Manila, Philippines

Behind Manila’s gritty urban façade there’s a fascinating history and cool artistic legacy, courtesy of the country’s cultural diversity: expect a thriving indie-music scene, innovative galleries, speakeasy bars and artisanal coffee-shops and markets. History buffs can explore the manicured gardens of Fort Santiago, on the banks of the Pasig River; the grounds are home to the fascinating Rizal Shrine, a building dedicated to the Philippines national hero José Rizal. For a quirkier Manila experience, head to the curious Marikina Shoe Museum, where former First Lady Imelda Marcos’ formidable shoe collection (more than 1,000 pairs) is on display.

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When to go

December to February brings cooler temperatures to the scorching cityscape, while March and April are hot and crowded with visitors. Expect showers from May to November – the wet season is less crowded than warmer months, and often the best time to visit.

  • Best-price guarantee

    Found your stay cheaper elsewhere? We’ll match the price and give you a $75 voucher.

  • Smith Extra on arrival

    Enjoy extras such as a picnic lunch, champagne or spa treatments, on the house

Getting there

  • Planes

    The country’s air hub, Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (www.manila-airport.net), a half-hour drive south of the city, operates direct flights from London, Tokyo and other major international cities.
  • Trains

    In the south of Manila, LRT Edsa Station has connections throughout the city, from Pasay to Quezon City.
  • Automobiles

    Manila has infamously congested roads, with traffic that can flummox unsuspecting drivers. We’d recommend taking advantage of hotel-driver services (most hotels will offer them), and local taxis are easy to come by.