Manila is the cosmopolitan capital of the Philippines and one of the 16 cities that make up Metro Manila. The city is situated on the western coast of Luzon island and lies on Manila Bay’s eastern shores. Manila had a total population of 1,660,714 permanent residents at the time of the 2007 census. It is the country’s second most populous city next to Quezon City. The inhabitants live in a land area of just 38.55 square kilometers which makes Manila the most densely populated city in the world.
Tagalog (Filipino dialect) and English are the most common languages in the city. Tagalog is the native tongue of nearly every resident living in Manila and the bordering Tagalog-speaking provinces of Luzon. English is easily the second language as it is the medium of instruction in most schools from elementary to college. Some Filipino households even use English as their first language, but it is all a matter of choice. While the Chinese community in Manila’s Chinatown district can speak in both Tagalog and English, their native Hokkien dialect is widely used.
City Highlight: Guests can generally have a hearty meal in most sit-down and casual dining restaurants in Manila for a very cheap price. You can even dine in a buffet-style eat-all-you-can restaurant without breaking the bank. Some of the dining places in the city offering an honest and delicious meal at a good price include Kuya’s, Shiok, Adobo ‘To, Eat Well, Brasserie Boheme, and Beijing Hand-Pulled Noodles.
Cheaper Hotel Accommodations in Manila
Manila offers a variety of hotels, condos, and motels to suit any visitor’s taste and budget. Most of these lodging places are situated along Roxas Boulevard which overlooks Manila Bay, or in the tourist districts of Malate and Ermita. Manila’s lodging places along these areas are about 30 minutes away from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
You can find numerous major international hotel chains that have established their presence in the city. Prices are usually much cheaper here when compared to similar hotels in the West. You are still getting the same first-class amenities and services like those offered by hotels in western cities and still save enough to stretch your vacation money. If you are traveling on a budget, you can stay in a hotel in Manila without putting a big hole on your wallet. However, establishments offer budget accommodations in the city do not come with much amenities.
Shopping and Dining on a Budget
Your dollar can go a long way in a Manila hotel since a lot of things are cheaper here. However, if you need to stretch your dollar further, the best way to get the most savings is to shop in a “tiangge”, a flea market where everything is sold on a bargain. Such places can be found in the Quiapo and Sta. Cruz areas of the city. In adjoining cities, there are the Greenhills Shopping Center, Market! Market!, St. Francis Square, and the Divisoria area. If you would rather shop in a western-type mall, head to the Shangri-la Plaza, Robinson’s Galleria, or the SM Mall of Asia, the fourth largest mall in the world.