Manila is a sprawling city. It's so separate and distinctive from one area to the next.
The traffic is utterly crazy. Cars pull out in front of each other constantly and traffic lights are a suggestion. In this game of friendly on road co-operation - I didn't see one accident - it can take 45 minutes to get from an adjacent suburb to the next.
No wonder there are hawkers weaving in and out of cars selling everything from bottled water to fishing rods.
Nevertheless if you only had 24 hours in Manila, I recommend doing the following three things:
1. Eat a buffet dinner
Filipinos love to "eat and talk" at the same time. Buffets let you socialise and, of course, eat as much as you want. At the Lola Maria Restaurant the buffet featured traditional Filipino foods like chicken adobo, deep-fried seaweed, barbecued seafood, smoked tuna belly and DIY halo-halo for dessert. I was intrigued by the seaweed with little "grapes" which were salty and burst in your mouth as you crunched through the leaves.
2. Shop at least one mega mall
Pace yourself in Manila, shopaholics. There are a lot of shopping centres in Manila like Greenbelt, Rockwell and the infamous Mall of Asia - the biggest mall in the southern hemisphere. If you're pressed for time and on a tight budget, I'd head over to the department store Landmark for its crazily cheap prices. I picked up a bikini for $15, a headband for $2 and socks for 50c AUD.
3. Have a night out at The Fort
A Saturday night must start, though not necessarily end, at the Fort in Bonifacio. A hub of nightlife, the area is buzzing with busy restaurants, bars and nightclubs.
Pier One is a themed bar set on the high seas. Wait staff are dressed in sailor outfits, signal them with an ahoy there if you dare and order cocktails for around $4 AUD. Bar foods like sisig (of the non-mystery meat variety) are a great accompaniment if on the off chance you're still hungry after a buffet dinner!
Once you're ready to hit the dance floor head to Encore. Chandeliers hang down over the stairwell as you strut upstairs into the main third floor party area. The DJ pumps out a heady mix of old school RnB and new hits whilst the dancefloor is shoulder-to-shoulder with the trendy 20-something set.
A private booth at Encore will set you back 1,000 peso per head or roughly $25 AUD inclusive of all food and drinks which just keeps coming. The lychee martinis are fantastic!
When you're all danced out, jump into a cab back to your hotel. If the song playing on the radio is "It's Time To Go Home Now" you know you've had a great night.
Written by Natasha Chow