Manila, The Philippines
Along the curve of Manila Bay lies the grand dame of Philippine cities, Manila; here beats the heart of the Philippines. Multifaceted, multi-layered, lusty and lively, it is the seat of the government and centre of the arts and education. It is a city of contrasts and contradictions. Her streets pulsate with life at all hours; within its boundaries live the richest and poorest in the land.
Bisecting the city and crossed by seven bridges is the Pasig River. The first trading communities were formed on both sides of the river mouth as early as the 5th century. They flourished with the annual arrival of merchants from Arabia, Siam, Borneo, Java, Sumatra, India, China and Japan. Today, the city sprawls eastward from Manila Bay. Its streets range from multilane boulevards to maze-like alleys.
In this metropolis of 12 million, the contrast between spacious, well-maintained elite communities like Forbes Park and overcrowded slum areas such as Tondo is immense. Occupied over the years by the Spanish, Americans, British and Japanese, East now meets West, giving the city its unique character.
The Walled City, a medieval fortified town, was the heart and soul of the country for more than 300 years. This city fortress, surrounded by moats and turreted walls 30 feet (over nine metres) thick, was known as Intramuros. Only members of the Castilian upper class, friars, soldiers and government administrators were privileged to live inside the walls; the natives had to live in the outlying boroughs. A restoration project is on-going to preserve this oasis of calm amid the city's bustle. Intramuros, which comprises Fort Santiago, the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church, should be the priority on any visitor's itinerary.
Acting like a magnet, Manila attracts a continual stream of migrants who arrive from throughout the archipelago to study or seek work. The cosmopolitan air felt in this fascinating city comes from its substantial Chinese and other foreign communities, a busy port, multinational corporations and the constant flow of tourists.
As the only Christian country in Asia, about 90% of Filipinos embrace Christianity; 85% are Roman Catholics. The church deeply pervades the lives of ordinary Filipinos in all but the most remote tribal areas.
Please Note: As in all large cities, you are advised not to carry any valuables or large amounts of cash ashore.
Going Ashore in Manila
The ship is scheduled to dock in Manila. Taxis are generally available at the pier. We strongly suggest you agree to use the taxi meter rather than a fixed amount setting out. Expect to add Php 10.00 to the total amount shown on the meter to arrive at your correct taxi fare.
A foray into the shopping malls and commercial complexes, bazaars and markets can be both exhilarating and exhausting. Local products range from arts and crafts, ready-to-wear apparel and knitwear, shoes, bags and fashion accessories to fine Philippine embroidery. Bargaining is generally accepted in the open markets and bazaars. The local currency is the Philippine peso.
The diversity of eating establishments in Manila is endless. A tantalizing choice of food includes delicious seafood, Philippine dishes and a wide range of ethnic cuisine ranging from Oriental to European. The Ermita-Malate area is known for its many small restaurants and bistros. Everything is available, from fast food outlets to buffet and full-course meals in more formal settings. Hotel restaurants have their own specialties.
Dating from 1571, this is the sixth cathedral on this site and the only church to be rebuilt in Intramuros after the war. The cathedral is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary. Main features are the octagonal dome and the impressive stained-glass windows.
Once the seat of colonial Spanish and American governor-generals, this palace is the official residence of the Philippine president and is sometimes referred to as the Philippine White House. It is also home to the Malacanang Heritage Museum. (The infamous shoes of Madam Marcos are no longer on display. Some of these shoes may, however, still be found at the Shoe Museum in Marikina City.)
For those guests interested in touring at your leisure, we are pleased to offer Silver Shore Privato - both half-day and full-day private arrangements by private van only. You may book this in advance at Silversea.com or it may be purchased on board, subject to availability. Other private arrangements for independent sightseeing may be arranged by emailing Concierge@silversea.com.