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Manila is One of the Most Charming Spots in South-East Asia

Mar 3, 2008
The largest as well as the official capital city of the Republic of Philippines, Covering an area of about 39 square kilometers and with a population of about two million people, Manila is the world's most densely populated city.

Located at the mouth of the Pasig River on the Manila Bay's eastern shores, in southwestern Luzon - the largest island in the country, Manila is actually a part of the Metropolitan Manila or Metro Manila, also referred to as the National Capital Region (NCR.) Once a stronghold of the Spanish Empire during the colonial times and a point of trade between Europe and Asia, Manila has now become one of the most prominent cosmopolitan cities in the world. Lying on a narrow strip of land between Manila Bay and Laguna de Bay, the Metropolitan Manila is made up of 17 cities and municipalities. Further, Metro Manila is regarded as one of the world's mega metropolises, and serves as the economic, educational, industrial, and cultural center of the country.

From historic buildings, monuments, and interesting museums to entertainment facilities and parks and gardens, attractions in Manila are truly endless. Perhaps the greatest of all attractions in Manila is Intramuros, which is a medieval fortified city designed in European style. Once served as the focal point of the Spanish colonial rule, the city was the seat of administration for a period spanning from 1571 to 1898.

In 1945, many of the city's portions were destroyed by the Americans, which were later restored. A visit to this walled complex is a great way to experience the rich heritage of the region. Few among many of the highlights of this complex are Fort Santiago - a beautiful fort that was erected on the ashes of a Muslim ruler during the 16th century; Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church, which is the oldest of its kind in the city; and Casa Manila, a 19th century mansion noted for its beautiful furniture.

A museum, exhibiting some rare collections of oil paintings, can also be found within the San Agustin Church's old monastery. Apart from these, attractions also include the Rizal Park, an excellent area for enjoying recreational activities. Named after the national hero, Jose Rizal, the park is credited to be the largest of its kind in Asia.

Another worth visiting attraction in the city is the magnificent Malacanang Palace, which now serves as the official residence of the Philippines president. Located along the northern banks of the Pasig River, this palatial complex is noted for its unique architecture, and consists of sections such as Malacanan Palace; the Bonifacio Hall, which was formerly the office of Ferdinand Marcos successor Corazon Aquino; Kalayaan Hall, built under the American administration.

Mabini Hall - the administration hall; and above all a guest house. Also, a significant attraction in Manila is Bahay Tsinoy, which is an interesting museum that has on display collections related to Chinese-Filipino culture. Housed within the Kaisa Heritage Center, the museum's collections include pictures depicting life of Chinese immigrants, and Chinese artifacts such as coins, pottery, and kitchen utensils.

Further, popular attractions in Manila cover Paco Park, which is probably the one of its kind in the whole of the world. Considered a historical shrine, the park was once a cemetery. With a unique design, the park consists of two circular structures with different levels of recesses. In short, the way the park is designed is truly stupendous.

Other not to miss attractions in Manila are Manila Zoological Garden, which is home to some rare collection of Philippine as well as African wildlife; Carfel Seashell Museum, which has on display some rare seashells; Kanlungan ng Sining, where you can find a unique variety of sculptures, paintings and photographs; Ayala Bridge, which connects San Miguel to Arroceros; Meban Garden, the city's first botanical garden; and Liwasang Bonficacio, a park that has been built to commemorate a Philippine hero, Andres Bonifacio.

Hence, no wonder why tourists flock to Manila all-year round. Manila has accommodation options to cater every taste and pocket. From budget villas and hotels to high-end resorts and apartment, Manila's accommodation choices are superb. There are also some hotels that provide services in the form of packages, covering accommodation, dining, and facilities to explore the attractions of the place.
About the Author
Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently owns and manages 54 hotels under Shangri-La and Traders brands with a rooms inventory of over 27,000. Shangri-La hotels are five-star deluxe properties featuring extensive luxury facilities and services.
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