Planning on travelling to the Philippines from Pakistan? The Philippines is one of the most underrated destinations and has not received much coverage in media as compared to other countries in the region. The younger crowds are finding the Philippines as a new frontier to explore with plenty of location with unspoilt beauty.
I think the Philippines, has a lot to offer to international visitors and there is an ideal destination for honeymoon or a family holiday from Pakistan. The Philippines is a massive country to explore with over 7000 Island destinations. Some of the Islands are ranked amongst the top 10 most beautiful places to visit in the world. The Philippines also has some of the best diving spots in the world which makes it a must-visit location for nature lovers and deep-sea divers.
The Philippines is easily accessibly from Kuala Lumpur. Daily flights with budget airlines like AirAsia, Scootfly and Firefly are scheduled to most popular destinations in the Philippines. Manila is the capital city and a sprawling metropolis with plenty of amazing places to visit. Luzon is the largest in the Philippines where Manila is located. During my last visit to the Philippines, I explored the City of Manila, Subic Bay, Olongapo and Tagaytay on the Island of Luzon.
Here are some popular destinations in Luzon for the first-timers to The Philippines.
How do I get Visa for the Philippines from Pakistan?
Here is some quick information for obtaining a visit Visa (9a) for The Philippines from Embassy in Islamabad:
Other updated information can be obtained from the following link
Where should I book a hotel in Manila and how much does it cost me?
I highly recommend staying in either Makati or Bonaficio City Districts in Manila. Manila city is very large and there are a number of hotels available in all price ranges. Staying at a reputable hotel with a good rating should be a priority to minimize any unexpected issues during your stay in Manila.
Makati is the uptown and more developed area of Manila with a number of great places to stay. A 3 to 4 Star Hotels will cost approximately USD30 to USD50. I stayed at Prince Plaza II Condotel (3-Star) Hotel in Makati costing around USD35 per night. The hotel is a bit old but well maintained. This hotel is located at a walking distance from the main shopping area in Makati with a number of High-end shopping Malls. This property is high in demand because of its ideal location close to the commercial area in Makati. This means saving $$ and time on catching taxis in the busy street of Manila.
I absolutely enjoyed exploring Greenbelts shopping Malls, Glorietta and Century Mall. Ayala Museum and a number of well-rated restaurants are located just around the corner from my hotel. Therefore, I did quite a bit of exploration on foot and absolutely enjoyed stopping by at the local eateries and cafes.
What are some of the most interesting things to do in Manila?
Surprisingly like my hometown Lahore in Pakistan, Manila has a walled city called Intramuros. Naturally, I was inclined to visit this historic part of Mania to learn more about the amazing history of the Phillippines and Manila.
Views of Makati, Greenbelt Area and Food Court in Glorietta Malls
I booked a car with a driver for a day trip within Manila. This I thought would be the best way to explore the city without the hassle of catching taxis and public transport. Car rental for a day can cost around 400 Pesos. Catching GRAB, for ridesharing, is also a great and economical option to travel within Manila.
Intramuros is the walled city of Manila with 500 years of history enclosed within the three fortress wall. This should be a must-visit location on your list if you like the cultural history of the cities you visit.
Once you enter Intrmurous, Rickshaws can be rented for a couple of hours to explore the places of interest within the walled city starting from the fortress around the walled city. Most rickshaw operators charge a fixed hourly rate and are well familiar with the history of the places. The walled city is quite spread out and it would not be possible to walk to most of the places on foot, therefore, striking a bargain with the rickshaw driver is the most convenient choice.
Some local tour operators offer bicycle tours which are quite enjoyable for small groups. The tour guides are well trained and have in-depth knowledge about the history Intramuros.
Beautiful images of St Augustin Church and Intramuros
My first stop in my tour was St. Augustin Church which is one of the oldest places cathedrals in the Philippines. This location is probably the most impressive piece of architecture and history I have visited in Manila and the effect is awe-inspiring.
You will need good two hours to walk through the various halls and sections with four centuries of history and memorabilia. The halls have a large collection of paintings of the earliest arrivals from Spain to this part of the world. The missionaries were met with strong opposition from the local tribes. Christian teachings, however, made their way to the heart of the people and the modern-day Philippines is the most "religious" country in the world with over 87% of the population following Christian Faith.
I was surprised to find that Islam arrived in the Philippines even before Christianity and Christian preachers were able to convert Muslim tribes to Christianity. This was a fascinating piece of history for me.
Where should I go for Shopping in Manila?
Manila has one of the largest shopping Malls in Asia called the "The Malls of Asia". Be ready for a marathon as the floor space of this mall is massive and you will need a whole day of shopping to enjoy the best of what this place has to offer.
There are plenty of fast-food joints, restaurants, cafes to fill up the time between your shopping binge.
The Mall of Asia has various sections for clothing outlets, kids stores, electronics and homeware etc. If you are travelling with children, there is a Kids play area with plenty of interesting activities for children including a skating rink, bowling alley and lots more.
If you are planning to visit this location, it is better to start around mid-day or early so you can explore this location at your leisure. There are a large parking lot and ride-sharing pick-up bays at the entrance of the Mall.
If you are staying in Makati, some of the best shopping Malls are at your doorstep. Greenbelts shopping Malls offers unique shopping experience with a good mix of cafes, top-end restaurants. The greenbelts are like an oasis in the urban jungle of Makati.
The Greenbelts Malls are connected with Glorietta Malls and Robinson Place Malls. These Malls have high-end fashion chains and plenty of local brands of clothing. Other services like hairdressers, electronic stores, accessories and health care facilities are all available under one roof.
What are some of the best places to visit for Nightlife in Manila?
Burgos Street in Makati is the heart of nightlife and adult entertainment. This street is a couple of blocks away from the main commercial area in Makati. Gogo Bars, Strip Clubs and bars are quite common. Burgos Street is relatively expensive in terms of drinks and other services as compared to Ermita and ESDA in Pasay District of Manila.
ESDA is similar to Nana Plaza in Bangkok and has a number of Go-Go Bars. Cotton Bar and Pitstop are some of the popular locations to meet girls.
Cafe Havana is also an interesting place to meet girls in the Greenbelts area in Makati.