Fun and sometimes chaotic cities...
The Philippines comprises more than 7,100 islands and is the second largest archipelago in the world. The combined size of all of its islands is 115,831 square miles, making it the 64th largest country in the world in terms of area. As of 2020, the population of the Philippines is about 101 million people, making it the 7th most populous country in Asia and 12th in the world. Tagalog is spoken as a first language by nearly a third of the population of the Philippines and as a second language by the remainder. Filipino is the official language of education, and English is spoken widely. You will find adventure at every corner, gorgeous beaches, friendly people, great seafood, a mixture of new and old and mega malls. Philippines is definitely worth revisits and even stay permanently as many foreign retirees call this beautiful country their home.
You will never get bored here. And with the right attitude and patience there are limitless places to visit and variety of activities to participate in.
Manila, the capital of the Philippines, a densely populated bay side city on the island of Luzon, mixes Spanish colonial architecture with modern skyscrapers.
Makati City is one of the sixteen cities that make up Metro Manila and is the financial center of the country. It has the highest concentration of multinational and local companies in the Philippines. Major banks, corporations, department stores as well as foreign embassies are based in Makati. The biggest trading floor of the Philippine Stock Exchange is situated along the city's Ayala Avenue. Makati is known for being a major cultural and entertainment hub in Metro Manila.
In Manila I have stayed at the Microtel by Wyndham hotel. The room had water views and was conveniently located at the Mall of Asia.
Nice hotels such as the Garden City Grand hotel, Picasso Residence, Belmont and Dusit Thani make your experience of Metro Manila area more pleasant.
If you are planning on staying close to the Mall of Asia, Conrad or another hotel in the area will be a better choice. You can always check the star ratings and reviews on travel sites before booking a hotel.
Garden City Grand Hotel, Makati
For every trip to the Philippines I make a point of staying a few days in Manila and Makati. And I always feel I need to come back. Even though Manila is chaotic, it is still fun!
Traffic in Manila can get interesting; as skilled drivers routinely make three to four lanes out of two-lane streets! I always have fun riding in the taxis soaking the scenery and enjoying the conversations with the drivers.
Besides shopping at the SM Mall of Asia and SM Megamall and other nice shopping centers, and dining at world class restaurants in Makati you can have a great time partying in the clubs of Taguig!
Don't forget to visit San Agustin Church in Intramuros, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And it is always refreshing to visit La Mesa Dam or walk around the Manila Bay.
Manila has something for everyone...
Tagaytay is a beautiful holiday town 34 miles south of of the capital providing an easy escape for the locals from the heat of Manila. It is a popular tourist and expat destination because of its scenery and cooler climate provided by its high altitude. It is known for its mild climate and sits on a ridge above Taal Volcano Island.
- The Taal volcano is an active volcano with a large crater lake with a small cone rising in the middle. Tagatay is built on the rim of the larger crater.
- Access to the actual volcanic area is by boat. Boats leave anywhere from the lakeside, competition is fierce. Prices are 'fixed' at 2000 pesos per boat, 6 people max; so team up before getting there. Tricycle drivers will take you to their favored places. Hard bargaining will drop the 'fixed' price to between 1200 and 1500 pesos, but obviously sharing is the better option. Average temperature is 71-77 °F. There are only two seasons, wet and dry.
- On January 12, 2020, there was a phreatomagmatic eruption from Taal's main crater that spewed ashes across Calabarzon, Metro Manila, and some parts of Central Luzon and Ilocos Region, resulting in the suspension of school classes, work schedules, and flights in the area. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) subsequently issued an Alert Level 4, indicating "that a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days". By January 26, 2020, PHIVOLCS observed an inconsistent, but decreasing volcanic activity in Taal, prompting the agency to downgrade its warning to Alert Level 3. It was until February 14, 2020, when PHIVOLCS finally decided to downgrade the volcano's warning to Alert Level 2, due to consistent decreased volcanic activity.
Nestled along the highest elevations of the city lies Tagaytay Highlands with manicured lawns, restaurants, two golf courses, spa and lodge, swimming pools and its own fire fighting team.
I was able to travel there with my dear friends and spent most of the day sightseeing and later dining at Balay Dako by Antonio restaurant.
The restaurant serves Filipino comfort dishes and classic Tagaytay food. It's name means "Big House" and refers to the gathering place of Filipino families for celebrations and other special occasions.
Coming back to Manila our gracious and gentle driver navigated us through heavy rain.
Everything about this place is calming. Tagaytay is a place to spend time, relax and enjoy activities with friends. I am looking forward to spending more time there on my next trip.