A lot of foreigners feel overwhelmed by Manila. Well, it's true that it's polluted, the traffic will make you insane, there are so many people, I can go on and on with the negatives. It's truly one big hell of a metropolis. BUT, there are a lot of hidden gems in this mega-city.
Divisoria Market- for the bargain hunters! But be prepared to haggle!
Mall of Asia- the 6th largest mall in the world!
VirraMall-the market of the rich, be prepared to haggle in a mall setting.
Seafood Wharf- This is my favorite restaurant in Manila. Dine while enjoying a spectacular view of Manila Bay. You can choose from their seafood counter all the seafood you want then they will cook in any way you want right in front of you. Really yummy! (Near Roxas Boulevard and Rizal Park)
Saisaki- Good japanese buffet. You can eat all you can for 500++ pesos!
Aristocrat- Our family's special restaurant when I was a child. I grew up eating their chicken barbecue with java rice and atsara. I am really glad that they maintained the recipe because the taste of their chicken barbecue brings up a lot of my happy childhood memories.
Intramuros- This is the old walled capital of Manila. It was built in 1571. During the spanish time this was Manila. Now, it is a relic of the Spanish period in Philippine history. Inside its walls you can visit the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Chruch and Fort Santiago.
National Museum- I like their exhibition on the San Diego, a 35 m long Spanish galleon that sank in battle with the Dutch ship Mauritius, off the Philippines in 1600. It was excavated by the team of Franck Goddio (National Geographic, July 1994). I also liked the exhibition of the Maitum Anthropomorphic Potteries, the Manunggul Jar, Leta-leta potteries from Palawan, limestone urns from Kulaman Plateau, Cotabato and gold artifacts some of which dates back to AD 225. These artefacts shows that the Philippines have a long forgotten lost culture. We just have to fund more archeological digs to learn more about our past.
People who love cruises or stays at exclusive hotels, may not enjoy road vacations. This like putting someone from 5-star flights into a hertz car rental.