Cheap flights to Manila (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) are available from Brisbane, Sydney and Perth International Airports. These departure points typically include a transfer through Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Hong Kong. Departures from Adelaide and Canberra may stopover in Melbourne before transferring through either Beijing or Guangzhou airports in the People’s Republic of China. Most of Australia’s international airports service routes directly into Hong Kong or Singapore and this may be an alternate option for cheap flights. From Hong Kong International Airport to Manila is a flight time of just over 2 hours. Cheap flights exit Singapore and have a flight time of slightly less than 4 hours. Australian passport holders can stay in the Philippines for a period of 21 days without having to apply for a visa. Apply through the consulate for a Temporary Visitor’s Tourist Visa for a stay of up to two months. There are four terminals at Ninoy Aquino International Airport and these are connected by shuttle bus services. In the arrival halls there are car rental service desks with several car rental companies operating on site. The airport itself is approximately 14km from the Manila CBD. A shuttle service will ferry you to stations for rail services. Buses and Jeepneys service all terminals and most likely will cover the Manila metro area where you are headed. Airport Taxis are a cheap option and depending on your arrival time, you may want to head out to the main road and flag one down yourself.
Manila traffic is chaotic and congested so one of the best options in terms of reliability is the Manila Metro Rail (MRT) and Manila Light Rail (LRT). Access to tourist destinations on these stops is a bit restricted so you may need to combine modes of transport. Buses are somewhat confusing and have limited services but Jeepneys are both a novelty and great option. Destinations are colourfully painted on the sides of the vehicle, however, Jeepneys do not stop – they simply slow down to allow passengers to jump in and out. Taxis are by far the best option in terms of service, safety and price – ensure the metre is reset as you commence your journey. Car and motorbike hire is an option, but do familiarize yourself with inner-city driving restrictions and be prepared to adopt the local navigation tactics. Remember, your travel insurance may not cover you on two wheels, nevertheless a self-drive tour away from the city centre will give you the freedom to see what lays outside the crammed streets of the city.
Manila is very humid so plan ahead for a comfortable trip. History is all about perception so round off your visit to the Ayala Museum and Yuchengco Museum with a quirky look at the Marikina Shoe Museum. Enjoy the art offerings at Manila Contemporary before plunging into the alternative energy that surrounds the Philippine’s most famous church, Quiapo Church. Here you will find a saturation of preachers, potions and psychics. Laze on the sand at Batangas and be romanced by the orange sunset. Visit the People’s Park in the Sky and the flying fox at Tagaytay. Don’t miss the Filipino Heroes Memorial and WWII remnants at Corregidor Island. For something cheap and particularly special make your way to Zambales and have a boatman to take you island hopping. Manila’s rich history is forever cemented in the old capital, Intramuros. A guided tour is the best way to discover the secrets hidden beyond the majestic walls of this old city.
Shopping in Manila is hectic but you can find just about anything at bargain prices if you’re happy to brave the crowds. Head to Tiendesitas in Pasig City or 168 Mall in Divisoria for market style shopping. The Mall of Asia is the third largest mall in the world and it’s 1km stretch will keep you busy. The Greenbelt Shopping Mall is a once in a lifetime retail experience with a magnificent chapel right in the middle. Don’t leave Manila without indulging in the dessert/drink Halo-halo and the best of these kaleidoscopic delights comes from the Milky Way Café. Try a burger from Army Navy or the Deep Fried Burger at Zark’s. Enjoy the Latin influence with a touch of class at Casa Armas or Las Flores. For fresh, cheap, organic market food make your way to the Salcedo Market and seek out a Lety’s Buko Pie on your way for a delicious pastry treat. The nightlife in Manila is limited only by your self-control. Even if you’re looking for a casual evening, dress up so there’s no reason to refuse entry. Sip cocktails at Martinis and the Museum Café, party hard at Encore or relax by the water at WhiteMoon Bar.
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