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Manila tours and excursions

Manila tours

Foodie tours

'The Big Binondo Food Wok Tour' by Old Manila Walks is a taste-tantalising exploration of Chinatown lasting four hours. Besides architectural background and historical context, the tour involves plenty of snacking. Dumplings and pineapple cakes are among myriad culinary goodies tried. Avoid lunch beforehand.

Tel: +63 2 711 3823.
Website: http://www.oldmanilawalks.com

Walking tours

Intramuros, Chinatown and Quiapo are perfect for exploring on foot, and fortunately Manila has a new wave of guides bringing a level of performance art to their walking tours. Arguably the best is the theatrical storyteller Carlos Celdran. His fun-filled yet informative themed tours in English include 'If these Walls could Talk' and 'Living La Vida Imelda'.

Tel: +63 2 484 4945.
Website: http://www.carlosceldran.com

Manila excursions

Eagle Point

The closest scuba-diving location outside Manila is just about Eagle Point Resort on the southern tip of Batangas, three hours' south of the capital. Day-long diving packages and snorkelling are available in crystal-clear waters around the offshore Maricaban Island where the resort has private use of Sepoc Beach. The coral reefs are sparkling and wannabe divers can obtain P.A.D.I certification.

Bagalangit, Mabini, Batangas

Tel: +63 2 813 3553.
Website: http://www.eaglepointresort.com.ph

Corregidor Island

The last fallback for US forces resisting Japanese invasion in WWII, Corregidor Island was General MacArthur's headquarters until March 1942, when he withdrew to Australia and delivered his celebrated ‘I shall return' speech. The Japanese subsequently fortified Corregidor but lost it during an intense battle on MacArthur’s return. Nowadays, this paradisiacal tropical island off the Bay of Manila makes a fascinating day trip to see the island’s landmarks. These include the Pacific War memorial, artillery batteries and the Malinta Tunnel with its underground hospital and MacArthur’s HQ. Organized day packages are offered by Sun Cruises (tel: +63 2 354 7005; www.corregidorphilippines.com) and include boat trip, lunch, and guided tour. Day tours depart CCP Terminal A CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard.

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Pan Pacific Manila

This luxurious skyscraper hotel in Manila is justifiably popular because of its top-drawer location in Malate's tourist quarter. It's worth the extra splurge to access the top-floor, glass-surrounded Pacific Lounge – lovely in the evening for sipping cocktails and listening to the pianist. The Manila hotel also offers 24-hour butler service and Japanese, Chinese and international restaurants. Early-bird bookings on Pan Pacific's website push prices down into the moderate bracket.

Sonya’s Garden

This divine slice of tranquillity is located two hours' drive from downtown Manila's hullabaloo. County vogue furnished cottages replete with lace curtains, iron bedsteads and polished wooden floors, all surrounded by herb gardens and sumptuous countryside. Sonya's organic farm ensures guests enjoy tasty and healthy food. The bread is baked on site while the garden spa offers a full range of holistic treatments.

The A.Venue Hotel Suites

Swish and trendy, this is affordable chic amid Makati's skyscrapers. Set in three towers, the suites have Asian-styled contemporary interiors and minimalist décor and feature kitchenettes and free Wi-Fi. Amenities include a gym, a spa, a swimming pool, a Mediterranean restaurant and a cafe.

Hostel 1632

Penny pinchers and night owls will find succour in this budget hostel. Its 106 air-conditioned, en-suite rooms are boxy and cramped and almost have a capsule feel. But Hostel 1632's position on M Adriatico Street is plum in the heart of Malate. There's a café in the lobby serving local and international food for those craving pasta or pizzas.

ZEN Rooms Peñafrancia

Set in a quiet residential area, this small hotel offers light, simply furnished rooms in Japanese style at a good price. Amenities include flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi and tea and coffee-making facilities.

Henry Hotel

Conveniently located in the heart of the city, within walking distance of the Mall of Asia and close to the airport, this boutique hotel is a tranquil escape from the city and features landscaped gardens and a swimming pool. The hotel itself is comprised of a number of buildings and includes a small museum and art gallery. Rooms are chic and spacious. Breakfast is included, and there's also a cafe.