Make the most of your time between meetings with some of these great experiences. Here's how to fit them into your busy schedule.
Visit a 400-year-old citadel
Intramuros (meaning “within the walls” in Latin) is the original Manila – a pentagonal stone garrison built in the 16th century by Spanish colonisers to protect citizens from pirates and foreign invaders. Within its walls rose a city: palaces, churches, monasteries, bunkers, convents, schools and magnificent courtyard houses. Many of the old buildings now lie in ruin; others have been converted into restaurants and cafés. San Agustin Church, a Baroque masterpiece with a preposterously high altar, has gained UNESCO World Heritage status. If time is limited, a good way to explore Intramuros is on a quirky two-hour tour with performance artist-cum-political activist Carlos Celdran.
Shop a mega mall
A sanctuary from the noise, pollution and traffic, the Greenbelt complex is set right in the heart of the metropolis. It’s a series of five interlinked malls in central Makati with café-lined promenades, manicured gardens, sculpture exhibitions and gleaming white halls that are home to high-end retailers such as Patek Philippe and Yves Saint Laurent. In true Filipino style, a church – the Greenbelt Chapel – has been plonked in the middle of it.
View Manila Bay from above
Air Juan operates a small fleet of seaplanes from a dock close to the Sofitel on Manila Bay. Take a 30-minute scenic flight over the city, the bay and Taal Volcanic Island’s incredible island within a lake within an island.
See the first lady’s shoe shrine
The former first lady of the Philippines, Imelda Marcos, was both revered and despised for her excess, especially when it came to shoes. At its height, her collection of Charles Jourdan, Christian Dior, Chanel and Prada heels surpassed 3000 pairs. Today, most of them have been lost or destroyed, though the last remaining pairs – about 765 – can be viewed at the Shoe Museum on J. P. Rizal Street in Marikina, Manila’s shoemaking district.