Our list of the 10 best things to do in Manila are, in keeping with the image of this outstanding metropolis, a mix of Spanish colonial remains and modern buildings. Funded by the Spanish at the end of the 16th century, then conquered by the United States at the end of the 19th century, then occupied by the Japanese during World War II, Manila has a long history that can still be observed through the many historical edifices it houses.
Go through our list of Manila’s best attractions for a virtual visit of the capital city of the Philippines and it will certainly give the taste to see all these architectural wonders for real during your next holiday.
Also called ‘the Walled City’, Intramuros was built by the first Spanish colonial settlers in the late 16th century, and is in fact the first ever version of Manila. Covering an area of a bit more than half a square kilometre, Manila Intramuros offers a pleasant walk through time, giving you the opportunity to discover well-preserved religious, military, educational and cultural edifices. You can spend the whole day in Intramuros, as the historical neighbourhood hosts a good choice of Filipino restaurants. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 17:00
- Location: If you are coming to Intramuros by LRT, get off at the United Nations Station. From here it is only 20-25 minute on foot to the gates
Divisoria is a gigantic maze-like outdoor flea market located in the heart of Binondo, Manila Chinatown. Established here for centuries, you’ll be able to find almost anything here, whether you need it or not, at a low price. Haggling is a must, and being accompanied by a local is usually a good idea, firstly to help you find what you’re looking for; secondly, to help you get the best price. Being a busy, crowded place, visitors are advised to keep close track of their belongings at all times.
- Opening Hours: 05:30 – 19:30
- Location: M. de Santos Street in the centre of Manila Chinatown
- MRT: Recto Station
Manila Ocean Park
Featuring an Oceanarium which houses thousands of sea creatures from over 250 species, a sharks and rays encounter area, the chance to learn how to swim like a mermaid, a trail to Antarctica and a jellies exhibit, just to name a few of the attractions at hand, Manila Ocean Park is really worth a visit. Great for travellers with children, it also boasts some shopping and dining facilities, plus a hotel, aptly named Hotel H2o.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 on weekdays and 09:00 on weekends. Closes at 21:00
- Location: Just a short walk from Rizal Park. There are two points of entry: One at the intersection of the Manila Hotel and the other at the intersection where the Museo Pambata is found.
- MRT: EDSA-Taft Station, then LRT to United Nations (U.N.) Avenue Station
Built at the end of the 16th century in Intramuros, Fort Santiago blends Italian and Spanish influences in its solid stone structure. The citadel has been used for many purposes during its existence, from defence fortress to weapon storage facility to detention centre, before it became one of the most important historical sites in Manila, attracting many visitors every day. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 08:00 to 18:00
- Location: Santa Clara Street, Intramuros, Manila
- How to get there: From Intramuros, take the LRT and then get off at the United Nations Station or take a jeepney (always inform the driver that you are going to Fort Bonifacio)
Built between 1587-1606, this is the oldest church in the Philippines and one of the few that remained intact after World War II. The structure you will see nowadays is in fact the third to stand on the site and has survived seven major earthquakes, but is nonetheless in demand for weddings and other religiously affiliated celebrations. Admission includes entrance to the San Agustin Museum, which lends insight into the riches of old Manila. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 08:00 - 12:00 and 13:00 - 18:00
- Location: General Luna Street in Manila Intramuros
Manila Cathedral is considered a grand masterpiece of architecture. Every detailed wall carving, door, panel, portal and even its attractive stained-glass windows have their own story. Originally built of wood and bamboo by the first Spanish settlers in 1571, Manila Cathedral went through seven demolished reincarnations, before the present cathedral was constructed from 1954 to 1958, under the supervision of Filipino architect Fernando H. Ocampo. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 07:30 – 21:00
- Location: Cabildo cor. Beaterio St., Intramuros
Manila houses the oldest Chinatown in the world. Called Binondo, Manilla’s Chinatown is one of the most popular neighbourhoods to visit in the capital. Featuring great shopping venues – including Divisoria Market – temples and churches, and exquisite dining options, you should not miss this lively area if you come to Manila. Note that hiring a calesa (horse-drawn carriage) is one of the best ways to explore the beauty and charm of Binondo. Read More...
- Location: across the Pasig River from Intramuros, Third District of Metro Manila
- How to get there: From NAIA 1-2-3 loop, take a train from the terminal near McDonald’s, walk to the MRT Edsa Station and get off at the LRT-Carriedo Station
Located in the heart of Makati, Manilla’s Central Business District, Ayala Museum offer you a pleasant journey through the history of arts in the Philippines and, on a wider scale, in Southeast Asia. You’ll discover some beautiful pieces from the past that boast the great craftsmanship of the Filipinos, as well as contemporary arts exhibitions. Ayala Museum also houses the Filipinas Heritage Library, which hosts rare books and photographs related to the country’s arts, culture and history.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 18:00, closed on Mondays
- Location: Makati Avenue corner De la Rosa Street
- Tel: +63 2 757 7117
Manila Baywalk is a popular leisure centre for city dwellers. Just along Roxas Boulevard, past Manila Yacht Club, and bordered by the US Embassy and Cultural Center of the Philippines, this 2-km stretch is a favourite sunset-watching location. This sidewalk is famous for its golden skies, calm bay waters, palm trees and ornamental plants that sway in the bay’s breezes, as well as for the yachts anchored in front of the harbour’s cafés and restaurants. Read More...
- Location: Along Roxas Boulevard
- How to get there: From NAIA 3 Airport Pasay City, take the Skyway then exit Magallanes until merges onto SLEX, turn left Pres. Quirino Avenue, then turn right onto Roxas Boulevard, make a U-turn at Pedro Gil and about 80 metres further on you will have a first-hand experience of the famous Manila Bay sunset.
Situated in the heart of Manila at the northern end of Roxas Boulevard, Rizal Park is a historical urban park, the site of some of the most significant events in the Philippines' history. Rizal Park is mostly frequented by families and couples enjoying picnics on national holidays and weekends. Other nearby attractions include a manmade lake replicating the Philippines archipelago, Japanese gardens and a planetarium.
- Location: At the northern end of Roxas Boulevard