Travelling to the Philippines? There’s a very good chance that you’re going to spend some time in Manila. Whether visiting the historic churches, informative museums, cultural centers or amazing marine parks, Manila has some exciting, memorable attractions that are well worth a visit. Here are some facts and interesting tidbits about the Philippines’ capital city that you might want to know before you visit.
How Old is Manila?
Though Manila has been an important destination on the world’s map since the 13th century, the earliest traces of life in Manila date all the way back to 3000 BC! The Angono Petroglyphs (depicting both human and animal figures) were discovered near Manila in 1965, which allow historians to date Manila back to this prehistoric period.
How Big is Manila?
Covering a space of just under 15 square miles, the City of Manila is the Philippines economic, political, cultural and social hub. While it is only the second largest city in the Philippines, Manila’s inhabited area is a mere 9,500 acres - making it the world’s most densely populated city. Sitting atop multiple major fault lines within the earth’s surface, Manila has also been deemed one of the most seismically active capital cities in the world; consequently it is the second “most risky” capital to live in! However, both ancient and modern buildings constructed in the city are built to withstand quite severe earthquakes (with centuries of disaster-free earthquakes to vouch for the city’s strength.)
A Bit about Manila’s Background
Throughout its history, the Philippines has been controlled by multiple nations. The Spanish, British and Americans colonized the country at different times with Manila being the hub, and during the Second World War, the Japanese occupied the country as well. During the war, Japanese, American and Filipino fighting commenced within Manila, creating such destruction that it was deemed the second-most destroyed city (next to Warsaw) during World War II. Spanish, British and American influences can still be seen within the city today, from the food and language (Spanish and English are widely spoken) to the religion (over 90 % of the population are Christian).
If you’re looking to visit Manila, it’s best to understand and accept that you’re going to be hot!! Temperatures in Manila range between 70 degrees Fahrenheit and 100 degrees, and being so close to the equator, humidity is usually extremely high.
When is the best time to visit Manila?
If you’re looking to stay relatively less hot and dry, it’s best to visit Manila from December-April. Though temperatures will still be high, you won’t have to battle the rains, monsoons and typhoons from June to September.
Is it safe?
One of the biggest questions travelers ask before they head to Manila is whether it is safe. While armed guards do stand outside many hotels and there are certain parts of the city that tourists should not venture into, (as is the case for almost all major international cities) the city as a whole is okay for foreigners to visit. To ascertain areas where to go/not to go, find a reputable Manila tourist guide to show you around all the top sites and to give you a local’s perspective of this bustling city. The main tourist sites (Intramuros, Greenbelt Chapel, Manila’s Museums, Ocean Park etc.) are always safe places to visit, and if there is somewhere that seems a bit unsettling or uncomfortable- just leave! As anywhere else in the world, travel positive and with an open mind, albeit exercising caution and not letting your guard down!
Image credits and license details: https://flic.kr/p/5SaWjk (Butch DalisayCC BY-NC-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/db9Pnk (RJ Katthöfer, CC BY-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/9sDKWG (John Tewell, CC BY-NC 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/e9Lq26 (David Robinson, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/j1spWA (Benson Kua, CC BY-SA 2.0), https://flic.kr/p/7bP7py (John Tewell, CC BY-NC 2.0)