Manila: Where to go - and HOW! (Tips, Infos)

The infos I give are SO EXCLUSIVE, You cannot find anything better or only equal in the internet!!! And not in this concentration, not in this composition. Promised!

Let me know if You think that's wrong! (until now nobody did!)

If You think I'm right and You've found NOTHING comparable: Let me know too! (until now nobody did!)

General info: Temperatures between 25 - 35 celsius at sealevel 99% of the time in the Philippines. Even shirts with long sleeves are hot, then. Social/formal dress (suit, shirt with tie, long trousers, jacket) only in airconditioned environments (business, car, Hotel, special events, or so.) It hardly rains from December until April. Typhoon season from May until November. No special remarks. No serious dangers. It just rains more often, some thunderstorms. As intense as in Germany, but no hail (Bring Your helicopter: it is safe from hail-destruction, here!). Flooding possible. Quality of drinking-water is EXCELLENT in Manila! Everything dirty in Manila, but tap-water is very clean. Better than water from supermarkets! In Manila. Not necessarily elsewhere.

230V electricity in the Phils: You can bring Your fridge/freezer, anything. Cheap plug adapters easily available at supermarkets or AceHardware or so.

Issues of hygiene: EVERY visitor is at RISK!

If You need to buy cheap love and do not take simple precaution and protection: strong indication You have an intelligence-issue! 300 known cases of HIV/AIDS per month in Manila ONLY!!! Chlamydia? You like it? You want it? You get it!

wikipedia explaining Chlamydia

PLUS: There are THOUSANDS or millions more species of germs/viruses/bacteria than I've ever heard of in Asia. And Your immune-system only knows the civilized ones.

MOST IMPORTANT RULE in ASIA: Wash Your hands whenever You can. Carry a small bottle with alcohol disinfection! Use it! Out of Your house/hotel? NEVER touch Your wet skins "mucosa" with Your fingers (mouth, nose, eyes, intimate parts). Try to draw toilet-tissues/paper-tissues whenever You touch sth in a public restroom! Take paper-tissue for the door-handle when You leave the room.

NEVER touch the underside of Your chair/table! NOT in the best Hotels! Even there the guests/hookers deposit their wet chewing-gums underneath. In 1960 You were among gentle people in 5-Star-Hotels. Today, in a world of freedom and wealth the most primitive, dirty people stay in Hotels that are 200 US-$ per night and up. In Asia, You hardly meet a true gentleman there. I met an arab guy in the elevator of a 5-Star. He was perfectly and costly dressed. Oh, I thought, he might be the first gentleman I see here. Half an hour later I came back into the lobby. He was sitting there, everybody passed by, and he had taken of his shoes, his dirty naked feet on the table.

You run the HIGHEST risk on infections in: HOSPITALS. Public restrooms/toilets (this means: in EVERY restaurant!). Taxis. Any Bar/Club. You come home - You wash Your hands!!!

Stories are uncounted! Just the other day I met Carl from Sweden (the fact that ALL these swedish guys are called "Carl" makes things a lot easier!). He just returned from Boracay. His error: eating oysters. In the hospital they enlightened him. The waters around Boracay are not always clean. The doctors and the locals know that this is affecting oysters. You learn it. After You had the oysters. If You care for what I say this is soft learning. The other way is the hard way.

Flights from Germany start at about euro 650 economy, 2 years ago until now. Economy is economy, only business is business and First Class is First. There is no First class economy. Means: Flying economy the seats are the same, the prices are not.
Questions? Ask me!

We are offering our SPECIAL "Take it EASY!" - service: On Your arrival in Manila we take care of You, give You guidance, tips, instructions, solve Your problems. We will IMMEDIATELY install a working philippine navigation-system on Your android-phone - BECAUSE YOU NEED IT!, even for the taxi! We are telling You to go by taxi in Manila. Apart from that: go explore the country on Your own, by public transport, or, better, in a rental-car! We will assist You!

Investments in the Philippines: DIFFICULT!

Most fail. For several reasons.

The Filipinos are smart in business, they know the conditions, the laws, the rules (and HOW to avoid them!), the markets, where to buy what, influentual friends, protection. You don't. So the situation is not: You come here as the smart foreign businessman and show them how to run things. You don't even if You really know a lot of things better than they do: this is NOT enough!

Every foreigner dreams of having a yacht, a KTV Bar full of pretty girls, a dive-shop or even his own multi-million-$-business making him rich. Doesn't work. They fail, they are gone, You do not see them. Few are successful. They are hard to find.

Oh, correction: I do not see those who fail because they end up in the cheapest, dirtiest bars flushing the last remains of their brains down with the worst spirits.

On the other hand the Philippines with their exploding population are an emerging market with a good growth rate. Lots of towers are being built, malls emerge, airlines, tourism expands (a few foreigners run good diving resorts, but not many! And even they work hard BEFORE they get along.), big business like Solaire World, a Hotel-Casino-Resort, BIG deal! : good sign.


AND: The government wants You to bring Your money here! They offer candies if You do that. If You buy a condo You get freebies. If You create jobs You get more of those. This is Your first step to make friends in the administration! Well, and then there is the German Chamber of Commerce.

Frankly said: I do not know who they are. In Germany this was a bunch of fools, big mouthed bureaucrats who put their hands in Your pockets, since the law requires You to pay a LOT for forced membership in the IHK. You get NOTHING for the money, they live excellent on Your wallet. They are not even thankful that You pay them a good life: parasites! Best thing was their annual party: You drink with the guys of Your local competition until You fall off Your chair. Last one standing wins. Lot of fun. This said should be enough to ring EVERY alarm-bell!!! But I would talk to them if I were You.

German-Philippine Chamber of Commerce

There is NO doubt that is a good place to go! Foreigners/expats gathering. Lots of information there, folk You want to see. You meet good contacts, interesting and important people on events worth visiting!

If You are a successful Restaurant-owner/manager already at home You can probably make money, here, too!

You can buy one or one hundred condos in one of these towers shooting into the sky: might be a good conservative investment with chances! BUT You have to choose carefully, and You need to be aware: the management running the condo can betray You easily, and in doubt they will. Your tenants might run the place down. They throw their garbage on the floor, in the corridors, in the swimming-pool, they throw their cigarettes into the pool. They steal Your light-bulbs. They might not fight cockroaches and ants: then these are in there! So you better manage it Yourself. Meaning: You advertise it, You let it, make the contract, You check it every now and then. If You let a pretty Filipina do it, she might make a contract without telling You, or change the data for the lot or only for the parking (the parking puts about 3500PHP + in her pockets, the condo 40.000PHP PLUS (1000 US$, or so, depends on what You offer, of course!) or so EVERY month!, and You never notice if You are not there.

I get mail every now and then with the electricity company threatening to cut my wires. Same with TV, and internet. Even though I pay what I am being asked. 2 possibilities: the house-lady uses this as credit by the end of the month when she is running short, or she is a bad bookkeeper and forgets.

(Expensive, costly -) Experience is hard to beat! You'll need people You can trust: this is MOST important! Hard to find, especially if they are good in their job, too! Right now we are trying to fix the problem of an investor who lost 750.000 PHP because he trusted the son of a well reputed wealthy family. So they say. But not wealthy enough to pay the money back right away. They are offering a two-year-plan, now. Let's see. The investor was lucky, still: for unknown reasons two millions in the account remained untouched. USUALLY every peso ist gone. And then they run, go underground. Common practice. (The guy who ran us down and tried to kill Grace with his sea-container did that. Car repair was PHP 80.000.) They can NEVER pay! Strange. An emergency, perhaps. Of the FATHER!

Manila - The city cannot wake up: It NEVER sleeps!

! Mall of Asia !

Without doubt one of the leading malls worldwide: a MUST see!

Drawback (this is a GENERAL problem in the Philippines!): The stores and restaurants, but especially the supermarkets (ALL of them!) are at least 10 years behind the european discounter's cash-systems-standards. Despite scanners: they got the wrong ones. Everywhere! With a lot more staff busy (human resources are cheap!) they take at least 10 times as long for one customer. So You queue, and wait, ...... and wait, ...... and wait, ...... and wait, ..................

If they were smarter they would buy the german aldi-counter-system from me PLUS training of their employees. I have no idea why they do not know it!

Not only a shopping mall: Everything is there, PLUS ice-skating-rink, state-of-the-art-cinemas (IMax, 3D), dining, entertainment, exhibitions, events, concerts: the center of social life in Manila.

Neither the Elderly nor the Disabled have a problem with walking-distances since there are the MoA-Taxis: electric carts that take You everywhere!

The "GLOBE" is one of if not THE town's landmark, a multimedia-event of it's own by night.

SM Mall of Asia

Greenbelt / Makati!

Greenbelt Makati

Makati is Manila's business-/banking-district

THE place to go there is Greenbelt, Greenbelt3, in this case. This is definitely a MUST! Filipinos, foreigners, hookers, ladyboys: EVERYBODY's there, the winners, and the losers! It's a mall: good shopping, Restaurants, Bars, Nightlife.

There You can find Sala Bistro, and You should go there! Nice interior design, friendly staff, and, that's what You came for: good food. Fair prices, CLEAN: no insects, no cockroaches, nothing. CLEAN restroom.

Also in Greenbelt3: Cafe Havana. The food is not as good as in Sala, and cheaper - it's ok, though. But they have life-music all the time. Place is always full. Wednesday, f.e., is Samba-day, with Diane, regularly. Diane ist giving Samba-dance-lessons in Makati's YMCA, she is a show-talent, a good dancer and singer: meet her! She's pretty good, but her Samba is philippino-catholic (they dance in winter-coats, no bikinis!): I guess that's the reason why You do not find only one brasileira in her group.

Ermita / Malate....

Maru - a good place to experience Korean Cuisine. Alfresco Midtown Wing Robinsons Place M Adriatico St, Bgy 669, Zone 072 Ermita, Manila

Kamayan Restaurant not only offers classic Philippine menus, but a good Sushi as well. They have a reasonably priced all-You-can-eat-buffet: Have it! Professionell management. Remarkable Live-music at Your table.

#523 Merchant Bldg., Padre Faura cor. Adriatico St., Ermita, Manila

HOTELS (situation in June 2013)

I think the prices are higher, usually, than right now, at the time of writing. It is because of Typhoon-season, and a holiday, maybe: I don't know

They change all the time, of course!

Regarding Hotels the situation is good, but more difficult: You should be ok in the Top-range, like Sofitel near Mall of Asia and directly at the Bay - prices starting today at ridiculous US-$ 135!!! GO THERE!!! Most often I saw it at US-$ 300 - , Pan Pacific US-$ 106, Diamond - US-$ 121 - (100m away from me, next to US-embassy, Bayview) and Hyatt - US-$ 145 in Ermita/Malate, Shangri-La - US-$ 228 -, Dusit Thani - US-$ 109 - in Makati. I LOVE the Shangri-La in Makati, prices start today at US$ 200.

Many "4-star"-houses are not that good. A general problem is insects: there are often ants, then bugs, and sometimes cockroaches.The houses I recommend here are most likely to be insect-free.

SPECIAL idea: Book 4 nights Sofitel, 4 nights ShangriLa, 4 nights Raffles. You will experience sth extraordinary, You will enjoy it! In ambience, food AND people! Every luxurious hotel is a macro-cosmos. These three are clean, no insects.

It is more difficult to find a good house in the lower price range. A VERY good choice is the "Armada",

300 m away from me on M.H.Del Pilar Street in Malate. CHEAP, prices start at US-$ 60 per night.

New, big rooms, clean, comfortable, good restaurant, nice pool, opulent gym, friendly staff, good location. I stayed there several times.

The lower priced Hotels change, though. I was in the Armada in the first weeks after it's opening, and the guests already started destroying it, braking doors, leaving dirt, stealing. So to give an actual recommendation Your stay there should not be more than a year ago. Mine is! First-Class-Houses should not change, they usually keep their standards. Manila Hotel/Casino was First Class, it is run down now.

A GOOD recommendation is agoda, a worldwide Hotel-booking-system, and it is an advantage. They sometimes get better rates than the Hotel's standard-price-list (which is ALWAYS negotiable!). They give a good impression of the house, and the guests write evaluations of their stay. And You get offers that are even lower in price by mail. PLUS: You collect points. I have enough points in the meantime for several stays in nice Hotels for free: I LOVE that!


It is FUN to fly the Philippines:

well, the planes are the same, all over the world: Airbusses, Boeings. FIRST Class, business, whatever!

In the Phils, though, You can see about 7000 islands, some of these jewels in the sea. PLUS: it is ....

! ! ! SO CHEAP ! ! !

Sometimes You can fly (economy, then!) for 10-20 US-$ from Manila or Clark (Angeles City, the "City of Angels"! You take the name literally!) to HongKong, Kuala Lumpur or Singapore: Backpacker-rates! I never did it, but the standard-flights are lowprice, too!

Greenbelt Makati

You check CebuPacific Airlines and Philippine Airlines


Mindoro Island

You cannot fly to Puerto Galera “Port of the Galleons” (the Philippines' roots are spanish, too) on Mindoro Island, one of the more attracting places in the Phils.

- there are 3 airports, but for general aviation/military. 40 minutes if You take Your own or chartered Cessna from Manila. No carrier going there.

You'll find some of the most beautiful natural harbours in the world, to be explored easily with Your own or chartered boat. Not to forget the fine beaches, clear waters and very friendly people. The most friendly usually are those You pay ;) Let's put it this way: the more You insist on paying, and the more money You are offering, the more people insist on being more friendly. But this is a global phenomenom, I guess.

Life-rule no.1 (You trust my experience!!!):

! ! ! HE WHO PAYS PLAYS ! ! !

You don't pay You don't play ;)

The sometimes dense jungle, the coastline with crystal-clear water, wide sand beaches and safe anchorages: inviting, nice to be there. It's exciting dive sites, lush mountains and white pristine beaches make Puerto Galera one of the top tourist destinations.

We had several options: pick-up-service, go by bus, or take our car. Since we wanted the traffic-jam, the sightseeing and the comfort we took the car, then the ferry. It does not really make sense to take the car (especially NOT when there are complications, and we had several - as usual!) on the ferry and back for a few days only, but we did not want to go around by taxi.

To make a short story short: from Manila to Batangas Harbour we had the traffic, but not the sightseeing: it is SLEX motorway, not a glimpse of Lagunas.

For some it might be an option to hire a private bangka, the traditional filipino standard sea vessel for small money: a trip on Your own! Phone-enquiry in Your hotel.

bangkas - the people-mover
The traditional outrigger bangka - standard sea-transport everywhere in the Phils! Any size: 2m length up to? 20 or 30m length is not that rare

The trip there was far more exciting than I expected. The direct ferry from Batangas to PG was not available, the internet was wrong. So we had to go to Calapan, 50km from PG. I loved the breathtaking views from winding roads in the hills over the bays, the sea, neighboured islands.

You can check out any time You like .....

And I DO love Puerto Galera, even though we were in adventure-mode, once again. No road to the Hotels in Sabang, no access to the center by car, only footwalk, with luggage (You can find a porter). The car has to be put in a parking lot, quite far away. I took a bike, then a bangka. Even three-wheelers cannot go there. So the option to hire Your own private bangka already in Batangas is smart.

motorbikes - the hotel-shuttle
My Hotel - shuttle!

We test-sailed a Contessa 35: really a good boat, good condition, but to small. I should not look for less than 38ft, I guess.

Capt'n TT

deep-sea-swimming far from shore
Bluewater swimming, jumping the yacht - it was great, I loved it!

.... but you can NEVER leave!

(Eagles, Hotel California)

Right now we are in adventure-mode again: It is unbelievable! What happened?

We came here on thursday for the test-sail of the Yacht Contessa 35 on friday. I booked the hotel for three nights. As often, I got the days wrong. AND the weather-report - funny, yes! Should not happen to an old sailor (joke!) - but it does!

(By mistake - I thought it was already sunday -) I wanted to leave on saturday. I invited an australian-filipina-couple I met here to join us on our way back to Manila.

And then fate struck. Twice. On check-out we were informed that no ship is going anywhere since Typhoon "Gorio" (international codename "Rumbia") was dancing 300nm east of us .... and the administration went beserk, stopped the shipping traffic !!! HERE!!! . The big shipping companies brought their ferries into Puerto Galera Bay because it is well protected. We had some rain, thunder and lightning for 20 minutes, ZERO waves (sea as flat as an ice-skating-arena!). Nothing bad.

NO problem, to me. We wanted to leave on sunday, anyway. Hotel was paid, since I got the date wrong. The australian guy (oh: he promotes a book: Love with a chance of drowning - Liebe mit der Aussicht abzusaufen: Frau verliebt sich in Weltumsegler mit kleiner Yacht. A girl falls in love with a sailor circumnavigating in a small yacht) with his .... hmmm .... girl-friend was worse off: he had to catch a plane in Manila, back home. So I told him that - considering the weather-warnings and what I saw looking out at the bar I could not see a severe nautical problem. I advised him he had 3 options:

a) miss the plane, and continue to enjoy PG with us
b) charter a private-plane (my estimate was they could still fly)
c) hire a private bangka to go directly to Batangas

He took option a) first, then considered option b), and then took option c). My cost-estimate was 1000 PHP. But, us usual, the Filipinos were smart. Cost factor 1: foreigner , factor 2: not to poor, factor 3 and 4: an emergency , factor 5: black deal against the law, factor 6, 7 and 8: a penalty-fine. 8 times one thousand makes 8000, and that's what they asked - bribe-money for the coast-guard included. They knew the tribal-bribal-price-list, of course.

And off they went. I think they're fine (in the meantime I know they were glad they did that! There was only one small problem: because of the (il-)legal implications they could not go into Batangas Harbour. So they had to walk 5km up- and downhill for a taxi). And I thought we were, too! But:


10 minutes later I was told that they closed the only road outside from Sabang to the rest of the world for 2 months to come. This was the dead-end that brought us in here.

After talking to some people a solution was at hand: Get to the car IMMEDIATELY, bribe us thru' the already closed and blocked construction-site (video taken, will be in youtube) that was already operative, drive it out to a safe place somebody organised, get back to the hotel by threewheeler and bangka. Get back to the car by speed-boat, take the ferry, on sunday.

Oh, PLUS (I forgot!) pay a lot, since all the factors were given for a good price-inflation. So I did. PAY! And I freed the car this way one hour later. And again I was happy that the Sorento is an off-roader! It was fun.

Transportation 2

In Manila You do NOT take a rental car! Average car-speed is 10km/h - if You are lucky. You do not want that. Taxis are cheap, You only pay US-$ 3, most often. Wash Your hands as soon as You can after leaving the taxi!!! Carry a small dispenser-bottle of alcohol-based desinfection!!! In a rented or bought car You have a high risk of having an accident, and You must be prepared to pay for it alone since the other guy has no money and no insurance!

The garage-parking alone costs me more than going by taxi, unregarded the other costs for the car.

Traffic in Manila might be the worst You've EVER encountered! Many say so!

NOT the worst!

BEST traffic-info is THIS:

No central taxi-call by phone! Taxis drive by, You stop them.

Threewheelers move You!
Water - Taxi - Threewheeler

This can be a problem in many quarters, especially at night. Then You take a three wheeler (bicycle with a side-car) to the next main-road. In the weather-conditions shown usually the traffic stops, and only a few taxis still go - EVERYBODY is fighting (with money-bills!) to get these! Threewheelers go whenever they can. Your Hotel sends a taxi, too. IF You know where You are. Most often You do not! (Does Your phone or even Your !camera! have a GPS-system? Make sure! And check how it's working - sometimes it requests internet-access that's silly!!! - You do not always have it when You need it most! Then You may go along with an app healing the flaw - I have Omnia Speed Tracker, Augmented, for Android.

ALL taxis are air-conditioned, threewheelers are not! Sometimes a threewheeler-pilot tries to charge You 200 pesos for a distance that would be 70 pesos by taxi-meter: he is a poor pig, anyway. Everybody is!

Half of the taxi-drivers are good guys (they switch on the meter right away!), the other half in white taxis are likely to betray You, meter or not. They know EVERY trick, You can hardly win.

Procedure 1: When You are going to the airport he suddenly goes slow. Because he knows most people are in a hurry getting there. Especially if You let him see You are stressed, nervous, and in a hurry. Do NOT tell him You are! Or You tell him: "If You get me there QUICKLY I'll give You 100 tip!". Otherwise he'll outsmart You, however stupid he is, and however intelligent You are. Else You get OUT! The next taxi is only 1 minute away, most often: That's better than to fight him. If he realizes that he will scare the other driver away. NOT in English, in Tagalog!

Don't fight them, pay what they ask. Or get out as soon as You can in a safe surrounding with much traffic. Not worth the risk. And usually You would give the difference as a tip, anyway! Good Hotels give You a paper with the plate-number when You leave: These drivers do not betray You anyway!

If You want to win: take his pic and no-plate with Your smartphone. Tell him: "Look, You have two choices, now: We either stay good friends and You get me where I want to go NOW. Or I will call my good friend Joyce at the LTO ( = the licensing administration Land Transportation Office). Her father is a general, and he HATES taxi-drivers! Now You choose: You want REAL trouble, or not? YOUR choice!"

You may laugh, or not: I even take my navigation-system in the taxi, sometimes, if I am not absolutely sure where I go. Several reasons: (1) the driver cannot betray You - as a foreigner You never know where You are, in Manila, even if You live here for a while. (2) The taxi-driver often does not know where to go himself - Manila's DAMN big! A driver took me 15 km in the wrong direction + 2 hours instead of the usual 30 minutes drive! (3) There are no misunderstandings if his English is not so good - or if he pretends this is the case! Saves a lot of trouble.

There are white taxis, everywhere, they are cheap and in bad technical condition. They would not be allowed on the road in other countries. But do not worry: they are safe, You will not be hurt.

The yellow taxis are more expensive, but they are in good technical condition. The drivers do not betray.

The german embassy says: "Do NOT enter a jeepney!" As far as I can see jeepneys are safe, but not always. Only take a cheap phone (no Galaxy, no Iphone!) and the money You really need and You can afford to loose. Cheap watch to keep them happy is better than no watch. NEVER fight a robber! The driver will NOT help You. Even in a jeepney they do not work alone.

If a professional(!) pickpocket in Palermo steals Your wallet there are up to 5 of his friends covering him and the action! Mind my words! The guys in Manila are not more stupid, but they might be less professional. In Palermo it is easy to determine whether You are being handled by a professional: If You notice they are gone. If the guy is still there and You see Your wallet is gone it is an amateur!

So: If You let go You are fine! If You fight the guy his brother or sister (!) or friend(s) might stab You with a knife! If You stay cool, You are safe, You lose Your phone, and a few dollars (pesos) and You are fine! Hide some emergency-money somewhere!

I do NOT believe that You are safer in a german bus! Would You carry a Rolex, a Nikon, and 1000 euro in Your pocket in a german bus? Why would You want to do that here?

If You intend to leave Manila for sightseeing and You are a good driver: take a rental car: they are cheap (2500 pesos/day = 60 US-$ for a reasonable car, that's usually a Toyota Vios). For the Filipino everything except Toyota is trash. But they hate the Japanese. You DO NEED a navigation-system!!! And You will hate Yourself every second and minute if You do not follow my advice! Do NOT buy a Garmin! Call me for a rental device!

Transportation 3 - How to get along with police

instruction coming soon! General information. The rest is too HOT! Special report available on request, only!

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