Getting off the Beaten Track in Manila

Whenever  you go to a country, landing in its capital is inevitable. It’s usually the largest, most prosperous city, with much to see, and even more to do! City living on holiday can also be an exciting and appealing prospect, especially with the ease of transport and the abundance of amenities.

Though I live in a city and would much rather get out of the standard, monotonous lifestyle of one when I travel, combining my love for Manila and the urge to escape from urban life has led to this piece—getting off the beaten track in Manila, the Philippines! Although it’s busy, loud, and it never seems to sleep, it’s also charming and has me hooked. Sure, city traffic can be a little hectic at peak hours, but the people are lovely, the food is delectable, and there are moments of magic to be had.

Barkin’ Blends Dog Café?

Upon landing, you’ll likely feel two things (like I do): sleepiness and hunger. After a good rest, you’ll want to eat, and where better to start your Manila journey than at Barkin’ Blends Dog Café? Yes, you heard right, a dog café! There are two things that are able to instantly relax me: dogs and good food.

This little café has been garnering more and more attention as of late, but it hasn’t yet reached mainstream. You’re not allowed to bring your own dogs to the café, but the resident dogs will help you feel more than comfortable in the settings. The human zone is where you eat and drink, but the dog zone is where you’ll find most people gathering.

The Collective

Greenbelt and SM Malls have racked up their followers over the years. To shop a little off the grid, you’ll need to find your way to The Collective for an entirely unique experience. This once run-down warehouse has been transformed by the hands of a few artists into a contemporary art haven!

It’s now home to a few food stalls, some independent shops, and a whole bunch of local art. I do like supporting local businesses and independent artists, so you could imagine my excitement when I found out about The Collective. It may not be as big or fancy as the larger chain malls, but those can be found anywhere. Never has art and industry formed a marriage as harmonious as this.

Recession Coffee

You may feel a little tired after spending a day eating and walking around the mall, so may I suggest a stunning coffee at Recession Coffee instead of heading to the nearest Starbucks? There’s no place in the world for bad coffee, and the coffee at Recession’s is anything but.

The name might also be of interest to you, as it came about with the owners believing in a flexible pricing for coffee. As such, you choose what you want to pay for your coffee. There’s no difference in grade of coffee regardless of price, either. They just want you to be satisfied, and ask that you pay what you feel the coffee is worth—amazing, right?

They do sell some phenomenal pastries, but those do come at a set price. Skip the Starbucks and head over to Recession Coffee. I promise it will be worth it.

Pino Resto Bar

As the main port of the Philippines, Manila has its perks and attracts an international audience. This, however, doesn’t stop it from serving up generous portions of amazing Filipino fare, which brings us to Pino Resto Bar. The establishment has been a mainstay of Quezon City for many years, and I can definitely see why.

It was wildly popular many years ago, but as the newer establishments poured in, and the bandwagon shifted, the crowd has slowly thinned. This, however, has allowed for the most loyal of customers to be retained with finesse and top-notch customer service.

I suggest you try the Kare-Kare—it’s scrumptious! For its location and ambiance, the food is modestly priced, and you’ll be satisfied 100%.

Potipot Island

Manila and city living are all good and well, but I recommend taking a day to visit Potipot Island, just outside Metro Manila. Island hopping is huge in the Philippines, and this is a great place to start. There are no inns or hotels on the island, just white sandy beaches and dense forests. What a difference from the hustle and bustle of Manila!

There are cottages for rent, but during peak seasons they’e usually fully booked. Bring your own tent, and you’ll be able to camp almost anywhere on the island. I suggest staying on the eastern side, especially if you’re a fan of sunrises like I am. There’s absolutely nothing like winding down after a long day and waking up to picturesque views as the sun creeps up over the horizon.

As long as you remember to bring enough drinking water and a tent for your trip, you’ll have no issues camping on Potipot Island. Its relative closeness to Metro Manila is definitely a plus, and staying outside the city while on a city holiday is both refreshing and necessary.

Traveling is amazing and, honestly, holidaying in Manila is awesome too. Link them together, and you’ll get a winning combination, especially when you get off the beaten track. If you’re looking for a little adventure unlike any other, I hope this little piece has helped you find your peace.

Author Bio: James is the founder of Gotoawesomeplaces, where he shares experiences about travel, destination information, and adventure. Born in New York City he’s been traveling since he was 19.

Images credit – Instagram

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