Experience the history of Manila where Spanish influence infuses the architecture. First of the things to do in Manila is visiting Intramuros (the old walled city). The Intramuros is good for a day jaunt. Start with Fort Santiago – where the national hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned prior to execution in 1896. The Rizal Shrine Museum inside carries memorabilia. Fort Santiago is open from 8 am to 6 pm (PHP 75).
Make your way to San Augustin Church and Museum – a UNESCO world heritage site and Manila’s oldest standing church with a magnificent interior and a museum. Its entry fee is PHP 100. Don’t miss the beautiful stone building of the Manila Cathedral.
Visit one of the oldest stone fortifications- Baluarte de San Diego built in the late 1500s. Its mossy stone walls and dilapidated structure offers good photo opportunities and a vantage point for city view (8 am to 5 pm, PHP 75). Do Not forget to visit Casa Manila for a glimpse into the lifestyle of a typical Spanish family.
Rizal Park is another site of interest where Jose Rizal was publically executed –calling forth the Filipino Revolution. It also houses dancing fountains, an Orchidarium and the Manila Ocean Park.
By now you must have fallen in love with the history and architecture, its time to fall in love with the food! Walk across the river to Binondo – the oldest Chinatown of the world! And feast on tantalizing local cuisine some of the crowd-pleasers include Adobo, Kare Kare, Kinilow, Sinigang and Halo-Halo dessert. You can also find Jollibee – Philippines’ version of McDonald's everywhere.
Explore the waterfront bay area for chasing the sunset across the water, relaxing with a drink or seeking delectable street food.
Ayala Museum and Dessert Museum
The Ayala Museum in Makati is a must-go tourist spot in manila. Its 4 floors will take you from the rich ancient history of the region to local and contemporary art and the diorama experience (Tuesday-Sunday 9 am -6 pm, 100 PHP).
Museo Pambata (Roxas Boulevard) is the ideal place for some fun yet educational activities for children. Here you can interact with the displays; learn about the working of the human body, step into the market place, an old church or ride a Spanish galleon (PHP 150). Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Manila (Roxas Boulevard) for a fix of contemporary art alongside Pre-Hispanic jewellery and Neolithic utensils (PHP 100)
You cannot visit Manila and not see the quirky, flamboyant Dessert Museum whether you are with friends or family the 8 eight larger than life dessert-themed rooms will make you take pictures, slide through doughnut holes, walkthrough candy grooves and eat curated desserts along the way. Get the ticket online from KLOOK website for a discount on the money without compromising on the experience!
The Manila Ocean Park is home to 14000 species of aquatic life indigenous to Southeast Asia, it boats amazing viewing tunnels and adventures like swimming in a mermaid costume (350/head), shark and ray encounters (550/head) and underwater diving adventures (995PhP/head). Don’t miss out the chance for a discount from Kloot website.
Check out the Star City theme park (Pasay city) for that quintessential adventure ride experience.
If you are looking for luxury items like Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, Armani and Gucci Greenbelt Malls in Makati, Ayala Center and malls in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig City (25 mins from MM) are the places to be whereas you will find both high-end, knock off products and pre-loved items at Greenhills Malls at jaw-dropping prices from fashion products to gadgets and furniture. Another place to be is at the SM Mall of Asia at Manila Bay for shopping in Manila as well as food and entertainment. It has an in house ice skating rink and an amusement park!
Manila is great for a little fun in the sun, but it’s after dark edition offers riotous delights. Go PubCrawl for hopping between bars/pubs with a group of locals. Travel Manila for the quintessential Manila bar experience.
Enjoy 2 drinks with entry tickets, a cozy luxurious ambience, some poolside fun and live music at Revel at The Palace (38th street, Bonifacio) or head over to Black Market (Sabiao Street- free entry) nightclub for a more casual Manila nightlife experience.
If you have a hankering for mermaid fishing- Air force one Manila (Gentlemen’s Club/KTV) has a fine selection for all sorts of entertainment and after-dark fun. It offers a spa experience, dance shows, ramp walks and drinks with a twist. Makati nightlife is an experience unto itself. Walk down Manilla’s famous red-light districts include Burgos Street Manila (Makati) and EDSA Complex (Pasay City) to meet Manila street girls.
Try your luck at Okada Casino- built to put Manila on2 the map as a casino destination and the establishment boasts international standards.
For budget rooms in Manila stay at BCD 58 Ohana Hostel (11USD), a 5-minute drive from Rizal Park. Cheap accommodation in Makati means a stay at La Casita Mercedes 23 minutes from Ayala Center on foot.
You can have some family time at H2O (77USD), Manilla’s first aquarium themed 4-star hotel with a spa, fitness room, conference room and children’s pool. Located behind Rizal Park, it is only 2 mins walk from Manilla Bay.
Be in the lap of luxury and gaming heaven with your stay at Solaire Resort & Casino (200USD) in Paranaque, Manilla 5.5 KM away from Ayala Center. The Fairmont, Makati (112USD) and Raffles, Makati (202USD) are also popular options for a luxurious stay in the heart of Makati.
How to Get There?
Jeepneys and public busses are Manila’s principal mode of transport. They run along with specified points, just ask the locals which one to take to get to your destination. You can also use Grab App with an additional PHP. The taxis are notorious, try to carry small change and make sure the driver runs the meter.
Renting a car is a hassle-free option for a relaxed travel experience. The shortest route from Metro Manila to Makati is AH26 on a rental car (20min) or take the MRT from Quezon in 1USD to Buendia (16min).