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Manila (Maynila) is the capital city of the Philippines. With an area of just about 35 km², it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. The city of Manila is one of 16 cities that make up the National Capital Region called ‘Metro Manila’.
Quezon City is to the northeast of Manila; Mandaluyong to the east; Makati to the southeast, and Pasay to the south. There are about 16 million people in Metro Manila.
Manila’s gay nightlife started in the Malate area, around the junction of Maria Orosa Street and Julio Nakpil Street. Nowadays, only a few Gay Bars remain (Chelu, The Library, FAB), and the gay scene has spread out to other parts of Manila.
Whilst the number of gay venues in Manila is small, the scene itself is quite lively with lots of character, especially during Pride or a big party weekend.
Launched in 2015, JUNGLE Circuit Party is now the biggest LGBT event in The Philippines and one of the fastest-growing in Asia. The organisers host regular gay dance parties in various cities across the country.
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA, MNL) is Manila’s main airport, connecting flights from overseas. Most airlines use Terminal 1, except Philippine Airlines (Terminal 2) and Cebu Pacific, Airphil Express and All Nippon Airways (Terminal 3). Terminal 4 is for domestic flights.
To get from the airport to your hotel, there are a few options. Coupon taxis charge a fixed rate (pre-paid) depending on your destination. They are usually more expensive than metered taxis. Citylink buses (6-11am, 4-7pm) can take you to Quezon City for 38 pesos – a great deal if you’re staying in the Quezon City area. Shuttle services to Pasay run every 15 minutes from 5am-11pm and stop near the MRT station.
If you have connecting flights from Manila, allow at least 3-4 hours for transit (and if possible, choose flights that leave from the same Terminal), as domestic flights are often delayed and traffic between Terminals can be congested.
Jeepneys offer rides around the city. You can jump on and off almost anywhere are great for short trips. These were originally leftover U.S. Army trucks but have become one of the icon’s of Manila’s transport system.
Metered taxis are always available and inexpensive, but expect heavy traffic in business areas. Note that some drivers may take advantage of tourists by trying to charge a flat rate.
Buses operate on main routes throughout the city, although they can get into traffic and are not the most convenient option.
Trains are one of the fastest options but are often packed and not well air-conditioned. Also, expect long lines and lack of maps and signage.
Many gay travellers stay in the Malate area in Manila City. This convenient neighbourhood is within walking distance of the famous Baywalk and Roxax Boulevard. It is a great base from which to explore other parts of Manila.
Others opt for larger, more upscale hotels in the financial district of Makati. Hotels in this area are close to many shopping malls, restaurants and entertainment venues. Traffic in this area is heavy, and taxi is the only
For our list of some the best hotels in Manila, visit the Gay Manila Hotels page.
Manila Bay – a natural harbor with stunning sunset views.
Rizal Park (aka ‘Luneta’) – the largest urban park in Asia, with world-class sculptures, beautiful gardens, art exhibits, event venues and entertainment outlets.
Mabuhay Restop – an entertainment venue & café near Rizal Park offering unique shows, great tours and delicious food.
University of Santo Tomas – the oldest existing university in the entire Far East and second to be founded in the Philippines.
Coconut Palace – a residence built along the waterfront by First Lady Imelda Marcos for Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1981.
Malate Church – a sacred church where the Filipinos have prayed for over four centuries.
Chinatown – one of the largest Chinatowns in the world, with lots of good Chinese food and products.
Intramuros – located in northern end of the Bay, the area features remains of the old walled Spanish settlement of Manila.
San Augustin Church – one of the oldest stone churches in the Philippines, having survived two fires and seven earthquakes.
National Museum of the Philippines – contains historic works of national heritage including the paintings of artist Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo.
Bahay Tsinoy – a one-of-a-kind museum showcasing how the Chinese migrated to the Philippines and assimilated as Filipinos.
Fort Santiago – built as a stone fortress in the 17th century; now a museum and public park.
The best time of year to visit Manila is from late December to April.
Water supply in metro Manila is considered drinkable but travellers are recommended to stick to bottled water.
220 volt 60 Hz throughout most of the country, using either an American and European style plugs.