I’ve had the opportunity to stay in some beautiful luxury hotels for work and as part of media tours. This includes grand five-star properties in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Macau. But nothing prepared me for Okada Manila. The moment I stepped inside the lobby, I was completely overwhelmed by the extravagance of the place. It’s hard to believe that a place like this exists in Metro Manila.
Okada Manila is among the largest ultra-luxury integrated hotel-resorts in Asia. It aims to compete with casinos in Macau and position Metro Manila as a regional and international destination. Continue reading →
Cove Manila could be the glittering casino city of Canto Bight in Star Wars: The Last Jedi. Or it could be the Capitol in The Hunger Games’s Panem. Imagine an indoor beach and night club with luxury cabanas and private hot tubs housed under a glass-dome where high society are free to revel in lavish and over-the-top celebrations, untouched by the problems of a world descending into chaos and war. You don’t have to imagine it because it actually exists in Manila.
Most tourists are probably familiar with the Mediterranean-style Thunderbird Resorts & Casino in Poro Point, La Union. But did you know that there’s another resort under the same management just an hour away from Metro Manila?
For riders, cyclists and road trippers clocking in the miles, meals on the road often just consist of quick stops at fast food joints or meet-ups at gas station convenience stores before heading out. Most riders would be satisfied with cup noodles or hot coffee to warm up along the way. A few years ago, this was pretty much all there was along the Marilaque route (also known as Marikina-Infanta or Marcos Highway), the scenic twisting road traversing Marikina, Rizal, Laguna all the way to Infanta, Quezon.
The province of Bataan is best known for its historical and cultural attractions. The Battle of Bataan is famous for being one of the last stands of American and Filipino soldiers before they were overwhelmed by the Japanese forces during World War II. The Bataan Death March, where the infamous march started, was also named after the province.
But aside from its historical sites, Bataan is a rising eco-tourism destination with beaches, mountains, turtle sanctuaries, bird-watching sites, springs and waterfalls. Bataan lies within two major peaks, Mount Natib and Mount Mariveles, which are ideal destinations for adventure-seekers. If you’re a mountain biker or hiker, you’ll want to check out the natural trails that Bataan has to offer. Continue reading →
The beauty of the Philippines really shines in other provinces and islands. Destinations like Palawan, Cebu, Bohol and Boracay are top draws for foreign tourists. However, many international travelers have to travel through Metro Manila, the capital and main gateway to many of the other destinations before they can get there.
As a freelance writer, I get to travel a lot on my own. However, I haven’t gone a real trip with Art since last year. Since he works regular office hours and Sundays, scheduling leaves are more difficult for him. During weekends, we usually settle for biking trips or motorcycle rides near the metro with date meals in random carinderias. But with the weather lately, we usually end up coming home either exhausted from the heat, drenched by rain or splattered with mud. Sometimes, you just kind of want to take a luxurious break for a change.
I was thinking of booking a random flight or taking a road trip somewhere just to get away during the ASEAN Summit holiday. Just based on my Facebook feed, it seemed like everyone was planning to go out of town. But with major roads being locked down for security and horrible traffic because of the special lanes, I dreaded the thought of going to the airport or getting stuck somewhere on the way to a good “out-of-town” destination.
For travelers, backpackers and province-based tourists, Manila is often just thought of as a stopover between flights on the way to another destination. The big city can be overwhelming with the heavy traffic and crowded streets. It’s often seen as gritty and chaotic, especially if you visit the areas of Quiapo and Divisoria.
I often take the tourist sights in Manila for granted because I live here. But if I were a first-time tourist in the Philippines or if I had to take around foreign tourists, balikbayans, expats or province-based friends, what would I do and where would I go? Continue reading →