With the unlikely town becoming the most popular holiday destination for Britons this year, it’s a haven for revelers and foodies

After two years of travel restrictions, avid explorers are casting their nets far and wide for vacation destinations in 2022. Staycations are no longer a necessity and cities around the world are once again opening their arms to visitors.

In fact, KAYAK reports that in Britain, searches for international flights are up around 30% on pre-pandemic levels. Searches for flights for long-haul destinations have overtaken European breaks on the travel search engine. At the same time, there was no significant increase in searches for national holidays.

It looks like 2022 is the year of long-haul summer vacations, and one travel destination in particular has grown in popularity. Although it wasn’t even on the top ten list of destinations in 2019, Manila in the Philippines is the most searched location on KAYAK this year.

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Manila has a vibrant nightlife

Nicknamed “the Pearl of the Orient”, the capital of the Philippines is a stage where different cultures and inspirations come together to put on a show. The streets are always bustling with life, from the tops of high-rise buildings where rooftop bars rage, to the dancing toes of traffic cops as they sparkle to music from karaoke machines on the sidewalks.

Things are always moving in Manila. The weather is likely helping to keep the energies high, with the average daily temperature being 19-39 degrees Celsius. Those looking to get things done well beyond daylight hours head to the city’s top clubs such as Republiq and Black Market. And you can always buy dancing shoes and party clothes in one of the city’s huge malls.

Besides dancing, singing and partying, visitors and locals alike take to the streets of Manila for another important pastime: eating. The city is densely populated, which means there are a lot of influences on the food scene. In addition to traditional and modern Filipino cuisine, Spanish (reminiscent of the city’s Spanish period) and Chinese (the city is home to the oldest Chinatown in the world) are extremely popular options.

Street food is very popular in the city

The smell of street food fills the air in Manila. Isaw (pork/chicken intestines covered in barbecue sauce) is a popular option and Taho (a cup of soft tofu dipped in brown sugar syrup) is a good choice for something sweet. Fish lovers will want to head straight for their nearest dampa. These huts offer fresh seafood which gamblers choose, buy and take to a nearby restaurant to be cooked according to their instructions.

For those who don’t want to put in so much effort, the town of course has plenty of restaurants that will do all the work. Adobo (meat, seafood, or vegetables marinated in garlic sauce) is arguably the most popular dish in town, and Cafe Adriatico is always the best place for it.

The mix of cultures and histories in Manila also has a huge impact on the city’s art scene. There is a lot of contemporary exhibition spaces such as 1335Mabini in addition to major art museums such as Manila Metropolitan Museum. The grand churches and architectural features of Spain bear witness to the complex history of the city and the country, which visitors can uncover at attractions such as the National Museum.

Taal Volcano Lake is two and a half hours from Manila

The sheer amount of things to see and do in Manila makes it a vibrant destination that could keep tourists busy forever. However, if you want to see even more of the Philippines, it’s easy to arrange days out to nearby lagoons, bays, and parks. The beautiful Taal Volcano Lake with its electric green water and large mountain is about two and a half hours from the city.

Nagsasa Cove is always a good choice for a day at the beach. The shallow waters allow for peaceful days paddling in the sea and the lush trees provide shade on the sandy shore. There’s even a waterfall nearby if visitors are up for the hike. The creek is about three and a half to four hours from town.

How to get there

It’s a long trip from London to Manila. Flights from Heathrow take around 17.5 hours with a single connection. Emirates flights from Gatwick can take a similar time, with connections in Dubai.

Edward K. Thompson