Modern and buzzing, yet keeping one foot firmly rooted in its heritage, Manila offers a true experience of past and present...
Manila itself is a modern waterfront city overlooking Manila Bay and comprising 16 city districts and municipalities.
These large and densely populated areas come together to form one large city. The main airport serving Manila is Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), located south of the main area of the city. The airport welcomes all Manila flights and international arrivals to the Philippines. Few airlines offer direct flights from Europe and these are likely to involve a stopover en route.
Passengers wishing to fly from the UK are usually required to catch connecting flights in order to reach Manila. Transfers can be made at far eastern airports such as Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur or in the Middle East at Dubai or Abu Dhabi.
The downtown area of Manila is influenced by its Spanish colonial history. Major landmarks in the city include Intramuros and Rizal Park. Intramuros is the historical heart and lies within city walls and dates to when the Spanish were in control.
In Intramuros, there is a museum, Casa Manila, which houses a permanent exhibition relating to the Spanish colonial period. Here you can also visit San Augustin, a World Heritage site, and nearby Fort Santiago. Rizal Park, named after the national hero, José Rizal, is a large open space in the heart of the financial district. It is also home to the National Museum and an oceanarium. The largest private art gallery in the Philippines can be found at the Ayala Museum in the Manila suburbs.
Other tourist attractions in the area include Quiapo Church, the Golden Mosque and Coconut Palace. Quiapo Church in the Quiapo district of Manila is a Roman Catholic Church housing a statue of Christ with reputed healing properties. Also in Quiapo is Manila's largest mosque, the Golden Mosque. Coconut Palace is the official residence of the Filipino vice president and is in the Pasay district.
For entertainment, there's a lively Chinatown area, exciting nightlife in Makati and plenty of shopping to be done at the impressive SM Mall of Asia. In Chinatown, you can also visit the Manila Chinese Cemetery. Also popular at night is the Baywalk Promenade in Manila where there are many bars and restaurants at which you can enjoy food and drink while watching the sunset.
Flying to Manila is easy from the UK with both non-stop and connecting flights from around the UK...
Philippine Airlines flies weekly to Manila on non-stop flights from London's Heathrow, taking around 15 hours to make the journey.
Great alternatives are the daily connections via the Middle East, Far East and Europe with airlines such as Emirates, Etihad and Qatar - which also has departures from the UK regions, as do Air France and KLM. Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines operate to Manila via their Far Eastern hubs from both London Heathrow and Manchester.
Connecting flights also take upwards of around 15 hours. The fastest connecting flights are via Hong Kong.
Flights to Manila land you in the Philippines' main transport hub - a gateway to the rest of the country...
From Ninoy Aquino International Airport, the main tourist areas of Manila can easily be reached using the Manila Light Rail Transit System or the Philippine National rail network. Taxis also operate from the main entrance of the airport.
A shuttle bus runs to the nearby metro station from terminals 1 and 2. The metro runs several times an hour to the city centre from the airport (about a 45-minute journey).
A taxi can be booked at one of the taxi desks in the airport. It takes about half an hour to get into the city and costs in the region of 600 Philippine pesos (£8). If you've booked a hotel in advance through TravelSupermarket, it's worth checking to see if your stay includes a complimentary shuttle.
Car hire is quite reasonable in the Philippines and is available at desks in terminals 1, 2 and 3 at the airport. Driving can be a little frustrating on Manila's often busy roads, but the freedom of being able to explore the city and the rest of the Philippines in your own vehicle should outweigh the odd traffic jam.
Remember, once you've arrived on your flight to Manila, you're heading into an exciting, but very busy city. Whether you're in a bus, taxi or hire car, traffic in Manila can be unpredictable and at peak times it can take more than an hour to get into the city centre.
Manila has a great supply of hotels and apartments, from super-stylish colonial luxury, to backstreet budget B&Bs...
Manila's hotels are spread far and wide across the city, with the most popular areas being close to Manila Bay and the city centre. Luxury hotels are abundant and relatively affordable.
The most stylish hotels are in the Malate area of town, where there's a good selection of four-star accommodation. Fans of H20 and Hyatt Regency will find two very good examples of the hotels here. Sofitel, Mandarin Oriental, Holiday Inn and Best Western all also have outposts in the busier parts of the city.
Your money will go a long way in the Philippines, and you'll find that it's the cheaper, independent hotels that do the busiest trade. Anything between £30 and £40 a night is average for the many excellent boutique hotels that tend to be mainly concentrated close to the waterfront.
In the countryside outside Manila, the pressure on your wallet is likely to be even gentler. Many large colonial mansions have been converted into hotels. You'll also find spa hotels hidden away in the mountains and a handful of golf resorts.
Whatever takes your fancy in the Philippines, book early to get the best deals by visiting TravelSupermarket after you've booked the cheapest flights to Manila.