‘There’s no place like Manila.’ This lyric from the chorus of an old song still rings true. But in the Philippines’ sprawling capital – actually 16 cities spread shoulder to shoulder – it’s all about where you’re sleeping, shopping and playing. Manila’s neighborhoods tend to come with their own stories and characters. For those looking to sample the best contemporary corners of Manila, here are five of the coolest neighborhoods to visit.
Makati manages to pull off a weekend vibe most days of the week. The homier side of Manila’s business district, Salcedo, does the finer things with a handmade touch. The Salcedo Market is an outdoor extravaganza where you can find everything from bamboo-thread towels to organic Filipino coffee to Moroccan chicken curry. During the day, Washington Sycip Park is the place to lace up for a run.
Makati’s upscale malls, Glorietta and Greenbelt, offer fascinating people-watching and your pick of international dining. A few steps away, the excellent Ayala Museum is worth a visit for its remarkable dioramas and exhibitions. Just across from the museum, M Café is where a well-heeled crowd gathers for after-dinner cocktails. Come nightfall, Makati’s speakeasy bars The Blind Pig and Exit are the place to enjoy a well-mixed cocktail.
Top universities nearby send a constant breath of fresh ideas and youthful creativity through Maginhawa Street, probably the capital’s hottest foodie destination. Food trucks converge at One Fifty Maginhawa Food Park, diners are required to slip off their shoes and carry their own plates at Van Gogh is Bipolar, and the sushirrito (sushi + burrito) stakes a claim at Westwood.
You’ll have more compelling dining options than you can shake a stick at in UP Village, but it’s not all about food. Board game cafés, cat cafés, tattoo parlors, second-hand bookstores, local fashion boutiques, and vinyl stores all jostle for space on this up-and-coming thoroughfare.
The Fort has something much of Manila doesn’t: lots of space. If it weren’t for the tropical heat, you might feel like you were back in LA once you hit the wide sidewalks and broad avenues of Bonifacio Global City. Several hotels such as F1 Hotel Manila and Shangri-La at the Fort offer travelers the chance to stay in the heart of this fast-growing district.
Destinations Unlocked:Let our travel expert Stefano help you find your perfect Culture trip
Looking for an expert's perspective?Uncover my top 3 recommended places from each continent on the map.
1. GuatemalaAn express adventure for those with limited time off. Prepare yourself incredible experiences. You will hike a volcano, visit mayan temples and witness a ceremony and take in beautiful colonial Antigua.
2. BelizeA quick trip not too far away for those seeking a relaxing mini break. You will have plenty of free time to relax but also some awesome activities to experience the rainforest and the caribbean sea.
3. MexicoAn exciting mini trip exploring the lesser known colonial towns of central Mexico. This is hte perfect trip for someone with limited time off and still wants to turn on explorer mode and do something different.
1. EcuadorA remarkable 8 days adventure through the Andes and the Amazon rainforest. The best choice for adventure seekers wishing to visit the 2 most iconic areas of South America, in only 1 week and no flights.
2. PeruAn alternative itinerary to classic Peru, from Cusco to Arequipa. This itinerary is great combination of highlights Cusco and Machu Picchu with the lesser known Arequipa and Colca Canyon.
1. ItalyThe ultimate Italian experience from the vibrant streets of Naples to the breathtaking sceneries of the Amalfi Coast followed by Matera and down to Puglia with its golden beaches, intense flavours and fascinating destinations.
2. ScotlandEmbark on this great adventure starting from London all the way to Scotland with a true Scottish experience made of breathtaking sceneries, whisky tasting and ..lots of fun! Ideal for train lovers and explorers.
3. PortugalA wonderful train journey around Portugal, from the romantic city of Porto to the Douro Valley, to the beautiful Aveiro all the way to Lisbon and Sintra. The perfect trip to train, culinary and culture lovers.
1. South KoreaDiscover incredible temples, mountains and modern cities on this 10 day adventure. This trip is perfect for those seeking immersion in the cuisine, culture and natural wonders of South Korea.
2. ThailandFrom Bankgok to Angkor Wat to Ho Chi Minh City and everything in between - adventure through the heart of South-East Asia. Taste the delights, see history brought to life and unwind on a Mekong River cruise.
3. Sri LankaA fantastic adventure that showcases Sri Lanka's fantastic landscapes, wildlife and flavours. With 3 epic rail journeys, 3 UNESCO heritage sites and time to relax, this trip has loads to offer at a great price
1. MoroccoAn epic journey across Morocco: from Casablanca to Marrakech, through the blue city of Chefchaouen to the wonders of the desert and deep to the High Atlas Mountains - this trip has it all! Ideal for true explorers!
2. EgyptFrom Cairo to Aswan, this trip brings the land of the pharaohs to life. You'll visit the Pyramids, Valley of the Kings and Luxor Temple and cruise down the Nile in style. This is the perfect way to explore Egypt.
Bonifacio High Street, a kilometer-long stretch of tempting retail and dining outlets, makes for some of the best shopping in the capital. To the southeast, Serendra Piazza has a slightly more intimate atmosphere, with a few small art galleries and excellent Filipino restaurants.
Beyond the malls, the towering skyscrapers all around are sprinkled with rooftop watering holes, after-office hangouts, and a growing crop of fine-dining restaurants. On weekend nights, the bars and clubs at The Fort Strip come alive. Here the party starts late, and runs even later.
Intersecting in Quezon City’s South Triangle, these two streets and those branching off echo something of old Manila’s fun-loving nightlife and residential atmosphere. Yoga studios, tattoo parlors and spas have popped up in the area, which is also one of Manila’s long-standing entertainment districts. Locals head to Timog Avenue for live music and comedy clubs.
Anchor your stay at locally owned Cocoon Boutique Hotel, a cozy sustainable hotel with inspired green interiors. Fuel up at Runner’s Kitchen, Uno, and Tiago’s. Grab a coffee at Yellow Tree, or pick up a book at Books and Borders. Too much indulgence? Walk it off amid the leafy lanes of Quezon Memorial Park.
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I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!
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Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.