Manila Cathedral
Manila Cathedral © Philippines Department of Tourism
Manila is the somewhat daunting capital and pulsating hub of the Philippines. Situated on the east coast of Luzon Island, it was founded on the site of a Muslim settlement in 1571. The city's major tourist attraction is the old Spanish walled city known as Intramuros, where visitors can see some marvellous historic buildings.

Manila was once known as The Pearl of the Orient and was an important centre for South East Asia. It suffered some of World War II's most destructive urban battles, though, and much of old Manila disappeared in the conflict. Today, expansive parks, polluted slums, congested traffic and modern high-rises make up a city that has risen from the ashes to become the archipelago's cultural and political centre. Tourists will encounter a truly enchanting destination, and should definitely pause to appreciate Manila Bay's sunsets. A combination of clouds and high-humidity conditions make them unforgettable.

Most visitors use Manila as a springboard to explore the country's islands and provinces. Flights generally land at Nino Aquino International Airport, but select airlines from particular locations fly into Cebu and Aklan.