Ah Manila… the city (in the Philippines) that never sleeps, has terrible traffic, and an odd assortment of things to do. We wanted to have a full day (just in case) back in Manila before our flight home and as I didn’t have anything terribly specific in mind, we let Tippe’s local friend plan our day.
View of Makati from our rooftop pool at our hotel/apartment
Rooftop pool we actually never made use of
As fate would have it, we were in town on a better traffic day: A SUNDAY and Sundays also host incredible farmer’s markets!
So we headed to the border of our “neighborhood” Makati and Fort Bonafacio (BFC) for some good old eating and shopping.
We explored the little shops, I picked up some bracelets from a craftsmen (helllooo b-day presents) and this home-made jam stuff that was so good I practically scooped it right out of the jar without anything to spread it on, before we settled on actually eating some things.
We tried a Viennese iced coffee drink, the most famous Filipino food Lumpia, and my favorite was the grilled corn. Simple… but so good.
One of the green building spaces around the Farmer’s market
After exploring the market, we headed to BFC to our friend’s apartment to learn about how she enjoys teaching English at a local school and admire her awesome view of the neighborhood from her balcony. Then we packed up and headed to another “neighborhood” within Manila to visit a museum.
A history museum you ask? NOPE haha instead a fun art museum with lots of 3D images and activities. Basically, a photo op paradise.
We just happened to coincide our visit with probably EVERY SCHOOL’s field trip (on a Sunday?) so the sheer numbers of screaming little kids running around was a little over whelming. But we stuck it out and spent a few hours roaming around, posing for millions of photos.
Art in Island Practical Information:
Hours: 9:30AM- 9:30 PM
Cost: $10/ adult
No food, drinks, or SHOES allowed in the museum
No shoes allowed! All of the images extended to the floor!
Some of my favorites….
There were over 200 master pieces in this museum that were all done by 18 Korean artists when the museum was founded. ALMOST everything is 3D!
ok.. that should give you an idea. but seriously despite the hordes of kids, there were so many things to enjoy and take photos with! They also did a show in the “big room” the one with the boat and waterfalls that was essentially a cool retelling of Genesis from the Bible. It was interesting to see religious stories presented that way. (probably the coolest way Genesis will ever be depicted.. the lights were unreal)
Then we headed to the Peace Monument located nearby at Quezon Memorial Circle with more farmer’s markets, and even more… PEOPLE. It just happened to be a huge religious festival at this park with tons of people and a gospel choir. Once again I was struck by what it must be like to live in such a deeply religious community. We walked around the monument, took a look at the museum underneath it (but didn’t want to pay so skipped out on actually visiting it) instead took a turn around the Orchid and Bonsai tree show that was taking place in another part of the park. There were some pretty cool Bonsai trees in there. Then to dinner we went where you guessed it.. we had more BBQ pork, before parting ways with our friend back in BFC.
For some info on Fort Bonifacio (BFC), it’s the most expat area of Manila, and by far the most western feeling. We explored their shopping area without much of an aim while waiting for another of Tippe’s friends to meet us for a late supper? and drinks.
We ended up at the ONLY OTHER PINK’s in the world outside of LA, California.
They had sort of a cool Speak Easy in the back where we ate our hotdogs (which were incredible) and caught up. Being surrounded by city planners as I was, (Tippe is a city planner for Park City) we got a tour of BFC from an expert who helped plan a lot of the area with a walking tour and everything. It was cool to learn about the growth in the area, BFC was a beautiful neighborhood that I would probably choose to stay in if I ever visit Manila again
And that concludes the epic Philippines adventure! A bit of information handy for visiting Manila:
1. The area almost ALL reviews recommended for staying in was the business district of Makati.
It has lots of hotel options, is one of the safest neighborhoods, and lots of eating options while being centrally located and not TOO far from the airport.
2. The historic district is located in Intramuros which is where I’d be most interested in visiting next time I come.. didn’t get to it on this trio
3. If you plan a day in Manila, try to make it a SUNDAY as there will be loads less traffic ( I mean less than half and traffic is still pretty rough even then)
4. Also on Sundays, the farmers’ markets are wonderful
5. I would personally recommend BFC for staying in as it was cleaner and felt a lot safer to me. But then again.. it is much further from Intramuros historic area, but not too much further from the airport.
6. If you are interested in visiting Art in Island/ the monument it was located in Quezon City just north of Manila.
7. Other day trips you SHOULD consider if you aren’t a city person (like me) is the waterfall restaurant at Villa Escudero which is about a 2 hour drive from the Manila airport.
8. Last but not least, download GRAB for easier taxi services around Manila. At the time we used Uber (no longer in the Philippines) and it was by far more convenient than a taxi)
The next day our flight wasn’t until almost 2 so we slept in, then took a taxi to the airport where we went to a Spa and got 1 hour full body massages… for $13. Then hit up the lounge to eat and relax before our flight. I tried my darndest to get a few more souvenirs but there really wasn’t as many options as I was hoping. Ah well. I definitely had enough to carry in my backpack as it was. We had a layover in Tokyo and LA with our travel time right around 24 hours. It was pretty good to be home after that.
Day 8 Manila costs:
Uber to Sunday market: $0.65 pp
Homemade Jam $1.88
Other foods at the market (Corn, Lumpia, Iced Coffee) $3
Souvenirs at market: $18
Uber all day split by 4 people $4 pp
Lunch/dinner at restaurant $2
Coffee bean $3.50
Half of hot dog at Pinks $2.35
Pinks fries and Gingerale $8.50
Uber back to hotel $1 pp
Day 8 Total Costs: $30 without souvenirs, $48 with
Day 9 leaving costs:
Taxi to airport with skyway toll $3 pp
1 hour massage at Airport Spa: $13
Lounge access: FREE
Total TRIP COST: $1,085