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Manila

Philippines

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Manila Gay Guide

Introduction

Manila is probably not the first place you think of when planning a gay weekend getaway in Asia. If you live in Singapore or Hong Kong you probably know the Philippines as the country where your maid is from. Most visitors to the Philippines go there for the beaches of Boracay and Palawan. And while the beaches are indeed fantastic, Manila itself is well worth a visit. Yes, traffic is horrible and there isn’t that much sightseeing to do. However, the friendly locals, the tasty food and a fun bit of pink nightlife make for a very entertaining weekend. And the shopping isn’t bad either. Greenbelt is actually one of the smartest malls in Asia. And best of all, everything is so affordable. Stay in a five-star hotel for under US$ 100. So if you are looking for a value-for-money weekend trip, why not try Manila?

Getting there

Philippine Airlines is the national carrier of the Philippines. However, try to avoid it. Lots of delays and frequent cancellations. And when the flight does take off, the service isn’t great at all. Cebu Pacific Air is a much better choice and they serve many cities throughout Asia.

You will arrive at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) which is just 7km south of the city. The airport has three different terminals. Except to queue for a while for immigration and your baggage. From the airport to town the only choice is taxi. You can buy a taxi coupon from the dispatcher outside the arrivals hall. The ride costs you upwards from ₱150-250. While the city is just a mere 7km away, the short journey might actually take you more than an hour as traffic can be horrendous.

When you leave Manila, make sure you know from which of the three terminals your airlines flies. The terminals are not connected to eachother. Generally, Philppine Airlines uses Terminal 2, Cebu Pacific uses Terminal 3 and for all other airlines head to Terminal 1. There is also a separate terminal for domestic flights. Departures can be a little chaotic so we recommend that you are at the airport two hours before departure. Note that the international departure tax is ₱750 which you need to pay in cash.

If you fly to Manila with a low-cost airline, you may also arrive at Clark International Airport (CRK). However, as the airport is about 80km from Manila and transportation to Manila is fairly limited, we wouldn’t really recommend it.

Getting around

There are a few train lines but they don’t go anywhere useful so the only reasonable way to get around Manila is by taxi. The good news is that they are quite affordable. The meter starts at just ₱40. However, be careful which taxis you use as not all drivers are always honest. Some of them try to make a little extra money by saying the meter isn’t working or by taking you somewhere where they can earn a commission. Nothing unsafe, just a bit annoying. Insist on turning on the meter and know your destination and you will be fine. Also, many taxis are pretty old may not be 100% properly maintained. Just wait for the next one if the first one looks too unsafe for you.

When to go

Manila is in the tropics so the temperatures are fairly constant throughout the year. Expect around 30°C, slightly more from March to May. And there is a distinct rainy season from June to September which you may want to avoid. Manila's Pride Gay March takes place each year in December.

What to see

Makati

Manila’s premier business and popular shopping area

Intramuros

This historic walled city is the oldest district in Manila

Rizal Park

Sixty hectares of park, playgrounds and cruising

Solaire

Manila’s new US$ 1 billion casino and entertainment complex

Taal Volcano

Lush volcano with crater lake, about 60km south of Manila

Stay connected

Manila traffic is pretty bad so bring along your smartphone so you won’t be bored. And Grindr and Jack’s are pretty popular. You can buy a local prepaid SIM card from one of the local network operators. Globe is usually a good choice. There are some outlets at the airport, however, choices are limited and they may not have micro SIMs for your iphone. Better try one of their outlets in the city. Globe has a store in Glorietta 3 in Makati (Ground Floor). Many hotels also have WiFi.

Gay life

The Philippines are a predominantly Catholic country and Catholics are generally not very accepting of gays. And the concept of family is big in the Philippines so parents expect their children to get married and have kids. That makes it difficult for Filipinos to admit their homosexuality. However, in big cities like Manila society is more acceptable. There is an annual Gay Pride March that usually attracts more than 1,000 people. There are a number of openly gay bars and clubs which never experience any harassment from the Police. And consensual sex between two adult men or two adult women is perfectly legal.

 



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