Photo by Marc F. Henning\Alamy Stock Photo
While Manila has been a massive business hub for years (especially recently thanks to the Philippines’ strengthening economy), its tourism cachet was never nearly as robust. Until now. The metro area has become a target for big hospitality brands hoping to take advantage of the increase in tourism, which has led to a spate of hotel, casino, mall and restaurant openings. Add an expanding local design scene plus a culinary tradition that’s becoming more and more globally recognized, and you’ve got an exciting and contemporary capital that has nowhere to go but up. Summer starts in March, when school is out and the metropolitan region of roughly 13 million people is guaranteed to be at its liveliest.
Taste why, for many years now, foodies have been clamoring about Filipino cuisine. At local minichain Sarsá Kitchen+Bar, which modernizes dishes from the island of Negros, the chicken inasal—charred outside, juicy inside— is a favorite. Rustic-chic Grace Park in Rockwell is the buzzy farm-to-table project from chef Margarita Forés, named Asia’s best female chef for 2016. Here, she reinterprets adobo with tender chunks of lamb and serves a lovely avocado pie for dessert.
Traffic and pollution can be a nightmare, so tour on two wheels instead with Bambike, an ecofriendly, fair-trade outfit that uses bikes with bamboo frames. Take an educational romp through Intramuros, the city’s historic core, to see plenty of the country’s Spanish colonial heritage, or marvel at the beautiful murals decorating the walls of Bonifacio Global City.
The Philippine creative scene is not only booming, it’s shoppable. Among the most internationally renowned talents is Kenneth Cobonpue, whose collection of colorful luxury furniture available in a variety of avant-garde shapes is available in his showroom in Makati. Nearby, visit House of Laurel for celebrity-approved designer Rajo Laurel’s sophisticated and on-trend clothing and accessories for women, men and children.
GET OUT OF TOWN
There are fantastic, easy-to-reach destinations near Manila. Audley Travel can customize a fun day trip to popular Taal and Vulcan Point, an island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island. This picturesque region offers more than just Instagrammable vistas; you can also visit Casa Villavicencio (an immaculately preserved 19th-century home), traditional embroidery workshops and factories that specialize in meticulously hand-crafted butterfly knives, an artisan craft the province is known for.