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15 Best Things to Do in Manila

Manila is a city of contrasts. Where modernity mixes with a mixture of native, Spanish, Chinese and American cultures.

Manila is the center of culture, economy, education, and government in the Philippines. It is the most populated region in the country and one of the most densely populated in the world.

Manila is usually the gateway to the country for millions of travelers. Although it is not the only international airport. In our case, we arrived at Cebu International Airport and left through Manila Airport. Here you have a complete guide to Travel to the Philippines.

Here are the top 15 things to do in Manila, where to stay, and the best excursions to do from the Philippine capital.

15 Best Things to Do in Manila


1. Stroll through Intramuros, the “walled” city of Manila

Intramuros is a walled district of Manila. It is one of the oldest areas of the city and the vast majority of Manila's attractions are located here. This area dates back to the 16th century and was built as a defense against invaders. In the past, it was also the Headquarters of the Spanish Colonial Government in the Philippines.

Some of the most notable places within the walls are the Fort of Santiago, the Church of San Agustin, the Manila House, the Manila Cathedral and the Baluarte de San Diego.

In Intramuros you have the possibility of riding a bamboo bicycle on a tour, a fun activity that I recommend doing in Manila.

2. Visit the Manila Cathedral

This beautiful cathedral dates back to 1571 and was built by the Spanish. Since then, due to battles and natural disasters, the cathedral has had to be rebuilt and remodeled on several occasions, so you can see a mix of styles, although the neo-Romanesque stands out. It is one of the essential visits to do in Manila. You will find it located in Intramuros.

3. The fort of Santiago, one of the best visits to do in Manila

Fort Santiago, located within the walls, is a fortification that was built in the 16th century by the Spanish to defend Manila from invaders. When the Spanish left, the United States took control, then the Japanese during World War II, until the Philippines became independent and turned the Fort into a museum.

4. Rizal Park

Rizal Park, known as Luneta, is one of the parks that you can find in the center of Manila. The place was founded in 1820 by the Spanish in honor of José Rizal, a national hero of the Philippines. In the park there are several places of interest to visit such as the Jose Rizal Monument, the Rizal Park Museum, a Chinese garden, a Japanese garden and an open-air theater. In addition, there are many garden areas, a children's playground, picnic areas.

5. Visit Manila's Chinatown

South of Intramuros you will find Binondo, the oldest Chinatown in the world. There is a beautiful church that is worth visiting, a wide variety of restaurants, counterfeit shops and all kinds of odds and ends... There are several places of interest to see in Chinatown, among which the Binondo Temple and the Kuan Kong Temple stand out. .

6. Visit the Makati neighborhood

Makati is actually an independent city from Manila, which due to overpopulation and the enlargement of both cities, are attached to each other. Makati is not very big, so it can look like a neighborhood in Manila. It is the financial and commercial area, in addition, there are several places of interest to visit in this area, among which the Ayala Triangle plaza, Fort Bonifacio Global City and its commercial area stand out.

7. Stroll along Manila Bay at sunset

Manila Bay is the great natural harbor around which the city was built. The beautiful bay has been the scene of naval battles throughout history, many of which have decided who ruled the Philippines. However, the bay is known for its beautiful sunsets and long boardwalks. From here you have a pleasant walk with the evening lights.

15 Best Things to Do in Manila

8. Go shopping at Expo Cubao

Expo Cubao is a commercial district known for its vintage shops, restaurants, abundant craft workshops and street food stalls. It is an area with a lot of atmosphere, perfect for going to dinner. You can eat very cheaply and you will find food stalls with everything; fish, meat, noodle soups, more elaborate dishes, sweets...

15 Best Things to Do in Manila

9. Visit Corregidor Island

One of the best things to do in Manila is to take a boat tour to Corregidor Island. This is one of the largest islands found in Manila Bay and, due to its strategic position at the entrance to the bay, it was always one of the most fortified parts of the city in the past.

Today, much of the island is still occupied by bunkers, barracks and weapons emplacements.

During World War II, the island was affected by many conflicts and battles. For this reason, many buildings are in ruins.

10. Ayala Museum

The Ayala Museum is located in the Makati district, and is one of the best things to do in Manila to learn more about Philippine history.

The modern museum houses a wonderful collection of historical artifacts collected from all over the Philippines, from ancient pottery to prehistoric excavations.

It is a great place to learn more about the country's many different ethnic groups and their unique history, culture and heritage.

11. Visit the Quezon City Memorial Circle

The Quezon City Memorial Circle is another of the essential places to see in Manila. It is a National Park created in 1948 in honor of Manuel L. Quezon, who was the first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. In this park there are some interesting places to visit such as the Shrine Museum, the Quezon Memorial Shrine, a Japanese garden, a Chinese garden and a theater.

12. Pagsanjan, one of the best excursions to do from Manila

One of the best day trips from Manila is to Pagsanjan Falls, a spectacular waterfall that will blow you away with its size and location. The only way to reach the falls is to walk from the nearest town or take the popular local canoes along the river, to view the triple waterfalls from below.

13. Visit Pinatubo Lake

Lake Pinatubo is a lake created within the caldera crater of Mount Pinatubo, an active volcano located near Manila. This lake is one of the deepest lakes in the Philippines, with about 800 meters deep.

The Pinatubo volcano was considered inactive for centuries until a volcanic eruption occurred in 1991, the largest of the 20th century. This eruption was what created a huge crater that later formed the lake thanks to the rains.

15 Best Things to Do in Manila

14. Go trekking to the Taal volcano

Manila is a city very close to great natural wonders and one of them is the Taal Volcano.

The Philippines is rife with volcanic activity, and the Taal Volcano is one of the second most active in the country. It is also one of the most beautiful volcanoes, as here you can find a volcano within a volcano, as a large water-filled crater in an even larger lake surrounds the active cone. It is a spectacular view and perfect for outdoor activities.

15. Tagaytay

Taal Volcano is located in the Tagaytay region south of Manila, but there is much more to do here during the day besides trekking to the volcano.

Tagaytay is located in the highlands, being a cool and wonderful refuge perfect to escape from the stifling Manila. In the area there are activities such as kayaking to explore the crater lake, small towns and various hikes.



I hope you enjoy your trip to the Philippines very much and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.

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A hug and see you soon!


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