closeClose
language

NCR Travel Guide

Itinerary, Things to do, How to get there and more

Metro Manila is the capital region of the Philippines, and compared to the rest of the country--which is more laidback and prone to nature haunts such as beaches and mountains--the pace of life here is much faster. Dense urban spaces with skyscraper offices and shopping malls intersperse with quieter residential areas, but all the same, there is a constant hum of activity, a sense of soul amidst the chaos and grittiness. Culture is at an all-time high, from bars that come alive with up-and-coming music at night to restaurant districts serving innovative food. The traffic is thick, but one never thinks to ask why people flock here: it suits the city to be blazingly alive.

Where to go in NCR

Search
{{ category.replace(/_/g, ' ') }} close
{{search.city }} close

A. Venue Mall

City Of Makati, NCR, National Capital Region, Philippines

Active Fun

Taguig City, NCR, National Capital Region, Philippines

Agora Mall

City Of San Juan, NCR, National Capital Region, Philippines

Alabang Town Center

City Of Muntinlupa, NCR, National Capital Region, Philippines

Ali Mall

Quezon City, NCR, National Capital Region, Philippines

How to Get Here

By Plane
Since Manila is the capital of the Philippines, there’s always a flight heading there, whether you’re coming from another country or from a different local city. Its main airport is the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), which handles both domestic and international flights.

From there, moving around to where you want to go is convenient. The airport provides transportation via the Ube Express Bus, which is meant to take passengers to and from the airport following a set route. It offers four route options, respectively heading to Makati, Pasay, and Ermita, and the end-of-the-line drop-off points are convenient: a bus station, a van terminal, a hotel, and a shopping mall. Alternatively, you can hail a taxi, or use the Grab booking service from your phone, which is safer but pricier.
By Bus
If you’re coming from a city in Luzon, the usual way to get to Manila is via bus.

The following are popular bus companies offering trips going to Manila:
Victory Liner
Partas
Philtranco
Genesis

These cities in Metro Manila are common drop-off points, containing clusters of bus stations:
Cubao
Pasay
Sampaloc
Trinoma

Bus trips can take longer than expected during the start and end of holidays or during weekdays, given the snarl of traffic running through Manila.
By Ferry
For those coming from Visayas, Mindanao, or Luzon islands like Palawan, ferries provide direct transportation to Manila. These ferries often depart from:
Cebu
Tagbilaran
Coron
Bacolod
Iloilo
Surigao
Dumaguete

2Go is the most popular ferry company with regular trips. For more ferry companies, you can check out this list. (https://www.silent-gardens.com/sea-shipping.php)

Popular Food

Adobo has been informally dubbed as the national dish of the Philippines, and most households are likely to have some version of it. Meat is steeped in vinegar and soy sauce to produce a salty stew with hints of garlic. The vinegar gives it a long shelf life, and you can even leave it overnight outside the fridge.

(c) Kawaling Pinoy / kawalingpinoy.com

Pancit Bihon is another classic that’s often a staple in birthdays and other celebrations. Long, thin noodles are stir-fried with meat, seafood, and vegetables. The recipe is extremely flexible, and your creativity’s the limit for what you can mix in, from celery to mushrooms.

(c) Whats4Eats / whats4eats.com

Sinigang is a traditional dish that can be traced back to indigenous origins--it’s suspected to have preceded the Spanish colonization, and it’s still a common sight at the dining table today! This meat or seafood broth is characterized by its sourness, usually from fresh tamarind.

(c) Ang Sarap / angsarap.net

Kare-Kare is a thicker stew that’s memorable for its peanut sauce that’s both sweet and savory. The classic recipe uses oxtail, pork leg, and offal, but there are plenty of variations, such as seafood and vegetable versions. Vegetables like eggplant and long beans are mixed in to balance out the flavors.

(c) Just One Cookbook / justonecookbook.com

Halo-halo is probably the quintessential Filipino dessert--the Philippines is a tropical country, so naturally, this is a frozen treat. Literally meaning “mix-mix,” it’s very easy to prepare: throw together a good chunk of shaved ice, red beans, coconut gel, palm nuts, and milk, and there you go. Top it off with a scoop of ice cream for added sweetness.

(c) Cooking is Passio / cookingispassio.com

Best Time to Go

BEST TIME TO GO
Like most of the Philippines, Manila goes through wet and dry seasons, with the temperature staying mostly even. Visiting Manila during its rainy season isn’t recommended--aside from the inconvenience of traveling around when it’s raining, it’s also prone to typhoons and thunderstorms during this time. The rainy season reaches its peak from June to August .

While the summer months of April and May seem ideal for relaxing, the heat can get sweltering and uncomfortable. In terms of weather, the best time to go to Manila would be from September to March. Take note, though, that September to December will have especially cool, refreshing weather, and you might want to get tickets for January early because it’s the month when the city’s at its most crowded.

What to Do

Go to a weekend market
Sleeping up until twelve noon isn’t the only possible agenda for weekend mornings. It’s worth the struggle of waking up early to go to weekend markets. They’re distributed all over the metro, with the major ones in Legazpi, Salcedo, BF Homes, and Sidcor. If you’re really not a morning person, you can opt for Greenfield instead, since it starts in the evening. What makes weekend markets such a unique experience is that they’re a smorgasbord of everything--food stalls with all sorts of artisan products and fusion cuisine being cooked right before your eyes, handicrafts and clothes and knick-knacks for sale, fresh produce straight from the farm, and occasional live music. They’re chaotic and crackling with energy without being overwhelming, and it’s a great opportunity to bond with friends and family.
Marikina Shoe Museum
The city of Marikina is known as the country’s shoe capital, with a long history of shoemaker artisans, a months-long festival wholly devoted to shoes, and record-breaking leather shoe that’s almost two meters high. It’s only natural, then, that it should contain a shoe museum--but beyond the legacy of the city, the Marikina Shoe Museum is also notorious for housing around 800 pairs (only 25%!) from the collection of Imelda Marcos, the wife of late Ferdinand Marcos and an extravagant shoe junkie. Incidentally, she was also a patron of the Marikina Shoe Industry, and received around ten new pairs every week. The museum also contains shoes from other famous figures and traditional footwear from other countries, most hidden behind glass walls and showing exquisite craftsmanship.
The city of Marikina is known as the country’s shoe capital, with a long history of shoemaker artisans, a months-long festival wholly devoted to shoes, and record-breaking leather shoe that’s almost two meters high. It’s only natural, then, that it should contain a shoe museum--but beyond the legacy of the city, the Marikina Shoe Museum is also notorious for housing around 800 pairs (only 25%!) from the collection of Imelda Marcos, the wife of late Ferdinand Marcos and an extravagant shoe junkie. Incidentally, she was also a patron of the Marikina Shoe Industry, and received around ten new pairs every week. The museum also contains shoes from other famous figures and traditional footwear from other countries, most hidden behind glass walls and showing exquisite craftsmanship.
Shop and Dine at Bonifacio Global City
Bonifacio Global City is one of the most organized--even manicured--spaces in Metro Manila, thanks to rigorous city planning. It’s meant to be walkable from one end to another, and the stroll is bound to be pleasant because of the aesthetics: corporate offices are interspersed with trendy restaurants and shopping districts, with green parks and mural art balancing out the urbane vibe. If you’re looking for one place to get your food fix and go shopping, Bonifacio High Street will provide you with plenty of options. Burgos Circle is also great for classy eats, and you can drop by the Mind Museum right across for fascinating science-based exhibits. You could eschew a fixed destination and follow the streets where they take you: they’re bound to lead you to somewhere interesting, whatever the corner.
Go Bar-Hopping at Poblacion
Poblacion is a bit of an outlier in Makati. While the Central Business District Area is generally known to be sleek, commercialized, and professional, Poblacion almost seems to be rebelling against that, with a reputation for being wild and raunchy. To be specific, it’s a long-time red-light district, although it’s been evolving over the past few years into a creative hipster hangout throbbing with cultural life--always at night, with cheery neon lights turned on at full blast. There are so many quaint bars here that are worth checking out that it’d take several pages, but you can try out Pura Vida, Bar Mathilde, and The Wild Poppy to start with. For restaurants where the emphasis isn’t really on cocktails, there’s always El Chupacabra and Commune Cafe + Bar.
Watch Filipino Indie Films
For a different, grittier experience, instead of stopping by a shopping mall for whatever’s showing, why not take a deep dive into Filipino culture and watch an indie film instead? The storylines tend to be provocative and intense, and even belly-splitting comedies have a sharp edge to them. Cinema ‘76 Film Society in Greenhills is a microcinema with the precise purpose of screening curated indie and foreign films. The ambience itself deviates from the traditional moviehouse layout, favoring instead long couches and pillows that render a cozy, sleepover feel. Non-mainstream movie houses are more common in the Metro than apparent: others are Black Maria, Cine Adarna, and the CCP Arthouse Cinema.

Estimated Costs

Domestic Flight to Manila (One-Way)
P4,000-P8,000
Ferry to Manila
P 1,500-P3,500
Hotel
P1,200-P15,000
Regular Inexpensive Meal
P167
Three-Course Meal, Mid-Range
P380
Taxi
P40 + P13.50 per km
Jeepneys
P8 minimum

About