More often than not, Manila is left off the map when talking about Asia's major Asian hubs like Tokyo, Taipei or even Bangkok. Although often neglected by travellers, there's much to explore in the capital of Philippines. Here you can expect to shop, eat and drink to your heart's content, all in a vibrant city where people play as hard as they work.
We check out some of the best places in Manila to hang out and indulge.
Where to shop
If being surrounded by shopping malls keeps you Zen, Ortigas Center (Ortigas Center, A.D.B Avenue, Pasig 1600, +63 2 524 7141) is the place to be.
Being the second most important commercial and business district in Metro Manila, Ortigas Center is densely packed with shopping malls, skyscrapers, bars and restaurants. Amongst the malls are Shangri-La Plaza Mall, Robinsons Galleria, The Podium and the SM Megamall, which was the largest mall in Ortigas Center before the completion of the SM Mall of Asia.
Want a hotel just a stone throw away from all these facilities? Check out The Peninsula Manila.
You can also drop by Robinsons Place Manila, the second as well as the largest Robinsons Mall built by business mogul John Gokongwei. Mall staples includes Dream Town, an indoor theme park, Robinsons Department Store and Robinsons Supermarket.
Robinsons Place Manila, Pedro Gil cor. Adriatico Sts., Ermita, Manila, Metro Manila, PH, 63-2-302-0119, 63-2-526-4914, 63-2-525-8452, www.robinsonsmalls.com
Where to eat
What's a holiday without a restaurant with the right atmosphere to wind down with your travel mates? Gerry's Grill, known for its grilled delights and seafood, should be in your to-do list when in Manila. Feast on a customer favourite, the Sizzling Sisig, as well as baked scallops, grilled squid and crab rice amidst a lovely ambience.
Gerry's Grill, 4th Floor, SM City Manila, Manila, Metro Manila, 63-2-353-4266, www.gerrysgrill.com
For Spanish and Mediterranean dishes, check out Cafe Adriatico and its variety of salads, sandwiches, omelettes and fondues. Although small, the restaurant is continually packed with foodies coming for the Spanish and Italian fare coupled with an interior of sepia photographs, paintings and dark-burnished furniture.
Cafe Adriatico Premiere, M. Adriatico Street, Remedios Circle, Malate, Manila, 63-738-8220, www.ljcrestaurants.com.ph/cafe-adriatico
Where to visit
The Majestic Pagsanjan Falls (Pagsanjan, Laguna) is only a two-hour boat ride from Bumbungan River, south of Metro Manila, and you won't find a better place in the country to experience nature at its rawest.
Feel the adrenaline rush as booming water plunges 91.44 metres from cliff tops, and then take a dip in yourself (a safe distance away, of course), or raft under the waterfalls. Make it an all-day affair and do a canoe trip upriver to the falls and back.
Where to party
Club Mwah! Theater Bar isn't quite the club scene you'd expect in Manila (a drag show is only the start), but that makes it exactly the place to check out if you're in town. It isn't just a fancy club with extravagant decor and a gourmet kitchen, Club Mwah! has one of the most famous theatrical acts in Manila: Bedazzled.
A highlight of the show is the Indian dance featuring goddess Shiva and her 16 arms atop of a white elephant. Now that's something you don't get to see everyday.
Club Mwah! Theater Bar, 3rd Floor, The Venue Tower, 652 Boni Ave., Mandaluyong City, Philippines, 535-7943, www.clubmwah.com