Manila

The Manila skyline at dusk

Where to stay

  • Aruga by Rockwell Hotel Makati, Waterfront Dr, Rockwell Center, Makati City; +63 2 818 0000; www.arugabyrockwell.com. Serviced apartments with a contemporary Asian aesthetic. Studios, one- and two-bedroom suites are available.
  • Citadines Salcedo Makati, 148 Valero St, Makati City; +63 2 863 9888; www.citadines.com. Stylish serviced apartments with a fitness center, a 21-meter lap pool and a business corner.
  • Go Hotels Cybergate Plaza, UG/F Robinsons Cybergate Plaza, EDSA corner Pioneer St, Mandaluyong City; +63 2 398 8788; www.gohotels.ph. Go Hotels’ pioneer property is situated along Metro Manila’s main thoroughfare. Rooms are clean and comfortable, and are equipped with free WiFi.
  • Holiday Inn Manila Galleria, One Asian Development Bank Ave, Ortigas Center, Pasig City; +63 2 633 7111; www.ihg.comA high-rise hotel located in the heart of the Ortigas Central Business District, and a stone’s throw away from must-see tourist destinations like Greenhills Shopping Center and Tiendesitas.
  • H2O Hotel, Luneta; +63 2 238 6100; hotelh2o.com. The 147 rooms at this water-themed hotel are all ocean-inspired, with selected suites housing illuminated, wall-to-wall aquariums. Other rooms boast floor-to-ceiling windows that offer gorgeous views of the beautiful Manila Bay.
  • Lokal Hostel, 3/F, 5023 P. Burgos St, Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City; +63 2 890 0927; lokalhostel.com. The walls at this artsy lodging feature Pinoy-themed murals by Ang Gerilya. You can choose to stay in an air-conditioned private or dorm-type room, or in a fan-cooled room.
  • Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences, 119 L.P. Leviste St, Salcedo Village, Makati City; +63 2 828 4774; www.picassomakati.com. A chic, artsy boutique hotel with colorful suites and a gallery featuring contemporary Filipino art.
  • Shangri-La at the Fort, 30th St corner 5th Ave, Bonifacio Global City; +63 2 820 0888; shangri-la.com/fort. A luxury five-star hotel and mixed-use property with 576 beautifully appointed guest rooms, a whopping 15 restaurants, and over 30 stylish boutiques. Deluxe accommodations start at a roomy 45sqm, and each room embodies the understated elegance of the Shangri-La brand — all natural-finish Italian wood and dove-gray marble.
  • Summit Ridge Tagaytay, Km58 General Emilio Aguinaldo Highway, Maharlika West, Tagaytay City; +63 2 240 6888; www.summithotels.ph. Located south of Manila, the 108 rooms at this boutique hotel boast stunning views of the Taal Volcano.
  • The Jeepney House, 5953 Enriquez St, Brgy Poblacion, Makati City; +63 2 831 1711; thejeepneyhouse.com. Aside from affordable accommodations, this hostel also offers unique Metro Manila tours, including the Market Tour, the Cockfighting Tour and the Smokey Mountain Tour.
  • The Peninsula Manila, Ayala Ave corner Makati Ave, Makati City; +63 2 887 2888; manila.peninsula.com. One of the grandest hotels in the city, with elegant rooms boasting sleek wood furnishings and plush linen.
  • Z Hostel, 5660 Don Pedro St, Makati City; +63 927 965 2692; zhostel.com. The biggest and only luxury hostel in the Philippines, offering fully-equipped dormitories and private rooms.

Where to eat and drink

  • Big Sky Mind, Broadway Ave, New Manila, Quezon City. A popular dive bar with tasty bar grub (try the aligue pasta), affordable drinks, and stellar music.
  • Black Market, Warehouse 5, La Fuerza Plaza, 2241 Don Chino Roces Ave, Makati City; +63 917 829 4162. An industrial-style club with themed nights ranging from Bad Decisions Wednesdays to Saturday Riot House.
  • Brown Paper Project CafeG/F Warehouse 8B, La Fuerza Plaza Compound, 2241 Chino Roces Ave, Makati City; +63 916 570 4713; facebook.com/brownpaperprojectBPPC is a labor of love for four friends who want to support local coffee farmers and educate consumers about the wonders of the humble bean. The coffee they serve is made from fair-trade, single-origin beans, prepared using hand-brewing methods that include Aeropress, V60 pour-over and Chemex.
  • Cafe Juanita, 2 United St, Kapitolyo, Pasig City; +63 2 632 0357; facebook.com/cafe.juanita.ph. You’ll love the eclectic, bohemian vibe at this cozy Filipino restaurant, which serves up hearty, home cooked fare like beef and pork pochero (stew).
  • Calderon, G/F Classica Condominium, 112 H. V. Dela Costa St, Salcedo Village, Makati City; +63 905 520 4250. For authentic Spanish cuisine, such as paella and a wide variety of tapas.
  • Causeway Seafood Restaurant, 883 Banawe St corner Del Monte Ave, Sienna, Quezon City; +63 2 410 8690. Offering Chinese-style seafood and assorted dim sum. Diners enjoy a 50 per cent discount on the latter after 9pm.
  • Estée de Pob. The French-inspired modern bistro literally means ‘Star of Poblacion’. “We’re confident that the food won’t disappoint,” says co-owner Tonette Rosal. Along with chef Robertino Garcia, the aims to offer “food that is succulent but not overly seasoned.” They’ve also opened for breakfast and have allotted a co-working space for those who need it. Don’t miss their Poulet & Gratin, which is chicken with classic gratinated potatoes. It’s cooked in a sous vide technique that keeps the chicken tender. Estée de Pob, 5655 Don Pedro cor Jacobo, Brgy Poblacion, Makati City; open 8am to 12 midnight; fb.com/esteedepob
  • Gallery by Chele, 5/F Clipp Center, 11th Ave corner 39th St, Bonifacio Global City; +63 917 546 1673; galleryvask.com. Situated in a high-concept art gallery, Gallery Vask – #39 on the prestigious Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2016 – serves up modern Spanish cuisine with a Filipino twist, such as adlai rice paired with bagoong fermented-fish paste and served with sea urchin and pigeon.
  • Gillian’s Food Haus, Matatag St., Bgy. Pinyahan, Diliman, Quezon City. Head to Gillian’s Food Haus along Matatag Street in Quezon City here for great home-cooked Filipino food.
  • Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza, Bautista, Saucedo Village, Makati City; +63 2 779 8192. This humble joint serves up delicious thin-crust pizzas and even better homemade pastas – the aglio olio and pesto are must-tries.
  • Grace Park, G/F One Rockwell West Tower, Rockwell Dr, Makati City; +63 2 843 7275. Helmed by Margarita Forés, Asia’s Best Female Chef for 2016, this restaurant serves up dishes made from sustainable ingredients supplied by a host of partner farms and artisan producers. Expect hearty dishes such as handmade pastas, lamb adobo rice, meatballs, Muscovado Beef Belly and more.
  • Locavore, 10 Brixton St, Pasig City; +63 2 632 9600; www.locavore.ph. Popular for its delicious Filipino cuisine, especially its sizzling sinigang and beef short ribs. Go early to avoid the lunch/dinner queues.
  • Mow’s, Kowloon House Basement, 20 Matalino St, Quezon City; +63 915 927 0102; facebook.com/mowsbar. Check out Mow’s for a spot of live music and, on Tuesdays, open mic sessions (featuring both amateur and professional stand-up comedians).
  • Naimas: Taste of Home, G/F CAP Building, Amorsolo St cnr Rufino St, Legaspi Village, Makati City; +63 977 403 2290; facebook.com/naimasrestaurantThis restaurant champions local produce from the northern provinces, so you’ll see shelves brimming with native garlic, basi (sugar cane) and more. Feast on hearty and authentic northern fare like Naimas Bagnet — crunchy yet tender pieces of deep-fried pork served with a dipping sauce of sukang ikolo (vinegar) and bagoong isda (fermented fish sauce).
  • Pino Resto Bar, 39 Malingap St, UP Teacher’s Village, Quezon City; +63 2 441 1773; pinorestaurant.webs.com. For creative Filipino comfort food like kare-kareng bagnet (deep-fried crispy pork belly in a vegetable peanut stew) and mini pork sisig tacos.
  • Rural Kitchen of Liliw Laguna, 104 HRC Center, Rada St, Legaspi Village, Makati City; +63 2 779 8073; facebook.com/ruralkitchenofliliwlaguna. Head to this family-style restaurant for belly-warming Filipino fare, like crispy pata and pork adobo.
  • SaGuijo Cafe +Bar, 7612 Guijo St, San Antonio Village, Makati City; +63 2 897 8629; www.saguijo.com. A great spot for live music, where unsigned bands play alongside more established acts.
  • Sarsa Kitchen + Bar, 7th Ave corner 25th St, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City; +63 2 866 0912; facebook.com/sarsakitchen. A hip restaurant that serves traditional Filipino and Negrense dishes with a contemporary touch.
  • The Snack Shack, Roces St corner Laurel St, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Quezon City; +63 915 259 9495; facebook.com/snackshackburgers/. Sink your teeth into juicy burgers fresh off the grill. The patties here are made from 100 per cent beef.
  • The Wholesome Table, 30th St corner 7th Ave, Bonifacio High St Central, Taguig City; +63 2 867 0000; www.thewholesometable.com. For healthy yet tasty organic fare, such as veggie burgers and slow-braised pork, along with fresh cold-pressed juices.
  • The 70’s Bistro, 42 Anonas St, Project 2, Quezon City; +63 2 433 8070; the70sbistro.com. This popular live music bar showcases many different genres, including world music, blues, reggae and rock.
  • Urameshiya Yakiniku Restaurant, Little Tokyo, Chino Roces Ave, Legaspi Village, Makati City; +63 2 813 2210. A quaint Japanese joint specialising in grilled meat dishes. Feast on eat-all-you-can Wagyu beef cubes for just PHP500 (Mondays to Wednesdays, 5pm to midnight). Omakase options are also available.
  • Wildflour Café + Bakery, various locations, including G/F Net Lima building, 26th St, Taguig City; +63 2 856 7600. Take your pick from an extensive range of freshly-baked bread, pastries, desserts, coffee, and more.
  • Wooden Spoon, P1, Power Plant Mall, Rockwell Dr corner Strella St, Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City; +63 2 403 3585; www.woodenspoon.ph. Head here for traditional Filipino dishes with a creative twist, such as pandan chicken and crab pansit (noodles).
  • Your Local, Universal LMS Building, 106 Esteban St, Legazpi Village, Makati City; +63 2 823 6206; yourlocal.ph. This Brooklyn-inspired hangout offers inventive Asian comfort food, such as torched salmon donburi with shiitake black rice.
  • Zark’s Burgers, Archer’s Nook, 2464 Taft Ave, Malate; +63 936 134 4409. Take on the restaurant’s Jaw Breaker challenge. If you finish eating a huge burger in five minutes, you don’t have to pay a single centavo!
  • Lo De Alberto, fb.com/lodealbertoph. Mexican Balam Nazar heads the kitchen of this taqueria, making sure every dish coming out of it tastes like it does back home. Grab a Taquiza (platter of six tacos) to share, or not — they won’t judge you.
  • La Chinesca, fb.com/lachinesca.Chef Bruce Ricketts puts his  spin on Mexican dishes and drinks. For example, he adds pinipig (pounded glutinous rice flakes) to the guisada de res tacos, and combines cucumber, aloe vera and gin in the La Fresa.
  • Chihuahua Mexican Grillchihuahua.ph.Having lived in Texas, co-owner Elian Habayeb knows Tex-Mex very well. Treat yourself to stuffed-to-the-gills steak burritos or grab a bowl of chili to warm the belly.

Read more: Hang out with your friends at these top bars in Manila

What to do

  • Ayala Museum, Makati Ave corner De La Rosa St, Greenbelt Park, Makati City; +63 2 759 8288; www.ayalamuseum.org. Admire sixty handcrafted dioramas, which depict iconic scenes in Philippine history – from the pre-colonial era to independence.
  • Bambike Ecotours, Plaza San Luis Complex, Real St corner General Luna St, Intramuros; +63 2 525 8289; bambike.com/ecotours. Check out historical sites in Manila while riding a bamboo bike handmade by Gawad Kalinga villagers.
  • Baywalk. Enjoy the outdoor cafes, along with the fiery sunset, along this promenade flanking Roxas Boulevard.
  • Bonifacio Global City, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City; +63 2 818 3601; bgc.com.ph. This metropolitan financial district is home to plenty of designer shops, restaurants, bars and more.
  • DreamPlay by Dreamworks, Asean Ave corner Roxas Blvd, Paranaque City; +63 2 800 8080; www.cityofdreams.com.ph/dreamplay. A recreational and interactive center where kids can have fun at a Dreamworks-themed play area.
  • Greenbelt, Ayala Center, Makati City; ayalamalls.com.ph. A sprawling shopping paradise with an incredible array of shops and restaurants, and even a beautiful central garden.
  • Intramuros. Embark on a walking tour of the historic walled city of Intramuros with tour guide, cultural activist and performing artist Carlos Celdran (+63 2 484 4945; celdrantours.blogspot.com).
  • Malacañang Palace, JP Laurel St, San Miguel, Manila. Formerly the Spanish Governor-General’s residence, it now houses the country’s seat of power and a museum containing memorabilia from past Philippine presidents.
  • Museum of Contemporary Art and Design, Dominga, Malate; mcadmanila.org.ph. Housed within the College of Saint Benilde’s School of Design and Art (SDA), this museum is home to a large collection of works from both local and international artists.
  • Mt Pinatubo. Ride a 4×4 to the base camp of this majestic volcano. From there, it’s a two-hour trek up to the crater. Visit pinatubotours.blogspot.sg for details of both public and private tours.
  • National Museum of the Philippines, P. Burgos Dr, Rizal Park; www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph. Learn more about the Philippines and its rich heritage through the museum’s various cultural and natural history collections.
  • Pineapple Lab, 6071 R. Palma St, Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City; +63 998 957 1051; facebook.com/pineapplelabph. This uber-cool photography gallery also hosts music, art and indie performances.
  • Rizal Park, Roxas Blvd Ermita, Brgy. 666 Zone 72, Manila. Also known as Luneta Park, this historical urban park is home to the monument of national hero Jose Rizal.
  • Salcedo Community Market, Jaime C. Velasquez Park, Salcedo Village, Makati City. Browse and buy fresh produce, ready-to-eat food, and artisanal crafts at this pop-up market, open every Saturday from 7AM to 2PM.
  • SM Megamall, EDSA corner J. Vargas Ave, Mandaluyong; +63 2 633 5042; sm-megamall.com. Go on a shopping spree in one of the biggest malls in the Philippines, which houses both international brands and local labels.
  • The Big Binondo Food Wok! tour, Learn more about Tsinoy (Chinese Filipino) culture while chomping through the streets of Binondo, also known as Manila’s Chinatown. Contact Old Manila Walks (+63 2 711 3823; www.oldmanilawalks.com) to register.
  • UP Film Institute, UPFI Film Center, 2/F Cine Adarna Bldg, Magsaysay and Osmena Ave, UP Diliman, Quezon City; +632 926 2722; filminstitute.upd.edu.ph/. Head here on weekdays for screenings of local independent films.
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