Manila, Philippines

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Fast-paced and endlessly fascinating, modern Manila is one of the most densely packed cities in the world, with some 1.6 million residents. Characterized by intense contrasts—soaring skyscrapers next to shantytowns, atmospheric food markets as well as air-conditioned malls—it’s also an impressively multicultural city, with a swirl of languages, cuisines and cultures. To catch some historic atmosphere, head to Manila's oldest neighborhood, the fortress enclave of Intramuros, which was founded in the 16th century and features sights such as Fort Santiago, Casa Manila and San Agustin Church.In the upscale financial center of Makati, visitors can find an array of bars, spas and restaurants in addition to malls like Glorietta, the landscaped Greenbelt Park and Ayala Museum, which showcases archaeological artifacts and indigenous textiles and art. In and around Rizal Park are several good museums, while the creative spirit of the city—from live music venues to independent art galleries—is sprinkled throughout several districts, and spaces such as the Cultural Center of the Philippines host shows, film screenings and plays. For day trips, Corregidor Island should not be missed.
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