MANILA the capital of the Philippines that triggers fascination with a heady mix of tradition, culture, food and entertainment. Make Manila your first stop and experience the jovial and laid-back nature of Filipino hospitality.

Go back in time and explore within the walls of the medieval city, Intramuros, or immerse yourself in modern day entertainments at the majestic malls of Makati, Ortigas and Quezon City. Hop on a colourful jeepney and discover every exciting corner of the city at your own pace. Wind down with a sunset dinner cruise on Manila Bay and be serenaded by live bands, or take in cultural shows in a city that never sleeps. Manila is an ideal gateway to the stunning beaches, mountains and landscapes of the Philippines that eagerly await you.

The colonial Spanish walled in area of Intramuros is an interesting place to walk around and explore. Churches and schools built with complete Spanish influence make it hard to believe you are still on an Asian island. Horse drawn carriages with guides are available for small fees (probably around $3) to take you around and show you the main and important sites. However, the thick surrounding walls make Intramuros a friendly walking environment as rowdy traffic roars outside. Visiting this area is one of the top things to do in Manila.

A decent place to see the sunset over Manila Bay or to let the kids run around, is directly outside the avoidable Mall of Asia. The huge crowds may be discouraging, but the sunset and ice cream carts with their tunes are always worth it.

Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific and Qantas fly non-stop from Sydney to Manila.

Other airlines like Singapore Air, Cathay Pacific and Malaysian Airlines also fly – but not direct.