Manila is a mega city, with close to 13 million people. It is made up of lots of different areas all with their own feel and personality. This guide will focus on the main areas of that foreigners or westerners visit in Manila and let you know some things that may help you while you are in the city.
There are 4 main areas where ex pats/westerners visit quite regularly. There is usually lots of security around and they are quite clean and modern.
There is often confusion around the name 'Manila' to describe the main city of the Philippines. The single term 'Manila' technically describes just one area in the megacity (and was at one stage the main area, but over time, the CBD and the main hub of the city has shifted away from 'Old Manila' which is the old historic region.) 'Metro Manila' is a more correct way to describe the megacity, which actually encompasses 17 different cities. 'Metro Manila' is also described sometimes as the NCR or the National Capital Region. People often use the word Manila to describe Metro Manila, which is technically incorrect and adds to the confusion. This guide will focus on the areas of Metro Manila that overseas visitors and ex-pats generally congregate for work and play, namely; Makati, Fort Bonifacio, Rockwell and Eastwood.
Ayala is one suburb in Makati, but most people just call it Makati. I would consider it the CBD of Metro Manila. It houses the stock exchange and many high rise buildings and businesses. Greenbelt is one of the more frequented areas in Makati and is essentially a group of low rise malls around a central outdoor area filled with ponds, plants and alfresco dining areas in the middle. There are lots of places to have a drink and many restaurants that cater to many differents tastes and budgets.
Fort Bonifacio or 'The Fort' is a very new area and if Makati is the CBD, well the Fort is the rest area. It centers around High Street, which is closed to traffic and only pedestrians are allowed with restaurants and bars lining each side. At the end of High Street is Market Market, a large mall. Next door is SM Aura, a more upmarket mall that also has nice restaurants and bars on the roof deck.
Rockwell is essentially a residential area full of high end condominiums. Its proximity to Makati makes it attractive and the main public feature of this area is the Powerplant mall. As it services the wealthier and foreign people in Manila, expect to pay a bit more than you would elsewhere. If you are missing grocery items from home, it has a large selection of imported products in the down stairs supermarket.
Eastwood City is a new development area as well and focuses on BPO (business process outsourcing or call centres) offices. It has a well-kept public area, full of restaurants and bars. It’s very clean and lots of guards to keep people safe. It is a nice area to visit for a drink on a Friday after work. It is a bit further out from the CBD and the only way to get there is taxi or car.
There are many way to get around in Manila. Train, taxi, Jeepney, tricycle. This section takes away some of the mystery of getting around in Manila.
A Jeepney station in Guadalupe, Makati
There are loads of bars to cater for almost everyone. Here we give you some details about night clubs in Manila if you want to get dressed up and dance the night away.
Somethings from home are hard to do without. In this section we explain where to find items that are hard to get in Manila and also give some general information to help make your stay safe and enjoyable.