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With a multicultural heritage and a vast urban sprawl, Manila is an often-overlooked Southeast Asian destination. But spend some time in the city and you may just change your mind about it: the Spanish Old Town, or Intramuros ("between walls") has many points of interest, including Fort Santiago and a colonial museum.

The Chinatown here is one of the largest in the world, and the nightlife is rich with gay clubs and girlie bars. The choice of airports for Manila is limited to just one, Ninoy Aquino International.

Why visit Manila?

  • The capital of the Philippines is rich in history and culture, from Spanish colonial architecture to the Chinese cemetery!
  • Manila is home to many air-conditioned mega malls, meaning shopping is a big passtime here.!
  • The capital's location on Manila Bay ensures lots of fantastic beaches and diving opportunities.!
Philippine Peso, PHP
Exchange Rate:
~1 ZAR: ~3.40 PHP
Time Zone:
UTC + 8 - There is a 6 hour time difference between Manila and South Africa
Dialing Code
00 + 63 + 2 + Local Number
Drive on the right side of the road.
Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport
Travel Adaptor:
Standard Adaptor Plug, Type A,B,C.

The weather is usually hot and humid, but June, July, August, September and October form the rainy season. January and February have the coolest average temperatures, which means that the post-Christmas period is ideal for travelling.

There are more than 170 indigenous languages spoken in Manila, although the two official languages are English and Tagalog. English is the language of business and education, and is widely spoken. Hokkien -a Chinese dialect- is the third most spoken language, while a few Spanish speakers remain as a colonial inheritance.

  • The Philippines are named after King Philip of Spain.
  • More text messages are sent everyday in the Philippines than in Europe and the US combined.
  • The Philippines provides more nurses internationally than any other country.

From Rizal Park to Imelda Marcos' Coconut Palace, Manila isn't short on landmarks. For authentic streetfood, try The Legazpi Sunday Market: a real feast for the senses. Filipinos really like to go out, so after dark there's everything from the ubiquitous karaoke bars to reggae clubs, cocktail bars, super clubs, and the city's famous Red Light District.

Filipino food is delicious. Try authentic dishes such as lumpia -a cross between a spring roll and a burrito- and Leche Flan, a Spanish-influenced sweet egg cutard dessert which is sold at just about any restaurant.

Appearances really matter in Manila, and it's not considered proper to wear shorts and T-shirts in churches or nicer restaurants and bars.

The crime rate is higher than in some Western countries, meaning it's a good idea to take reputable taxis late at night. Avoid ferries and other forms of marine transport, which have poor safety records. In general, the majority of tourist visits to the Philippines are trouble-free, but it's better to be cautious. Tondo is the most under-developed area of Manila, referred to by some as "the ghetto".

South African Passport holders do not need a Visa to visit Manila, or anywhere else in the Philippines, for up to 21 days. Just make sure your passport is valid for 6 months after your return date, and that you have 3 blank pages available for entry stamps.

The South African Embassy to the Philippines is in Manila.

Address: 29th Floor,
Yuchengco Tower, RCBC Plaza,
6819 Ayala Avenue, Makati City, Metro Manila, 1227

Phone: + 63 2 889 9383.
Fax: N/A

Item Cape Town Johannesburg Manila
Meal, Inexpensive Restaurant R90 R100 R44
Domestic Beer (0.5 liter draught) R22 R20 R13
Cappuccino (regular) R19 R20 R32
Taxi 1km (Normal Tariff) R10 R12 R3
Pack of Cigarettes (Marlboro) R35 R35 R20

Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport – MNL 

Food and beverage: Amy’s Café, BO’s Coffee Club, Café France, Tinder Box, Ya Kun Kaya Toast, Andiamo, Chaikofi Concept, Seattle’s Best Coffee, Stop and Fly Café.

Currency Exchange: Allied Bank, Philtrust Bank, Banco de Oro, Bank of Commerce, Bank of the Philippine Islands, Land Bank of the Philippines, Security Bank, Jacinto Money Changer, HGIII Money Changer, Vanessa Money Changer, and Philippine National Bank.

Lost Luggage: Lost hold luggage should be handled by your individual airline’s help desk. Report items lost or found within the airport to the IID Office on the ground floor of the Security Building, Terminal 1.

Airport Hotels: None on site. Nearby: Golden Tulip Miage Hotel Florence, Hotel Franchi, Starhotels Tuscany and Auto Park Hotel.

Car Hire: Avis, Hertz, National.

Airport Hub: Ninoy Aquino International Airport (code MNL) is a hub for Cebu Pacific, PAL Express, Philippine Airlines, South East Asian Airlines and Zest Airways.

The information on this page is correct as of November 2015. While every effort is made to keep information as fresh as possible, takes no responsibility for any of the information being out of date or incorrectly noted.

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