I am looking for any information/advice about Manila. My partner and I have been offered an opportunity to work in Manila for a couple of months and we would like to know what the city is like? Is it safe? Is it a cool place to stay for a short time? What are prices like (food, sightseeing, general stuff)? Is it easy to get around? Are there good/bad areas? I've read that there's quite alot of traffic and pollution?????? Any info would be a great help!
I'm biased because I'm from Manila... =)
Metropolitan Manila is made up of about 13 cities all next to each other (Manila is just one of the 13, but people talking about the area from outside the country often refer to the whole metropolis as "Manila"). Yes, there are good areas and bad areas. Most people, even the residents, don't spend much time in the bad areas - unless you make an effort to go there you probably won't either.
Within Manila there's a lot of shopping, food, nightlife, and live music (good bands). If you are staying for a couple of months you can use Manila as a base and take day trips or overnight trips on the weekends... see Taal Volcano in Tagaytay, go diving in Batangas, etc or take a 3-day weekend and go further afield to Banaue, Vigan, Boracay, Bohol, Palawan, and more places.
The MRT makes it easy to get around the main roads. Taxis are generally cheap. Get a local friend to teach you how to take the buses and the jeeps if you really want to save money.
Practically everyone speaks English, or at least understands it if they are too shy to reply back in English, so you should have no problem getting around. All the signs are in English as well and you can get Western food and Western groceries with no problems. Food is cheap, you can get a good meal for $1-2 and eat very well at a fine dining restaurant for $6-10.
As for safety... if you use common sense and are reasonably careful you should be fine. Same precautions you'd need in most big cities. The political situation can be a bit unsettling sometimes - but having the "freest press in Asia" means the prominent coverage of problems in the papers always make the situation look worse than it is. If that worries you, don't read the news - you'll get all the important news via text message from your local friends anyway
Yes, traffic can be bad. You'll get used to it, it'll teach you patience. Overall it's a very vibrant city, you either love it or you hate it... and if you hate it, hop in a car or on a plane on the weekends and go out to the many great beaches and other good spots in the Philippines.
CV is pretty much bang on in his write up. You either love it or hate it. Most people seem to like Manila, and become forgiving of its drawbacks.
I lived in Quezon City (one of the bigger cities within the Metropolis) for 12 years, and maybe coming back there within the next two months.
I dread the traffic and pollution most. But if you've been to Tokyo, its pretty much the same except more polluted, density may even be better.
If you find you do not like the city, go visit the many islands and beaches. I can promise you that they will rival any other you have seen.
Its only a few months, what do you have to lose?
Thanks guys for the info....really appreciate you taking the time to let me know your thoughts!!! Still haven't decided one way or the other yet but it sounds like a cool place!
Been to Manila many times and going for a few months is great. not too much of a risk.
Here are some tips.
Food and drink is cheap but not great. Adobo is the local dish and is my favourite there.
San Miguel is the local and very cheap beer.
Head for air-con as the summers are oppresive. Head for Ermita/Remidios cicle area or Makati for a relaxing nightlife.
You can even visit the girlie bars in Pasy City. They don't mind western women visiting with a male companion.
Philipinos are very friendly and like a joke. Learn a bit of the language even though their English is good.
Transport can be a problem. Check where you will work and if it is connected to the light rail system. Spending hours in traffic everyday can turn a pleasant experience ito a bad one.
Best gettaway at weekends is Puerto Gallera. 2 hours to Batangas then a 90 minute ferry. Sabang has a good nightlife but no real beach, White Beach has a beach but is not so lively at night.
is it safe to travel to Phil now? say between aug to nov period ?
seems like it is not politically stable...any comments?