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Day 1 Manila Essentials

Juana_ Amber Manila Essentials

It was warm, the sun had barely crept over the horizon. My eagerness caused the clock to move at a snails pace. I was ready to get out and see our new city.


Juana Amber MallOur first day in Manila 2009 naturally had to include a mall


The first lesson I needed to learn: Manila doesn’t get going until eleven am, ten at the earliest. Second lesson: traffic plays by its own rules. Even if your appointment isn’t until eleven or the grocery store opens at ten. Manila traffic is a loyal lover that never quits. You can always, ALWAYS, count on her being there.


Juana ManilaOur beloved city


As time moved on I eventually learned how to settle into this Manila life. Lesson by lesson they came, I learned how to make it home. For those of you who are new on this journey, allow me  to impart some wisdom that was either forced upon me or lovingly taught by friends.



Day 1 Manila Essentials


1.Toilet Paper. You never know when there is going to be toilet paper. It’s a gamble you can take at your own risk OR you can just carry a small pack of tissue around with you.


Juana Amber Toiler Paper Excitement That moment when your bathroom has toilet paper



2. Hand Sanitizer. Like any metropolitan, Manila is full of people and full of germs. Also, if you get into a hot and steamy neighborhood, smells can be ripe. Throw some sanitizer under your nostrils and problem solved.


            Juana Horse RidingPerhaps you find yourself on the back of a horse and buggy (kalesa) exploring Intramuros which carries you around but also horse droppings. It all adds to the charm.



3. Wet Wipes. Wether it is for wiping your face, hands, door handle or babies bottom, bring them. You never know what you may need to wet wipe.


4. Cash, Small Bills and Coins. Not every establishment takes credit card yet, you need to always have cash.      Having exact change is something clerks in Manila will literally thank you for. “Thank you for exact change Mam Sir.” I actually get a bit kilig over exact change. Also, if you’re taking a taxi or public transpo you have to have small bills.


5. SIM Card and Load. Manila is such an accessible place in terms of mobile phones. You can buy a cheap one or use your own by getting a local SIM Card (just around 50php) and load (phone credit) at any convenience store.


6. Phone Apps. Conversion apps are useful for money. Uber or Grab app for transportation are life lines in Manila.


7. Power Bank or Charging Cord. If you are using your app for Uber, texting or data your batteries life will be sucked away. You also never know how long you might be in traffic and need to juice your phone up.


May these tips bring you ease and comfort as you explore and learn to love this majestic gritty city.




Amber Folkman is a transplant from Seattle and calls Manila home. Being here long term, Amber has settled with her husband and have grown their family with three boys. Amber has made it a personal mission to get everyone to thrive in Manila by sharing her positive perspective through Instagram and her blog, amommabroad.com.

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11 Comments on Day 1 Manila Essentials

Baldyosa said : Guest Report 3 months ago

Your manila essentials are my everyday essentials! I agree with all of them and why we should always carry one with us every day. I guess, there will always be a struggle in our daily trips and being prepared for them is the best way to enjoy the trip/tour.

Irma said : Guest Report 3 months ago

I totally agree with you when it comes to the essentials. I think these could be carried to almost any bigger city. Wet wipes are my must wherever I go, so I like you mentioned it. When it comes to Manila, I am a bit surprised to hear that the city wakes up at 11 am. The good thing, though, is that traffic will never let you down.

Johna said : Guest Report 3 months ago

I live in Manila and I def agree with all of these. I bring/have these with me alllllll the time :D

Maaya Legaspi said : Guest Report 3 months ago

We have the same Manila essentials! haha! The weather is just terribly hot. It keeps getting warmer and warmer each year. High five to the sanitizer part! haha! I use alcohol tho but still, same purpose. And yes, the traffic's very bad. You should always allot more time for commute. But whatever bad things we say about Manila, we always keep coming back. Home is still home. :)

Maria said : Guest Report 3 months ago

Well, I would really agree to everything in the list! Even if I've been living in Manila since college, there are still factors that would make me want to go back to the province. I actually sometimes hate going out because of the traffic. Imagine going out of your house prepared, well-groomed then you're going to commute. You'll be like a dead fish upon reaching your destination. So bless you if you have the retouch kit (e.g. wet wipes/tissue) to freshen you up!

theresa said : Guest Report 3 months ago

When in Manila, you have to embrace the traffic. Saddening yes, but you'll get the hang of it! I agree with all the essentials you need to bring. Especially wipes and sanitizer. Include face mask also because of the intense pollution.

jared's mum said : Guest Report 3 months ago

Yes, this pretty much sums up the basics for when you travel to Manila. Traffic is really horrendous, we shun the city as much as possible and opt for places in the province even though we are just about an hour away from Manila. A calesa ride to Intramuros is always a charming to go around the oldest city in the country. These tips sure will come handy for those who plan to travel to Manila.

Amila said : Guest Report 3 months ago

This is an interesting list of essentials.Not only for Manila,these are essentials for any city.I always use a hand sanitizer in my bag.Different types of tissues are must have items too...

Veeyah said : Guest Report 3 months ago

Best list EVER. Manila traffic is hell, and often you do need to leave the house 3 hours earlier than normal to get to an appointment on time. Uber is a huge help for me too. When I'm in Manila though, I tend to stay away from places that are kinda sketchy or something, and stick to maybe Makati or something (though traffic is REALLY annoying).

Berlin |Momi Berlin said : Guest Report 3 months ago

Hahaha. So Manila. It is our life here and though we always experience traffic, it is still something that continuously irritate my mom, this daughter included. And yes, the smell, sound, and feel of Manila can be sometimes disappointing but Manila is Manila. And as the popular song says, I keep coming back to you, Manila.

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