Discover Doha – The Mall Capital of the World

Doha, coined the mall capital of the world, is a shopper’s paradise. Here we go through our 5 favourite city malls so that you can plan your next shopping spree in the Middle East. Talk to Brightsun about our incredible range of cheap flights to Doha so that you can also get there on budget.

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1. Mall of Qatar

The massive Mall of Qatar, Qatar’s largest mall, opened its doors in December 2016. The mall measures 5.4 million square foot, and offers over 500 retail stores, hundreds of food outlets, an on site 5 star hotel, a 10 lane bowling alley, plus the largest IMAX laser 3D projection system in the world.

2. Alhazm Mall

The recently opened Alhazm Mall, which opened its doors in May 2017, is a luxury mall, designed to reflect Milan’s Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, one of the world’s oldest shopping malls. Alhazm Mall is fast becoming a top attraction in Doha, with more than shopping on offer, it has its own gardens and a library.

3. City Centre Doha

The City Centre Doha is one of the largest malls in Doha, attracting tens of thousands of visitors a day. The mall offers over 300 shops, an ice-skating rink, bowing alleys, a 14 screen cinema complex, plus restaurants spread over 5 floors. The mall is in West Bay, which also boasts slick new arts centres.

4. Villaggio Mall

The Villaggio Mall, covering over 350,000 square feet, has a Venetian inspired interior, where you can take a classic Gondola ride and shop the Via Domo Luxury Area. Here you can also enjoy the Gondoliana theme park, as well as ice-skating rinks, IMAX movie theatres and a range of food outlets.

5. Katara Plaza

The Katara Plaza, Qatar’s first open-air and air-conditioned plaza, set to open in September 2017, and will offer a Galeries Lafayette, an Evian Spa, plus a mall dedicated to children, with candy stores and clothes and games outlets galore. The mall is also set to host a range of cultural events, concerts and festivals.

Getting there

Qatar boasts one of the world’s best airlines, Qatar Airways, ranked number 1 in the world by Skytrax in 2015. From 2015 Qatar Airways introduced direct flights to Doha from Birmingham, making travelling to the Middle East effortless from most of the UK. Contact Brightsun Travel about our exclusive range of Doha flights from UK and get there in style this holiday.

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Explore Arabian History in the Middle East

The Middle East is a fascinating continent, with a long and rich history to explore. Brightsun Travel has Middle East flights offers all year round into the region’s main urban centres. Here we take you through some of our favourite historical cities in the Middle East.

Doha

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For a historic slice of Doha, you could visit the Souq Waqif, with authentic Arab shops. At the weekends, join the locals for brunch in the historic quarter, when cafes burst at the seams with elaborate buffets and hungry families. Or, in the impressive Museum of Islamic Art building, explore Islamic art spanning 1400 years and 3 continents, and relax in the MIA Park, offering amazing views of the Doha skyline.

Dubai

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Away from its modern architecture, the Al Fahidi Historic District is a heritage area in Dubai that has sand coloured houses and beautiful mosques that will transport you back in time. The best way to navigate your way through the area is to visit to the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding, a non-profit cultural centre, which offers tours that focus on the traditions and customs of the United Arab Emirates.

Istanbul

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In the Asian side of Istanbul, Beylerbeyi Palace, built in the 19th century, is an Ottoman palace with crystal chandeliers and marble fountains, and one of the most beautiful old interiors in the city. The city’s Grand Bazaar, in the heart of the Old City, is a century-old market with an array of stalls that could keep you entertained for days. Finally, built in 532, the Basilica Cistern is one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions, and a breathtaking underground palace.

Ras Al Khaimah

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From Ras Al Khaimah, you can take side trips into the Hajar Mountains, and stop off at the Dhayah Fort, dating back to the third millennium BC, and experience the only surviving hilltop fort in the United Arab Emirates. In the capital of Ras Al Khaimah you could explore its long and rich history, which dates back to the third century BC, in the old Jazirat Al Hamra village, or in its National Museum, set in the palace of the al Qawasim family, who ruled in the 18th century.

Flights

Brightsun Travel has a range of Middle East flights from UK, including direct flights from London to Dubai with Emirates airlines, ranked number 1 in the world by Skytrax in 2016, and short 4 hour flights into Istanbul with Turkish Airways. Qatar Airways will take you direct into Doha with award-winning service, or for the ultimate in luxury, fly ‘The Residence’ first class suites with Etihad Airways.

Travel Around Mauritius

Mauritius is a dreamy location, and its award-winning resorts certainly make the most of it. Here we take you through our 6 favourite resorts in Mauritius, from north to east. When you are ready to go, Brightsun Travel has a range of holiday and hotel packages to Mauritius, plus Mauritius cheap flights offers throughout the year.

Le Meridien Ile Maurice

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Starting in the north, Le Meridien Ile Maurice offers a family friendly resort from where you can enjoy a range of complimentary water sports activities, such as snorkelling, water skiing and boat tours, to make the most of the island’s exotic marine habitats and colourful warm waters. The hotel also offers fishing tours, diving expeditions and catamaran cruises.

LUX* Grand Gaube

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Also in the north, a short stroll from the quiet fishing village of Grand Gaube, and 10 minutes from Grand Bay, the 5 star LUX* Grand Gaube is a romantic resort set against white sandy beaches. The resort offers luxury villas with a 24 hour butler service, plus 5 swimming pools, a decadent spa with hot tubs, and a traditional hamman.

Hilton Mauritius Resort & Spa

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Hilton Mauritius Resort is a luxurious beachfront accommodation situated on the island’s west coast in Flic-en-flac. The award-winning hotel offers some exquisite culinary experiences in three restaurants featuring local flavours as well as a luxurious spa. Here guests can enjoy complimentary water activities and dolphin watching or drive to the Casela Nature and Leisure Park in about 20 minutes and embark on unforgettable safari adventures.

Constance Belle Mare Plage

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Go east in Mauritius and experience a part of the island that’s relatively untouched by mass tourism, and a world away from the lively beaches of the north. The Constance Belle Mare Plage is a 5 star resort, surrounded by soft white sandy beaches, offering luxury villas with private pools, deluxe suites and Prestige rooms, all with balconies or terraces overlooking the ocean.

LUX* Belle Mare

Belle Mare

The LUX* Belle Mare is a luxury hotel near the small village of Belle Mare on Mauritius’ east coast. The hotel offers thatched-roof suites and villas set on white sandy beaches. The hotel has a large outdoor swimming pool, a world-class golf course, plus a range of restaurants and bars, including a California-inspired food truck. Here you can also relax on Belle Mare beach or in the LUX* ME spa.

Flights & Hotel Packages

Contact Brightsun Travel for exclusive holiday and hotel packages to Mauritius, plus cheap air tickets to Mauritius from UK all year round.

Top experiences in the Maldives

The Maldives is known the world over for its amazing island location, with stunning beaches, exclusive resorts and some seriously good water sports. Here you can go wildlife spotting in its protected waters and World Heritage sites, stroll around an atmospheric capital city, or simply relax on the beach. Brightsun Travel offers a range of hotel and holiday packages to the Maldives, as well as discount airfares to Maldives so you can take your pick of the island’s many experiences this holiday.

Male

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Whilst most people travel out to the beaches soon after they land in Male, it is a city worth exploring for its beautiful mosques and bustling markets, offering a slice of the traditional side of the Maldives. Its National Museum explores Maldivian history back to the 12th century, and, the oldest mosque in the country, the Old Friday Mosque, is a beautiful building to explore, made of white coral. Head to the central Fish Market and experience Male’s heart and soul.

Beaches & World Heritage Sites

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The Maldives has some of the best beaches in the world, with white sand and crystal blue waters. Baa Atoll has received UNESCO World Heritage status, and here you can experience jungle wilderness and unspoilt beaches. Go west and you’ll find the Ari Atoll, an oval lagoon dotted with reefs, with incredible beaches and amazing diving opportunities. Or, go south to the South Male Atoll, and experience a remote corner of the Maldives, just a few hours by ferry from Male.

Wildlife

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The reefs around the Maldives offer sanctuary to an incredible array of tropical and endangered fish species and wildlife. Here you can swim with sharks in deep waters, and find yourself surrounded by small colourful fish, just moments from the beach. The Maldives is home to the Green and Hawksbill Turtles and also offers one of the best places in the world to see Whale Sharks, and Hammerhead Sharks.

Diving & Snorkelling

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Whether its leisurely snorkelling or deep sea diving that interests you, the Maldives can really deliver. In total, the coral reefs surrounding the Maldives represent a massive 5% of the world’s remaining intact coral reefs, and are the 7th largest in the world. Literally anywhere on the island you can snorkel and dive past incredible marine life and vibrant coral reefs. Go between May and September and you are almost guaranteed to spot majestic manta rays.

Flights & Holidays

Brightsun Travel offers exclusive holiday packages to the Maldives, and runs Maldives flights from UK all year round, so you can secure your ultimate island getaway this holiday.

 

Colombo – A Gateway to Sri Lanka’s Diverse Landscapes

Sri Lanka’s capital, Colombo, sits on the west coast of the country, and is surrounded by diverse landscapes including jungles, sandy beaches, lush tea plantations and World Heritage cities. Sri Lanka is another world to explore, and Brightsun Travel has cheap tickets to Colombo from UK, from where you can access a range of experiences.

World Heritage Sites

World Heritage Sites

From Colombo you can visit Sri Lanka’s ancient cities like the UNESCO World Heritage city of Kandy, where you can view the Temple of the Tooth temple, housing a sacred Buddhist shrine. Or, a short drive or train ride from Colombo is the most visited historic site in all of Sri Lanka, the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage site of ancient ruins, lying on dramatic rocky slopes.

Scenic Train Journeys

Scenic Train Journeys

From Colombo you can take a romantic train journey along the coast to Galle in the south of Sri Lanka, a Dutch Fort boasting classic architecture and an exotic oceanfront setting. Or travel through the picturesque landscapes of Nuwara Eliya in Sri Lanka’s hill country, and enjoy views of Sri Lanka’s hills and tea plantations.

Beaches

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Surrounding Colombo are popular beachside resort areas like Hikkaduwa, Bentota beach and Negombo. Head east and you will access the incredible Arugam Bay, arguably the best surfing beach in all of Sri Lanka, and Nilaveli, with golden sands, small islands and incredible diving and snorkelling. Or, head south to Mirissa, a stunning beach with a party atmosphere and whale-watching spots.

Tea Plantations

Tea Plantations

From Colombo you can take some of the most scenic rail journeys in South Asia, through Sri Lanka’s stunning interior, and past some of the finest tea plantations in the world. Stop off and visit the Dambatenne Tea Factory, built in 1890 by Sir Thomas Lipton, and learn about the tea making process in fantastic factory tours, and buy a box to take home.

National Parks

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Yala National Park, a 45 minute flight from Colombo, is the most visited park in the country, and famously provides sanctuary to the highest leopard concentration in the world, with forests, grasslands and wetlands to explore. Or, Uda Walawe National Park is one of the best places in Asia to spot wild elephants, and Bundala National Park offers prime bird spotting opportunities.

Flights

Contact Brightsun Travel about Colombo cheap flights offers, plus a wide range of Sri Lankan tours so that you can enjoy all that this incredible country has to offer next holiday.

 

Discover National Parks & World Heritage Sites

The Indian Ocean is where you’ll find the world’s largest population of leopards in its important National Parks, and beautiful World Heritage sites that contain one of the largest coral reef systems on the planet. Brightsun Travel has cheap flights to Indian Ocean, plus holiday packages that will take you to some of the region’s highlights.

National Parks

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Yala National Park, Sri Lanka

Yala National Park in Sri Lanka, a 45 minute flight from Colombo, has forests, grasslands and wetlands to explore. It was one of the first National Parks to be established in Sri Lanka, and is now the most visited park in the country. The park famously provides sanctuary to the highest leopard concentration in the world.

The Black River Gorges National Park, Mauritius

The Black River Gorges National Park, Mauritius

Mauritius has many protected areas and National Parks where you can explore ancient forests, magnificent mountains and exotic waterfalls. The Black River National Park is the biggest and most important park in Mauritius, and the best place to catch a glimpse of the incredibly rare Mauritian Kestrel and the Pink Pigeon.

World Heritage Sites

Coral Reefs, Maldives

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The Maldives is globally significant for its coral reefs, which are the 7th largest in the world, accounting for 5% of the world’s total reef area. The island’s reefs have received World Heritage status, including Baa Atoll, where you can experience jungle wilderness and unspoilt beaches, and Ari Atoll, where you’ll find incredible beaches and amazing diving opportunities.

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

Sigiriya Rock Fortress, Sri Lanka

One of our favourite of Sri Lanka’s UNESCO World Heritage sites is the Sigiriya Rock Fortress, a short drive or train ride from Colombo. The Sigiriya Rock Fortress is an abandoned palace at the top of a gigantic boulder, and one of the most visited sites in Sri Lanka today. A highlight here is the gardens of Sigiriya city, one of the world’s oldest landscaped gardens.

Where to stay

• Sri Lanka: Base yourself at the 5 star Cinnamon Grand in Colombo, an exclusive hotel on the seafront, with 14 restaurants, a luxury spa and Presidential suites.
• Maldives: The Bandos resort in the Maldives offers decadent over water villas with freshwater pools, plus an award-winning Dive Centre on its doorstep.
• Mauritius: LUX* Belle Mare and LUX* Grand Gaube have got Mauritius covered, with luxury accommodation options in the north and the east of the island.

Flights

Contact Brightsun Travel about exclusive hotel deals and cheap airfares to Indian Ocean so you can experience all that the region has to offer this holiday.

Beach Resort, Boutique Hotel or Desert Oasis? Where to Stay in Dubai

Dubai offers visitors an irresistible mix of pristine beaches, world class entertainment, vast shopping malls, as well as a great big slice of Middle Eastern culture. Brightsun Travel are experts of travel to the Middle East, offering Dubai flights deals, and stays in some of the world’s most elaborate hotels and resorts. Here we take you through some of the many options of where to stay in the incredible emirate of Dubai.

Downtown: Raffles Hotel

Raffles hotel

Situated in the heart of Dubai, the Raffles Hotel offers some of the biggest and best rooms in the city, with private balconies, and Raffles’ signature butler service. The hotel boasts an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by impressive gardens, a Raffles Spa, plus award-winning restaurants and bars.

Desert: Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa

Bab Al Shams Desert Resort

This resort offers a traditional desert experience just 45 minutes outside Dubai, with an award-wining spa and luxurious rooms overlooking surrounding deserts. Here you could spend your days riding camel back across golden sand dunes, or relaxing at poolside bars, and in rooftop lounges.

Beach: Hilton Dubai the Walk ,Jumeirah

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The Hilton Dubai the Walk Jumeirah is a 5 star resort located in the heart of Jumeirah Beach, right on ‘The Walk’, a famous shopping mile in the Dubai Marina complex, the largest man-made marina in the world. The hotel provides the ideal balance of a beachside holiday, with shopping and entertainment right at your doorstep.

Shopping: Jood Palace Hotel

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The sophisticated and 5 star Jood Palace Hotel is located in Deira, close to the world’s biggest shopping mall, the Dubai Mall, as well as exotic souqs and the Deira City Centre Mall. Stay at the hotel and enjoy a rooftop swimming pool, signature spa and award-winning restaurants.

City Views: The Palace Downtown

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Stay in the Imperial Suite at the Palace Downtown and enjoy 5 star accommodation overlooking the Dubai Fountain or Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. Here you could take Palace High Tea every afternoon in its elegant lounge, and dine al fresco overlooking the incredible Dubai city sky line.

Nightlife: Grand Hyatt Dubai

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The Grand Hyatt is an award-winning 5 star resort hotel in Dubai’s historic creek area, with 13 restaurants and bars, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, 4 swimming pools and an on-site spa. The hotel boasts the ultimate in night time entertainment, in its Chic nightclub, which is home to some of Dubai’s best DJs.

Flights

Brightsun Travel offers cheap flights to Dubai, including direct flights from London with the incredible Emirates airlines, ranked number 1 in the world by Skytrax in 2016.

 

How to have the perfect day out in the richest city in the world

Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, and a place where you’ll find luxury hotels with real gold lining the walls, mosques made of pure white marble, man-made islands with some of the world’s most impressive theme parks, and state-of-the-art malls. Brightsun Travel has a range of cheap air tickets to Abu Dhabi plus hotel and holiday packages so that you can have a luxury city break in the Middle East this holiday.

Morning – The Emirates Palace

The Emirates Palace

Start at the renowned Emirates Palace, both hotel and attraction, and experience the ultimate in opulence, with real gold lining the walls, and over 1000 crystal chandeliers hanging from its ceilings. The hotel boasts award-winning restaurants, 85 hectares of garden and over 1.3 kilometres of private beach. The hotel is often labelled the cultural hub of the city, with an impressive fine art collection and regular high profile concerts and festivals.

Midday – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

The magnificent Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is a fine example of Islamic architecture, located in the centre of Abu Dhabi. The mosque is enormous, with the capacity to host over 40,000 worshippers, and is made of pure white marble and semi-precious stones, and has gold chandeliers dotted with Swarovski crystals. The mosque is open to visitors, and guided tours, that are free every Saturday, offer the opportunity to learn about Islamic religion.

Afternoon – The Souk at Central Market

The Souk at Central Market

As you would expect from the richest city in the world, Abu Dhabi is a shopper’s paradise. The Souk at Central Market, designed by Normal Foster, is a mega modern mall, and an architectural masterpiece, with closing walls and ceilings to allow natural ventilation, and stain glass windows as a nod to the traditional souks of the past. The complex also has parks and roof gardens, plus vast retail areas with high end boutiques and traditional food markets.

Evening – Yas Island

Yas Island

At night, head to Abu Dhabi’s man-made island, Yas Island, and you could order a 3 litre bottle of Cristal champagne at one of its exclusive nightclubs and celebrity hangouts. Yas Island offers dining and entertainment opportunities galore, like the Ferrari World theme park, plus 5 star hotels, like the Yas Viceroy, the island’s centrepiece, where you can kick back in rooftop bars, and wake up to direct access to Yas Beach.

Flights

Brightsun Travel has a range of Abu Dhabi flights from UK, including direct flights from London with Etihad Airways and British Airways daily.

 

Shanghai, From Towering Skyscrapers to a Picturesque Old Town

Shanghai, in China, is one of the fastest growing cities on the planet. But as well as being an ultra modern city with one of the tallest buildings in the world, the city has pockets of history and culture that will transport you back in time. When you are ready to go, Brightsun Travel has discounted airfares to Shanghai all year round, so you can experience the old and new in Shanghai this holiday.

A Sci-fi Skyline

A Sci-fi Skyline

The incredible metropolis of Shanghai, a city that has developed at such warp speed that it boasts contemporary skyscrapers and urban architecture like no other Chinese city, has an almost sci-fi skyline, which includes one of the tallest buildings in the world, the Shanghai Tower, towering above old laneways and local markets.

Contemporary Architecture

Contemporary Architecture

Across Shanghai you will find incredible architecture, centred around the Pudong district, where you can go to the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower, or the Jinmao Tower, for a bird’s-eye view of the city. Or head to the Power Station of Art, Shanghai’s answer to the Tate Modern, and explore a contemporary gallery housed in a former power plant.

Traditional Shanghai

Traditional Shanghai

Almost as an antidote to the city’s mega-skyscrapers, a tour of the city’s Old Town would reveal Shanghai’s more traditional side. Head to the historic district of Bund, and you will discover many heritage buildings that have been preserved for their cultural importance, including Art Deco and neoclassical buildings, old hotels and classic buildings housing traditional British Gentlemen’s clubs.

Shikumen

Shikumen

In some parts of Shanghai, like in Tianzifang, you can walk through Shanghai’s last remaining shikumen complexes, alleyway complexes (or gated communities) that traditionally provide low-rise dwellings for families, and part of the city’s historic landscape. In Xintiandi you could tour the Shikumen Open House Museum and imagine what life in Shanghai was like just a few decades ago.

Wuzhen

Wuzhen

When you are ready to leave the city, just 90 miles from Shanghai, is the ancient water village of Wuzhen, built around waterways and canals, where you can experience the traditional side of China, showcasing a very different way of life to its more space age neighbour. Here you can take a boat trip along winding canals and imagine what life was like in ancient China.

Getting there

Contact Brightsun Travel about a wide range of direct and cheap flights to Shanghai, and take a memorable city break to China this holiday.

 

Manila: One of Asia’s Coolest Cities

The cosmopolitan city of Manila offers a diverse mix of attractions for visitors, from Spanish colonial architecture, to up and coming creative enclaves boasting edgy art galleries. The list of things to do in Manila is endless. Here we have put together 10 of our favourite things to do in Manila, to help you navigate the city’s highlights. When you are ready to go, contact Brightsun Travel about discounted airfares to Manila, and discover one of Asia’s coolest cities.

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1.Parks

Royal Park, covering a massive 60 acres in the heart of the city, is an iconic landmark in Manila, with ornate gardens and atmospheric walkways winding past monuments of great historical significance.

2.Churches

Manila’s architecture includes beautiful old churches, like the San Agustin Church, the oldest church in the Philippines, with an ornate interior and delicately decorated ceilings.

3.Palaces

In Manila you could visit the incredible Malacañang Palace set on the Pasig River. This palace complex, dating back to the 18th century, has been the official residence of the Filipino president since 1935.

4.Historic Buildings

A must-see in Manila is the beautiful Casa Manila, a reproduction of a Spanish colonial house, and a beautiful spot to while away a tropical Manila afternoon, surrounded by atmospheric architecture.

5.Museums

Manila is full of museums, including the National Museum of the Filipino People, with artefacts dating back to 24,000 BC, plus a range of indigenous textiles and ancient shipwrecks.

6.Galleries

The world class Metropolitan Museum of Manila is one of Manila’s top art spaces and galleries, where you could spend an afternoon exploring a range of local contemporary and experimental art.

7.Gardens

Head to the Manila Orchidarium and you could escape the city and surround yourself by hundreds of orchids. The gardens also have attractive water features and walking bridges that are a world away from downtown Manila.

8.Promenades

Take in impressive views of Manila Bay from its pedestrianised Baywalk, running along its central Roxas Boulevard, passing important landmarks, like the Quirino Grandstand.

9.Forts

The city’s premier tourist attraction is Fort Santiago, with restored 18th century military barracks, landscaped gardens and magnificent fountains to keep the whole family entertained.

10.Shopping

Escolta Street was once known as the Fifth Avenue of the Philippines, and after a long economic decline, has been recently rejuvenated, now boasting cafes, boutiques, galleries and restaurants.

Flights

Brightsun Travel runs regular Manila cheap flights offers, and has a range of hotel and holiday packages so that you can secure a fantastic city break to Manila this holiday, and discover one of Asia’s fastest growing cities.