Even though this vacation was planned on a tight budget, one of the main things we wanted to do while in Manila was to take advantage of how much the dollar is worth! The exchange rate is great for the US Dollar, so we planned to do a bit of shopping and a lot of eating. We limited ourselves to a few shopping places: Greenhills, Tiendesitas and Greenbelt. Tiendesitas turned out to be a disappointment. It was filled with pet shops and furniture, both of which we didn’t want nor could we even bring back with us. I don’t plan on going back there. If you want to do authentic designer and name brand shopping, Greenbelt and the Glorietta malls are good for that. These shopping centers are massive and never ending. It was fun just to window shop. We shopped at Landmark, where we got good deals on shoes and clothes. Makati City shopping is very tourist friendly and VERY nice. Since our hotel was near the Greenbelt and Glorietta shopping centers, we spent most of our time in this area. It’s also a very safe area to walk around in at night.
One evening we decided to take a taxi to Greenhills, which is a large shopping center. There’s a regular shopping mall and then there’s a market with rows and rows of individual vendors. Here you can find anything your heart desires. I would have liked to have spent more time at the Greenhills market, I’ve never been to anything like it. This is a cash only place and you have to be good at bargaining. Seller’s prices usually start really high and you have to bargain with them to lower the price. They can be very pushy and even grab your arm but just stick to what you want and don’t get overwhelmed. We went once at night and once early in the morning. I suggest early morning, less people and if you’re the first buyer of the day you might get an even better discount (so they say).
As you can see from the photo, the Philippines is VERY densely populated. Not an inch of space is wasted. In additions to living areas being packed with people, the roads are just as hectic. Philippine drivers are insane. I got carsick every time we drove anywhere. I’m not even sure how their traffic laws work or if they have any, but it was like riding in a roller coaster. Our average taxi ride cost about 270 pesos depending on traffic. Traffic is usually very bad and slow, but drivers find ways of getting around it. I don’t recommend renting a car in this city.
Jollibee is sort of the McDonald’s of the Philippines. We ordered two medium pizzas, a burger and fries for about $8.00! Another day I decided to try a Philippine restaurant that served BBQ chicken and red rice. It was absolutely delicious! I suggest eating this if you can find it. We also bought a bag of sliced mangoes from a street vendor, another disappointment. The mango was not good at all. I guess it’s just a hit or miss thing with the food. I was worried about eating because I didn’t want to get sick. I suggest just sticking with restaurants and taking some Imodium before and during the trip.
At the end of my trip to Manila, I was ready for relaxation. I really enjoy my time there and learned a lot of useful things for my next visit. Next stop, the island of Boracay!