Why I don’t plan to go back to Manila, Philippines

Harbour square in Manila Bay.

Harbour square in Manila Bay

This post may contain affiliate links, which Globe Guide receives compensation for with each click or purchase at no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!

Have you ever had a lacklustre time in a destination, and felt like you needed to go back to try and figure out why people think it’s so great? Unfortunately that was my experience with my trip to Manila Philippines, after staying there at the tail end of a spectacular few weeks exploring the islands of Boracay and Bohol.

Malate Church in Manila

Malate Church

I guess the trouble with our Manila trip started when our cab driver from the airport had a ridiculously hard time finding our hotel, and drove in circles before we finally spoke up over fears he was simply trying to run up the meter. After a few phone calls he finally ‘found it,’ and it turned out we had been about a block away nearly the whole time.

While there were no complaints at all about our hotel which was located in a ‘good’ area near the popular shopping centre Robinsons Place Manila, that’s about where the enjoyment ended.

Fresh off the heels of several weeks backpacking southeast Asia, we felt well-travelled enough to explore Manila on our own, but began seriously doubting that decision as we kept stumbling into suspect alleys that were rather unnerving. While we were just a couple of blocks away from the main thoroughfare, the unwelcoming looks we got from those holed up in the ramshackle buildings we passed made our spidey-senses tingle, and we couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

In an effort to calm our nerves and build up my mom’s souvenir mug collection, we headed to a nearby Starbucks. That’s when we were accosted by begging children, who were relentless in following us down the street with their hands stretched out while their parents silently watched just steps away.

It broke my heart that the beautiful little children spent their days harassing foreigners for change alongside a busy roadway, instead of playing games or doing schoolwork.

We continued on to Rizal Park, which is a beautiful area dedicated to Filipino hero Jose Rizal that’s considered one of the top places to go in Manila. Monuments dot the sprawling lush green lawn, and you can often find men in the middle of a chess game or people strolling through the park.

Men play chess in Rizal Park, Manila. philippines

Men play chess in Rizal Park.

But as I took photos, the extent of the city’s poverty became even clearer. Some smiling boys happened to be in front of a monument I was taking pictures of, and when I put my camera down and began to walk away they followed us demanding money. It seemed that no matter where we went, we were purely seen as a payday.

manila philippines rizal park

We found some relief when we stumbled into the Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavilion, which is full of fragrant flowers including—you guessed it, orchids—as well as little ponds and a ‘Trellis of Waves’ made of hanging vines. The quiet space was a peaceful respite from the chaos of the city, as well as the soaring heat, and made for a nice stop on our Manila itinerary.

After enjoying the gardens then passing the grand National Museum of the Philippines, we decided to forgo the walk back in lieu of a typical Filipino experience: hopping on a tuk-tuk. The brightly-coloured electric trikes grabbed my attention, and I thought it would be a fun way to get back to the hotel. Well, I’ll say this: it was memorable.

manila philippines jeepney

Jeepneys in Manila.

My heart pounded as our driver made quick maneuvers through the clogged traffic, having countless near-misses with huge trucks and Jeepneys before it inevitably happened: he actually hit someone! Fortunately we weren’t going too quickly and the poor pedestrian was only bruised, but that was enough to convince me that Manila was officially not my favourite place in the world.

manila philippines taxi tuk tuk

It’s all fun and games until a pedestrian gets hit…

It pains me to share that I had such a negative experience in Manila, as many of the Filipinos I met during my time in the Philippines were incredibly sweet, and who am I to judge their country?

There is no question that for every story like mine, you’ll find someone else who thinks the city is fascinating and enjoys the fast-paced environment and culture.

That being said, I can only speak to my experience, and as much as I fell in love with the Philippines’ stunning islands, I’ll likely skip the stopover in Manila next time.

Manila American Cemetery and Memorial

Manila day trips

The good news is there are some awesome Manila day trips you can book to enjoy an incredible experience away from the city. Here are a few to consider:

 

 

YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY:

This post was originally published in August 2015 and updated in February 2020

SHARE THE PINSPIRATION! CLICK THE IMAGES BELOW TO PIN:

You may also like...

139 Responses

  1. Sally says:

    That’s a shame to hear that, I would love to take the kids to the Philippines but wouldn’t like them to experience something like that. If we do go I will make the stop in Manila an overnight one at most. If only they realised what good the tourism market could do for them. Seeing how kids are treated is the hardest thing about travelling in some Asian countries.

    • Hi Sally, yes it’s definitely an interesting place to see, but there are so many incredibly beautiful spots throughout the Philippines that it would be much better to spend time on the islands instead of the congested city.

    • Nancy says:

      I’m really sorry for saying this, but going in the Philippines with some kids would not be very responsible. I would never encourage someone to do this. There are many things there that western kids don’t need to see. Trust me about this. There are many great spots in the Phils but these places are hard to access and we must to pass by bad places to get there. Things can go very well as they can go terribly bad. Being white in the Philippines is a big deal. Families of white people are often perceived as targets to make money. Scams are unlimited, and cops are corrupt. Any easy and simple process can escalade into a conflict with the natives. Many Filipinos are great for manipulating tourists. I have been followed and harassmed by strangers many times.

      • Julie Ring says:

        Yes I agree with you. I have lived in the Philippines for many years and frankly, can’t wait to leave. The country is crumbling now with the longest lock down in the world, shortages of imported goods, constant blackouts, and poor communications. It is a nightmare!

        • Kuya Pemberya says:

          Same here. I’ve had the “pleasure” of dealing with Filipinos on the higher level and seeing how completely rotten and corrupt it is. If you are still in the Philippines without many obligations, RUN from the country, don’t walk.
          People who say this country is even comparable to any western country don’t know what they’re talking about. Philippines is at least 200 years behind any western country in mindset, methods and understanding. No amount of Fortuners and big houses will hide this fact.

    • CYN says:

      I’m sorry that you have a rather unpleasant experience visiting Manila. There are so many amazing places to visit if you know where to go. I recommend finding a guide who can take you to the right places. The city of Manila is old, congested and spotty so it really helps to know where to go, or maybe venture in Makati/Global City and the Mall of Asia and Ayala Alabang area where there are nice hotels and restaurants. I have visited a few times and really enjoyed our stay at Diamond Hotel, Solaire, Shangri-la, among others. I hope you do your research and find a good guide to take you around.

      • John Eberhardt says:

        Yes, this review is total crap. This person doesn’t know anything about Manila. I agree with you that Makati and BGC are awesome and there are so many cool things there. I stayed in that exact area for over two months and did not experience much of what she said. Children do beg in their organized by adults to milk money out of you so that is a problem but it stops there. I stayed in Birch Tower and in Alpha Grandview in airbnbs and I loved it. I had dental work done in Robinson’s place and I’m very happy with my experience all the way around.

        • Will says:

          Just because you had a pleasant experience does not mean everyone who visits Manila do too. Like she said, this review is based on her experience, and you have no right to invalidate her claims.

        • Anna Williams says:

          I agree with John Eberhardrt. At the end of the day, we need to do correct diligence wherever we go we can fully understand the country we are visiting and can plan accordingly when we can venture on our own or need to hire a guide. On the negative comments….I think you need to tone it down in light f what is going on around the world now… covid19.., delta or whatever else is coming our way….

        • Nikki says:

          Anyone who calls a tike/tricycle a “tuk tuk” should be suspect. It is obvious that they expect an Asian country to be like other Asian countries

      • Kuya Pemberya says:

        There’s a few nice places, like Korean spas. But the city on a street level is a disaster. And you say Manila is old? 95% of Metro Manila has been built in the last 50 years. It’s in fact very new, many of the building that look ancient are actually from the 90s. The “quality” in the Philippines is below any standard.

    • doge says:

      trust me it sucks there and there are over 80 languages there it suck to live there

      • Ludy Mayang says:

        It’s not 80 Languages / am pretty sure you probably thinking 80 Dialects or even more. Philippines has 7000 something Island.. So, if I was a tourist to tour a Country that I don’t know, I definitely will get me a guide. Even Pilipinos themselves have to deal with the same problems.. So, sorry that you had this experience..

      • John Eberhardt says:

        Really? Have you even been there? I lived there for about 9 months both before and during the lockdowns. Before the lockdown I got my implant done at Robinson’s place. I toured intramuros, I went to Ocean Park, Mall of Asia, Lunetta Park ( which she calls Rizal but nobody that lives there calls it that) and took long walks along Manila Bay during sunset. It’s an awesome place Makati is wonderful and so is BGC. Definitely also check out the greenbelt area as they had free concerts on Friday and Saturday nights. It was just awesome. Obviously some people should never come here and not give advice to others.

        • McCabe says:

          Do you understand that other people are not an extension of you? She related her experiences in the Philippines. In addition, I have been there more than once and I agree with some of her observations.

    • Aaron says:

      Now I’m filipino and I actually live in Manila and while reading I do agree with most of the things you said but the part when children would ask for money. Now the Philippines sadly have a lot of homeless people estimating to 4.5 million including children. These people are just trying to make a living. Just that feeling to eat thats what they want. To go home to their families with food. Everyday its a grind just to eat. Even though you want to spend money to go to beautiful places don’t ignore the people that actually might need it.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Similar experience for us in Morocco. I will never go back there. Shitty people in general (although there some bright exceptions) and shitty culture.

    • Oh no, Morocco has been on my list for a while! Funny, I just read a tweet from a VERY experience traveller who was extremely unnerved by the markets in Fez…yikes.

      • To calm your nerves about Morocco I just spent an amazing 10 days there. If you are concerned about traffic and getting ripped off, head to the coast somewhere like Essaouira where you will have a fantastic time!

        • Awesome, great to hear Amy! I know a couple heading over so I’ll be sure to pass along your tips 🙂

        • Terry says:

          My daughter travelled around the world alone for 12 months started and finished in Manila and thought Morroco was the highlight of her trip
          I’ve lived in the Philippines and agree it has it’s child
          beggars that are forced to beg by a kind of mafia outfit,
          Boracay Palawan islands and parts of Cebu are all safe and beautiful
          Manila traffic is very congested it’s hot noisy and dirty but it does have it’s safe spots for tourists Makati with its up market hotels shopping and. restaurants for one
          Do your homework before visiting any country

          • A r oked says:

            Filipinos can never live without throwing garbage all over, pissing in the streets,,, korokes, screwing up the traffic, changing lanes 30 times a block, smoke belching cancer causing vehiscles,,, stray dogs all over

          • Anna Williams says:

            Thank you for your very fair comments Terry. Whoever is into negative comments… please do your due diligence before you travel and understand the history, culture etc….

      • Jennifer says:

        Yeah I have travelled a hella lot- will hit 40 countries in 2 weeks and plan to do 10 new ones a year- and it was my worst experience. Particularly as a woman. You are basically dirt in their culture. Ughhhh

        That said, GO to Chefchaouen in the north. I wish we had started there first, rather than our last stop, because it was lovely. I might have had a different view of Morocco then.

      • Antony says:

        This is what happens when ignorant people travel and then give their advice to others. I am from the UK and lived in Manila for a year. If you know where you’re going then it’s an amazing place. Don’t diss what you fail to understand.

        • Hi Antony,

          I’ve travelled to nearly 70 countries, am an award-winning journalist and have a university degree- the last thing you can try and accuse me of is being ignorant. If you scroll through the many comments, you’ll see that my opinion is shared by a large amount of people including Filipinos and others who actually live there. You have a right to disagree with others, but name calling is juvenile and won’t be permitted further in this space. Thanks.

          • Vicson Torres says:

            I am a Filipino and there’s literally nothing in your review that’s unfamiliar to me. Orphans are not only from Manila, they’re widespread almost all over the Luzon region. It’s just Manila is considered the most advanced city in terms of economy, that’s why some fellow Filipinos from the south (mostly rural areas) go there with a goal to find a decent source of income. Unfortunately, most of them just end up in the streets like the ones you encountered, and they share their sufferings with their children as they are forced to beg for spare coins.

            Bonus: tricycle drivers most likely do not have a legitimate driver’s license, hence accidents are bound to happen.

        • Anna Williams says:

          Thank you for your fair comments Antony. I just moved back to the Philippines after living and working in the US for 35 years. I can’t wait to explore the islands once it is safe to travel. Safe travels everyone!

    • John Eberhardt says:

      I did not have her experience there. It is not a shitty place. The people are fantastic, yes children do beg and they are organized by adults often to milk money from tourists but I wandered down many alleyways in that exact area and never felt threatened. The place is wonderful. I’m sure there are some places you shouldn’t go as there is in any city. That being said, I have been in 42 of the 50 states and I felt much much more afraid in just about every large American city than I have ever felt there in that city. In the US, people hit me up for money all the time. When I was in Orange county California jogging a guy jogged up next to me and tried to beg money from me, so there is that. People are slaughtered in mass shootings every other day here so think about that when you’re in Manila next time.

    • Nannette says:

      I am a Filipino and, though it pains me, I would say that your observations are correct. Those are all the products of the greed and selfishness of our politicians who are there only to serve their interests and not our people, so majority of us are so poor. Poor internet conmection, constant power outages are just a few of how they allow companies to make money without investing in their facilities as long as those companies fatten their wallets.

  3. I think your experience in Manila is spot on. Even a Filippino friend of mine avoids Manila when she visits her homeland, saying it is dirty and crowded. Unfortunate about all the begging.

  4. Lin says:

    Manila is definitely not a great place to walk around in. It’s Philippines’ capital city, yet it’s where you see poverty at its worst. I live in Baguio City, north of Manila, and everytime I go there I always have an awful experience. But that’s just Manila. When you look around the archipelago, the stunning views and nature will blow your mind.

    • Thanks Lin, you’re right, the rest of the country is stunning! So I guess my experience was pretty common…

      • Dr maria virginia says:

        Hi from chaos to order. thank youfor the truth. But metro manila
        is now being modernized w fast train subway qnd electric transport. Social order is being put in place now. Like elsewhere
        The right leadership is also in place.

        • John Simone says:

          Is it? I’m researching about doing a Southeast Asia trip soon (hopefully once restrictions in the region are lifted, and once I get my vaccine shot), but from what I hear from the news and friends about Manila is that it seems to be having trouble containing the spread of Covid due to – the way an expat friend of mine living in Manila puts it – the policies being a “joke”, with one rule (something about motorcycle shields or something) being implemented, then pulled out the week after.

          I’m inclined to put Manila out of my list based on research so far, though I’ll probably put Coron, Boracay, and Cebu in my list.

    • Danilo Victa says:

      Manila is not capital of the Philippines any longer. It is Quezon City for a long time now.

  5. ag00 says:

    I love your unabashed feeling about your experience in Manila. So many people are afraid for to recount their negative experiences in a foreign country in fears of backlash. This article definitely gave me an insight into Manila culture and I’ll be sure to not give money away in guilt when I’m there.

    • Thank you! I definitely took my time publishing it and even debated whether or not I should, but as you said I think it’s important to share the bad experiences along with the good, and I hope I was fair in my judgements.

      • Lean says:

        Not to mention the opportunistic traffic enforcers who try to get you for the smallest infractions (and for which there are inadequate signs) if you drive there. I live about 19 miles outside of Manila and always get a little anxious whenever I have to go there.

  6. Hana says:

    Hi I’m Hana. I’m a Filipino and it saddens me to say that everything you said about Manila is true. I live in Laguna, and it’s quite far and very different from Manila. Even I try to avoid going to Manila. Im just really happy that you liked our islands. It’s true that people should who plan to visit our country should just head straight to our beautiful islands instead of staying for a few days in Manila.

  7. Sitara says:

    Welcome to a developing country. If you go to a country knowing full well its developing, none of this stuff should be a surprise.

    • I have nothing at all against developing countries- in fact, I prefer getting off the beaten path (see my post on Uyuni, Bolivia which doesn’t even have roads)! I can only speak to my experience, and there was just something about the energy of the city that I wasn’t drawn to.

    • Jack Jone says:

      Sitara – Philipines is not at all a developing country. You should see what they have achieved in building BGC in 5 years and nearby Makita. It is just that the people and most of Manila is a letdown

  8. Amanda says:

    I am an expat living in Manila, and I live in an upscale area. In more recent months, there have been children around our neighbourhood asking for money or food. While there have been many times I’ve found this annoying, I continue to remind myself to keep perspective. What is annoying to us – with our travel luxuries, lifestyle advantages, fortunate circumstances – is a livelihood to many that live here, and not one that happens to be chosen. It is truly heartbreaking, as you mentioned, that children are not in school or playing games, that the poverty is endemic. Take everything with a grain of salt, thank your lucky stars, and consider that people merely do what they feel they must. While you have the opportunity to build a Starbucks mug collection, many Filipinos are struggling to fulfil the basic human necessities, such as eating every day. And perhaps consider that the “unwelcoming looks” you got came from a place of despair, from recognizing that you have so much, and that they, simply, do not.

    • Michelle Baca says:

      This is a great response. I completely agree with everything you said.

    • Alexander Stewart says:

      I totally agree with your comment.

    • David says:

      Bang on

    • Chelli says:

      Amanda, your response was spot on! It’s all about perspective.

    • Abby says:

      Well said!

    • Zandra Grace Hodson says:

      The best comment! It is all about perspective. I am a Filipina married to an American lived in the USA for quite a while and I was not that fascinated with the place. Sure it’s modernized but the feeling of discrimination is a sad experience and more…left the US went back to the Philippines with my husband and we are very happy and contented with life. My suggestion to those who plan to visit the Philippines, research and find a Filipino tourist guide.

  9. David L. Hyde says:

    When traveling to the Philippines we avoid Manila it is dirty and crowed and does not represent the rest of the Philippines. It would be like trying to the judge the USA by visiting New York City. In stead of flying in to The old dirty airport in Manila we fly into the newer International airport on Cebu much better experience . Cebu and the next island Bohol are both nice to visit lots to see and do from there you can fly or travel by speed boat to many great places and see the real Philippines.

  10. Nelson says:

    Im a Filipino but it’s been 20 years since I left the country for Boston. I went back there last month to attend a wedding then I stayed few days to enjoy the city I grew up with but it’s no longer enjoyable for me cause I feel unwelcomed, total stranger and very polluted. I got sick from the food I ate for two days. When I was withdrawing money from Banco De Oro ATM i didnt realize 6 children were standing behing me and start begging when I got my cash. I couldn’t help to scream and my friend came to the rescue.

  11. Ray says:

    It’s easy to understand the plight of Manila, considering the history of the last century. one day after the Pearl Harbor attack, the Imperial Japanese (NOT the Japan of today…in 1940’s Japan was still coming out of their feudal structure, and somehow installed some outrageously cruel and dictatorial leaders) attacked the Philippines and bombed Manila into oblivion, before invading and occupying the city previously known as the “Jewel of the Pacific”, and abandoned the city at the close of the war, effectively leaving it in shambles, which it has never recovered. The horrific occupation of the P.I. is well-known, and is evident even now, in places like Manila. The U.S. threw enormous economic and rebuilding support to Japan, under MacArthur’s lead, but very little reconstruction was supplied by US.
    In a country of 7000 islands, I am amazed that the Philippines have progressed as far as they have. Best to look at Manila with a perspective that takes it’s history into account.
    2 hours to the north of Manila, the province of Pampanga is the “food capital of the Philippines”, where chefs from all over the world come to invent, using the foods grown locally, the best fare in the Pacific. Hard to imagine that was the end of the “trail of tears”, the Bataan death march, where 10000 filipinos died in that disgusting piece of history. Across Manila Bay from the city is Cavite, which has grown with more of a plan, and is a great place to mix with the locals.
    I would imagine that the tourists who love the Philippines have approached this tropical paradise with some idea of the history, and an appreciation of what the people have endured and become a most determined people in the face of adversity.
    South of Manila are the reknown beaches and small towns, where filipinos and the rest of the world mix.

    • reyes says:

      What I don’t understand is why the US came rushing to Japan’s aid after WWII (after they dropped those bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and in 1946 came out with Congress’ Rescission Act that nullified aid to the Philippines which was an important ally in WWII…and the result is history..promises, promises…so don’t be too surprised of the result…and how about this: “I would rather see the Philippines run like hell by (crooked) politicians than by Americans…” so in other words, the Philippines was already doomed from the start.

      • CYN says:

        I just saw a rerun of a documentary The War by Ken Burns. Tens of thousands of Americans died to save the Philippines from the Japanese. I encourage you to watch that. More Filipinos could have died in the hands of the Japanese and the Philippines would have been under the Japanese imperial rule. For all its worth, I’m thankful. Sometimes, an understanding of the history helps to change our perspective.

        • Lysh says:

          History depends on who is writing it. The philippines was never in war with Japan. Indonesia and malaysia in the south was not attacked. The philippines was attacked because of a war that americans started. Hundred of thousands of men, women and children died in a war that they did not even started and was not suppose to be involved in. After the war america poured billions of dollars to rebuild japan and spare change for the people who died fighting their war. Despite that the philippines is the most american loving nation in the world.

          • Juan says:

            The Japs started the war by bombing pearl harbor, (after invading, until then the US was not officially in WWII. Japan launched its attack on the Philippines on December 8, 1941, just ten hours after its attack on Pearl Harbor.

          • imthegreastest says:

            good grief where did you learn history from, a back of a Kellogs cereal box? LOL

    • Kano! Pera! Give me money! says:

      Oh please. Much of Europe and Japan was bombed to rubble. Many large cities were flattened completely. Now every city looks beautiful.
      Filipinos love to blame foreigners, outsiders and the war. In reality the blame lays with themselves, the culture and mentality.

  12. C'est Moi says:

    Yes, Manila is a cesspool of beggars, hustlers, and criminals, not to mention the horrendous traffic, and vehicles parked across sidewalks. It is much better in the provinces, like Cebu or Davao City.

    I lived in the Philippines for seven years on the Island of Mindanao, first in Butuan City for a year then in Davao City for six years. Davao City was a great place to live — far better than Manila, mostly due to the then Mayor (now President) Rody Duterte’s insistence that criminals either reform themselves, or die.

  13. Caloy says:

    I live up north and I used to travel to Manila everyday to work. The reason I gave up is not because of the stress from work itself, but the hellish traffic I go through everyday. I worked as a call center agent so my schedule was usually a night shift and I had to leave during rush hour. The supposedly 45 minutes to 1 hour travel time becomes 2 to 3 hours just because of the heavy traffic and you almost have no energy left for work when you haven’t even started yet.

    It’s such a shame that a lot of people have to waste 5 to 6 hours of their lives everyday sitting in a van or a bus just to make a living. Manila is just too overcrowded. I now have an online job and I swore to never work there again unless things get better, which I highly doubt. Maybe not today.

  14. david l Hyde says:

    Easy to avoid Manila all together now and see the real Philippines there are International airports on Cebu & Bohol where you can enter the country . They are clean and modern both islands offer lots to see and do , friendly people and not any thing like Manila . Hate for people to judge all the Philippines for what they see in Manila . The new international airport on Bohol just opened a few months ago , hope to use it this summer. There are also speed ferry boats that travel from island to island. Been going for years but try to skip Manila it is large , over crowded , over run with poverty and crime.

  15. Emmanuel Ikan Astillero says:

    What can I say? I live in Metro Manila, and the observations of the pretty tourist are correct, true. But since I’m Filipino, I make it my day, everyday, to live through it, with the minimum of stress and disturbance. I’m quite successful!

  16. Jing says:

    I’m sorry to hear that/read about this, I can’t blame you for what you’re going through. I’m a Filipino (from another province) who had been staying/working in Manila for years & longing to move back to Cebu. Back then I was so naive to believe that all the opportunities existed in Manila, since my folks won’t allow me to work abroad. Going back to those child beggars; I think maybe because most especially those who were not educated has this tendency/mentality to believe that any foreigner who visits are considered as “loaded”, but don’t take my word for it, I could be wrong or outdated. Thanks for taking the time to experience at least some other parts of our country that we’re known of. Cheers!

  17. ren says:

    Sorry to hear about your bad experience in Manila. I am a traveller myself but if I end up in a bad area, I normally attribute it to my lack of research. Either you got a wrong advise or you became a victim of the confusion between Manila and Metro Manila. It is easy for someone to say Manila when they actually refer to the nicer areas in Metro Manila, like Makati CBD and now BGC. If I have business to do in “Manila”, I make sure I am staying in those two areas.

  18. Michael says:

    I found Manila the most disturbing horrible place I’ve ever experienced. It was dirty and begging everywhere. I was with a Native. It was begging or someone was trying to steal from you. Going out felt like hell. If it wasn’t begged then it was someone trying to steal from you or the traffic was really bad. My girl friend lives there and the family where wonderful. Yes you can stay in a couple of areas that are nice. I found it very hard to find anything nice or beautiful in Manila. I don’t think I would have coped by myself. Once I went out by myself to change money. People stopped my begging for money, I guy tried to steal from me and I became so lost and confused. If you try to catch a taxi they will ask for tripple the fare. I asked a security guard how to get back to the hotel and he pointed to the wrong direction. I went by gut instinct and found my way back. All the guards and security have guns fir a good reason. The only reason I would go back is to see my girlfriend and even then it’s for two days only. The rest of the Philippines is beautiful. Manila is hell and again the worst place ever ever visited.

    • Hazel Lin says:

      As a half Filipina I totally agree. Manila is horrendous, and Filipinos do little to nothing to change.

  19. John says:

    Been to Manila 3ice, even got married there. I hate it, it broke me the last time I went in 2016 and would want to avoid that city at all costs when I return to Philippines. Much better to avoid that city and go straight to another city’s airport then on to the beautiful islands

  20. Nancy says:

    Hi there. I did not spend much time in Manila but mostly in a remote area in Leyte. They call it ‘provinces’. Provinces and barangays are even more primitive than Manila. It’s obvious that people who grew up in the Philippines had a very poor parental image. There are no strong landmarks nor references to show them good examples of how to be smart and civilized. They end up lost and often take bad directions. Many enter in cults like iglisia ni cristo, cockfights, alcoholism, drugs and many shenanigans. On a big scale the results are disastrous.

    Being nice and generous spontaneously is not a good idea in the Philippines because some people will try to take advantage of this. Not all of course but scams, solicitation and harassment are very common. When we observe Filipinos dealing with each other they are generally very cold and only communicate with short sentences. Long sentences are perceived as confusing so we need to keep everything simple. They tend to pretend they understand but then they do the complete opposite of what we agreed. It’s imperative to speak slowly, stay calm and patient all the time. Never point out their mistakes or they will losetthe face. Just rub them the right way. If it’s for important deals, forget about it and ask to a local Filipino you trust to deal it for you or you will find yourself in a nightmare. It’s always better to be a bit racist and staying away from “complicated things” than imagining that we can make miracles in their country. None of us can change their mentalities.

    • Bel says:

      Hi there. This is an extremely ignorant take. If you’re going to spend time in a foreign country, maybe go with an open-heart, and open-mind, and compassion. They aren’t some science project that you “observe” and “change”, these are people who unfortunately aren’t as fortunate as many westerners are. I’m not supporting the fact that many people cope with unhealthy choices, but many people cope with trauma, pain, hunger, and poverty, in ways that they are able to.

      If there is miscommunication, maybe learn their language before going? Assuming that any sort of dialect in the Philippines is not your native language, why do you go not learning their languages fluently? If you’re going to visit any foreign country, learn THEIR language and culture.

      “It’s always better to be a bit racist…” Shame on you. That’s all you had to say for everyone to know what kind of person you are. Don’t go to another country thinking you’re going to be their superior saviour. Stay home and maybe read a book sometime.

    • Hazel Lin says:

      This is one of the most true comments here. Being a half Filipina and spending as much time in Manila as I do in Europe – these words are fact. Sat in a makati hotel right now watching Filipino TV programmes and laughing my face off at this rubbish.

  21. educated says:

    Have you ever thought a smart thought in your life? What kind of messed up mind do you have to have to consider asking for alms harassment? How could you say that these children should be in school while doing absolutely nothing about it do you realize what it means for you to say that? Privileged whites like you all should honestly, sincerely truly THINK about how you americans live in THE highest ranking country in terms of economy and there are countries like ours who you have to visit to realise “the extent of poverty” and STILL do nothing about it do you think you have a right to talk about my country like this???

    • Shin says:

      She’s not American but what do you know? You think all whites are American, Mr. “educated”

    • Ronaldo says:

      First off she’s not american, and you are generalizing western people as “privileged whites” which is a bad look for us Filipinos. Im Filipino as well, but her takes and opinions are based on her experience and its just practical criticism. I do not find her take as a sign of ignorance nor is it offensive. REMEMBER people live in different countries, so it is expected that people would have different take on some things. First off, don’t get defensive or offended when people talk shit about your country, if you think they are being ignorant about it, then you’ll automatically think that he/she is wrong. Instead of doing that, look on why they said that and think whether is it true or not. In this case, all of what she mentioned reaply happens in the country and I can’t blame her for saying those things. Drop your nationalism for a minute and think about it rationally. Second, the part where she says she felt uncomfortable near the alms children is not because she feels a general disgust against them but because there’ just way too many of them especially in Metro Manila. To be frank, I agree with her, not all people would be comfortable giving alms every fucking time they see one of them and its honestly disheartening to see their parents allow these thing to happen especially when the parents should be the one working and getting money for their children. The uneasiness against alms children is not a first world thing, its just a privacy thing

  22. Michael Figueiredo says:

    I went to Manilla, last year. It was absolutely beautiful! In my experience, everything he said is bullshit. I’m a Caucasian Canadian. I never felt that the locals looked at me as a, “payday.” It was exactly the opposite. People were so friendly and warm. Don’t take cabs, use the Grab Car app. (It’s just like Uber) This article is really unfortunate because it could turn people away from what would otherwise be an incredible vacation. Yes, Manilla has poor areas and beggars. So does every American city. I feel like this, “journalist” had a bad experience and now he’s trying to make the place look bad. This is really embarrassing, as a North American to read. Such an arrogant and ignorant person. Stay in America, asshole.

    • First off, I’m a female, and secondly I’m not American. Also, you spelled Manila wrong multiple times. But thanks for your super constructive feedback!

    • Amore Ivanova says:

      It is not only her experience. They don’t see only White people as their “Pay Day” but all of the foreigners for them is “Money” no matter if those foreigners are international students studying with government scholerships, a tourists or regular mid-wage workers sent by few multinational companies (they barely make 15000 PHP/month). It is not mentality of just poor and uneducated Filipinos who are less fortunate. I lived there for 5 years staying in 3 different cities of Metro Manila during that time. Which has given me extended view of how I was being treated as a foreigner that includes charging 2x times more rent for apartments which were owned or operated by so called EDUCATED owners/ property managers just because I was an Alien to them. And one of them stole my passport to make me pay about 60000 PHP on a made up damage bills in the apartment. I wasn’t an expat there who was living on a fortune of making about $100000/year. I was a student whose tuitions were paid by student loans and living expenses were sent by parents by making a large cut on monthly/yearly budget. So, it doesn’t justify that I should be thanking for having fortune, while I rant for their poor people. I never let those kids go empty handed. But, I always used to buy them few sandwiches from nearby 7/11 stores as there are almost one at each end of a street. Their parents don’t say them anything because, if you handover them money, they’ll end up using that on smoking and drinking by the end of the day. So, give those kids some food instead.

      100 Islands, Tagaytay, Bicol, Ternate, Palawan, Ifugao Rice terraces etc. are few of the great places to visit.

      Rizal Park was my usual hangout site. I never had experience like she described in this article.

      I’m not ranting country’s good tourist places, but poeple who would be your medium to visit there for example tuk-tuk, vans, cabs, jeepneys or even Grab/Uber are disghusting money hungry hynas. Grab drivers were used to ask us on the face for tips not less than PHP 100 or they’ll cancel the trip. And if few trips gets cancelled, Grab suspends your accounts; which makes you rely on metered Taxi which will be horrible. I have few friends and few other elders who are still like family. But, over all educated or uneducated – people disghust you over there in Metro Manila.

    • Kano! Pera! Give me money! says:

      As an European who has been to America and the Philippines. I never saw areas as bad as Manila anywhere in US. Not even close. Doubt you actually left BGC or Makati.

  23. Gerard says:

    I spent 2 months in Manila and I didn’t find it too bad. I’m tall and I’m white so i definitely stick out! Granted, my wife is Filipina so i might have been spared some harassment. Yeah, there’s traffic, there’s poverty, beggars, prostitutes, shady looking folks, and scammers. but definitely not the worst place I’ve been too! Manila airport seemed fine to me!

  24. Christopher says:

    Their are a few nice parts of Manila, but 90℅ of the city stinks of raw sewage and shit. On one side of the sidewall u have a shopping malls, and across the street their are gaping hole 🕳️in the sidewalk. Most of the time it smelt like I was walk in side a public toilet.

    You can literally see the raw sewage through the hole 🕳️in the sidewalk, that shit just get up your nose, and not good for my digestive system after a meal. But aside from the people of the Philippines are extremely welcome and warm-hearted, with the exception of a few bad apples.

  25. Lyle Pandone says:

    When you care barely feed yourself or put a roof over your head, the very last thing you should be doing is having children. Why world leaders never want to say this is beyond my comprehension.

  26. Gregorio Pelaez says:

    You call your trip backpacking and then complain about the bad experiences in Manila. Lol… Experiencing the bad and the good in every place you visit is what travelling and backpacking is all about.

    • Adam Thomas Drewry says:

      To be fair to the lady though, manila is a particularly tough place for a white backpacker, compared to many many other cities, even in poor countries. It isnt popular with travellers for that reason. I love php and manila, its my second home, but the city can be hell. I have backpaked around the world and manila isnt a great city for travellers at all

  27. Michael Stephen says:

    Having been to Manila many time and also far away from the city, all I can say is that the farther you are away from Manila, the chances of you having a good time increase. But even being in Manila is ok, as long as you keep your head about you, be polite and respectful and quick with a smile, and most of the time you will receive the same treatment. Some of the bad experiences many Americans face is that they think they are in just another extension of the USA where they can get away with bad manners, superior and condensating attitudes, arrogance, etc. Then you will very likely not have a good time there at all. Try to visit some of the islands and areas far away from Manila if you can, and do not forget that being poor is not a crime in the Philippines, however, being an asshole tourist, thinking that you have the “right” to be an asshole, will not make you very popular. Try to stay away from certain parts of the southern Philippines, do not stray too far off the path if you make remote visits to the interior, and always try to have an honest native guide with you, even if you think you may not need one. Do not talk down to any Philippino because while many there do not have much money, they do have their pride, and if you insult them with the way you act while living in the USA, you will quickly become unwelcome. Yes, you are viewed as being rich because you had the money to get there. Yes, there will be beggars and thieves, but we have those in the USA as well. The main thing is to be polite and respectful, even if you feel you are being cheated, because the chances are is that there may be just a misunderstanding, and that their culture is worlds apart, so learn it first and then visit. Dress casual, do not flash money and gold rings and jewelry, be careful about your belongings, do not become intoxicated by yourself in remote bars and remember that a even small tip can go a long way, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The main point is to just use common sense and courtesy and you will find that the vast majority of philippinos better to you than people in your own native land… yes, even in Manila. Just keep your head about you and remember that you are not in the USA and it is up to you to adjust to their ways and customs, not for them to adjust to your ways. The Philippines is the best place to be, my brother has lived there, he is married to a wonderful Philippina and never a problem because he knows how to act without being taken advantage of or insulting others.

    • Benedict Mary Ambos says:

      Very well said. You earned my respect Sir!

    • Kano! Pera! Give me money! says:

      I like it that tourists who are clueless to the realities of life try to give advice. Pure gold. It does not matter how nice you are to Filipinos, most will take advantage of you when given any chance. Stealing and lying (usually with a smile) is completely normal, an everyday thing for Filipinos. So either you start playing their game or remain honest and decent – in which case you will lose your belongings and eventually your sanity.

    • Mark says:

      You are a perfect fit for Philippine Travel – Manila ed. lecturer or the spokesperson in one of those Welcome to the Philippines videos.

  28. Adam Thomas Drewry says:

    My wife is from manila. So my experience is different in some ways. Firstly, as long as I stay around her area, I am in a safety bubble of her huge family who live around the local streets. I love the hustle bustle and the people are the friendliest in the world and that’s a fact. I’ve traveled a lot. Manila can be hell, even for Filipinos. But, and this is important, the history and the harsh economic and political realities means that any white person is considered wealthy and able to help. You will get pestered and you may even be a victim of crime as a white person in one of the poorest cities in the world. That’s why i love to get out of manila and into the provinces, so many beautiful provinces, where you can also have a tough time as a “wealthy” foreigner but a hell of a lot less. Regardless of the island or province though, if you truly understand the country and the history it is truly heartbreaking, from the effects of colonization, international companies destroying the natural landscapes and stealing the resources to the corrupt political situation that just repeats over and over, you understand why Manila is in such a mess. If you go to any place in the world where poverty is rife you will have negative experiences. The hardest part for a foreigner is constantly having to be on your guard and haggling etc, but hey thats poor countries for you

  29. Alexander says:

    If Philippines is your next destination spot, and you want to have a great experience then avoid the inner streets and neighborhoods of Manila and Quezon City. Theres a huge difference from visiting a place for a vacation compared to staying in the city. The Dos and Donts.

    I’m an expat. From California, I decided to live here in 2016 with my wife. At first, it was pretty cool for the couple of months. Explored different places of Manila, made friends easily, got my documents squared away, and enjoyed my time with my wife inside Makati and BGC area.

    However, don’t expect your vacation to be as halfway decent and exciting as for someone who lives in Manila… It won’t happen. As a tourist, you need to go where the tourist go. For example, Makati and BGC are nice places to go to. Great food, shopping centers, corporate business buildings, stop at Starbucks, or just a bite to eat at MC. Donald’s. Another spot for tourist is Palawan, Cebu, Thousand Islands, pagudpud, And many more.

    Enjoying Manila is possible. You have to know where to go, like anywhere else. People are people, more so in a 3rd world country and Co dependent on other countries investments for Capital gain. Stay away from the inner streets and poor “ghetto” neighborhoods and you’ll be OK. Lastly, be street smart. Pay close attention to your surroundings. Watch, observe and never travel alone.

  30. helen anderesen says:

    Man this blog reeks of privelege. Filipinos are the friendliest people out there and even the poor, they’d let you in if you needed help. Don’t judge them if they are asking for alms, you can just politely refuse.

    But yes Manila is tough city to navigate but hey fortune favors the bold.

    And I don’t get why this is even updated for 2020. This is outdated, you went there five years ago.

    • Hi Helen, I added some information about day trips, so I included that notation about the date for transparency.

      • Ray says:

        I got ripped off by a taxi driver in Rome.

        I got harassed at the Montmartre/Sacred Heart Church in Paris.

        Madrid has plenty of Roma beggars.

        San Francisco streets are littered with beggars who appeared to be strong enough to do a decent job.

        I almost got mugged in New York.

        I got pickpocketed while on board a subway train in Paris.

        I got scammed in Beijing.

        By the way, I’m Filipino and I live in Metro Manila.

        • Benedict Mary Ambos says:

          I love your comment! They do stereotype Filipinos as beggars and criminals not knowing that these kind of people are everywhere.

        • CYN says:

          And I may add not all Filipinos are poor. I know quite a lot of people who are rich and they live amazing lives in the Philippines they wouldn’t want to live in the US but visit. Just like anywhere else, stereotypes and perspectives can be a problem.

        • Rainier says:

          I got picked pocket more in Paris in a day than in Manila for 28 years lol.

  31. Eric says:

    Lol what a funny read. Obviously the writer appears to live a privileged life. First of all there are no tuk tuk in the Philippines. No clue where you got that from. Child beggers are common in every country in the world. All you have to do is simply is extend your are and wave your hand in left to right motion and the kids and adults would simply leave you alone.
    Why shelter your kids from seeing this? Let them see the harsh reality of life. Let them learn to appreciate their ivory towers.
    No country is perfect.
    True Manila is a cesspool. Thats why you go to better places.

    • Selamat says:

      Child beggars are not common in every country in this world. Sorry

      • belle says:

        However, they exist. You can’t take away someone’s struggle/ reality just because it’s not something that you experience.

    • Kano! Pera! Give me money! says:

      No country is perfect but Philippines is especially bad. One of the worst places in the world. And no, there are no child beggars in 95% of the countries in Europe, not even one.

  32. Kurtis says:

    How do you tell which food court restaurant is good? Go to the one that is crowded or has a line up. If we look at tourist arrivals by nation we can see that the Philippines has comparatively few tourists. More than half of those the Philippines receives are from East Asian nations. The population as a whole knows what is good and what is not good. Most tourists don’t go to the Philippines because the Philippines sucks for most tourists. The nation caters to niche markets.
    Personally, I would never go to the Philippines again. You say Filipinos are nice? If that is true then why are tens of millions in abject poverty and millions more trapped as sex slaves. For such to exist the Filipinos must be very cruel to each other. What we experience is the second face. I lived in Japan. I said to my Japanese coworker that the Japanese were nice. His reply was, “NO! It is because you are a foreigner. The Japanese are terrible to each other.” Two faces. They will never show you their true face until they capture, rule or control you. Enjoy what is coming.

  33. Mike says:

    I spent about 5 months in the Philippines with my Filipino wife in late 2018 to early 2019. We lived in Gilmore Towers, New Manila, Quezon City. New Manila is not Makati, or BGC, but it is relatively upscale by Manila standards, and we we’re maybe a ten minute walk from Robinson’s Magnolia, a nice mall with a lot of restaurants, shops, grocery store, theater, medical clinic, salons, etc.

    My wife’s family had a nearby house in San Juan, and we would often go to visit them. I remember my first time riding a tricycle. My wife and stepson told me were we going to take the train to the family house in San Juan, so I assumed we would take it the whole way. Except we got off and then lined up on the sidewalk to take a tricycle. It was night, and I was scared. But eventually I got used to tricycles and jeepneys and didn’t think a thing of it.

    I have to say that for my first week or so in Manila I was a little depressed but I adjusted quickly. It probably helps that I was there for the long haul and had a whole family of Filipino’s to take me around, plus my wife’s many friends. Perhaps partly too it was a little adventure for me to live in a large city, because my life to that point had been exclusively spent in small towns, with no more than a few days at a time in a few large American cities. Plus, I do believe I have a high tolerance for what others would consider inconveniences, and I am also fine to let other people lead me around. My whole time in Asia I almost never planned anything, but rather just let my wife and her family and friends take me where they pleased.

    Yes, there are beggars in the Philippines, but I take a traditional approach to the problem. In pre-modern times, in multiple societies, beggars were actually seen as doing a service, the service being that they give you the ability to exercise a little charity, mercy, and selflessness. So when a barefoot little kid would ask me for money I would take it not as an annoyance but would rather see him as doing me a favor, helping me to be less attached to money.

    Again, it surely helped to always be surrounded by Filipino family and friends when I was in the PH, but I loved the Philippines, and to be honest I enjoyed both Manila and my wife’s hometown out in “the province”. I generally found the Filipino people to be warm, friendly, and welcoming. So I will just end by saying “Mahal ko ang Pilipinas!”

    • Kano! Pera! Give me money! says:

      Quite typical of someone who had a 5 month holiday in the Philippines. You didn’t really see anything real but just the minor inconveniences which anyone can handle. When the stealing, lying and cheating starts, things go downhill fast.

      Giving beggars money is making the problem worse. When a foreigner walks around, they’re all surrounding him because they know it’s easy money. So thanks a lot for making it worse for everyone else.

  34. Michael says:

    One of the biggest mistakes we can do with Filipinos is to rely on what they are saying. The Filipino mentality is a mentality that allows lie. Filipinos are a bunch of liars, bluffers, pretenders and cheaters. I did not read the comments they wrote here but I know exactly what to expect if I read them. Many will try to blame you for what you saw and wrote in your article. Many others will try to pretend that the problem is Manila and that in their city/province/barangay life is so much better. Some other ones will try to make you believe that Duterte fixed everything since they admire authoritarian leaders no matter how stupid and incompetent they are.

  35. Michael 2 says:

    I noticed there’s someone else called Michael here. I’m a different Michael. Ill call myself Michael 2 then

  36. Apryl says:

    As a Filipino myself, some of these comments are pretty racist! Like dude, huh?? There are many beggars, hustlers, whatever because mind you, the Philippines is a DEVELOPING country and NOT as privileged as some of the countries you guys probably live in. I live in Canada so I know I am very privileged myself. At least I can acknowledge it. Whenever I go to the Philippines, I can’t begin to fathom the terrible poverty my people go through. Y’all are so privileged, it hurts to see it. Simply put, do not stereotype a whole entire nation of people because you can’t acknowledge your own privilege and cannot comprehend that not everyone is as privileged as you. You don’t like seeing poverty and the harsh reality people have to call life? Cool, go to another country then.

    • Angelica says:

      I see, so you’re one of those people that attack individuals who expressed their thoughts and call them priviledged just because their opinions don’t align with yours.

      I should tell you that it’s one thing to be born poor, but it’s another thing to die poor.

      People aren’t obligated to pity individuals who see themselves in a boxed perspective and are blaming the system they’re in. What can your pity even do to them? It’ll just influence them to remain as beggars and poor for the rest of their lives.

      Luck isn’t a major factor that determines a person’s success, it’s their choices.

      Beggars annoy me. They could literally do something else, but they chose to be lazy about it and just beg.

      I’ll just be frank with you, Apryl, pitying people isn’t going to change their life. They should change their mentality and act smarter to be successful.

      Don’t give someone fish, teach them how to fish instead, so they can feed themselves for the rest of their lives.

    • Kano! Pera! Give me money! says:

      There’s plenty of money in the Philippines. Houses going for 10-20 million pesos without issue ($200k-$400k). There’s no lack of money in the Philippines at all, especially considering the prices. Poverty is caused by people themselves. The “privilege” you talk about is because people elsewhere built their countries up over generations, reducing corruption and generally being decent people.
      Meanwhile Filipinos squandered anything they had and everyone stole funds left and right. Poverty goes with dishonesty, thievery and poor work ethnic. Philippines is a great example.

    • Gen says:

      Let us look at your statement whereas you mentioned that the Philippines is a DEVELOPING country and NOT as privileged as some of the countries you guys probably lived in. I am a Filipino who has never lived abroad nor worked abroad and I tell you that your statement of yours constitutes a defeatist attitude.

      Do you know why many Filipinos are poor? It is also because many of them end up making the wrong choices. I completely agree with Angelica, because giving them instead of teaching them how to stand on their own enforces their beliefs that they will remain perpetually dependent throughout their lives. For instance, many poor Filipinos would keep having many children despite that they have meager resources. Squatters who were at some point provided by the national government with free housing would end up selling their free houses and will again resort to professional squatting. While some of them do deserve to receive assistance, especially those who work so hard to make a decent living, there are also many among the poor who take advantage of the assistance they receive and would expect that they are entitled to it for life. In Manila, many people who ventured out there are those who came from the provinces who thought life in the city will be so much better but have no apparent plans on where they will stay and what they will precisely do by not being fully calculative of their choices. There are always two sides to every story and the one thing that disgusts me is that you have stereotyped as well that the poor are weak and good and the privileged are selfish. You don’t know that the culture of poverty is likewise vicious and parasitic. The best way to help is not to feed the but to teach the how to feed themselves.

      • Dksk says:

        But deep down inside you know that you will NEVER succeed in the Philippines if you don’t have connections. Nepotism is worth it’s weight in gold. Is that why you left the Philippines?
        Anyway, everyone else should avoid the Philippines at all costs. There’s nothing there to see and the food is an acquired taste. Who has the time? Spend money on Hawaii instead. Practically the same island surrounding except clean, orderly, and American.

  37. Andrew Parrott says:

    Yes Manila it’s self can be a tad over rated, pretty much like many other capital cities around the world.
    But if you venture out into the provinces and islands you’ll find a whole different experience, and venture a little further you’ll find the real Philippines not just the tourist version of the beaten track somewhere.

  38. Gen says:

    Manila is a dying city. I studied and worked there for a time and was able to adjust but afterward, I decided to return to the province because it is beyond repair. For all that you experienced, all the dirt, the filth, the squatters, the children begging on the streets, the smell of smog, and the putrid odor of streets hold true. Only a few Filipinos would dare admit the truth about Manila for all its hellish structures and uncontrolled population. What used to be a city that was long ago considered the Paris of Asia, has become the worst of the worst, having been left behind by Singapore City, Seoul, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur. Even Ho Chi Minh City is way cleaner and more organized. Cleanliness and discipline is inherently non-existent in the Filipino way of life. On the other hand, there are many places in the Philippines that are far more superior than Manila, cities that are at the corridors of the capital, and in the far-flung islands. Decades of uncontrolled migration, the lack of political will, and the failure of the national government to decentralize economic hubs brought the city to its worst form. Unfortunately, many Filipinos are also pathetic when it comes to handling negative feedback when it is actually the truth. Chaos is the way of life among Filipinos and it will always be. The airport alone already hearkens to the harsh realities that the Philippines is a has-been. It was only during the recent years when economic opportunities are gradually being situated outside of the capital.

    • Cal Bon Valenzuela says:

      best explanation about the situation of the poor capital. decentralization is the only way i see to “revive” the cursed city. manila really lost its soul after it got annihilated by the second world war and it never truly recovered and the urban planning shows.

  39. RAMON DEL ROSARIO says:

    Manila is a big City, it really depends on the area and where you will stay. I guess you chose to be in the heart of Manila where most of the historical sites are. Expect the unexpected. Prepare your itinerary and do your homework before hand. Use Grab taxi instead, it is safer. But in fairness, not all metered taxi drivers are scummers. It also depends on your demeanor, scummers have a good sense, they can tell which ones are easy to prey on.

  40. Ian Watterson says:

    Manila is a good place to stay if u get hassled by the street kids just say ur phoning the barangay they will soon disappear

  41. Jerome says:

    Sad to say, all you said about Manila is true. By the way I’m from Mindanao and the first time i came to Manila, i can say its not a really good place to stay. Crowded and dirty. There are many islands in the Philippines which has so much to offer. Or if you want you can go to Makati or Bonifacio Global Center. Or better stay in the islands like boracay, palawan or cebu.

  42. Mark says:

    Hi, I’m an African-American man married to a Filipina. We’re planning a trip to the Philippines once the COVID travel restrictions end. I’m retired military and have traveled the world and have seen the good and bad in places like NYC, LA, London, Paris, Seoul, Frankfurt and in Italy. I’ve read some interesting comments about Manila, like most large cities you can always find the worst places but I do believe if you plan accordingly, you can make the best of your travels. I know the Filipinos in general to be warm, friendly and willing to give you the shirts off their backs. I’ve learned as a American when traveling abroad to lay low and not bring the Americanisms with you. Be polite, try to learn a little of the language and try to kill them with kindness and not arrogance. No, everyone won’t return the favor and yes you’ve gotta watch out for the scams and beggars, it’s the same here in the states.

  43. Isaiah says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Mark. Each country has its good and worst places. This is why traveling requires careful preparation, it’s important to know where you’re headed. Learn a little bit of their culture and geography. Every detail, itinerary must be calculated and adhered as possible. The fact that there are massive information available online, there’s absolutely no excuse for someone not to be informed. If you’re a woman or an elderly, it’s always best to have a legit local/tour guide so you won’t get lost and get scammed.

    Lastly, the worst thing that could ever happen to someone who’s traveling alone, in an unfamiliar country is not to be chased by beggar kids, seeing lots of trash in the street or getting stucked in traffic, but getting abducted. I could care less on those little issues that could hassle my trip, so expect the worst and always be prepared. The most important thing is to enjoy the memories, good things that has happened, be grateful that you’ve been given an opportunity to visit their homeland and you’re safely heading home.

    • Hazel Lin says:

      You guys are being very optimistic and idealistic. Being in the Philippines nothing is straight forward. To make a travel plan is a good idea for anywhere else, but here you need to triple plan and add another few contingencies. Because no matter what – NOTHING is straight forward. Having travelled to over 43 other counties to plan for the Philippines is not the same as other countries. I’m a half Filipina half Swiss. I have lived in 4 countries and have spent much time in my fathers country, the Philippines. If you don’t agree with the ‘negative’ comments here about Manila you’ve either not been around Manila enough to see how it really is, or are just kidding yourselves. To the Filipinos here who are being triggered by the negative opinions of others – I get it. You’re only trying to defend your country. However, call a spade a spade. Manila has a loooonng way to go to get anywhere close to international standards

      • Kuya Pemberya says:

        Agree. I’m not sure what some are smoking here saying that Manila or the Philippines is comparable to any developed country. Sure, you can find spaces in Makati and BGC that are decently done but those are relatively small areas. A few streets away is always a ghetto or worse.

  44. Ivan says:

    As the author said, it really depends on individual experience. I spent one month in Bonifacio High Street in Taguig city, Metro Manila and I have to say that I had mostly positive experience. I like skyscrapers so I really enjoyed it there, and the city is really very clean, much cleaner than some European cities. But also there I came across begging kids.
    Anyway, it depends on where one decides to stay in Metro Manila. There are amazing spots to see. If I get the chance to go there again, I would like to explore it more.
    But if someone has a limited time to spend there so of course best decision to do is to go directly to some island with nice beaches or some mountains or volcanos.

    • John Eberhardt says:

      You are absolutely correct. It depends where you stay. I had a wonderful experience there. There are begging children in the United States and there are mass shootings here also. I found Manila, particularly the areas mentioned of Malate and Ermita, much better than similar sized cities in the United States.

  45. Batumbakal Dimagiba says:

    Visit other places like Baguio, Vigan, Subic, Puerto Princesa, Iloilo, Cebu, and, even Davao or any other place that isn’t Metro Manila really and you will probably have a better experience. Our capital city and its greater area is a living shithole unfortunately (except maybe for the central business districts since those place are more “civilized”). Manila’s tourist attraction are overrated anyway, the best place for tourists are the small islands, beaches, and the mountains. That’s where the true beauty of the country can be found.

  46. Arma blanca spectacular says:

    No child beggars in most of America bud. I say most because there may be one or two somewhere at any given time. Here, if your kids were out begging, the police and the child protective services would be called. It would be determined where their parents were and why they aren’t being supervised, if the parents were allowing their kids to beg, or are otherwise not seeing to their needs and safety, the parents risk having their kids taken and being jailed for neglect. In severe cases the parent looses all rights to their children for not taking care of them and the kid is placed in a group or foster home, until such time as another family member or adoptive family proves they will care for the child adequately. If noone does the child stays in group homes until they are of age. Its not ideal, but they still recieve a 13 year education (⅓ of each year not in attendance) they recieve sufficient food of reasonable quality and diversity. Clothing, shelter,medical care, they are even assigned workers to help ensure they have opportunities to find work when of age. None of our children are beggars sir, its simply not allowed, the people you might see begging on the street are addicts. Almost every single one. Of the 10 i know personally, all 10 are addicts.

  47. Makapili says:

    Yep that is my country, quite normal like that… i suggest visiting if you want to see how the third world is really like, im honest enough to admit thatI do not recommend it as touristy kinda place, lots of crime and no emergency health service… if you are african you can get teased, if you are caucasian they might think you are rich, I put blame on lack of education and corruption… the 2 things my country is slowly fixing… only then you can go… sorry to my countrymen but the truth hurts, when we accept this we will heal together

  48. Emme says:

    Kudos to the blogger for the attention-grabbing headline but I must say the compliment ends there. Always research your destination and plan your itinerary before your trip even if you’ve been to several other countries. I have traveled to various places in about 40 countries. I visited Manila for the first time in 35 yrs (pre-pandemic) and was amazed by its modernity (better than most US cities!) True, there are some parts of seediness and squalor, as in many other cities. But despite the crowds and traffic, I found it easy to get around especially with Grab. Great food, shopping and entertainment. I went to places where locals go. At NO point was I harassed in Manila or any other place in the Philippines.

  49. az it iz says:

    i have met plenty of people who say “forget Manila and travel to the islands instead”, usually citing the tourist traps of Cebu etc. These are the types of people who ruined the world in the 2010s by over touring it. But actually the unknown beach place that is off most overtourists’ radar is Northern Samar, which has unbelievable beaches and westerners hardly ever go there. I have been quite a few times as far back as 2003.

    With regards to Manila. The city is like this: impossible to find a bargain of any kind – if you try to cheapskate the place or do it on a budget you get exactly what you pay for….inferior quality. The ONLY way to enjoy the city is to pay top dollar and stay in one of the 5 star hotels or find a decent serviced apartment. You will be okay then, however as this city is expensive for acommodation, you will find that most of your budget goes on that.

    Manila since the 2010s totally changed. Before that it was still pretty the old way and a far flung place for tourists to go to. With the advance in tech duirng the 2010s and more money flowing around, the city experienced a boom and locals started to experience a better standard of living for the first time. Unfortunately this fed greed and that is why it is impossible to find a bargain anywhere in Manila.

    If you go to Manila (post covid) you will be face with even more rules than before. What people do not realise about Manila is there are lots of rules for things you would not expect. Some are quite frankly absurd. Rules seems to be something that the city really likes to subject people to and you can be sure that the accommodation sector will take full advantage of the covid situation to enforce even more of them.

    It is this mentality: no this no that for nearly everything in Manila that makes it such a disappointing place to go to nowadays. It never used to be like it but as I say, the place really changed at the start of the 2010s. The case in point being the shutting down of Roxas Boulevard bay strip, which was a very cool place.

    Final comment is this: when I first went Manila back in the old days I absolutely hated it. However with reason to go back again I found once I got used to the place it was OK. I have stayed in top notch places in Malate and Makati there as well as some real backstreet ghettos up in Valenzuela and Nichols. I do plan to go back to Manila once they re-open the borders but I fully expect to be limited ever further about what is allowed in the accomodation there.

  50. Filipino-Portuguese says:

    I don’t know but I guess there should be a better way to write the bad experiences in the places we visited to. I mean for example what you have experience on your cab ride, maybe at least don’t end it like there’s no other choices. Some travelers might think that this will possibly happen to them as well. You should have mention that they can maybe use a mobile app to book a cab to secure safety, what do you think? Your statement is just open ended for me (not a professional writer).

    Next, your statement on street children “harassing foreigners” for a change. First and foremost, the choice of word, harassing, is kind of a little off and for me it sounded too aggressive like the children is forcing you to give them money. Sure, there are street children that are very determined to follow you until you give them money but MOST of them will leave you if you say I don’t have a cash (if you’re not really into helping) or maybe give at least a quarter of dollar (10 PHP will not break your bank!)? Secondly, they ask money not just to foreigners but to EVERYONE they see. You have to understand that they don’t have a choice. They need to eat and they need to survive the day.

    You know, it is really hard living in a third world country added with corrupt government but I think people from the first world countries should open their eyes that these unfortunate situations exist.

    Again, I am very sad to what you have experienced in Manila and as a Filipino I would like to send my sincere apology. But this article is lacking of research and sympathy. I hope you still visit the Philippines! We have 7,640 islands to choose from, skip Manila to make your travel experience to the fullest.

    Looking forward to read more of your travel experiences, not just here in the Philippines but to other wonderful places too! Stay safe!

    • vr says:

      very well said, i have the same sentiments. im not currently living in Manila right now as i am in Canada but not every foreigner will experience the same thing in Manila. So to generalize that you will always be harrassed by beggar kids is simply sad. There are other areas in Manila which are not as bad as it may seem. Obviously if you go to a slum area there wont be any good experience, but isnt it like that for any other city who have poor people?

  51. Jenn Rejano says:

    I’m unhappy by your review but that could be because it’s where my family is from. I have been there five times and I love it. I guess it’s easier for me because I have family there and I don’t have to pay for a hotel. I think tourists have a hard time there. But it’s not just foreigners: if you’re a visiting Filipino, especially from the States, you are also targeted. But i enjoy going there, bit getting there is expensive and exhausting.
    So I wouldn’t say I disagree with your review, just disappointed.

  1. August 7, 2015

    […] Why I don’t plan to go back to Manila, Philippines […]

  2. May 31, 2017

    […] Why I don’t plan to go back to Manila, Philippines […]

  3. May 29, 2018

    […] are Italy, Norway, India and the Maldives. Places I’ve disliked the most: Manila, Philippines (this is why) and Copacabana, Bolivia (also why). And the Los Angeles airport. LAX can suck […]

  4. July 31, 2018

    […] Tamara Elliot, an award-winning Canadian travel writer, shared that she got “unwelcoming looks” from people in “ramshackle buildings” when she visited the country. She also shared that she got followed around by children who demanded money. […]

  5. June 17, 2019

    […] even paying more to get to your destination doesn’t ensure a smooth ride. Take our experience in Manila, Philippines when our taxi driver actually HIT SOMEONE. I wasn’t terribly confident as a pedestrian after […]

Leave a Reply to Adam Thomas Drewry Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *