The capital of the Philippines is where the old meets new and everyone seems to be in a rush heading somewhere. Elegant and fascinating with a few rough edges, Manila is a city far from perfect—but that’s part of its charm. The people are known for their beauty and hospitality. The buildings range from the decrepit to modern, and there’s a constant buzz, a feeling in the air that at any moment something exciting is going to happen.
WHAT TO DO
Manila is teeming with rich culture and heritage sites. Start with these neighborhoods, all with their own distinct identities. Make your way to Malate—a younger, edgier area full of hip bars and contemporary restaurants and the heart of nightlife in the city. Don’t miss exploring one of the oldest parts of Manila called Intramuros which literally means “within the walls”. Built during the Spanish Colonial Period, it’s a setting of majestic history. Stroll along and you’ll find the stunning old interiors of Manila Cathedral, San Agustin, and impressive facade of Fort Santiago.
Make a side trip to Luneta Park and Paco Park where you’ll learn more about Manila’s colorful stories. Enjoy the lush greenery of the surroundings and lovely lakes for a relaxing walk. You can also drop by the Paco Railway Station undergoing a restoration as part of the Railways and Industrial Heritage Society of the Philippines.
Now, what do Manila and Macau have in common?
An influence of Chinese culture with deep historical roots. Head to Binondo dubbed as Chinatown for a stroll through stalls and shops selling feng shui charms. What stands out at the heart of this area is the Minor Basilica of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz. Imagine a Spanish Baroque structure in the middle of a district where Chinese dwellers lived. Make a quick stop at Escolta’s HUB Make Lab for sustainable arts, crafts, vintage items and independent fashion brands. It’s a small center of creativity that deserves a visit.
WHERE TO STAY
The big question is where to stay that’s accessible and stress-free, in a city notorious for traffic jams. Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila is the outstanding choice for its strategic location in the heart of the city and a remarkable reputation that deserves its own place in the city’s history.
Thoroughly modern yet endearingly nostalgic, the 5-star luxury resort hotel in Manila is a cultural oasis by the sparkling Manila bay. Designed by national artists Leandro Locsin and Ildefonso P. Santos, the structural masterpiece welcomes guests with its geometric-chic style.
Stay in any one of the 609 guestrooms featuring two Opera Suites, four Luxury Suites, seven Prestige Suites, 32 Sofitel Suites, and the majestic Imperial Residence—all exquisitely appointed with the finest luxuries and comforts for a rejuvenating city retreat.
WHAT TO EAT
Ancient flavors worked with modern technique—Filipino cuisine is one of the rising stars of the culinary world. Spiral at Sofitel redefines interactive dining in an unparalleled gastronomic voyage. Spiral is divided into 21 dining ateliers. The multi-award winning dining destination features an enviable range of cuisine created with focus and attention to detail by seasoned culinary artisans.
Satisfy your palates with a delectable array of traditional Filipino dishes like beef tapa and adobo at Spiral. Pair it with your all-time favorites such as the mouth-watering kare kare with its peanut based sauce and the delectable crispy pata. Experience Filipino culture at the tip of your tongue as top-notch Spiral chefs whip up some of the country’s most loved recipes.
HOW TO RELAX
Experience the warm Filipino touch that revives the mind, body, and spirit. Le Spa delivers world-class wellness rituals through a unique spa experience. Highlighting a wide range of treatments, Le Spa is home to the Filipino ancient art of healing—the Hilot Secret. Weaving harmony with natural elements such as Philippine shells, dark wood and earth accents to serve as an oasis for the soul, Le Spa’s interior mix with modern facilities ensures the most luxurious wellness escape. Spend a dream holiday at the spa suite with a state-of-the-art Trautwein Crystal Bath and sundeck. Create an unforgettable experience of rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.
Direct flights from Macau to Manila with Cebu Pacific. 2 hours and 10 minutes flight time.
Cebu Pacific, www.cebupacificair.com
Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila, CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, 1300, Pasay City, +632 551 5555, www.sofitelmanila.com