Philippines/ Travel Stories

[Travel stories] Fun things to know about Manila

Travel location: Manila, Philippines
When I went: October 2014

  • There was TONS of traffic. Unlike cities like Hong Kong, the transportation system was not tourist friendly and efficient with subways. There were so many cars, jeepnees and motorbikes on the roads…and crazy drivers swerving and cutting each other off! I wonder how many accidents there are in a day?


  • During our stay, the only day we didn’t see traffic was All Saints Day on Nov. 1st so many establishments were closed. Luckily the gorgeous Greenbelt Shopping Mall was opened, so I had a chance to visit and got there by taxi in 20 minutes from our hotel, rather than over an hour on any other day.



  • The jeepnees were really cool, which was a popular mode of transportation. I am pretty sure there are no seat belts.


  • People including families with young kids camped outside of malls before they were opened.
  • It’s nice that every one I encountered at the restaurants and stores were able to speak English fluently, which was helpful as a tourist.
  • At the stores, the workers call the customers “ma’am and sir”.

Ph mall1

  • With majority of the population being Catholic in the Philippines, there were tons of churches in Manila. When I arrived to the airport in Manila, there was Christmas music playing.
Greenbelt chapel

Greenbelt chapel

  • I happen to be in Manila during Halloween and it was not a big deal, although the mall was selling costumes for the kids. I spent Halloween dancing at the hotel Karaoke lounge with my friends until 4 am!
  • Like many cities, there was a large disparity between the rich and the poor.  My friends and I made an effort to provide our leftover meals to the kids on the streets.
  • At the malls and restaurants, they often played cover bands or local artists singing pop songs.

PH malls

  • Not all spas were like this, but I went to an inexpensive spa at a mall where the room was communal (separated by sex) with two rows of beds. Luckily, my friend and I were the only ones there. Imagine being close to someone who snores heavily or passes gas often?!

Hopefully I will have an opportunity to visit more cities in Asia soon!

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