When visiting Manila, a tourist’s major concerns are safety and health.
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Foreign tourists can maintain good health in Manila by properly choosing the correct foods, knowing where health centers and hospitals are located, and following good, healthy habits.
Dining is one of the best reasons to tour Manila and its many bars, diners and restaurants. One has to be careful, though, in choosing only the cleanest and safest places to eat. Dining at 5-star hotels and well-known restaurant chains such as Gerry’s, Dencio’s and Barrio Fiesta guarantees the cleanliness and nutritious value of the foods they serve. Popular burger chains such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Jollibee are also pretty safe.
The problem lies when foreign tourists become adventurous. There are so many little-known restaurants and diners that are equally tempting, but there are no guarantees that their dishes are clean and safe.
Also, foreigners should think twice when facing the challenge of eating a “balut” egg. This local delicacy, a steamed duck egg, was made famous by the TV hit show “Fear Factor.” Contestants were made to face their fear by eating duck embryo, complete with the beginnings of hair, undeveloped wings and a tiny beak direct from the balut egg.
When in doubt, do not try balut or any other street foods. An array of street foods in Manila includes chicken intestines, chicken head, and fried one-day-old chicks. Such a list should be enough to dissuade all but the most daring of tourists, and even those should think twice before ingesting any of the items just mentioned, especially if bought off a street vendor.
Regarding the safety of drinking water, there were times when only foreign tourists were careful not to drink tap water. Today, no one drinks directly from the tap. Drink only bottled, filtered or distilled water.
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Watch out for the ice cubes as well. When eating in restaurants, ask specifically whether the ice they put into your favorite drink is made from filtered or distilled water. Most reported cases of diarrhea among tourists are due to the water.
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This means you should bring your own bottled water wherever you go. If you are not used to the humidity in Manila, you could faint from exhaustion and dryness. Rehydrate often and only with water bottled by reliable brands and names. Do not buy bottled water from bus vendors.
The adventurous tourist should know where the nearest medical facility is located. Manila is a highly developed city so there are many competent and well-equipped medical centers around. The most popular ones are the Medical City in Pasig, Makati Medical Center in Makati, and Saint Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig and Quezon City.
However, you do not need to rush to a hospital for minor health problems. A medical clinic will do. Major department stores and malls as SM and Ayala have their own medical centers and clinics.
Check a local map or ask your host or hotel concierge for the nearest hospital or medical clinic.
Finally, when in Manila, maintain your own healthy habits. When on a business trip, be careful not to skip meals just so you can attend meetings. When visiting friends and partying, make sure not to stay up too late on successive nights and take it easy on the alcohol. Health in Manila, as in any other part of the world, ultimately depends on you and how you take care of yourself.