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Tony Reyes

Travelled to 11 countries / regions

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I'm a local born and living in Manila

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Asia > Philippines > Manila > Useful Info
Submitted on Apr 20, 2019 Useful Info

Manila street food health and safety tips from a local

  • Eating street food in Manila is usually not a problem for most travelers that I know, and certainly not an issue for us locals
  • From my experience Manila's street food cleanliness and safety is comparable to other cities in Southeast Asia like Kuala Lumpur, Chiang Mai, and Bangkok
  • That being said, here are some of my tips to help you minimize possible health problems:
  • As I noted here, there are two kinds of street food markets in Manila: open street markets and hawker centers. Try to go to hawker centers instead of open street markets
  • Open street markets are the typical Southeast Asian street foods you can probably imagine: stalls set up in open air on the side of a pedestrian street or alley, very crowded and chaotic and very little management. Like this: User submitted photo of Manila
  • Hawker centers are enclosed spaces on private premises where food vendors sell their food. It's much more regulated, orderly and clean. They also set up lots of tables for diners. Like this: User submitted photo of Manila
  • From quality, food variety, sanitation perspective, I highly recommend going to hawker centers instead of open street markets. Places like Mercato Centrale, Intramuros Night Market, and Sabroso Street Food Market fall under this category and they have delicious street food you can have for very little health risk. Again, check my post for more details on these hawker centers. Prices at hawker centers are still very cheap, and you should be able to have a decent meal for less than $3-5 USD
  • Avoid stalls that don't make to order. If they pre cook a bunch of stuff and let them sit, that increases the risk of germs growth. Food cooked to order will minimize this risk
  • Try to avoid anything uncooked, like salads, especially if you go to open street markets
  • Avoid stalls that don't have a lot of customers, because the food they have there have probably been sitting around for a long time and that increases the risk of germs growth especially in meats
  • Only drink things that come in bottles or cans. Never drink anything they give you in cups
  • Make sure the food handler isn't also handling money. Or if they're handling money, they're not touching the food directly with their hands. This will be hard to avoid but many stalls have different people that handle money and food