The capital city of Philippines is a vibrant global city that is capable of reinvigorating even the most world-weary among us. Manila has a unique cultural mix of Malay, Spanish, American, Chinese and Arabic. With such intense influences, it will take a while for one to explore and fully appreciate what the city has to offer. Braving much hardship from natural disaster and historical warfare in the past, the city and its people have emerged strongly to position themselves as one of Asia’s megacities today. If you are thinking of heading to this amazing Asian city, we have compiled the top 10 must-visit attractions in Manila Philippines.
1. Fort Santiago & Rizal Shrine Museum
This famous fort was actually a citadel built by the Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi for the newly established city of Manila in the Philippines. During the Spanish Colonial Period and World War II, many lives were lost within its prisons. Philippines’ national hero, Jose Rizal spent his last days before his execution. The Rizal Shrine Museum displays a collection of Jose memorabilia and embedded his footsteps in bronze to represent his final walk from his cell to the execution ground.
Address: Intramuros, Metro Manila | Opening hour: 8:00am – 6:00pm | Getting there: Stop at Central Station (LRT) and take a short walk to Quezon Bridge and take the pier jeepneys | Fee: Adults Php65, Children Php50
2. Intramuros Historical City
Once the heart of the Spanish and American governments during colonial times, this oldest district of Manila is best explored by walking or riding on a horse-drawn kalesa. To truly appreciate the heritage, culture and story behind the city, you should enlist in a walking tour with a professional guide.
3. Rizal Park
Built in memory of Philippines national hero, Jose Rizal, Rizal Park makes the perfect spot for family picnics, unwind or watch a friendly Escrimadors duel early in the morning. Steep in history from the execution of Jose Rizal and declaration of independence from American rule, history enthusiasts will love this place!
Address: Roxas Boulevard, Ermita, Metro Manila | Getting there: A short walk towards T.M Kalaw from the United Nations Station (LRT 1 Yellow Line)
4. Malacañang Palace
Commanding a bird eye’s view of the Pasig River, this huge palace complex date back to the mid-18th century when it served as the residence of a Spanish aristocrat. Today, it has become the official residence of the Filipino president since 1935 and only the Museo ng Malacañang is open to tourists. Before you visit, you should visit here to book 10 days in advance with your contact number, the number of participants and passport documents. Otherwise, you can also book with the local tour agencies in advance.
Address:JP Laurel Sr Street San Miguel | Tour Slots: 9am, 10am, 11am,1pm, 2pm and 3pm (Mon to Fri) l Tel: +63 2 2 784 4286 l Email: [email protected] Getting there: Take a cab
Well-known as the Chinatown of Manila, this is an exciting place to explore. Binondo is especially lively during Chinese New Year. Experience a huge variation of street food here, try out exotic food at the wet market or simply spoil yourself silly with lots of bargain shopping.
Address: Metro Manila | Getting there: From Baclaran Sta. stop at Carriedo Sta. (LRT)
6. Manila Baywalk
The walk is a bustling promenade that is lined with outdoor restaurants, trendy bars, swanky cafes, and live bands in the evening. Local artists frequent the area and you can get to watch free mime, acrobatics and other art performances along the strip. This is the best place to be for a gorgeous sunset in the Filipino Capital.
Address: Between US Embassy and Cultural Center of The Philippines | Opening hour: Best to stroll this area after sunset | Getting there: Take the LRT Vito Cruz
7. Divisoria Market
The city may have many air-conditioned malls but the real local shopping experence is acquired through haggling in the street markets of Divisoria, Quiapo and Baclaran. If you do not have enough time to visit all of them, just focus on just Divisoria – The Mother Of All Street Markets in Manila. Divisoria Market caters mainly for the locals hence you may find it intimidating. However, this is where the best bargaining and local experience take place.
Address: Bgy 271, Zone 025 San Nicolas, Manila, Philippines | Opening hour: 6am to 10pm| Getting there: Alight Doroteo Jose LRT and grab a jeepney to the market.
8. Quiapo Church
Built as a replacement to the previous structure that was destroyed by fire, Quiapo Church is one of Manila’s best-known landmarks. It is the home of the Black Nazarene, an image of Christ which Filipinos believed to be miraculous. The life-size statue carved from ebony was first brought to Quiapo in 1767. Twice every year devotees will carry the divine statue on their shoulders in one of Manila’s biggest religious festivals, the Black Nazarene Procession.
Address: Quezon Blvd, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines | Tel:+63 2 733 4434 | Getting there: Alight Carriedo Station and walk eastward.
9. Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica
The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral Basilica (Manila Cathedral) is one of the oldest and most famous churches in Asia. Having stood for more than four centuries, this religious building has seen both the best and worst of history from defining triumphs to heart-wrenching tragedies and poignant celebrations. Visit and soak in the hard-earned glory of the cathedral when you visit Manila.
Address: Cabildo corner Beaterio, Intramuros, Manila, Metro Manila 1002, Philippines | Tel:+63 2 527 3093 | Website: manilacathedral.ph l Getting there: Alight Carriedo Station and take a jeepney ride
10. Star City
Entertain your family with a night of fun at this popular amusement park in the heart of Manila. With just a few hundred of pesos, you get to enjoy unlimited access to all the rides ranging from adrenaline-pumping roller coasters to milder rides suitable for everyone.
Address: Vicente Sotto St, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines l Opening Hours: After 4pm (Mon – Thurs) & After 2pm (Fri – Sun) l Tel: +63 2 832 0307 l Getting there: Alight Vito Cruz LRT
Manila is an interesting city with a different vibe as the day turns into night. Have you explored any places in Manila that are not on this list? Share with us your experience in the comments below so others can check it out the next time they’re in Manila!