Lonely Planet listed the Philippines as one of the top destinations to visit in 2015. While many may be lured by the white sand beaches across the Philippines’ 7,107 spread of islands, the capital Manila is a great starting point to get to know this diverse country. Here are the top seven things to do within this city.
1. Step back to the country’s colonial past
Get to know the Philippines’ history with a walking tour of Intramuros (“within the walls”), Manila’s oldest and most historic district. Constructed by the Spanish colonial government in the 16th century to protect the city from foreign invasions. Modern-day Intramuros still shows plentiful traces of the city’s colonial past, including Spanish-style homes, Plaza de Roma and Fort Santiago.
2. Catch a ride on a jeepney
Jeepneys are the most common means of transportation in the Philippines. With their colourful & kitschy designs, you are sure not to miss these kings of the road. A jeepney tour of downtown Manila is one of the unique ways to go sightseeing.
3. Treat your taste buds
Philippine cuisine represents the country’s cultural melting pot, its history on a plate. From the Chinese and Malay flavours and ingredients during the pre-Hispanic era to the Spanish culinary customs and preparation methods then later, American influences. Try the “national dish” adobo (pork or chicken braised in soy sauce, vinegar, garlic and bay leaves), lumpia (Filipino-style spring roll), sinigang (sour soup) and kare kare (oxtail and vegetables cooked in peanut sauce), halo-halo (a dessert made with a mix of shaved ice, beans, fruit, yam-flavoured ice cream).
4. Visit the churches for crash course in colonial art and architecture
The biggest influence of the 300-year Spanish colonisation of the Philippines is Catholicism. Head to San Agustin Church and the Quiapo Church, two of the surviving Baroque Churches of the Philippines. Aside from the architecture, you’ll find murals and different ornaments, which are great displays of different artistic styles during the Spanish period.
The famous Lechon is a whole roasted pig slowly cooked on an open pit. The Lechon is the centrepiece of any Filipino fiesta, weddings, and parties.
6. Shop til you drop
Shopping is one of the national pastimes in the Philippines. Manila is a shopper’s dream. Home of super malls, department stores, and flea markets. Visit Greenbelt or Glorietta for local and international branded goods and Greenhills shopping center, an indoor flea market for the best budget finds.
7. Make new friends
Filipinos are extremely friendly, easy-going and hospitable, especially to guests. They will go out of their way to make a foreigner feel welcome and at home. You’re guaranteed to be greeted with a friendly smile anywhere you go in the Philippines