Travel like a local.


Finding Speakeasies in Manila, Philippines with Kathy

Best things to do in Manila Philippines - Kathy Mills

I’m really excited to interview Kathy Mills of Wall Street Is Waiting about Manila, Philippines. Kathy works for the government and is in Manila for a 3-year assignment. Her tips for the best things to do in Manilla are awesome because she’s a blend of tourist and local that understands what we’re looking. We want to sample the local cuisine, experience their customs, and try something unique that we can’t find anywhere else.

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Manila, Philippines

Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is a densely populated bayside city on the island of Luzon. It offers a mixture of historic colonial buildings with Spanish influence and modern skyscrapers.

The weather is hot year-round and is wet a good portion of the year. Kathy says that the best time of year to visit is from November to February. There are many festivals throughout the year which celebrate the diverse heritage and culture of the city. You’ll have your choice of Filipino, Muslim, Chinese, and holiday festivals to explore.

We share a lot of resources and local suggestions in today’s podcast, but you should also check out the Philippines Department of Tourism. They are a wealth of information and can help you plan an itinerary based on your time, budget, and interests.

If you’d like to learn how to travel for free using airline miles and hotel points, check out my free 7-day email course.

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Best things to do in Manila

  • Bonifacio Global City (reviews)
  • Corregidor Island – For the whole family, you should see Corregidor Island (one of the most important WW II sites in the Philippines, where ruins still stand from the battles that were fought there and commanding views of Manila Bay are all around).
  • Fort Santiago (reviews) – A storied citadel and former military prison
  • Intramuros (reviews) – A reconstructed museum that focuses on Filipino history
  • Makati (reviews)
  • Marikina City Footwear Museum – View the collection of shoes from Imelda Marcos, the former first lady of Philippines.
  • San Agustin Church (reviews) – A baroque church from the 16th-century.
  • Sun Cruises Terminal (reviews) – The only ferry company that will take you to Corregidor Island. Use your hotel concierge to book tickets for you. Otherwise, you’ll need to pay cash in person at payment outlets.
  • The Department of Tourism (reviews)

Best places to eat in Manila

  • Alamat Filipino Pub & Deli (reviews) – Alamat in Makati has incredible kabobs.
  • Bank Bar (reviews) – This speakeasy is hidden inside of a 7-11 convenience store. Go to the fake stock room and the entrance is behind the curtains.
  • Blind Pig (reviews) – A discrete building in Legazpi Village with a small sign written in braille. This is an authentic prohibition bar experience. Call ahead for reservations because they tend to turn you away if you don’t have one.
  • El Chupacabra (reviews) – Good Mexican food and cheap beers. Look for La Cueva Del Chupacabra (“the cave”) for the hidden bar.
  • Four Seasons Yuan Yang Hotpot (reviews) – The Four Seasons Hotpot on the waterfront near MOA (Mall of Asia–largest mall in Philippines, and 4th largest in the world) for Shabu-Shabu (A Japanese dish that is based on Chinese hotpot cooking).
  • Frank & Dean – Cafe and Kitchen (reviews) – Inside this coffee shop is another speakeasy, Ocean’s Telephone Co. Find the phone booth for entrance. Be sure to order a whiskey drink and some truffle fries.
  • Happy Hour Manila – Every hour is happy hour at this bar. It is owned by two young Filipinos that serve strong drinks. Pace yourself.
  • Lazy Bastard (reviews) – Inside this burger joint is another hidden bar. Find the vintage elevator, knock 3 times, and say a password to gain entrance. Plenty of great gin drinks available.
  • Motorino Pizza (reviews) – fantastic wood-fired pizzas
  • Prohibition Liquor Lounge (reviews) – Another hidden bar inside Dillingers 1903. Follow the yellow tape on the floor that leads to a fire exit.
  • Tipsy Pig (reviews) – Great drinks with 2-for-1 and 3-for-1 specials. Generous with samples
  • Z Hostel (reviews) – The rooftop bar is the place to be. It has a youthful vibe that targets a mature crowd.

Best places to stay in Manila

Here are the best places to stay in Manila.

Getting around Manila

The local airport is Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL), which is about 12km or 22 minutes to downtown.

Kathy says that you should absolutely not drive when in Manila. She recommends using Grab (iOS, Google), which is the Filipino version of Uber and Lyft. It is cheap, easy, and convenient. Most rides are less than $5.

If you must rent a car, click here for the best offers from Avis, Budget, or Hertz.

For those that only need a car for a couple of hours, you can rent by the hour with Zipcar. Join now to get $25 loaded into your account.

Places we talked about on the podcast

Here is a map of all of the places we talked about on the podcast episode with Kathy Mills about Manila, Philippines. You can zoom into the map and click on each dot to explore the city.

  • Red dots = best places to eat in Manila, Philippines
  • Green dots = best things to do in Manila, Philippines
  • Yellow dots = best places to stay in Manila, Philippines

Who is Kathy Mills?

Kathy Mills works for the US federal government. She is on assignment in Manila for three years and has already fallen in love with the people and the culture.

In her spare time, she encourages people to learn how the stock market works and start investing through her website. Wall Street Is Waiting provides step-by-step guides in easy-to-digest language that is appropriate for investors of all ages and experience.

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Here are a couple of articles that she’s written:

Kathy’s writing is a great start for beginners but also dives deep into topics that experienced investors want to understand better.

You can connect with Kathy Mills at her website and on Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Big thanks to today’s podcast sponsor – Minute Suites

Traveling across different time zones can be exhausting. It’s hard to sleep or get work done on a plane, and even harder in a crowded terminal. Now, when you have a long layover or flight delay, you can book Minute Suites by the hour.

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Private room at DFW. Photo courtesy of Minute Suites.

These private suites are located inside security and offer a daybed for napping, wifi to get work done, and TV so you can veg out. Basically, a traveler’s retreat from the chaos of the terminal. Minute Suites has six locations in Charlotte, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Dallas and is planning to double its locations in 2019.

Book your next stay in advance on their mobile app or at Use promo code “WETRAVELTHERE” to save 15% off any hourly or overnight suite rental. Please note that the discount does not apply to shower add-ons and cannot be combined with other offers.

Stay tuned for our next episode

Best Things to do in Boulder Colorado Dan MackinListen to the next episode when Dan Mackin of the Millennial Real Estate Investor Podcast walks with us on Pearl Street in Boulder, Colorado to see the street performers and soak up the 300+ days of sun. We hope you’ll join us when We Travel There.

What’s your favorite part of Manila, Philippines? Send us a Tweet, let us know in the comment section below, or continue the discussion in our Facebook group!

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To see which cities we’ve interviewed and scheduled, please visit If you’d like to be a guest on the show, please submit an application at

Related episodes

To learn more about cities in Southeast Asia, listen to our other episodes:


  1. gpab

    FYI you’re supposed to disclose if a post is sponsored, which obviously this one is

    • Comment by post author


      I appreciate your concern, but I did not get paid for this blog post. However, Minute Suites has sponsored a previous podcast episode and I wanted to continue to share their promo code to the audience.

  2. Rupert

    There is no ZipCar in Manila, nor Minute suites, might be a cut & paste error?

    • Comment by post author


      Minute Suites currently has six US locations in cities that are international hubs. I’ve included them in this week’s episode because those cities are regular jumping off points for international destinations such as Manila.

      • BC

        Really? Which of the Minute Suites cities offers non-stop service to Manila?

        • Comment by post author


          Bill, I didn’t say that any of the Minute Suites cities offer non-stops to Manila. However, ATL, DFW, PHL, and CLT are international hubs for major airlines. Many listeners of the podcast enjoy traveling to international destinations (such as Manila), so I felt that offering a Minute Suites discount code is a good match. Aside from this issue, I hope that you’ve enjoyed listening to the podcast episodes.