One of the things tourists complain about Manila as a destination is that hotel rates are not cheap. In fact, they are quite expensive as compared to hotels in other Asean countries. And there’s really not many options for backpackers who wish to explore the country’s capital but have little or tighter budget.
As a result, they are discouraged from visiting the country and if they do, some directly go to Boracay, Cebu or Palawan, and they don’t get to appreciate the urban charms of Manila.
But thankfully, there is a Filipino family who recognized this problem and decided to open a hostel, one of the most convenient and affordable type of accommodation right in the heart of Manila.
Red Carabao, located in Felix Huertas in Sta. Cruz, Manila offers local and foreign backpackers an alternative way of staying and exploring Manila.
Rates go for as low as P204 or about $5 per person (hostelworld.com) for group rooms. Discounts are even available for those staying for more than 14 days.
It has a common lobby, just like most hostels where you can meet fellow travellers. It has free broadband terminals and breakfast are already inclusive of the rates.
It has a rooftop smoking area (where staying guests hold drinking sessions nightly), and there’s no curfew, perfect for those who wish to go clubbing.
Red Carabao also has a 24-hour surveillance system to ensure the guests security.
The hostel’s location is also quite central. You can go to downtown Manila, Makati, Caloocan and Quezon city easily through by the LRT and through jeepneys.
The emergence of these kind of hostels catering to foreign backpackers is a very much welcome development for the Philippine tourism industry.
The posh hotels will not really lose their clients since they are targeting a different segment of the tourist market. But these hostels, will encouraged those who have limited budget to still come to Philippine shores and see what we have to offer.
Tourism in Thailand boomed, thanks a lot to cheap hotels and hostels located everywhere, especially in Khao San Road in Bangkok. Backpackers also flock to Kuala Lumpur and stay at the numerous hostels along Jalan Petaling street.
Siem Reap in Cambodia also has lots of cheap hotels.
I met Aldrich, one of the passionate owners of Red Carabao at a house couchsurfing party he hosted and I was immediately impressed by his passion and dedication to change and improve people’s views on Manila.
I admit, I am one of those who believe that Manila as a tourist destination doesn’t have a lot of things to offer aside from the clubs, bars and red light districts.
But like the backpackers who have stayed in Red Carabao, whom Aldrich tour around the city, I realized that there is more to Manila than I know, or wish to recognize.
Granted that he grew up in the US, but Aldrich says that what we consider normal can be interesting for tourists. For one, our churches are beautiful.
|visitors in front of Quiapo church|
Our street foods are as bizarre and unique like those in China and Thailand.
Our traditional Flores de Mayo also captured the hearts of foreign visitors who saw it.
He also toured visitors in Binondo, our own version of Chinatown and they loved it.
Since it started operating in 2009, Red Carabao was clear and determined to accomplish its main goals. It is “on a mission to help change the way the world looks at Manila”.
With people like Aldrich and establishments like Red Carabao, I just realize that it may not be a futile attempt after all. In time, more and more foreign visitors may indeed see the city in a different, more positive light.
Photos courtesy of Red Carabao Facebook page and WordPress site.