As a blend of Chinese, Spanish, and American influences, Manila boasts 14.88 square miles filled with unexpected adventures. In this article, we prepared 5 things that you can actually do to maximize your visit to the Pearl of the Orient.

1. Ride a bus, and talk to the “konduktor”

Why not?: Riding the popular Sarao jeepneys may be part of your to-do list but public utility buses in the country are quite different. The driver has an assistant called the “konduktor” that roams inside and collects the fares from the passengers. Their job may be tiring but they’re energetic enough to tell you the stories of Manila, based on the road’s view.

When?: Anytime except for office rush hour which is usually 7 to 8 am and after 5 pm.


bus 1

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2. Attend a street feast, knock on a random house, and join the family for (free) lunch!

Why not?: A fiesta is a great setting to witness Filipino hospitality. If there’s a feast, every household, whether small or huge, prepares food that is beyond the capacity of their appetite. This is because everyone is expecting guests coming to their houses. After all, solidarity reigns if there’s a feast to celebrate.

When?: It’s better to consult the local barangay (administrative region) officials first because they usually organize the activities for the feast. They can even offer you assistance and tips.

fiesta 1


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3. Carinderia is the “restaurant” to go!

Why not?: A Carinderia is a localized version of the whole fast-food concept. They are usually located along a busy narrow street. You get to try Filipino dishes and desserts on the cheap. Popular Filipino and/or World-Class buffets may sound fancy but a closer interaction with the locals is far more authentic and memorable.

When?: Whenever your stomach begins to growl. A Carinderia a kind of place that usually keeps extra seats and tables. If the establishment near your hotel does not have one, sharing a table with locals is not a bad idea at all!



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4. Tour the universities!

Why not?: Manila is not only famous for job opportunities but also for a good education. There is even an unofficial district called the “University-Belt” or U-belt for short. You just need your ID and proper intention to get in. Visit their museums, talk to the students, and check out the special collections in the libraries. These are the activities you don’t usually get from city tour packages!

When?: It’s advisable to check the website of the universities you’re planning to visit. They tend to post events that are open to the public.



5. Visit the palengke and get Filipino recipes from the locals!

Why not?: The wet markets in the Philippines provide you lower prices of goods compared to supermarkets and an awesome unique experience. Whether you’re motivated to cook in your hotel room or just want to experience the hustle and bustle, checking out the raw ingredients for sale at your the nearest wet market will surely be a memorable experience. If you’re not sure what to buy, but want to buy something cool, you can actually ask the sellers for recipes of Filipino dishes.

When?: Hours before your scheduled time to eat. Remember, you still have to look for the best offers and ingredients in the palengke.

palengke 2

palengke 3

Have other fun and unique things to do in Manila?  Let us know in the comments below.