I do not enjoy travelling with tour groups because I can't experience and appreciate the true beauty of a country. I really do not enjoy hopping on and off a bus to visit places of a country. I did all the booking and planning for this trip and I tried my best to study about this country before we're there. It was kinda hard as they weren't many travelogues about Manila and the reviews online were so intimidating. If you are travelling to Manila, this post will definitely save you a lot of time on reading!
After securing tickets on AirAsia, I depend on TripAdvisor & VirtualTourist to guide me on my planning of this trip. It wasn't a pleasant experience reading tips on VirtualTourist as they were many horrible experiences of being robbed, pick-pocketed, cheated & etc. I wouldn't let those stop me from visiting Manila so I took extra precaution to warn my family members & study the places I want to go by reading reviews.
At 3 in the afternoon, we finally arrived at Ninoy Aquino Airport Terminal 4. It is a very small airport as it is used for domestic flights according to locals. The line for customs is so long because they will ask a lot of questions before letting you go. Tip: You have to make sure you really know what are you doing or else you might take a long time to pass through.
I suggest taking an airport white van with a fixed rate depending on which area you are going. There is a small counter on your left when you exit luggage claim area. A van to Makati would only cost 400-450 pesos, our destination - Tutuban Center/ Divisoria cost 610 pesos.
|Manila Bay from outside the window, look at the traffic!|
|Chow King - Chinese Fast food.|
|A Jeepney with the iconic KKK Monument.|
I finally settled on Orion Hotel after researching so much on the hotels in that area. Orion Hotel looks the most decent in pictures and the reviews wasn't that bad compared to the others. The good thing is Orion Hotel is located on the 3rd floor of Primeblock building - Tutuban Center which is a shopping mall itself and it is located in the middle of the Divisoria area.
|Deluxe Room with extra bed.|
|Excuse my airport look, I only slept for an hour and I look so fat in my baggy clothes :x|
Located in a shopping mall
Clean and basic room
Friendly, helpful and accommodating staff
Water heater not stable
WIFI connection not stable
Impossible to find a cab
We haven't eaten a meal from 7 in the morning so we were so hungry! The traffic was congested and we settled down at 7p.m. We went to Jolibee fast food because it seems to be very popular in the Philippines. P:s; The pictures below are taken with an iPhone 5, excuse the poor quality.
My thoughts on Jolibee:
It is a OK fast food. The fries cannot be compared to Mcdonalds, the spaghetti was quite delicious as compared to others. The ice cream is super milky so I quite like it. The food is quite expensive as compared to fast food in Malaysia.
After the meal, we walked around the night market around Tutuban Center. It was the first night so I was very hesitant to take out my camera and phone because of all the reviews I read online. It wasn't that scary after all, you still have to be extra careful with your belongings.
We experience the scariest incident possible on the first night, there was a loud explosion from the opposite building. It turned into a huge fire with sparks flying all over the sky. I panicked and was so ready to pack up to leave. Thank god the Orion Hotel staff calmed us down and the fire wasn't so bad after some time. It didn't worry the Hotel staff at all, I wonder does this kind of thing happens all the time in Manila?
Stay tuned for Day 2 !!
More on Philippines:
Day 2: Morning Market, Intramuros - Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, Fort Santiago, Rizal Park, Tutuban Night Market
Day 3: Divisoria Market, 168, 999 & Lucky Chinatown Shopping Malls - coming soon!
Day 4: Trip to Tagaytay, View Park Hotel, Tierra de Maria, Olivarez Square - coming soon!
Day 5: Taal Volcano Hiking, Bag of beans, Massage - coming soon!
Day 6: People Park in the sky/Palace in the sky, Mushroom Burger, Sky Ranch, Robinson, Leslie's Restaurant - coming soon!
Day 7-8: Travel back to Manila, Tune Hotel Ortigas, SM Megamall - coming soon!