Manila In Five Minutes

Your Quick Manila Reference Guide

With 17 municipalities and an unofficial population of more than 18 million, Metro Manila is no place for wandering; take taxis and turn on the meter.

Makati City

Holding most nice hotels, restaurants and shops, Makati is a hard-to­navigate hodgepodge. Fear not: without street-side commerce, most interesting things are in malls.

Bonifacio Global City

BGC, or The Fort, is one of the town’s fastest-growing spots: all the newest food, drink and nightlife. It’s one place you can walk around, with nice parks, sidewalks and the latest attraction, the Mind Museum.

Pasay and Old Manila

Old Manila has Luneta Park, RoxasBoulevard and Intramuros. South along the bay, Pasay has the airport and “Entertainment City.” Greenhills-Ortigas-San Juan Bustling with lots of residences, small commerce and hole-in-the-wall cafes.

Quezon City Manila’s biggest district has a local vibe with universities and family businesses. Bring a local to guide you through.

Manila’s dollar is called a Peso, one hundred USD equals about 4300 peso’s. Check out our currency converter at the bottom of the page for today’s current value.


The Cool Hotels To Hang Your Hat After a Crazy Day


The new Raffles has set the luxury standard. Plush colonial-style rooms in the heart of the action and a fantastic long bar at which to wind down. 1 Raffles Dr., Makati Ave., Makati; 63-2/5559777;; P14,800.


Perfect for business travelers. Practical luxury with a lovely rooftop pool. 1 Raffles Dr., Makati Ave., Makati; 63-2/555-9888; fairmont. com; P8,800.


This behemoth boasts live entertainment, high-end restos and wines, and views of Manila Bay. Murano chandeliers and golden edges are crafted in the Chinese traditions of luck-so do try your hand at the roulette wheel. 1 Solaire Blvd.; 63-2/888-8888;; P8,000.


This oldie but goodie has housed much of the International Who’s Who. With Socialites, politicians and movie stars mingling over tea and bubbly, the iconic lobby is the place to be. Try the deadly fun gummy bear shots at the eclectic bar, Salon de Ning. Ayala corner of Makati Ave., Makati; 63-2/887-2888; peninsula. com; P9,000.


Fantastic service and dining in two branches. The Makati hotel is near most malls; the Edsa branch is near the other business district, Ortigas. Makati Shangri-La: Ayala cor. Makati Ave., Makati; 63-2/813-8888; P12,000. Edsa Shangri-La: 1Garden Way, Ortigas Centre, Mandaluyong; 63-2/633-8888;; P8,000.


This business-cum­ boutique hotel with a pleasant roof bar has nice, affordable and contemporary rooms in this booming district. 30th St. cor. 11th Ave., BCG; 63-2/945-8888;;P4,700.


A welcome addition to the hotel scene, next to the main shopping centers and a great value for money. Palm Drive, Ayala Center, Makati; 63-2/908-0888;; P4,950.

Hotel prices are starting rates for double occupancy.

Funky Manila

The young, the fun and the trendy.

Cubao X The cobblers of a former shoe expo have been replaced with artsy shops, galleries and boho bars and restaurants. Fred’s Revolucion at Shop 66 is a self-dubbed “home for sincere drinkers.” Cubao X General Romulo Ave., Araneta Cen., QuezonCity.

The Collective In the heart of Makati is the perfect hipster hideaway: a graffiti-walled complex of creative eats, vintage stores and a great bar, B-Side, with a left ish musical lineup. 7274 Malugay, San Antonio Village, Makati;

Shop Top You Drop


Like Ali Baba’s cave, this trove of world finds has unique pieces from high-end jewelry designers. Check out Wynn Wynn Ong’s ornate pieces crafted of precious metals, wood and other natural materials. GFGreenbelt 3, Greenbelt Mall, Ayala Center; 63-2/757-4009.


Ito Kish has won countless awards for his inventive and inspired furniture. Woodwork reminiscent of chapels makes for gorgeous, one-of-a-kind display pieces. 233 N. Garcia St.; 63-2/896-8366;


To check if they’re real, scratch the pearls against your teeth, in search of a grainy, gritty texture;

they should also feel coolon the skin. A strand of 1-centimeter freshwater pearls should run about P3,500. Decide how much you’re willing to pay and negotiate a little lower than that. Jewelry Zone, 2F Greenhills Shopping Center Ortigas Ave., Greenhills;


One-stop shop for local designs: Charina Sarte for flirty dresses and sexy bathing suits; L Manila for local fabrics and knits done modern; Joanna Preysler for python purses; Arnel Papa for handcrafted bronze. 2F Greenbelt 5, Ayala Center, Makati.


A well-curated boutique with the city’s best accessories: Natalya Lagdameo’s revisited antique Filipino colonial jewelry and Janina Dizon Hoshka’s gorgeous stingray clutches. 2F, Powerplant Mall, Rockwell Center, Makati.


Local interior designer Eric Parashas turned four old homes into a gorgeous art gallery and furniture store. Go just to gawk at the vintage-inspired, creative pieces. 2680 F.B. Harrison St., Pasay; 63-2/832-9972.

Find Your Soul In Manilla


Renovated last year, the Met Museum has added to their classic artworks, pre-Hispanic artifacts and gold collection a fantastic permanent exhibit of Philippine contemporary art, beginning with modern masters such as Fernando Amorsolo and H.R. Ocampo up to the young avant-garde like Ronald Ventura. BSP Complex Roxas Blvd., Pasay City; 63-2/250-5271;; admission PIOO.


(No) thanks to extensive bombing during World War II and a lack of conservation efforts, Old Manila and Intramuros are some of the few places left where you can get the feel for the colonial-era city. Take a walking tour with Carlos Celdran for some juicy historical gossip. Don’t miss out on the National Museum and newly renovated Senate Hall. Carlos Celdran: 63-2/484-4945;; tours from Pl,100 for adults and P600 for students.


The Manila Bay sunset is world famous for its colors. The best experience is at the Sofitel’s pool garden lounge: laze on beanbags and sip on cold San Miguel. sotite! Manila CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd, Pasay City; 63-2/551-5555;


Only for the truly adventurous, Quaipo Church is the best way to see real local culture. Housing the Black Nazarene (dark statue of Jesus Christ), reputed to work miracles, it is frequented by the varied faithful. Paradoxically, in its environs are palm readers and vendors of local folkloric potions (gayuma) and amulets (anting-anting). Be extremely wary of pickpockets and bamboozlers! 910 Plaza Miranda, Quiapo;


Manila has  an unparalleled energy after dark here are a few places to check.

Blind Pig

Channel your inner Gatsby in this Prohibition-themed bar. Candlelight, bricks, vintage jazz, damn good classic cocktails and decadent truffle fries. Definitely reserve; the nondescript, brail-embossed door will literally shut in your face if you have no seat. 227 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati; 63-2/478-6990; drinks for two P740.

Rocket Room

The chic set, expats in the know and leggy models come here not for the Jetsons­ meets-Soho interiors, nor the treacherous Rocket Fuels, nor even the great wood-oven pizzas-but for the town’s best music. Eclectic beats, hip-hop, retro, Motown, Parisian electro … Always a great vibe. GFBonifacio High St. Central, 7th Ave. cor. 30th St., BOC;63-2/621-3222; drinks for two P400.

The Fort Strip

For a full Manileno night out, start with fried bar chow at Draft, washed down with a cold pint. Then to Kasbah for Black Mojitos and live music. Turn it up with a pickled-chili laced Dirty Pierre Martini at Aracama. Have a shot (or three!) at Imperial’s vodka ice bar. Dance the night away at Prive with mash-up club hits or Haze for deep house techno. The Fort Strip, 7th Ave. cnr. Katipunan Cir., BOC.

You Have To Eat, Here Are Some Hotspots


The place to be right now, with experimental and molecular takes on tapas, a trendy interior

and the best deck in the city to ponder the rapidly changing crane-filled skyline overeally great cocktails. Reservations are a must. 11th Ave. cor. 39th St., tapas and drinks for two BFC; 63-91/5507-7047;P3,000


Named after the famed Italian vino, this fine dining establishment has one of the best wine lists in town, as well as cozy, contemporary interiors and continental  cuisine made with the best ingredients  possible. Their chorizo empanadas and cheese  souffle are to die for.  114 Valero st., Salcedo Village, Makati; 63-2/810-3565;; dinner for two P4,000.


The epitome of a great  restaurant experience in Manila: soft lighting,  beautiful wines,  impeccable service and  creative European fare of exquisite quality.  Perfect for a celebratory dinner or to end your  stay in style. The ravioli  stuffed with portabella mushrooms, ricotta and white truffle oil are a must-try. A. Locsin  Building, Ayala Ave. cor. Makati Ave., Makati;  63-2/750-1555;; five-course tasting menu  for two P4,200.

Elbert’s Steakroom

The nondescript, dingy building and dusty  staircase … No you aren’t in the wrong place.  Hidden in the heart of  the CBD is a haven for  fine meat set in Mad Men-like, mid-century  modern decor. 3F Sagittarius Building III,  111 la Costa,  Salcedo Village, Makati; 63-2/519-8665;, dinner for two P5,000.

EL Cirkulo and Milky Way

Classic El Cirkulo is a Spanish- Filipino restaurant serving the best version of a local favorite: sisig, a crispy pork dish perfect with cold beer. If you’re craving more Filipino delicacies, head upstairs to their sister resto, the canteen-like Milky Way for some honest home-cooking. GF Milkyway Building 900 Arnaiz Ave., Makati; 63-2/810-8735;; dinner for two P3,000.


Grab your biggest sunnies and see and be seen in one these hot spots: Apartment IB (GFOne Rockwell East, Rockwell, Makati; 63-2/869-3530; has homey ambience and all-day breakfast with fantastic eggs Benedict, crab cakes and mussels with chorizo. Or: NewYork-y Wildflour Cafe + Bakery (4th Ave. cor. 26th St., BGC;63-2/856-7600), with fresh baked breads, tarte flambee and inventive dishes like kimchl steak rice.

Little Tokyo

The needs of Japanese businessmen have created an excellent Little Tokyo (2277 Pasong Tamo, Makati), a small square full of authentic restos, with Japanese baseball on TV.

Check out: Izakaya Kikufuji (63- 2/893-7319) for sashiml and shabu-shabu; Seryna (63-2/895-3855) for creative sushi; Urameshi-Ya Yakiniku (63-2/813-2210); and Shinjuku Ramen House (63-2/819-1242). Dampa Buyfresh seafood at the dampa (fish market) along Macapagal Avenuein Pasay,then bring it to Hong Kong Master Chef, where, for P100 to P200 per kilo, they’ll cook it up.

Now if you want to see Manila in the daytime and all it’s cool and exotic features check out this short video


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