Have you made plans for your next holiday destination? Where are you thinking of? If you want to go to a place with rich natural elements and a touch of modern quality, you should head to Manila. The big city has tons of interesting spots to explore although you may need to have extra patience with the notorious traffic condition. Rest assured, though, that the city has its own appeal and you will fall in love with the vibe.
General Tourist Destinations
Manila is a big city so it is pretty logical to find many interesting spots there. From the family entertainment to culinary exploration, you will never get bored of the city.
Intramuros (Walled City)
In English, it means the Walled City. And this area has become Manila’s one of the most popular landmarks because of its historical value. It is also the oldest district in Manila, so it is only logical if tourists and travelers would come to this place to admire the architecture. With the Spanish influence, it looks ancient and also beautiful at the same time. If you want to reach the place by public transportation, simply use the LRT1 and head to Natividad Almeda-Lopez. You can continue your trip on foot to Padre Burgos – you will have to pass by the City Hall. Intramuros is across Padre Burgos. You can explore the place on your own but if you want to take part in the jeepney tour, biking tour, or guided walking, be sure to book a place first.
What makes this center interesting is its concept as a commercial and entertainment center. Taking place in Makati’s business district, this place has many recreational options as well as dining and shopping variants. Because of the location, which is in the center of the city, it is a perfect spot for leisure and also the business. You can use both the MRT and the bus to reach it. Hotels and malls are located pretty close to each other, making it a convenient area for exploration with easy walking distance.
Poblacion in Makati
Poblacion is the old downtown district in Makati that has become the main business district in Manila. You can find the center of culture, government, entertainment, and history there. You should be able to easily find dining centers and entertainment spots there. By using the MRT, you can get off at Buendia Station. From there, you are free to use any means of transportation you want – but people mostly choose the jeepney.
Videoke Karaoke Bar
Rumour says that everyone in Manila likes music or musical performance. That’s why the Videoke (the karaoke bar) is quite popular there. It can be a fun source of entertainment at night, especially since it is easy to find in every corner of the street. There are different kinds of karaoke bars available in this city. If you are confident enough, you can sing on a stage in front of a large group of people. But if you are the shy type, then the karaoke box should do it.
It was originally a cemetery that was turned into a park in the 19th century. What’s so special about it? Basically, it is a park with a balustrade walkway, flowerbeds, trees, and lawns, and also St. Pancratius cemetery circular chapel. There is a sense of peace and quietness when you explore the park – not the spooky or eerie type – but the comforting one. You can still see some of the remains of the original element in this park.
Shopping is one of the biggest enjoyments when you are traveling. Make sure that you take the chance when you are travelling to Manila.
One of the reasons why this place is really popular is because it is claimed as the oldest Chinatown in the world. Although Manila is packed with malls and shopping centers, there is a certain excitement when you go to Binondo and explore the place around. The place is crowded but it is worth the hassle because you can explore Divisoria, a place popular for its bargain shopping enjoyment and inexpensive goods. Dim sum is one of the most popular foods to find there. Using public transportation to reach the place isn’t difficult although you have to make several transfers. Go to Taft Terminal Station with the MRT and change to LRT1 to Carriedo Station. Continue on foot to Ongpin – you will pass by St. Cruz Church. Chinatown starts at Ongpin which is located behind St. Cruz Church.
It is a shopping complex specializing in antique furniture, retail and clothing, pets, native foods, and souvenirs. If you want to see band performances, you should come here during weekends. If you want to visit the cultural show, drop by on Sunday nights. Going to Tiendesitas is pretty easy because you can use either the MRT or the bus.
Greenhills Shopping Center
If you are into shopping so much, this is a place that you shouldn’t miss. You can find almost everything there, from bags and pearls to inexpensive knock-off shoes and shirts. You can shop till you drop, exploring the place to your heart content. If you are tired of window shopping, you can wind down and enjoy the foods – the places have their own modern dining spot so no need to worry about getting hungry. If you don’t like shopping, you can watch a movie at the cinema. This shopping center is accessible by bus or jeepney so it is relatively easy to reach.
Mall of Asia
It isn’t only the biggest shopping malls in Manila, but it is the biggest one in the Philippines. What can you find there? Everything! You can find restaurants, shops (many of them), cinemas, IMAX theatre, and also bars. Another interesting thing about this place is the Esplanade, which is located behind the mall. If you go there at night, you can enjoy the marvelous view of the city. And yes, you can also enjoy Manila Bay sight when it is sunset. If you want to go there, just use the MRT heading to Taft Terminal Station. Then continue with jeepney to Mall of Asia.
Manila is known for its exotic food and there are a lot of new dishes that you want to try. So, where should you go?
This place is popular for its food, which means that it is ideal for your culinary exploration. Expect to fine dining establishments such as coffee shops, cafes, and restaurants. However, it is also popular as the art district with tons of indie shops and bookstores, and also the artistic hub. Because it is located pretty close to some campuses, this area is often swarmed by families and students. Use the bus to Philcoa and continue with the tricycle. If you come to the area during weekends, the food parks and restaurants will be crowded.
Pasay Seafood Market
This market isn’t far from Mall of Asia. Don’t expect it to be wide and spacious. On the contrary, you will have to cramp your way down the tight aisles – stalls are located along the line. On each stall, you can see piles of crabs, lobsters, shrimps, mussels, and different kinds of fish. If you buy from one of the stalls, you can take your purchase to the restaurant and have them cook it for you. The restaurants are just outside this seafood market so it is pretty convenient and neat. Keep in mind, though, that the price is a bit higher. But then again, that’s what you have to spend if you want fresh food.
Manila is the city where ancient temples or old buildings are left intact – and they are preserved well. You can learn about their history and culture if you know the spots.
This place once made headlines in international news in 2016 because of ghost presence. Rodrigo Duterte, the new president, refused to move into the palace because of the ghost. But then again, such a headline sparked curiosity out of people, making the palace one of the most popular spots among tourists – mostly because they are curious about whether the palace is haunted or not.
In general, the palace has its own appeal with the antique furniture and art collections. It was established in 1750 so you can still see the appealing part of the design and architecture. If you are interested in taking a look inside the palace and you want to learn more about the city’s history, you should reserve a tour.
San Agustin Church
The church is the oldest church with stone construction in Manila, and even in the Philippines. No wonder if it is included within UNESCO site lists with historical richness and value. The church was built in the 16th century with Baroque style. The interior decor is amazing with intricate moldings and classic paintings. This is a place with rich cultural and historical value, and it is open to the public. Weddings are often held there. When it happens, the church will close early.
San Agustin Museum
The church was originally built with a monastery, which was heavily damaged during World War II. It is a good thing that restoration took place in the 1970s to the place that can be rebuilt once more. Since then, the halls, sacristy, refectory, and library have been turned into a museum. You can learn a lot of things here, from the colonial years to the history of Catholic development in the country. You can also see some of the religious collections, like wooden statues, antique missals, old altars, crucifixes, old vestments, and paintings.
Manila has its Chinese community, which has existed since the Spanish colonial era. This museum records its presence in Philippines history, including its achievement and culture. In this three-floor museum, you can learn about their history, starting from their arrival in the 9th century. Being the minority has brought some limitations to their lives but they gained their independence through opportunity and assimilation. After all, they had an important role in the Philippines’ industrial era.
The church has undergone its own renovation and restoration after the war and earthquakes happening in Manila. The restoration does a pretty good job, keeping the Baroque style intact so it has this classic style. But once you get into the church, it looks pretty modern – well, at least it looks like the design from the 80s. The highlight of this church is the Black Nazarene, which is the icon, Jesus Christ, carrying his cross in the full-size dimension. The icon was crafted a long time ago in Mexico before it finally ended up in 1606 in Manila. The dark wood material has made it look somewhat natural and real.
As it was mentioned before, the Chinese were the minority that was often rejected by the native people. This Chinese cemetery was built for Chinese residents – at that time, they weren’t permitted to be buried in the Catholic cemeteries. During World War II at the time of Japanese occupation, the cemetery was used for execution. You can find a temple, Chong Hock Tong, which was built in 1850. It is claimed to be the oldest temple in Manila. The design is similar to those found in Fujian Province in China. If you explore the place, you can also visit Liat See Tong, this is a memorial hall dedicated to Chinese community scholars and leaders killed by the Japanese.
Transportation in Manila
If you want to travel by air, Manila only has one international airport, which is Ninoy Aquino International Airport. But if you are looking for the low budget flights, Manila has Clark International Airport which is situated in Pampanga in Clark Freeport Zone. Whereas Ninoy Aquino airport is quite close to Makati and it is 7 kilometers away on the southern Manila, Clark airport is 80 kilometers away on the northwest Manila.
The bus service is quite good and the rate is inexpensive. The good thing about this service is that most cities have bus terminals, so the bus is one of the most convenient ways to travel. If you want to use the train, it can be a bit difficult because it doesn’t have any access to other cities. If you are from other cities traveling to Manila, going by train can be difficult. The metro, on the other hand, is a popular way of travelling around the city and you can get to different points, spots, and locations easily.
Ferries are quite common and popular in Manila. Manila has a lot of city ports connected to other cities so it should be easy to enter Manila from other cities. Besides the metro, you can explore the city by sharing the cab or Jeepney. Travelers can also use the minibus that is generally operating all day long.