caloocan is a major transportation hub for anyone coming from the north of the country,
- Pasig is the cultural center of the country and home to The Mall of Asia and Coconut Palace, the largest mall in the Philippines,
- Pasig is known for great restaurants and atypical “American” houses,
- Makati, the country’s business capital with luxury hotels, expensive restaurants, and plenty of entertainment.
- And finally, Mandalayong, the shopping capital of the Philippines.
It is time to move on to the city of Manila, which includes, recall, 16 districts: Intramuros, Paco, Binondo, Chiapo, Malati, Tondo, Hermita, Santa Mesa, Pandacan, Port area, San Andrés, Sampaloc, San Miguel, San Nicolas, Santa Ana, Santa Cruz. Each, by the way, boasts its own cuisine, history and culture.
North of the Pasig River there are 8 neighborhoods: Tondo – the poorest, most dangerous and untended in Manila, Binondo – the oldest Chinatown in the world and the current business center of the capital, where there are a lot of stores. Here you can sample traditional Chinese (mostly from Hong Kong) cuisine, check out the typical shops-houses of the progenitor region, and be sure to check out the amazing mix of baroque and Chinese architectural styles, particularly the local pagoda. San Nicolas attracts shoppers who don’t care so much about the quality of the products, but are exceptionally concerned about the low price. Santa Cruz, located on the border with Chinatown, is famous for being the starting point of the Escolta, the equivalent of Fifth Avenue and Wall Street, and for having the oldest Chinese cemetery in the country with amazing mausoleum tombs (they say some even have Jacuzzis).
Chiapo is home to Plaza Miranda (the answer to London’s Trafalgar Square) and the Church of the Black Jesus of Nazareth. San Miguel and Sampaloc are student neighborhoods and are home to the country’s main universities. Santa Mesa is known for its hotels and motels for lovers, and the Port area needs no special introduction.
Just below it and the Pasig River begins the second part of the capital, and it begins with the oldest district of Intramuros, the heart of Manila, where all the oldest things in the city are located. Ermita, as well as the Malate neighborhood following it, are considered the two main tourist districts. Accordingly, there are a lot of hotels, cafes, restaurants, entertainment for all tastes and colors. Many literary and musical geniuses of the Philippines came from Pandacan. Santa Ana and Paco are typical business districts (Paco also has an excellent market). Finally, San Andrés, home of another famous fruit market, was once part of Santa Ana.
What to see in Manila
The must-see attractions are already the entire Intramuros district, where the oldest and most beautiful churches, palaces, monasteries and simply luxurious residential buildings from two hundred years ago are concentrated. In addition, almost 5 km of Fort Santiago has survived, and now the former fortress walls are a paradise for shopaholics and art lovers – art galleries, restaurants, stores and even an aquarium. Among other things, the Fort offers a look at a collection of rusty cars once owned by the presidents of the Philippines. Intramuros, on the other hand, is home to the Museum of Light and Sound, which is dedicated to the Philippine Revolution during the Risal era.
Manila Cathedral and St. Augustine’s Cathedral are considered the most beautiful architectural structures in the city. In 1993, San Agustin became one of the four churches of the Philippines to be declared a UNESCO heritage site under the general title “Philippine Baroque Churches.
Of interest is the Coconut Palace – literally, that is, made of palm trees and coconut shells – built in Manila to house the Pope during his visit. The Pope refused to live in the palace, but the landmark remained in the city.
Malacañang Palace, on the other hand, is the official presidential palace. It houses the exposition of the Presidential Museum, which is also open to tourists. The palace used to be the residence of the Spanish authorities, and it is depicted on the Philippine 20-peso bill. In fact, this is not even a palace, and the snow-white mansion, built in the neocolonial style based on the American White House. The bronze busts of Filipino leaders displayed here alternate with busts of American presidents and prominent Spanish politicians of the 18th and 19th centuries recalling different periods in Philippine history.
If you’re a nature lover, Risal Park, one of the largest in Southeast Asia, is the place to go. Here you will find the National Museum of the Philippines, planetarium, orchid pavilion, butterfly park, monument to Philippine heroes, to name a few. The park gets its name from the national hero Jose Rizal, who was executed for preparing a rebellion against Spanish rule right on the spot where the park is located now. Therefore, the central ensemble of the park is a monument made of granite and bronze in honor of Rizal and a mausoleum with the ashes of the national hero. By the way, the monument is “kilometer zero” – the point of reference of all distances in the Philippines. And items of everyday life used by Rizal and a farewell poem written by him on the eve of his execution are located in the Rizal-Strain Museum, in the already known to us Fort Santiago. Not surprisingly, Rizal Park, as the most patriotic point on the city map, is also the site of the proclamation of landmark documents for the Philippines. In particular, in 1946, the Declaration of Independence of the Philippines from the United States was proclaimed here.
In addition to Intramuros, which is imbued with the spirit of old Spain, Manila has many neighborhoods with a distinctive character. The “Montmartre” is similar to Mabini Street, the home of creative bohemians, the “Soho” is concentrated in the port part of the city, cementing its reputation as the “street of sin”. Not without the colorful and colorful Chinatown, where they sell everything possible to trade, though now not only the Chinese. By the way, one of the most famous museums of the capital – Bahai Tsinoy, which tells about the life of the Chinese community of the country.
And of course, it would be inexcusable for tourists to ignore the extravagant Ermita neighborhood, located near Risal Park and Manila Bay. Here you’ll find hundreds of eateries, nightlife restaurants, open-air beer halls, fashion stores, antique stores, and craft stalls with handicrafts and rarities. Admittedly, it can seem a little dirty to some, but this is the reality of Manila.
A separate view is worthy of Philippine village Nayong Pilipino – open-air exhibition, which in miniature shows all kinds of rural buildings, reflecting the ethnocultural characteristics of different parts of the archipelago, and the Philippine Museum of Ethnography with an exhibition of art and crafts of ethnic minorities. Here you can buy the most rare and valuable souvenirs.
Many interesting places you will find not only in the capital itself, but also its surroundings. For example, the lighthouse at Cape Boheador (built in 1892, the highest in the country) is definitely worth a curious look, as well as textile workshops in Paoai, and the factory for the production of the famous “jeepney” in Sarao. In the town of Pagsanjan, 63 kilometers from Manila, you can see the famous MacDapio Falls, the backdrop of which Francis Coppola filmed the most beautiful episodes of Apocalypse Now.
Those interested in military history will find the infamous island of Correchidor in Manila Bay, which was the scene of fierce fighting during World War II, fascinating. Now you can see the ruins of the fortress of those times, the network of tunnels Malinta (the place of temporary headquarters of General MacArthur), the Japanese cemetery and the Memorial to the Fallen.
Northwest of Manila stretches Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base and one of the best areas for diving in the entire country. The town of Olongapo at the top of the bay is slowly but surely turning into a luxury resort with golf courses, yacht clubs, sports centers, and fashionable hotels. The second U.S. naval base – Clark – is also being transformed into a major resort. One of the best parachuting centers in Asia – Tropical Asian Center – was recently built there. In addition, a special economic zone (SEZ) with a lot of tax benefits was opened here, so the development of the resort is in full swing.
By the way, those who have heard about the Manila Zoo, rather dismal, will be happy to know that near the capital there is also such a wonderful place as Avilon Zoo. It is a zoo created and maintained by the Wildlife Conservation Foundation. It occupies a very large area, divided into thematic zones. There are over 3,000 rare and exotic animals, and they live in complete comfort – among the greenery of tropical trees, in the shade of water bodies. In Avilon Zoo you can see and even feed, for example, a rare fish called Arapaimas. This is one of the largest freshwater fish, in natural conditions it reaches a length of up to 2.2 meters and weighs about 100 kilograms.