We arrived into Manila airport at 5:00am on Sunday 23rd October and got a taxi into Makati City to MNL Boutique Hostel, just off Makati Avenue. Even though it was the early hours of the morning, the reception kindly let us check in so we could have a sleep for a few hours. We woke around 9ish and helped ourselves to the free breakfast at the hostel (bread with jam or peanut butter and a piece of fruit) before having a shower and deciding what to do for the day. We knew the Intramuros (Old Town) was the main thing to see in Manila so we got a taxi there. We were told that traffic wouldn’t be too bad as it was a Sunday, and the journey only took 15 minutes or so. (It’s best to get taxis on the meter in Manila as they will often over charge you). We got dropped off at the edge of the Intramuros and had something to eat in a small restaurant before going for a walk into the centre. It was a lovely area to have a wander around - it’s so different from the rest of Manila which is crazy busy and very Asian in look, obviously. Intramuros is the oldest district in Manila and is full of Spanish Colonial buildings, almost feeling like you could be in Central America.
After having a walk around and taking a few pictures, we headed to Fort Santiago and Rizal Shrine museum. Fort Santiago is a citadel and defense fortress that sits between Intramuros and Pasig River. It has some nice gardens to walk around whilst the remains of the fort are crumbling down around them.
Within the Fort is Rizal Shrine museum, where Filipino national hero, Dr José Rizal, was incarcerated as he awaited execution in 1896. The museum is full of fascinating artefacts and information from Rizal’s interesting life and we would definitely recommend going there if you’ve got a day to kill in Manila. After soaking up all the culture, we got a taxi back into Makati City to a small shopping centre where Natalie got a pair of jogging bottoms from Cotton On. (Comfy trousers were much needed for all the travelling we were about to do). We then chilled at our hostel for a bit and booked our flight to Boracay. We also booked to stay in the MNL Hostel in Boracay as we got 10% discount because we had stayed in the one in Manila. Because we had barely had any sleep in nearly 48 hours, we decided to skip dinner and have an early night at the hostel - we needed it!
The next day we didn’t really know what else to do. Lots of people had told us not to spend any time in Manila, but Natalie knew that the Intramuros area was nice so she wanted to stay there at least one night. In hindsight, we should have only booked to stay one night as we arrived so early in the morning and did the major things we wanted to do on that first day. Stupidly we had booked two nights and we were now stuck with a day to do nothing. We got a taxi to Rizal Park (this taxi journey took much longer than the day before - traffic was mental as it was a weekday) and had a walk around there, then went back into the outskirts of Intramuros as we thought we had missed one of the churches the day before. (But we hadn’t).
The rain clouds were looking pretty dark at this point and we were still tired from the plane journey so we decided to head back to the hostel and chill out watching Game of Thrones on our Macbook Air. Good job we did too because as soon as we got into our hostel, the heavens opened for the rest of the afternoon and evening. After chilling at the hostel for a while it was time to venture out and find some food. There was a small night food market next to our hostel called A. Venue Market that had a few clothes stalls and a live band playing, so we decided to sit there for the evening and enjoy the entertainment.
So Tuesday we caught a flight to Boracay, our first beach location in the Philippines! And we were so looking forward to it!