Manila is called "The Pearl of the Orient Seas." It was a title the city earned while it was still under the Spanish rule, when it was considered as one of the most beautiful and sophisticated cities in Asia. These days, however, Manila is more akin to the craggy shell of the oyster rather than the actual pearl. It is a city with a multifaceted character – glitzy and glamorous, brisk and progressive, harsh and jaded, yet bubbling with an almost-innocent and eternal hope. If you muster your sense of adventure and take the time to pry open the oyster's shell, you'll still find the lovely pearl hiding within.
If you like your creature comforts on your stay in Manila, you won't lack for them here. There are plenty of three- to five-star hotels lining Roxas Boulevard, most of them offering sea-facing rooms where you can view the famed sunset over Manila Bay, one of the most gorgeous sunsets in the world. You have eclectic dining and shopping choices as well. From wherever you're staying, you're probably just a short walk to good restaurant that serves a wide variety of food, both local and international cuisine. If you want more choices, you can always take a short cab ride to the nearest shopping mall. Manila is full of them; it is the mall capital of the world, after all.
As for seeing the sights, here are a few must-see places right within Manila:
- Rizal Park – an expanse of urban open space that features gardens, art galleries, statuaries and a monument to the Philippines' national hero, Jose Rizal.
- Intramuros – one of the best remaining examples of Spanish colonial fortress architecture, where you'll find the historic Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church, as well as old Spanish-style houses.
- The CCP Complex – home to the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Philippine International Convention Center, the Manila World Trade Center, and the Folk Arts Theater. You can watch a musical, theater or dance performance in one of these institutions.
- The Ermita and Malate districts – the center of nightlife in Manila, where you can find nightclubs, pubs, sports bars and casinos.
You need to get to know Manila to see its inner beauty. Manila is still the Pearl of the Orient Seas; you just need to take the time to find the pearl hiding in its shell.