An amazing city founded in 1571 but inhabited since about 3,000 BCE, Manila is the capital of the Philippines. With 16 districts to explore, it’s a place of incredible diversity and beauty.
See the Angono Petroglyphs
An astonishing site with 127 carvings of humans and animals, the Angono Petroglyphs are believed to date back to the late Neolithic period. The site is maintained by the National Museum of the Philippines and serves as a unique introduction to the nation’s cultural heritage. A collection of artefacts is housed nearby.
Visit the Walled City of Intramuros
A historic walled area that covers 64 acres, Intramuros dates to the Spanish Colonial Period. Settled in 1571, it features a citadel and defensive stone walls, including the 1644 Bastion of San Diego. Among the buildings inside the walled city, you’ll find the 1607 San Agustin Church, along with the Intendencia Ruins, the Hospital de San Juan de Dios, and more.
Take Time Out at An Internet Café
Refresh yourself with a cool beverage and a snack while you take care of a few essential online tasks between outings. Take advantage of Viber rates to make cheap calls to people back home, and spend a little time transferring your photos to the cloud for storage. Most internet cafes offer monitors in case you need them; you’re welcome to use your own device with Wi-Fi as well.
Photograph Manila Cathedral
One of the most iconic buildings the city has to offer, the Manila Cathedral is beautiful inside and out. The original cathedral was built in 1581, and the latest renovations were completed in 2014. Works of art can be seen throughout the cathedral, including original stained glass windows by the artist Ocampo.
See Rizal Park
Also known as Liwasang Rizal, this historic urban park is located between the walled city of Intramuros and Manila Bay. The park spans 140 acres and is home to a musical dancing fountain as well as several statues, sculptures, and monuments. The National Planetarium is located here, along with a library, a café, a stunning Japanese garden, and more.
Take a Trip to Binondo
Renowned as the world’s oldest Chinatown, Binondo was established in 1594. It is located just across the river from Intramuros and features a number of canals that date back to the Spanish Colonial Period. Despite a troubling history, the area is a fascinating place to visit. Be sure to photograph the famous Binondo Chinatown Arch, which is best viewed from Jones Bridge. Additionally, take a few moments to pause at the Chinese Goodwill Arch, which celebrates the friendship between Filipinos and Chinese. A beautiful Chinese cemetery and a fascinating museum are two additional standout attractions.
Take a Tour of the City
If you’re not sure where to begin, why not take a guided tour of Manila? Different tour packages are available, with some offering a general introduction to the city, and others providing close-up experiences at sites like Intramuros and Chinatown.
Visit the Pinto Art Museum
With six galleries, beautiful outdoor art installations, and manicured landscaping, the Pinto Art Museum is home to works by many of the Philippines’ most prominent contemporary artists. You’ll find a wonderful café on site, perfect for resting during a leisurely afternoon spent exploring.
View Marine Life at Manila Ocean Park
If you’re interested in nature, then you’re likely to appreciate an up-close introduction to the Philippines’ marine life with a visit to Manila Ocean Park. While this is an educational and conservation facility first and foremost, it is also a fun destination for the whole family. Visitors can get up close to sharks and rays and watch from beneath the oceanarium as these beautiful animals swim overhead. For a closeup encounter with colourful fish and other reef animals, consider an aquanaut voyage. An evening show, onsite restaurants, and encounters with birds and reptiles will round out your visit. There’s even an aqua-themed hotel on site: An eco-spa, bars, and restaurants provide beautiful views while helping you relax after a long day of exploring.
Visit Malacanang Palace
Malacanang Palace dates back to the 18th century. While it is the official home of the President of the Philippines, it includes a museum and other features that are open to the public. It’s best to visit this venue with the help of an organized tour company since permits are required 7 days in advance.
Go Shopping at Divisoria in Tondo
With a reputation as the Philippines’ biggest shopping mecca, Divisoria is occupied by large stores as well as small vendors. The area is served by the Philippine National Railways and features the main transport hub that includes the Tutuban Center shopping mall. All sorts of bargains can be found here, from small appliances to clothing, so be sure to spend some time browsing!
Picture credit: Andrew Haimerl Unsplash