By the time World War II ended in 1945, the Philippines’ once-flourishing capital city of Manila had suffered some of the war’s most devastating destruction. It’s taken many decades to recover, but the city once called the “Pearl of the Orient” has finally begun to regain much of its pre-war steam. Still largely untouched by the mass tourism that has engulfed other parts of Southeast Asia, Manila is not a city easily defined or even explored — after all, the greater metropolitan area encompasses 16 cities — but that’s part of the allure. Whether wandering the ruins of the old Spanish settlement in Intramuros, dining on fresh seafood at one of the city’s many wet markets or joining the locals for cold beers and a long night of karaoke, there’s never a dull moment in the cultural melting pot of Manila.