Some of the best things to do in Manila showcases the unique image of this vibrant city. A mix of Spanish colonial remains and modern buildings, the city was funded by the Spanish at the end of the 16th century, then conquered by USA at the end of the 19th century, then occupied by the Japanese during World War II.
Manila also offers a wide selection of sports, adventurous activities, open spaces, and underwater scenery. Check out our list of Manila’s best things to do for a virtual visit of the capital city of the Philippines.
Intramuros, or the ‘Walled City’, is one of the oldest districts of Manila, built on the south bank of the Pasig River around 1571. It was built by the Spaniards – more specifically by Miguel Lopez de Legaspi – and is bound on all sides by moats and thick, high walls, with some over 6 metres high.
Within the vast walled enclosure of Intramuros lie 51 blocks, covering a total area of about 66 hectares. There are 7 fortified gateways around the walls, granting access in or out of the city. The moat was actually added to the main structure in 1603, 32 years after the city was built. Read More...
- Location: Intramuros, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila, Philippines
Divisoria Market 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.
You’ll see a lot of knock-off products, but if you keep your eyes peeled, there are some really good finds here.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.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 7am to 9pm
- Location: 557 M. De Santos St, San Nicolas, Manila, 1010 Metro Manila, Philippines
Manila Ocean Park
Manila Ocean Park offers more than the usual dolphin shows and shark encounters. Yes, you get them too, but you also get to see exhibits of the various creatures that thrive in the sea. Located just behind the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta, the park is open year-round and is suitable for people of all ages, especially the kids. Besides a bevy of marine-centred attractions, the park is also conveniently located right next to the scenic Manila Bay, with plenty of hotels and dining places nearby.
- Opening Hours: Monday–Friday from 10am to 8pm, Saturday–Sunday from 9am to 8pm
- Location: Independence Rd, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila, Philippines
- Tel: +63 (0)2 567 7777
Fort Santiago, built at the end of the 16th century in Intramuros, 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. Right by the Pasig River and containing the green Plaza de Armas, Fort Santiago is a great spot for family picnics and other open-air activities. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8am to 7pm
- Location: General Luna St, Intramuros, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila, Philippines
San Agustin Church, built between 1587-1606, is the oldest church in the Philippines. It's also one of the few structures 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 in demand for weddings and religious celebrations. The PHP 100 admission fee includes entrance to the San Agustin Museum, which lends insight into the riches of old Manila. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8am to 12pm and from 1pm to 6pm
- Location: General Luna St, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila, Philippines
- Tel: +63 (0)2 527 2746
Manila Cathedral is considered a grand masterpiece of architecture in the Philippines. There are 134 stained-glass windows throughout the whole structure. The central door is also remarkable, with important episodes in the history of Manila Cathedral reflected on it.
The cathedral serves both as the Prime Basilica of the Philippines and the highest seat of the archbishop in the country. It’s the final resting place for former prelates who have served the Archdiocese of Manila and was also used as a venue for requiem mass for former President of the Philippines Corazon Aquino. Read More...
- Location: Beaterio St, Cabildo St, Intramuros, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila, Philippines
- Tel: +63 (0)2 527 3093
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: Binondo, Manila, 1006 Metro Manila, Philippines
Located in the heart of Makati,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.
The museum's highlight is the 60 dioramas on the 2nd floor, which depict the history of the Philippines from the early cavemen to the present day. 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: Tuesday–Sunday from 9am to 6pm (closed on Mondays)
- Location: Makati Avenue corner De La Rosa Street, Greenbelt Park, Makati City, 1224 Metro Manila, Philippines
- Tel: +63 (0)2 759 8288
Manila Baywalk is a 2-km stretch of coastline that runs alongside Roxas Boulevard, bordered by the US Embassy and Cultural Center of the Philippines.This sidewalk famous for its golden skies, calm bay waters, palm trees, and ornamental plants, as well as for the yachts anchored in front of the harbour’s cafés and restaurants.
Night cruises are available from the harbour at the southern end of the Baywalk. These let you experience the colourful night lights of the area from a boat's top deck. You’ll also find a good choice of fancy restaurants around the harbour, and the whole area is hotspot for a wide variety of cuisines. Read More...
- Location: Roxas Blvd, Malate, Manila, 1004 Metro Manila, Philippines
Rizal Park is a 60-hectare oasis of greenery and blooms set in Manila's busy financial and commercial district. Dedicated to Philippine's national hero Dr Jose Rizal, this urban park has gardens, historical monuments, a 3D map of the Philippines, picnic grounds, a grand stadium, an open-air concert hall, and a lot more.
You can bring your own food and drinks, roll out a mat and enjoy a nice picnic. There are wooded areas and shady gardens you can escape to, such as the Chinese and Japanese Gardens.
- Opening Hours: Daily from 5pm to 9pm
- Location: Roxas Blvd, Malate, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila, Philippines