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I've been there twice. I haven't met anyone whose been to Mactan and would recommend the beaches there. I've even met people from Cebu who recommend against it. I didn't like the city, but I think there's plenty of stuff to do if you're willing to travel, and I liked whale shark diving in Oslob. I want to go back some day and check out Bantayan island, Malapascua, and do some canyoneering. Again I'm not arguing against Cebu, I just think there are better places to go if you're pressed for time.
Well, I recommend you go out and meet more people.

Better places when pressed for time? It really depends on what you're into right?

The great thing about Cebu is that it's got everything.

If beaches and snorkeling is your thing, Nalusuan is right across a narrow channel from Mactan Island. If forest resorts and flowers are your thing, go up to Busay through the trans-central highway. If you want to be in a 5-star accomodations with a beach, then stay in the resort hotels in Mactan. If you're into cultural things, go to Sto Nino, Fort San Pedro and Colon St. If you want to enjoy the nightlife, there's Liv and other bars/clubs in Mandaue. You want girly bars, there's a bunch along Mango ave. If you want good food, well Cebu doesn't only have lechon but they have good pochero, bbq and longganisa, among other things.

Where do you snorkel in Metro Manila? Does Manila have forest resorts and resort hotels?

The only thing that Metro Manila is clearly better than Cebu in terms of a quick "getaway" are Casinos, Museums and Intramuros.
 

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Actually there are many places that has the kind of option aside from Manila and Cebu. Laoag, Davao, Clark, Subic, and to some extent going there Boracay, Bohol and Puerto Princesa. You just need to familiarize your countries tourism options and potential. Ignorance is bliss but having wider scope of knowledge setting aside bias is life!!
 

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For shopping, Metro Manila is clearly the destination. Baguio and Tagaytay have the mountainous ambiance. Cebu has beach resorts. Davao has Mount Apo. Legazpi has Mount Mayon. Palawan has the wildlife and underground river. I think no place can claim that they have it all. The best place for someone depends on his or her preferences.

In 2017, my Chinese friend told me that he would be visiting the Philippines for the first time. He indicated that he and his girlfriend would only stay here for a short time. I recommended that they visit Palawan because I consider Palawan as the top must-see place in the Philippines. After they went to Palawan, we met in Metro Manila. My friend wanted them to visit a historical place so I recommended that we visit Intramuros. My friend was also interested in shopping for local snacks and products so I recommended that we visit SM Megamall and Festival Alabang.

I think many tourists go to a certain country to visit the outstanding tourist spots and the capital or largest city. They visit the outstanding tourist spots to see exotic places that stand out in a country and they visit the capital or largest city because it is the heart of the country. It is like when people would go to France, visiting Paris is a high priority or if people go to Japan, visiting Tokyo is a high priority. I think the situation is the same in the Philippines. Many tourists from other countries visit the outstanding tourist spots (Palawan, Baguio, Cebu, Davao, Boracay etc.) and tour Metro Manila to experience the capital. I think that many tourists who visit the capital or largest city of a prominent or relatively prominent country because they want other people to be able to relate to them when they mention the place that they visited. It is like telling a friend, "Oh, I went to Bangkok and this place called Phuket which has beautiful beaches during my vacation." Her friend would likely be able to relate to her and know that she went to Thailand because Bangkok is an internationally known city.
 

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^^ And Binondo, BGC and major CBDs nightlife perhaps?
Well, tourists especially foreign one's do not go to CBD's because they have it already in their country. Let us talk here about tourism.
 

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^^Yes they have CBDs but many foreign tourists who visit a country for the first time also want to see the capital or largest city of a prominent or relatively prominent country because that city is usually known globally. My Chinese friend seemed very interested in roaming Metro Manila even if they have bigger and more modern cities in China.
 

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The most visited cities in the world:

1.Bangkok, Thailand — 21.98 million international visitors.
2. London, UK — 20.42 million international visitors.
3. Paris, France — 17.95 million international visitors.
4. Dubai, UAE — 16.66 million international visitors.
5. Singapore — 14.47 million international visitors.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/most-visited-cities-in-the-world-2018-9

These cities are the capital or largest cities in their country and are the most visited in the world. Malaking bagay talaga sa tourism ang popularity ng isang lugar sa mundo.
 

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^^Those capital cities have a lot of visitors because of their attractions.

1. BANGKOK has Grand Palace, Throne Hall, The Golden Buddha, Buddhist temples, Safari World, Dream World, Madame Tussauds, ocean parks, night markets, spicy but delicious street food, access to the popular Phuket, etc. (not mention the various hospitals and clinics which perform gender reassignment surgeries) :);
2. LONDON has many palaces (e.g. Buckingham, Westminster and Kensington), museums (e.g. British, Natural History, Science, Royal, Imperial War, Harry Potter and Madame Tussauds), art galleries (e.g. Tate Modern and National Gallery which displays the masterpieces of Van Gogh, Michaelangelo, Turner and Rembrandt), Tower Bridge on River Thames, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, etc.
3. PARIS has Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomple, Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Notre Dame, Louvre Palace/Pyramid/Museum (which houses old works of art such the Mona Lisa painting and the Aphrodite statue), Sacre-Coeur, The Pantheon, etc.
4. DUBAI has Miracle Garden, The Atlantis, Gold Souk, Burj Khalifa, Burj Al Arab, Palm Jumeriah, Desert Safari, etc.
5. SINGAPORE has Marina Bay Sands, Gardens By The Bay, Sentosa, Singapore Zoo & Night Safari, Ion Sky Observatory, ArtScience Museum, Chinese and Indian temples, parks, botanical gardens, etc.

Unfortunately, we don’t have much to offer to our visitors as yet. Our historical sites are not unique or uncommon to non-Asians. Old forts and churches can also be found in Europe and South America. The things that work for us are people and nature and these advantages are clearly explained by the couple in this video, who made a comparison between Thailand and the Philippines.

 

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Many tourists like to roam inside a CBD especially if they want to socialize with locals and to catch photos of our skylines.
Not really . CBDs are for business and are found everywhere in the world. malls are not that interesting unless you have products that they can't find in their home country or are cheaper and a great value. Manila has more to offer than makati , it has historical attractions ,Roxas blvd manila bay, casinos corregidor intramuros and has old world charms but it needs to be cleaned up.
 

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tourists have varied interests and tastes. like if i go to bangkok, i wouldnt want to go to dreamworld or safari world. or i wouldnt even give dubai or singapore a second thought. i prefer old places filled with much history, those that i came across while still in school. going to the capital city of a given country, for me, its more about comparing it with my own country's capital city and list down its advantages and disadvantages. shopping is not a highlight for some, unless you are buying local artworks, local hand-made products - not even counting those usual fridge magnets, etc.

to say that manila doesnt have much to offer is more of us, filipinos, comparing it with other capitals in different or specific categories. and even for some its about us not being interested with our own culture and heritage.

manila has intramuros, paco park, ccp complex, binondo, divisoria, its huge shopping malls, rizal park, its old churches dotting the whole metropolis, its museums and art galleries/communities (national museum complex, metropolitan museum of manila, lopez museum, yuchengco museum, ayala museum, vargas museum, aphro, cubaox, white space, etc), its performance arts (ballet, musicals, stage plays, live bands/concerts, dances, etc), night life (makati, bgc, tomas morato/timog, malate, alabang, marikina, katipunan, ortigas, etc), nature (ninoy aquino parks and wild-life, la mesa dam and its grounds, UP diliman grounds, etc), culinary tours/classes, art workshops, parades/festivals, etc etc....the list goes on and on........it really depends on what piques your interests....

for short trips outside the metro, you have tagaytay and its food offerings, orlina museum, nature hikes, sonia's garden, churches (calaruega, etc), heritage houses/ towns (taal, laurel, etc); cavite and its rich history (architecture, arts, politics, heritage houses, etc) and food offerings as well; laguna and its interesting natural wonders (hot springs, mt makiling, water falls, etc), rizal (masungi reserve, angono art scene, water falls, trekking, etc) batangas and quezon as well has a lot to offer. and on the northern part you have bulacan, pampanga, etc etc....

all these nearby provinces can be reached by bus/rented van or car in an hour's time or a bit more. so connectivity and accessibility are not a big problem.

These are just manila and its immediate and nearby provinces. i've been entertaining friends from overseas for over a decade now and they keep on coming back because they never ran out of things to do and visit, and most importantly, they really enjoyed their stay. kumikita sa akin ang SM Kultura during last minute buys he he he.

and there is our very much alive local tourism market....grabe kapag weekends (friday night pa lang) ang daming organized tours na nagco-converge in places within the metro for day trips outside of manila.....

and there is this unofficial tag that the philippines or manila is the up and coming entertainment capital of asia and this is not for just one specific aspect but they are trying to rope in international artists to use manila as their entry point to asia when it comes to touring shows (musicals, concerts, etc), and there is a segment in each and every country who will fly in to manila just to get ahead of everyone in watching these shows (even before they hit their own shores).....

and we have our casinos...and thats another story...:)
 

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Old forts and churches are actually interesting, at least for Northern Europeans and Brits from my experience. As I've pointed out, Earthquake Baroque is a very interesting and unique design only found in the Philippines and indeed gives it more of a Southeast Asian vibe than the wooden boring churches of Western Europe.

As for what Manila has to offer, we do have Rizal Park, Intramuros, Binondo(oldest Chinatown in the world), Divisoria, Manila Ocean Park, SM MoA, Entertainment City and various CBDs but indeed there should be more to offer, like a theme park bigger than Star City. And for goodness sake, get rid of the shanty towns
In addition to attractions, a city's atmosphere leaves much of an impression. If the Philippines had strict and appropriate building codes, then Manila and the other cities would have looked very differently. I'm sure Manila would have been a more attractive city had it maintained its pre-war look and density--at least in the Binondo-Intramuros-Ermita areas. A typical urban center in the Philippines looks like Quiapo--rundown, dingy, smelly, unorganized with kitschy buildings like Puregold and Sogo Hotel painted in bright colors. Filipino towns were patterned after Spanish ones--with an expansive plaza, a church and administrative buildings constituting the center. Many of these were destroyed in the war, and were replaced with parking lots, ugly government buildings, covered basketball courts, or etc. No one wants to see that.
 

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Just came from Japan trip (Osaka-Kyoto-Yamanashi-Tokyo).

Eto yung napansin ko sa tourism industry nila

1. Malinis ang mga tourist spots except na lang sa mga pasaway na tourist na nagtatapon ng basura at ang karaniwan na kalat ay mga upos ng sigarilyo.

2. Maraming tourist spots ang malayo sa nearest JR / Private railway stations kaya puro lakad pero walkable ang mga sidewalks nila at presko ka pa rin pagdating sa isang tourist spots

3. Malawak na railway system at the best ang train punctuality. Matatantya mo ang oras kapag gusto mong lumipat sa ibang tourist spots.

4. Mahal pero masasarap ang pagkain mapa sidewalk vendors, convenient stores, supermarket. Ika nga nila you get what you pay.

5. Very polite at approachable ang mga locals kahit may language barrier, di ka nila pagtatawanan or bibiruin based sa itsura or status mo.

6. Malinis ang mga public comfort room at libre lang paggamit

7. Crowded ang mga tourist spots lalo na ng mga Chinese at Koreans

8. Safe sa labas ng hotel kahit gabi at madaling araw.

9. Well lighted ang mga tourist spots kapag gabi.

10. Consistent yung prices ng mga souvenirs sa iba't ibang lugar. For example yung isang keychain, 350 Yen to Osaka, same price din sa Tokyo.

11. Properly maintained ang mga tourist spots lalo na mga ancient temples/castles

12. Transport system nila mayroon mga smartphone apps na pede gamitin para makita yung real time ng mga sasakyan na tren at bus.
 
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