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RooFlyer

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As Ric and others may have gathered from another thread, I'm in Manila for the first time next month and have a free day before business meetings. Will be pretty well looked after during those, but for the day prior I'm on my own. I've been to and walked around some actual/possibly 'dodgy' places (Accra, Nairobi, Jo'burg, Cairo) but am now of an age where my bravado is weakening. I know how to dress/conduct myself as not to be an obvious target, but I reckon being western looking in the tourist areas pretty much gives the game away :)

Staying at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza and would appreciate a few tips; I'm just after a hassle-free (or as free as I can get) poke around central Manila for a day.

From the airport. I'm happy to pay for a hotel car, but am mindful that to totally seal yourself off from things lessens the experience. Lonely Planet seems to indicate that 'Yellow Taxis' are OK. Fair enough? Are they airconned? I assume one fights through a bunch of touts? Or is it just too much hassle and go for the hotel car?

Would a solo walk during the day from the Sofitel along Roxas Blvde to and around Intramuros attract hassles, or worse?

How about walking the few km east to Mataki (I am a walker by preference), or the short distance to Mall of Asia? Or should I take the hotel car?
 

Simo

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As Ric and others may have gathered from another thread, I'm in Manila for the first time next month and have a free day before business meetings. Will be pretty well looked after during those, but for the day prior I'm on my own. I've been to and walked around some actual/possibly 'dodgy' places (Accra, Nairobi, Jo'burg, Cairo) but am now of an age where my bravado is weakening. I know how to dress/conduct myself as not to be an obvious target, but I reckon being western looking in the tourist areas pretty much gives the game away :)

Staying at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza and would appreciate a few tips; I'm just after a hassle-free (or as free as I can get) poke around central Manila for a day.

From the airport. I'm happy to pay for a hotel car, but am mindful that to totally seal yourself off from things lessens the experience. Lonely Planet seems to indicate that 'Yellow Taxis' are OK. Fair enough? Are they airconned? I assume one fights through a bunch of touts? Or is it just too much hassle and go for the hotel car?

Would a solo walk during the day from the Sofitel along Roxas Blvde to and around Intramuros attract hassles, or worse?

How about walking the few km east to Mataki (I am a walker by preference), or the short distance to Mall of Asia? Or should I take the hotel car?

Mataki is safe as it is a very important area for PHP govt as many call centres and lots of ex pats work in that area.

Mall of Asia is HUGE you could spend a day in there just wondering around and eating at many of the restaurants.

Roxas Blvde is fine. It was part of the Philippines GP
 

albatross710

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Would a solo walk during the day from the Sofitel along Roxas Blvde to and around Intramuros attract hassles, or worse?

How about walking the few km east to Mataki (I am a walker by preference), or the short distance to Mall of Asia? Or should I take the hotel car?
I was in Manila last week in the Makati area. Much safer than I thought it would be although I'm now on my fifth Ph trip in the past year. As for 'hotel' cars I avoid them. I usually ask for a driver for the day whom comes prepared to drive me around and then wait for me to finish to then drive me to the next destination.

I personally don't walk too far due to the heat and the cost of taxi/cars is so small. For us (western) we are fixated on time=money. in Philippines you don't pay for waiting time.

Enjoy your trip and Mabuhay.

Alby
 

Inver

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The annoying thing with taxi's is they will fill up at a petrol station while you the passenger wait patiently. They only put in $5 to $10 worth of petrol too. Annoying but that is asia :)

I've never had safety concerns walking around anywhere in the Philippines including parts of Mindanao. Makati is very safe even at 3am in the morning of course you have to keep your wits about you.
 

jetlagger

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I've never had safety concerns walking around anywhere in the Philippines including parts of Mindanao. Makati is very safe even at 3am in the morning of course you have to keep your wits about you.

Certainly not always the same experiences for me, though, I'm not built or look like The Incredible Hulk. :shock:
 

Inver

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Certainly not always the same experiences for me, though, I'm not built or look like The Incredible Hulk. :shock:

Neither do I. I've had one person try to snatch my wallet when I was about to get into a taxi and have had 2 kids have a feeble go at pick pocketing me. Of much more concern to me is watching out for pot holes, uneven sidewalks or with large cracks, low hanging cables or other things that could poke out an eye and not forgetting dodging the never ending flow of traffic.

I'm going to have a look at the Sofitel next visit, I'm wondering how it was Rooflyer?
 

albatross710

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The annoying thing with taxi's is they will fill up at a petrol station while you the passenger wait patiently. They only put in $5 to $10 worth of petrol too. .
I just had similar except it was a jeepney full of passengers. The fuel filler is in the centre of the cabin next to the driver. They only put in what they have the cash flow to afford. All part of the adventure.

BUT the funniest thing is that even taxi & jeepney drivers don't have to pump their own fuel. Unlike us paupers in Australia whom have to fill our own fuel tanks.

Alby
 

Inver

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I just had similar except it was a jeepney full of passengers. The fuel filler is in the centre of the cabin next to the driver. They only put in what they have the cash flow to afford. All part of the adventure.

BUT the funniest thing is that even taxi & jeepney drivers don't have to pump their own fuel. Unlike us paupers in Australia whom have to fill our own fuel tanks.

Alby

Exactly like you said it is all part of the adventure, I love it even with all the frustrations that come along with travelling in a third world country.
 

RooFlyer

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Neither do I. I've had one person try to snatch my wallet when I was about to get into a taxi and have had 2 kids have a feeble go at pick pocketing me. Of much more concern to me is watching out for pot holes, uneven sidewalks or with large cracks, low hanging cables or other things that could poke out an eye and not forgetting dodging the never ending flow of traffic.

I'm going to have a look at the Sofitel next visit, I'm wondering how it was Rooflyer?

Hi

The Sofitel is a great hotel, and the dinner buffet is a sight and taste to behold. BUT I can't recommend staying there at the moment.

After a storm/flood last year, the sea wall was breached and necessary repairs are going on at the moment. This involves the entire sea frontage being fenced off with 10 foot steel fencing (so you can't see the bay or anything except the fence while you are on the lawns or by the pool), and the noise of construction - a barge off loading stone every day and workers variously using jack-hammers and various construction noises. There is no indication of this whatsoever on the web site when I booked - which is pretty bad IMHO.

This completely put me off any time in or by the pool (even though it as stinking hot), and the noise is also apparent in one's room, if its a 'bay/pool view' one. On the other side, you may get the noise of the barge being loaded with stone during the night.

If you are contemplating going, ask for precise answers about the status of sea-wall works/noise - including whether the fence is still up and workers about.

The Club floor and lounge is very good.
 

Inver

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Thanks for the prudent advice Rooflyer. We will go there one night just to try out the buffet one night and see if the noise is still happening in August. I think the noisiest hotel my wife and I have stayed at was in Ermita near the US embassy being woken up each morning by one or 2 roosters (in the middle of a bustling city LOL).
 

RooFlyer

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Thanks for the prudent advice Rooflyer. We will go there one night just to try out the buffet one night and see if the noise is still happening in August. I think the noisiest hotel my wife and I have stayed at was in Ermita near the US embassy being woken up each morning by one or 2 roosters (in the middle of a bustling city LOL).

Forward bookings essential for the buffet at 'Spiral' . As houses guests, they only just squeezed us into the 'annex' area when I went to book in the morning.

Speaking of early morning wake-ups ... I had another noise issue with the Sofitel. They have guard dogs, and the kennels are quite close to the hotel, non bay/pool side, next to the water. On the first night, I was on that side and up that end and was woken at 5:45 am with howling dogs; then they broke out every time some-one came to bring back or take out one of them. I requested a change of room / side, and then got the sea wall construction noise. LOL - not .

Oh, and if you stay, ask if there are any functions planned for that time in the tent in the gardens (usually Thursday? night). Another racket, late into the evening, played straight into guest's rooms on the pool/bay side.

I'm not an old curmudgeon, but get majorly pi$$ed off when known in-house noise nuisances are not disclosed to the guest.
 

BrentH

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I have a few staff there, and they say it's pretty safe now... But a few years ago it was not so great.

One staff member was at Mall of Asia when it was bombed. (The bomb never hit the newspapers though.)

Makati (as others have said) is great.

Mandaluyong not so much.

Quezon City has its nice parts.

As others have said though, the airport is a scammers haven... I did a long blog post about it a while ago with a few tips (most I've learned the hard way): http://www.packandhack.com/destinations/manila-airport-tips-809/

P.S. to those who think Manila feels unsafe, visit Davao. (Don't leave the city though...) it's a safe place, but only because of the men with machine guns, bomb scanners and the death squads.
 

richie9x

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I have a few staff there, and they say it's pretty safe now... But a few years ago it was not so great.

One staff member was at Mall of Asia when it was bombed. (The bomb never hit the newspapers though.)

At Mall of Asia they have fireworks every Friday and Saturday night. First time I heard them I thought they were bomb blast, I was inside and couldn't see them. That freaked me out a bit, but was ok when I realised they were fireworks.

P.S. to those who think Manila feels unsafe, visit Davao. (Don't leave the city though...) it's a safe place, but only because of the men with machine guns, bomb scanners and the death squads.

I went to Davao quite a nice city. There was one pretty heavily armed solider at the airport. I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental and there were soldiers with assault rifles manning the guard post outside. But other than that it was pretty low key.

We did venture out to Cotabato City but had our own security guys. There were a number of army checkpoints on the way but most of them were unmanned. The government has signed a peace deal with the MILF, but certainly best still be a bit cautious in the area.
 

albatross710

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As others have said though, the airport is a scammers haven... I did a long blog post about it a while ago with a few tips (most I've learned the hard way): Ninoy Aquino International Airport Manila (MNL NAIA) Travel Tips | Pack and Hack
Thanks for that concise post. Reminded me to document the 'checking' steps I had on my most recent departure from Manila. I was tired and it just seemed so many.

1. First stop at the door to the terminal to check that I had a ticket for travel that day. Only travellers allowed past this point.
2. All baggage through scanner upon entry to terminal.
3. Headed towards the Qantas economy queue. Luggage intended for checking-in was weighed before I entered the queue.
(Normal check-in process)
4. Paid departure terminal fee and received receipt
5. Next checkpoint, just a few metres further, they removed my terminal fee tag.
6. Cabin baggage screening
7. Immigration, passport and ticket
8. Access to walkway to departure lounge - checked that I had boarding pass for that area.
9. Gate lounge - cabin bag search by hand
10. Paged to go to Gate staff to check my ticket ( unconfirmed reason)
11. Boarding pass & Passport checked upon boarding.


Keep your passport and boarding pass handy.

Alby
 

Inver

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3. Headed towards the Qantas economy queue. Luggage intended for checking-in was weighed before I entered the queue.
(Normal check-in process)

I wonder if this is a new procedure it has never happened to me.
 

Inver

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I went to Davao quite a nice city. There was one pretty heavily armed solider at the airport. I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental and there were soldiers with assault rifles manning the guard post outside. But other than that it was pretty low key.

Davao is a clean and strictly regimented city under tight control by the mayor. Everyone riding a motorcycle wears a helmet, no smoking policy in the night clubs etc etc. The only city like it is Puerto Princesa in Palawan which is much smaller but also very clean (it didn't even have a cinema when I last visited).

East Mindanao is fairly safe it is the west side which is where the trouble occurs. I've spent a lot of time in General Santos City which if where my wife comes from and like Davoa there are rarely any issues.

Saying that there was an instance where a hand grenade was thrown into a crowd at a park on New Years Eve 2009. 22 people injured thankfully no one killed, I had only been there a few hours before buying fireworks. The only other thing I have experienced is a 6.5 level earthquake.

There have been times where my wife's relatives wouldn't let me travel to a certain location outside of General Santos but not in the last few years. There are military checkpoints on the outskirts of the cities not that I have seen them stop many vehicles.
 

manlai

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Im in Manila now, stay in Makati and you will be fine. Never had an issue walking at night here - go to the other areas of the city at night and you might have a problem though.
 

Limewood

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Yes had a ball in Davao as we have rather well off friends there, stayed in top suite of Marco Polo for 5 days, went to many places of interest (inc. our hosts private island, ECO farm, plantation etc.). Must say the locals are the best drivers in the world, at one point the alarm went off inside our Toyota Tarago it was another cars side mirror going under ours!. There are zillions of motor bikes what 250cc many have extra seats fitted on the outside can carry as many as 4 pax plus bags rice, Honda & Yamaha should be proud of them!. Loved the place and the local people we met.
 

albatross710

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I wonder if this is a new procedure it has never happened to me.

Yep, it was strange. They have a set of scales at the front of the queue barrier. I think it is intended that they can sort out of your luggage is over weight before getting to the check-in counter.

I was given one of the Qantas slips with the weight written on it and officially circled. This slip was then used to affix by checked baggage copies.

I was tired and irritable after a busy week, just wanted to get home and was already tired of the meticulous amount of checking.

And I'm looking forward to going back.

Alby
 
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Ric

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As far as I can recall, the scales have always been there. They don't bother much with J pax but sure weigh the Y pax's luggage.
 
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