Manila, despite its crowds and pollution, is an eclectic hodgepodge of colorful Latin character. Most of its colonial architecture was destroyed in the bombing of WWII. For a taste of the few remaining examples of Spanish colonialism visit Intramuros, a walled city built in 1571, which houses Fort Santiago. There one can also see Casa Manila, one of Imelda Marco’s projects, which offers insight into the lives of wealthy Spanish colonialists of the 19th Century. Today Manila is a sprawling conglomeration of skyscrapers and other modern buildings. Its Chinatown district hosts an unruly array of crowded shops.
For a bizarre evening’s entertainment, check out the Hobbit House, a popular folk music club run by dwarves who perform nightly. Street savvy shoppers can venture to the Divisorio Market for incredible deals, but wear no jewelry and watch your wallet. Visiting this area will afford one with a perspective of the lives and jobs of ordinary Manillans, but be careful of the street kids, who are often driven to thievery by their desperate situation. Cockfighting is a popular diversion in Manila, but unaccompanied foreigners are not advised to attend without a local guide.