Manila has a certain ‘rough diamond’ quality about it. With over 12.8 million people in the Filipino capital (Metro Manila) – traffic congestion, pollution and crime are fairly ubiquitous – but nevertheless avoidable. It’s not rocket science – just don’t go wandering off into the suburbs on your own late at night and you'll be alright.
The most Americanized of all Southeast Asian cities is a dynamic, charming and hugely cosmopolitan place, commonly frequented by business and island-bound travellers and, for the most part, is an intriguing destination. It is a conglomeration of 12 cities and five municipalities, together functioning as Metro Manila.
Devastated by the bombing offensive of the World War II, the city has also had to contend with various bouts of natural disasters over the years, thus Manila's architecture is an eclectic mix. A city of contrasts – gleaming shopping malls stand proudly next to slums, while street food vendors ply their wares outside five-star hotels, Manila is an eye opener and a showcase for the integration of the old and the new.
Consequently, Manila has an amazing capacity for renewal; the same of course can also be said for the Manilenos, who are indeed the best thing about the place and responsible for its magnetic charm and overwhelming sense of spirit.
Colonized by Spain and America, the upshot of this is a rich architectural heritage and some fantastic entertainment and shopping zones. There is no shortage of things to do in this thriving metropolis where chaotic charm prevails over sophisticated order.