Culture, fun and sun in Manila – ever thought about a theatre weekend in this sunny, friendly city?

Let’s face it – Manila gets a bad press. Even from Filipinos! You mention that you’ve been to Manila for the weekend – the responses you get vary from “Why?” to “Oh, you had to go there for work at the weekend?” The city has a reputation for having bad traffic, being boring, being a hassle. I’m here to prove that wrong.

Actually I think Manila is changing – and changing fast. You couldn’t get a friendlier people, the weather is (usually) sunny and hot – and there are new restaurants and bars opening up all the time.

I love live theatre – and you might be surprised to know that Manila has a long history of theatre, and a burgeoning theatre scene. So, for this weekend adventure – I suggest a theatre weekend city break to Manila!

The first thing you’ll to do is pick a good weekend. Your first port of call should be the website – it lists what shows are on over the next few months.

Discussion point: There are a few different types of shows you can see:

  1. Repertory Philippines – the main English speaking theatre company for Manila – with regular seasons of interesting productions (2017 marks the 60th year of Repertory Philippines – and they have produced 443 shows in that time – these guys are EXPERIENCED). The shows are usually at the theatre in Greenbelt 1 Mall, with quite elaborate sets.
  2. Other experimental theatre companies – such as Red Turnip and XXX?
  3. Big touring shows coming through town – like Westend/Broadway musicals
  4. Local shows

Now – how much theatre can you take in a weekend? I like to catch a  Saturday matinee and a Saturday evening show. Then relax the next day by the pool – or visit some of the tourist attractions in Manila. You could even squeeze in three shows, if you’re willing to do a Sunday matinee also. And, of course, you could take a few more days and relax and take your time. Once you’ve sorted out your theatre tickets – then book your flight, and you are basically good to go!

I normally leave Hong Kong after work on a Friday, make a dash for Hong Kong airport and catching a mid-evening flight to Ninoy Aquino International Airport. An Uber or any taxi will whisk you (yes, you can whisk along on the streets of Manila if it’s a bit later in the day!) into town.

Makati is the international centre of Manila. It’s clean, modern, safe and probably the best place to base yourself whilst in the city.

I’ve stayed at a few different places in Makati (and further afield) – at different price points. There is something for everyone, so log on, find a room and sort yourself out for the weekend. One thing to bear in mind is that Manila is HOT – so I’d recommend a hotel/residence with a pool, so you can cool down and relax when you are not watching a show.

Manila is also a shoppers’ heaven. I’m not much of a shopper myself – but Manila takes the high-end mall to another level. Greenbelt is a destination in itself – with a multitude of stores to cater to every taste, lush green walkways, air-conditioned and al-fresco dining options from all over the world – and even (as previously mentioned) theatres!

Uber/taxis will bring you to and from where you want to go, with relative ease – and if you base all of your weekend in Makati, you won’t have to worry too much about traffic. You can even walk!

I’ve only tried a small selection of the restaurants, bars and nightlife of Manila. A clock through the following websites and blogs should point in the direction of some new places. Here are a few I’ve tried.

To stay:

  • Citadines Salcedo Village
  • Picasso Boutique Apartments

To eat:

  • Mesa – Filipino food with a modern twist

To drink:

  • Laboratory Bar

Other fun things to do in Manila:

  • A tour of Intramuros
  • A visit to the Ayala Museum

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