Welcome to the vibrant and captivating city of Manila, the capital of the Philippines! This bustling metropolis is a melting pot of cultures, history, and modernity, offering visitors a unique blend of experiences. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a food lover, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to relax on beautiful beaches, Manila has something to offer everyone. In this comprehensive travel guide, we will explore the rich history, diverse culture, top attractions, culinary delights, and practical travel tips to help you make the most of your visit to Manila.
History and Culture
Manila’s history is as diverse as its people. The city’s roots can be traced back to pre-Hispanic times when it was a thriving trading hub for Chinese, Malay, and Muslim traders. In 1571, it was colonized by the Spanish and became a key outpost of the Spanish Empire in Asia. The influences of Spanish colonialism are still evident in the city’s architecture, religion, and cuisine. The historic district of Intramuros, with its well-preserved fortifications, churches, and cobblestone streets, offers a glimpse into this colonial past.
The 19th century brought American influence to Manila, followed by Japanese occupation during World War II. Today, the city stands as a symbol of resilience and rebirth. Its culture is an amalgamation of indigenous Filipino traditions, Spanish heritage, American influence, and a dash of modernity.
Manila boasts a plethora of attractions that cater to a wide range of interests:
- Intramuros: Step back in time as you explore the walled city of Intramuros. Visit Fort Santiago, Casa Manila, and San Agustin Church, which are key historical sites.
- Rizal Park: This expansive green space is dedicated to the national hero, Jose Rizal. It’s a peaceful oasis in the heart of Manila and home to the Rizal Monument.
- National Museum of the Philippines: Discover the country’s rich history and art at this comprehensive museum. It houses a remarkable collection of artifacts and artworks.
- Manila Ocean Park: Ideal for families, this oceanarium features a wide array of marine life and offers interactive experiences.
- Binondo: Explore Manila’s Chinatown, the oldest in the world. Savor delicious Chinese cuisine and visit centuries-old temples.
- Manila Bay Sunset: Don’t miss the breathtaking sunsets over Manila Bay. The Baywalk is a great spot to enjoy the view.
- Cultural Performances: Catch a traditional Filipino dance or music performance at the Cultural Center of the Philippines or at local restaurants.
Manila’s food scene is a delightful fusion of flavors from various cuisines. Some must-try dishes and experiences include:
- Adobo: A Filipino classic, this dish consists of meat (usually pork or chicken) marinated in soy sauce, vinegar, and garlic, then simmered to perfection.
- Sinigang: A sour tamarind-based soup with various ingredients like shrimp, pork, or fish.
- Halo-Halo: A colorful and sweet dessert made with crushed ice, mixed fruits, sweet beans, and jellies, topped with leche flan and purple yam ice cream.
- Street Food: Explore the street food stalls and try fish balls, kwek-kwek (quail eggs), and isaw (grilled chicken intestines).
- Seafood Market: Dine at dampa-style seafood markets where you can choose fresh seafood and have it cooked to your preference.
Practical Travel Tips
- Weather: Manila has a tropical climate with a rainy season from June to November. The best time to visit is during the dry season from December to April.
- Currency: The Philippine Peso (PHP) is the local currency. ATMs are widely available, and credit cards are accepted in most establishments.
- Language: Filipino (Tagalog) and English are the official languages. Most Filipinos speak at least some English, making communication relatively easy for English speakers.
- Transportation: Manila has a mix of public transportation options, including jeepneys, taxis, buses, and a metro system. Traffic can be congested, so plan accordingly.
- Safety: Exercise caution with your belongings in crowded areas and be aware of your surroundings. It’s generally safe, but like any big city, petty crime can occur.
- Health: Check if you need any vaccinations before traveling to the Philippines and carry necessary medications. Stay hydrated and practice good hygiene.
With its mix of modernity and tradition, this city invites you to explore its streets, savor its flavors, and immerse yourself in its rich tapestry of experiences. So, pack your bags and get ready to discover the wonders of Manila!
Manila City Guide: A Brief History Of Manila, Philippines For Visitors
The history of Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines, is a tapestry woven with threads of indigenous cultures, Spanish colonialism, American influence, and a resilient spirit that has shaped it into the vibrant city it is today. For visitors to Manila, understanding its rich history is key to appreciating its diverse culture, architecture, and attractions.
Long before the arrival of Spanish colonizers, Manila was a thriving settlement inhabited by indigenous Tagalog people. These early inhabitants were engaged in trade with neighboring communities, including Chinese, Malays, and Muslims. The settlement’s name, “Maynilad,” is believed to have originated from “nilad,” a flowering mangrove plant abundant in the area.
In 1571, the Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi arrived in Manila and claimed it for Spain. This marked the beginning of over three centuries of Spanish colonial rule in the Philippines. Under Spanish rule, Manila became the center of political, economic, and religious activities in the archipelago. The city was fortified, and Intramuros, meaning “within the walls,” was built to protect it from foreign invasions.
Intramuros, with its imposing stone walls, cobbled streets, and colonial architecture, is a living testament to Manila’s Spanish colonial past. Key landmarks within Intramuros include Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church (the oldest stone church in the Philippines), and Casa Manila.
The Galleon Trade:
During the Spanish colonial period, Manila played a pivotal role in the Galleon Trade, connecting Asia to the Americas. This trade route involved the exchange of goods between Manila and Acapulco, Mexico, making Manila a bustling center of commerce. The influence of this trade can still be seen in the city’s culinary heritage, as ingredients like chili peppers, tomatoes, and potatoes were introduced to Filipino cuisine.
British Occupation and the 19th Century:
In the late 18th century, the British briefly occupied Manila during the Seven Years’ War. This occupation ended with the Treaty of Paris in 1763 when Manila was returned to Spanish rule.
The 19th century saw significant changes in Manila’s history. The Philippines came under Spanish control as part of the Captaincy General of the Philippines, and Manila became the capital. During this time, Manila witnessed the influence of American culture and the introduction of modern infrastructure, including a tramcar system and the first international hotel, the Manila Hotel.
World War II and Japanese Occupation:
Manila’s history took a tragic turn during World War II when the city suffered massive destruction during the Battle of Manila in 1945. The Japanese occupation of the Philippines from 1942 to 1945 resulted in the loss of countless lives and the destruction of many historical landmarks. The city’s post-war reconstruction was a testament to the resilience of its people.
Post-War and Contemporary Era:
After World War II, the Philippines gained independence from the United States in 1946. Manila continued to develop as the country’s political, economic, and cultural center. In the post-war years, the city saw significant urbanization and the growth of industries.
Today, modern Manila is a sprawling metropolis that blends its colonial heritage with a dynamic, cosmopolitan atmosphere. Visitors can explore its historic districts, such as Intramuros, while also experiencing the energy of its shopping malls, nightlife, and contemporary art scene.
Manila’s history is a captivating narrative of resilience, adaptation, and transformation. As a visitor to this city, you have the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of its storied past, from the Spanish colonial era to the present day, and to witness how this history has shaped its culture, architecture, and way of life.
Manila Top Attractions and Best Places to Visit in Philippines
Introduction to Manila
Being the capital of the Philippines and the cultural and business centre of the entire country, it is no surprise that Manila is home to over 20 million people, all here to take part of the best performing region in the Filipino economy. However, with all these people habituating in such a small space, Manila has developed a well-deserved reputation for being overcrowded, congested, polluted, and full of poverty.
In the past 30 years, corrupt governments have stymied economic progress in this eternally optimistic nation. Recently though, with the recent administration finally taking concrete steps to clean things up, the fortunes of this place are finally starting to take a turn for the better. The Philippines is now rapidly developing, as there is plenty of evidence of this new wealth in many places, with multiple glass and steel skyscrapers shooting up into the sky in the business centre of Makati, new massive call centres using the excellent native English speaking skills of the locals opening, and many expatriated Filipinos returning home after many years of earning a living abroad.
There are many points of interest for the traveler in Manila, with many notable historical landmarks and culturally important sites, excellent shopping that ranks among the best in Southeast Asia, and a sizzling nightlife that will have you dancing with fun loving Pinoys in the streets of Malate until the sun comes up!
Cultural Experiences in Manila
Many hotels and hostels are situated in the central districts of Ermita and Malate, so we will begin our tour by discussing points of interest close by these areas. Before you get to Intramuros, the seminal cultural highlight of Manila, you come across Jose Rizal Park. This magnificent green oasis in the midst of the urban jungle of urban Manila is an excellent way to start your day, as it features majestic fountains, gardens designed in the Chinese, Japanese and Filipino tradition, and Ocean Park, the Philippine’s largest aquarium.
Some of the most notable churches in the Philippines are located here. Once within the Spanish-inspired walled city of Intramuros, make your way first to San Agustin Church, a Roman Catholic Church that is over 400 years old, by virtue of being the only original church left standing after the ravages of World War II.
Not quite as old as San Agustin, but grander in scale is Manila Cathedral. Razed seven different times during its 442 year run by fire, earthquakes, and war, the current church has stood since 1958, and is the home of the Catholic archdiocese of Manila. Inside there are several sculptures of saints and other luminaries from the past, expertly crafted by Italian artists. Outside of Intramuros, you’ll find the oldest church in Manila in Binondo, its Chinatown (one of the largest in the world). Binondo Church, built in 1596, is the centre of worship for Chinese-Filipinos, and contains an idol of the Christ that was found in a well by a deaf mute. Apart from this bit of trivia, the now fervent faith of many of these worshippers was largely forced upon their descendants by Spanish authorities. When they didn’t convert on demand and instead revolted, it precipitated a massacre that cost the lives of 24,000 Chinese.
Other Cultural Attractions: Trip to Manila, Philippines
Markets And Malls in Manila
Manilans love to shop, so if you wish to engage in a bit of retail therapy, then you have definitely come to the right city! The SM Mall of Asia, located in the southern reaches of Metro Manila currently ranks as the 11th largest mall in the world, and has a plethora of attractions to keep you entertained in between shopping binges. When you have finished shopping to your heart’s content, learn something at the science centre, take in an incredible view of the vast cityscape of Manila from the top of the Ferris Wheel in the amusement park, or show the local Filipinos how it’s done on the skating rink at the centre of the complex.
Paco Market in working class neighbourhood of Paco, used to be a bustling dry good market, but it had fallen into disrepair and it was the primary cause of pollution in the nearby creek, spawning the pictures which have associated Manila with excessive pollution over the years. Recently, it has been completely refurbished; the structural beams have been shored up, natural lighting has been added, the creek has been completely cleaned up, and has re-opened for business as of the writing of this article. It now includes space for cultural performances, cooked-to-order Filipino food, as well as stalls selling handicrafts and other items that would be of interest to tourists.
Finally, if you desire fresh tropical fruits grown locally in the Philippines, make your way to San Andres Fruit Market. Here, the vendors sell all manner of tropical fruits, including bananas, mangoes, papayas, pineapples, and the smelly, spiky but delightfully creamy treat, durian. Stock up for your journeys to the outer provinces with these nutritious fruits before you leave!
Top 101 Things To Do in Manila, Philippines For Visitors
With a rich history, vibrant culture, delicious cuisine, and a wide range of activities, there’s no shortage of things to do and see in this bustling metropolis. Whether you’re interested in history, adventure, or relaxation, Manila has something to offer every traveler. Here’s a comprehensive list of the top 101 things to do in Manila:
1-10: Explore Historical Manila
- Intramuros: Begin your journey by exploring the historic walled city of Intramuros. Wander through cobblestone streets, visit Fort Santiago, and admire the colonial architecture.
- San Agustin Church: This UNESCO World Heritage site is the oldest stone church in the Philippines and a stunning example of Spanish Baroque architecture.
- Casa Manila: Located in Intramuros, Casa Manila is a reconstructed colonial-era house that offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of the Spanish elite.
- Rizal Park: Pay your respects at Rizal Monument, a tribute to the national hero, Jose Rizal, and enjoy the greenery and open spaces of the park.
- Bahay Tsinoy: Explore the Chinese heritage of Manila at this museum dedicated to the history and contributions of the Filipino-Chinese community.
- National Museum of the Philippines: Immerse yourself in Filipino art and history with a visit to this comprehensive museum, which houses a vast collection of artifacts and artworks.
- Manila Cathedral: Admire the stunning architecture of this iconic cathedral in Intramuros, known for its intricate stained glass windows.
- Malacañang Palace: While you can’t enter the official residence of the Philippine President, you can take a guided tour of the nearby Malacañang Museum to learn about the country’s political history.
- Binondo: Explore the oldest Chinatown in the world, stroll through its bustling streets, and savor delicious Chinese-Filipino cuisine.
- Avellana Art Gallery: Discover contemporary Filipino art at this renowned gallery, featuring works by both established and emerging artists.
11-20: Culinary Delights
- Street Food Adventure: Try local street food like fish balls, kwek-kwek (quail eggs), and isaw (grilled chicken intestines) at various street stalls.
- Café Ysabel: Enjoy a fine dining experience in an elegant colonial-era house, known for its Filipino and European-inspired cuisine.
- Pampanguena: Savor authentic Kapampangan cuisine, including the world-famous sisig, a sizzling pork dish.
- Aristocrat Restaurant: Taste classic Filipino comfort food like chicken barbecue, adobo, and halo-halo at this iconic restaurant.
- Raohe Night Market: Experience the flavors of Taiwan at this night market, known for its street food, bubble tea, and lively atmosphere.
- Salcedo Saturday Market: Sample a wide variety of Filipino and international dishes at this bustling weekend market in Makati.
- Filipino Food Tour: Join a guided food tour to sample regional specialties and learn about the diverse culinary traditions of the Philippines.
- Bale Dutung: Venture to Pampanga for a unique dining experience at Chef Claude Tayag’s home, where you can enjoy traditional Filipino dishes with a modern twist.
- Goto Monster: Try the local favorite, goto (rice porridge), with a variety of toppings and flavors at this popular eatery.
- Café Juanita: Dine in a whimsically decorated restaurant known for its Filipino comfort food and eclectic ambiance.
21-30: Arts and Culture
- Cultural Center of the Philippines: Catch a theater performance, ballet, opera, or art exhibit at this iconic cultural institution.
- Metropolitan Museum of Manila: Explore contemporary and modern Philippine art at this museum located in the heart of Makati.
- Art in Island Museum: Have fun interacting with 3D art installations and optical illusions at this interactive art museum.
- National Museum of Fine Arts: Admire the works of Filipino artists, including Juan Luna and Fernando Amorsolo, at this museum dedicated to fine arts.
- Cinemalaya Film Festival: If you’re in Manila in August, don’t miss this independent film festival, showcasing Filipino talent in filmmaking.
- Cultural Shows: Watch traditional Filipino dance and music performances at venues like the Bayanihan Folk Arts Theater or local restaurants.
- Bahay Nakpil-Bautista: Visit this historic house in Quiapo, once a hub for Philippine literature and activism.
- Art Walk in Bonifacio Global City: Stroll through outdoor art installations and sculptures in this modern district.
- The Mind Museum: Explore interactive science exhibits and educational displays at this family-friendly museum.
- Pinto Art Museum: Take a day trip to Antipolo to visit this museum featuring contemporary Philippine art in a serene garden setting.
- Divisoria Market: Shop for affordable clothes, accessories, and souvenirs at this bustling market known for its bargains.
- Greenhills Shopping Center: Find a wide variety of products, from electronics to jewelry, at this popular shopping complex in San Juan.
- SM Mall of Asia: Explore one of Asia’s largest shopping malls, home to countless shops, restaurants, and entertainment options.
- Antiques at the Salcedo Market: Browse antiques, handicrafts, and unique finds at the Salcedo Saturday Market.
- Power Plant Mall: Shop for high-end brands and enjoy a luxurious shopping experience in this upscale mall in Rockwell.
- 168 Shopping Mall: Discover affordable clothes, toys, and accessories at this budget-friendly shopping mall in Binondo.
- Greenbelt Mall: Enjoy a mix of luxury and local brands, as well as dining and entertainment options, in Makati’s Greenbelt complex.
- Tiendesitas: Experience a showcase of Philippine products, handicrafts, and regional specialties in this shopping village.
- Solenad Nuvali: Visit this scenic outdoor shopping complex in Sta. Rosa, Laguna, for a relaxed shopping experience.
- Escolta Street: Explore this historic street in downtown Manila for unique boutiques, art spaces, and a glimpse into the city’s past.
41-50: Nature and Parks
- Manila Baywalk: Stroll along the scenic baywalk and enjoy breathtaking sunsets over Manila Bay.
- La Mesa Eco Park: Escape the city’s hustle and bustle at this ecological park, offering lush greenery, hiking trails, and a butterfly garden.
- Nayong Pilipino: Learn about Filipino culture and heritage in this cultural park, which showcases traditional architecture and customs.
- Paco Park: Visit this historical park with a circular chapel, gardens, and a serene atmosphere.
- Rave Rainforest Park: Enjoy a day of adventure with activities like ziplining, canopy walks, and wildlife encounters in the rainforest.
- Wildlife and Nature Tours: Explore nearby natural attractions like Taal Volcano, Pagsanjan Falls, and Mount Pinatubo on guided tours.
- Manila Ocean Park: Discover marine life through interactive exhibits, underwater tunnels, and thrilling aquatic shows.
- Makiling Botanic Gardens: Take a hike through this botanical garden, nestled at the foothills of Mount Makiling.
- Taal Lake and Volcano: Take a boat ride to the world’s smallest active volcano and hike up to its crater for stunning views.
- Ayala Triangle Gardens: Relax in the heart of Makati amidst landscaped gardens, a musical fountain, and outdoor art installations.
51-60: Adventure and Entertainment
- Star City: Experience thrilling rides and attractions at this amusement park, perfect for families and thrill-seekers.
- Manila Zoo: Visit the city’s zoological and botanical garden, home to a variety of animals and plant species.
- Upside Down Museum: Have fun taking whimsical photos in rooms filled with optical illusions and inverted designs.
- Art in Island Museum: Pose for photos with 3D art installations that create the illusion of being part of the artwork.
- Enchanted Kingdom: Take a day trip to this theme park in Santa Rosa, Laguna, featuring roller coasters and family-friendly rides.
- Kart Racing at City Kart Racing: Test your driving skills on a karting track in Circuit Makati.
- DreamPlay by DreamWorks: Enjoy interactive play zones and attractions based on DreamWorks movies at City of Dreams Manila.
- Mystery Manila: Try your hand at escape room challenges and solve puzzles with friends and family.
- Archery Lessons: Take archery lessons at Kodanda Archery Range in Makati or other archery facilities in the city.
- Paintball and Airsoft: Get your adrenaline pumping with paintball or airsoft games at various adventure parks around Manila.
61-70: Nightlife and Entertainment
- Poblacion Nightlife: Experience the vibrant nightlife in the trendy Poblacion neighborhood, known for its bars, restaurants, and live music venues.
- Rooftop Bars: Enjoy panoramic views of the city while sipping cocktails at rooftop bars like The Penthouse 8747 and Z Hostel’s Roofdeck.
- Cultural Shows: Watch traditional Filipino dance and music performances at venues like the Bayanihan Folk Arts Theater or local restaurants.
- Concerts and Live Music: Check out the local music scene by attending concerts and live performances at venues like The Music Hall and 19 East.
- Karaoke Bars: Sing your heart out with friends at karaoke bars and KTV joints found throughout the city.
- Comedy Bars: Enjoy a night of laughter at comedy bars like Zirkoh and Laffline, where local comedians perform stand-up comedy.
- Resorts World Manila: Try your luck at the casino, watch a live performance, or enjoy dining and shopping at Resorts World.
- Cinema Experience: Catch the latest films at modern cinemas like SM Cinema or experience classic films at independent cinemas like Cinematheque Centre Manila.
- Art in the Park: Attend the annual art fair held at Jaime Velasquez Park in Makati, featuring affordable artworks and live performances.
- Clubbing: Dance the night away at clubs like The Palace Pool Club, Chaos Manila, and Valkyrie at The Palace.
71-80: Cultural Immersion
- Barter at Quiapo: Visit the bustling marketplace in Quiapo, known for its diverse range of goods and vibrant street culture.
- San Sebastian Church: Marvel at the neo-Gothic architecture of San Sebastian Church, known for its steel structure and intricate design.
- Bahay Nakpil-Bautista: Explore this historic house in Quiapo, once a hub for Philippine literature and activism.
- Eksena: Filipino Heritage Tours: Take a guided heritage tour to learn about Manila’s history, culture, and traditions.
- Pamana Restaurant: Dine in a heritage house while savoring Filipino dishes and learning about the country’s history through its cuisine.
- Manila’s Chinatown: Walk through bustling streets, visit temples, and enjoy authentic Chinese-Filipino cuisine in Binondo.
- Local Festivals: Experience Filipino fiestas and festivals like Sinulog in Cebu or the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon.
- Mind Museum: Explore interactive science exhibits and educational displays at this family-friendly museum.
- Tsinoy Foodies Food Tour: Discover the unique flavors of Filipino-Chinese cuisine on a guided food tour in Binondo.
- The Great Buddha Café: Visit this charming café in Las Piñas with a serene garden and an enormous Buddha statue.
81-90: Day Trips and Excursions
- Tagaytay City: Take a day trip to Tagaytay for cool weather, stunning views of Taal Volcano, and delicious bulalo (beef shank soup).
- Corregidor Island: Explore the historical ruins and tunnels of Corregidor Island, a World War II battleground.
- Pagsanjan Falls: Embark on an exciting boat ride through rapids to reach the breathtaking Pagsanjan Falls.
- Las Piñas Bamboo Organ: Visit St. Joseph Parish Church to see and hear the centuries-old bamboo organ.
- Pahiyas Festival in Lucban: Join the colorful Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon, where houses are adorned with colorful decorations made of rice.
- Taal Heritage Town: Explore the well-preserved heritage town of Taal, Batangas, and visit the Basilica of St. Martin de Tours.
- Hiking Adventures: Take on hiking trails like Mount Daraitan, Mount Batulao, and Mount Pamitinan for stunning views.
- Taal Volcano Trek: Embark on a trek to the crater of Taal Volcano, known for its picturesque landscapes.
- Pagsanjan River Cruise: Enjoy a scenic river cruise in Pagsanjan and visit the majestic Pagsanjan Falls.
- Laguna Hot Springs: Relax in natural hot spring resorts like Pansol and Los Baños in Laguna.
91-100: Relaxation and Wellness
- Spa and Wellness: Treat yourself to a spa day at luxurious wellness centers and spa resorts in Manila.
- Yoga Classes: Attend yoga classes and wellness workshops offered at various studios and fitness centers in the city.
- Manila Bay Sunset Cruise: Take a relaxing cruise along Manila Bay while enjoying the beautiful sunset.
- Salon de Ning: Experience an upscale nightlife and dining experience at The Peninsula Manila’s Salon de Ning.
- Rizal Park Fountain Show: Witness the magical dancing fountain show at Rizal Park, which combines water, lights, and music.
- Bike Rentals: Rent a bike and explore the scenic trails of parks like La Mesa Eco Park and Quezon Memorial Circle.
- Rooftop Swimming Pools: Stay at hotels with rooftop swimming pools for a refreshing dip and panoramic views.
- Manila Baywalk: Stroll along the baywalk area to enjoy the sea breeze and relax by the waterfront.
- Pedicab Tour in Intramuros: Explore the historic district of Intramuros in a traditional pedicab while learning about its history from local guides.
- Sundown at La Mesa Dam: Enjoy a peaceful evening by the La Mesa Dam, a serene spot for picnics and relaxation.
- Attend a Local Festival: If your visit coincides with a local festival or celebration, such as the Ati-Atihan Festival in Kalibo, Aklan, or the Kadayawan Festival in Davao, immerse yourself in the vibrant festivities and cultural traditions.
With this extensive list of 101 things to do in Manila, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience in the Philippines’ capital city. Whether you’re interested in history, food, culture, adventure, or relaxation, Manila has it all. Take your time to explore and enjoy the diverse attractions and experiences that this dynamic city has to offer.
What To Eat and Drink in Manila, Philippines
Manila is a gastronomic paradise where a rich tapestry of flavors and culinary traditions come together. Filipino cuisine is a reflection of the country’s diverse history, with influences from Spanish, Chinese, Malay, and American cultures. When visiting Manila, you’ll have the opportunity to savor a wide range of dishes and beverages that showcase the unique and delicious tastes of the Philippines.
1. Adobo: A quintessential Filipino dish, adobo is made by marinating meat (usually pork or chicken) in a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, and spices before simmering until tender. The result is a savory and slightly tangy dish often served with rice.
2. Sinigang: Sinigang is a sour soup made from tamarind or other souring agents like calamansi, tomatoes, and green leafy vegetables. It can include pork, shrimp, fish, or even beef, and it offers a delightful contrast of flavors.
3. Kare-Kare: This Filipino stew features oxtail, tripe, and vegetables cooked in a rich, peanut-based sauce. Kare-kare is traditionally served with bagoong (fermented shrimp paste) and rice.
4. Lechon: Lechon is a festive dish that consists of a whole roasted pig, cooked over an open flame until the skin is crispy and the meat tender. It’s often the centerpiece of celebrations and gatherings.
5. Pancit: Pancit refers to various types of Filipino noodles, and there are countless regional variations. Pancit Canton, Pancit Malabon, and Pancit Bihon are just a few examples. These dishes typically feature stir-fried noodles with vegetables, meat, and seafood.
6. Lumpia: Lumpia are Filipino spring rolls, available in two main types—Lumpiang Shanghai (fried spring rolls with a meat filling) and Lumpiang Sariwa (fresh spring rolls filled with vegetables, shrimp, and a garlic-peanut sauce).
7. Halo-Halo: A beloved Filipino dessert, halo-halo is a delightful concoction of crushed ice topped with an array of sweet ingredients, including leche flan (caramel custard), ube (purple yam), sweet beans, jellies, and more. It’s often crowned with a scoop of purple yam or ube ice cream.
8. Kare-Kareng Bagnet: This is a unique twist on the traditional kare-kare, featuring crispy bagnet (deep-fried pork belly) instead of the usual oxtail and tripe. It adds a delightful crunch to the rich peanut sauce.
9. Bicol Express: Hailing from the Bicol region, this spicy dish consists of shrimp or pork cooked in coconut milk with chili peppers, shrimp paste, and aromatic spices.
10. Sisig: Sisig is a sizzling dish made from minced and grilled pork parts, typically the head and liver, mixed with onions, chilies, and calamansi. It’s served on a sizzling plate and often enjoyed with a cold beer.
11. Bibingka: A classic Filipino rice cake, bibingka is made with rice flour, coconut milk, and sugar. It’s cooked in a clay pot and topped with butter, salted egg, and grated coconut.
12. Puto: Puto are steamed rice cakes that come in various shapes and flavors, often enjoyed as a snack or side dish. They are slightly sweet and can be served with cheese or salted fish.
13. Balut: For the adventurous foodie, balut is a fertilized duck embryo that’s boiled and eaten with a pinch of salt and vinegar. It’s considered both a delicacy and a street food in the Philippines.
14. Taho: Taho is a popular street food and morning treat in Manila. It consists of soft tofu served with arnibal (sweet syrup) and sago pearls (similar to tapioca balls).
15. Fish and Seafood: Being an archipelagic country, the Philippines offers an abundance of seafood. Try grilled bangus (milkfish), kinilaw (ceviche), or buttered garlic shrimp.
16. Local Fruits: Taste tropical fruits like mangoes, pineapple, lanzones, rambutan, and mangosteen, which are widely available in Manila.
- San Miguel Beer: The Philippines’ most famous beer brand, San Miguel, offers various beer options, including the popular San Miguel Pale Pilsen.
- Tanduay Rum: Enjoy the local rum, Tanduay, which has been produced in the Philippines for over a century.
- Calamansi Juice: This refreshing citrus drink is made from calamansi, a small green fruit similar to a lime.
- Sago’t Gulaman: A sweet and refreshing drink made from brown sugar, gelatinous sago pearls, and agar-agar.
18. Local Markets: Explore local markets like Divisoria, Quiapo, and Salcedo Saturday Market for an authentic food shopping experience. You can find fresh produce, seafood, and a variety of Filipino delicacies.
19. Eat at Carinderias: Visit carinderias, small local eateries, to enjoy budget-friendly, home-cooked Filipino meals.
20. Food Tours: Join guided food tours in Manila to explore the city’s culinary gems, sample a variety of dishes, and learn about the history and culture behind Filipino food.
21. Filipino Bakeries: Don’t forget to visit neighborhood bakeries for a taste of Filipino bread and pastries, including pandesal (bread rolls) and ensaymada (sweet buns).
22. Try Local Sweets: Manila is famous for its sweet treats like polvoron (powdered milk candy) and yema (custard candy), often sold as pasalubong (souvenirs).
23. Café Culture: Embrace the thriving café culture in Manila, where you can savor specialty coffee, artisanal desserts, and brunch menus in trendy coffee shops.
24. Food Festivals: If your visit coincides with a food festival, such as the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban or the Kaon Ta Festival in Cebu, indulge in regional specialties and culinary delights.
25. Home-Cooked Meals: If you have the opportunity, enjoy a home-cooked meal with a local family to experience authentic Filipino hospitality and cuisine.
In Manila, food isn’t just sustenance; it’s an integral part of the culture and a source of pride. Exploring the culinary landscape of Manila is an adventure that will delight your taste buds and give you a deeper understanding of Filipino culture and hospitality. Whether you’re enjoying street food, dining in upscale restaurants, or trying traditional family recipes, the food in Manila will leave a lasting impression on your palate and your heart.
Top Restaurants In Manila, Philippines
Manila is a culinary haven with a diverse range of restaurants offering everything from traditional Filipino dishes to international cuisine. Whether you’re seeking authentic Filipino flavors or gourmet dining experiences, Manila has something for every palate. Here, we explore some of the top restaurants in Manila that offer exceptional culinary experiences:
1. Gallery by Chele: Located in Bonifacio Global City, Gallery by Chele is a fine-dining restaurant led by Chef Chele Gonzalez. It offers a contemporary and inventive take on Filipino cuisine with a focus on locally sourced ingredients. The tasting menus here are an artistic journey through the Philippines’ culinary heritage.
2. Antonio’s: Antonio’s in Tagaytay is often considered one of the best restaurants in the Philippines. It offers a picturesque setting and a menu that features European and Filipino-inspired dishes made from the finest ingredients. The restaurant’s lush garden setting adds to the dining experience.
3. Toyo Eatery: Helmed by Chef Jordy Navarra, Toyo Eatery has gained international recognition for its modern approach to Filipino cuisine. The restaurant in Makati City serves a tasting menu that celebrates traditional Filipino flavors while incorporating innovative techniques and presentations.
4. Blackbird: Situated in the historic Nielson Tower, Blackbird offers a unique dining experience amidst Art Deco architecture. The menu features a fusion of Asian and international dishes with a focus on seasonal ingredients. It’s known for its stunning views of the runways of the old Nielson Airport.
5. Café Ysabel: This classic Filipino and European-inspired restaurant in San Juan City is housed in a beautifully restored colonial-era mansion. Café Ysabel is known for its elegant ambiance and delectable dishes, making it a popular choice for special occasions.
6. Spiral at Sofitel Manila: Spiral is an upscale buffet restaurant at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila. It’s famous for its “Spiral 21” dining concept, offering 21 dining ateliers that serve a wide array of international cuisines, including Filipino, Japanese, French, and more.
7. My Kitchen by Chef Chris: Chef Chris Locher’s intimate restaurant in Paco, Manila, offers a gourmet dining experience. The menu features European-inspired dishes with a Filipino twist, and the chef often interacts with diners, adding a personal touch to each meal.
8. Ilustrado Restaurant: Located in Intramuros, Ilustrado Restaurant is known for its elegant Filipino-Spanish cuisine. The restaurant is housed in a historic building and offers a charming ambiance. Try their signature dishes like Paella Ilustrado and Kare-Kare.
9. Sarsa: For a taste of Filipino comfort food with a modern twist, head to Sarsa in Bonifacio Global City. Chef JP Anglo’s restaurant serves dishes inspired by regional Filipino flavors, like Batchoy, Kansi, and Chicken Inasal.
10. Ninyo Fusion Cuisine & Wine Lounge: This hidden gem in Quezon City offers a romantic dining experience in a lush garden setting. Ninyo specializes in fusion cuisine, blending European and Asian flavors to create memorable dishes.
11. Locavore: Located in various locations in Manila, Locavore is known for its farm-to-table concept, emphasizing locally sourced ingredients. The menu includes Filipino classics like lechon and kinilaw, prepared with a contemporary twist.
12. La Cabrera: If you’re craving Argentine cuisine, La Cabrera in Makati is the place to go. Known for its juicy steaks and grilled meats, this restaurant offers a carnivore’s paradise with an extensive selection of dishes and a vibrant atmosphere.
13. Manam: Manam is a popular Filipino comfort food chain with multiple branches in Manila. They offer classic Filipino dishes with innovative variations, allowing diners to customize their orders based on their preferences.
14. Ramen Nagi: Ramen enthusiasts won’t want to miss Ramen Nagi in multiple locations in Manila. They serve rich and flavorful ramen with customizable options, including noodle thickness, broth intensity, and toppings.
15. Purple Yam: Located in Malate, Purple Yam is known for its dedication to preserving and promoting Filipino culinary heritage. The restaurant offers a seasonal tasting menu that showcases regional Filipino dishes.
16. Wildflour Café + Bakery: A popular bakery and restaurant chain in Manila, Wildflour offers a diverse menu that includes everything from freshly baked bread and pastries to hearty sandwiches and Mediterranean-inspired dishes.
17. Vikings Luxury Buffet: Vikings is a renowned buffet restaurant with branches across Manila. It offers a wide selection of international dishes, making it a great choice for those looking for a variety of flavors in one place.
18. Mabini’s Kainan sa Kubo: For a truly authentic Filipino dining experience, visit this restaurant in Malate. It serves traditional Filipino dishes in a nipa hut setting, complete with bamboo furniture and live folk music.
19. Manam Comfort Filipino: Another branch of Manam, this restaurant focuses on Filipino comfort food. It’s a casual dining spot where you can enjoy classic Filipino dishes in a relaxed atmosphere.
20. La Petite Camille: Craving Vietnamese cuisine? La Petite Camille offers a menu filled with flavorful Vietnamese dishes like pho, spring rolls, and banh mi sandwiches.
Please note that while these restaurants offer a wide range of culinary experiences in Manila, the restaurant scene is continuously evolving. It’s always a good idea to check for the latest reviews and availability, and consider making reservations, especially for popular dining establishments. Whether you’re exploring traditional Filipino flavors or indulging in international cuisine, dining in Manila is a culinary adventure you won’t want to miss.
Tours For Visitors To Manila, Philippines
Visiting Manila offers a multitude of exciting and enriching experiences. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, nature, or adventure, there are numerous tours available to help you explore the city and its surrounding areas. Here, we’ll explore some of the top tours for visitors to Manila, catering to various interests and preferences:
1. Intramuros Walking Tour:
- Duration: 2-3 hours
- Description: Explore the historic heart of Manila on a guided walking tour of Intramuros, the walled city. Learn about the city’s Spanish colonial history, visit key landmarks like Fort Santiago and San Agustin Church, and stroll along cobblestone streets. Guides often provide insights into the city’s rich heritage.
2. Binondo Food Tour:
- Duration: 3-4 hours
- Description: Embark on a culinary adventure through Manila’s Chinatown, Binondo. Led by local guides, this food tour allows you to sample a wide array of Chinese-Filipino dishes, street food, and traditional delicacies. It’s an excellent opportunity to savor the flavors of Manila.
3. Manila Bay Sunset Cruise:
- Duration: 1.5-2 hours
- Description: Enjoy a romantic sunset cruise on Manila Bay, offering breathtaking views of the city skyline as the sun sets over the horizon. Many tours include a buffet dinner, live entertainment, and the chance to witness the famous Manila Bay sunset.
4. Corregidor Island Tour:
- Duration: Full day
- Description: Take a ferry to Corregidor Island, a historic site known for its role in World War II. Explore the island’s ruins, batteries, and tunnels while learning about its significance during the war. Tours often include lunch and guided commentary.
5. Taal Volcano Trekking Tour:
- Duration: Full day
- Description: Located just a few hours from Manila, Taal Volcano is one of the world’s smallest active volcanoes. A guided tour takes you on a trek to its crater, where you can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding Taal Lake and Taal Volcano Island.
6. Pagsanjan Falls Canoeing Tour:
- Duration: Full day
- Description: Head to Pagsanjan, Laguna, for an exhilarating canoe ride through the lush Pagsanjan Gorge to reach the stunning Pagsanjan Falls. Along the way, you’ll pass through rocky formations and experience the thrill of “shooting the rapids.”
7. Hidden Valley Springs Tour:
- Duration: Full day
- Description: Escape the city’s hustle and bustle with a day trip to Hidden Valley Springs in Laguna. Explore this secluded natural paradise, featuring hot springs, waterfalls, and lush vegetation. Relax in the natural pools and take in the tranquil ambiance.
8. Art Appreciation Tour:
- Duration: Varies
- Description: Discover Manila’s vibrant art scene with guided tours of local galleries, museums, and public art installations. You can explore contemporary Filipino art, traditional craftsmanship, and cultural exhibitions at venues like the National Museum of Fine Arts and Pinto Art Museum.
9. Casa Manila and Bahay Tsinoy Tour:
- Duration: 1-2 hours
- Description: Immerse yourself in Manila’s history and heritage with visits to Casa Manila and Bahay Tsinoy. Casa Manila, located in Intramuros, offers a glimpse into Spanish colonial life, while Bahay Tsinoy explores the Filipino-Chinese heritage.
10. Manila Cultural Show and Dinner: – Duration: 3-4 hours – Description: Enjoy an evening of Filipino culture with a dinner and cultural show. These performances often include traditional dances, music, and songs, allowing you to experience the vibrant traditions of the Philippines.
11. Filipino Cooking Class: – Duration: Half-day – Description: Learn how to cook traditional Filipino dishes with a hands-on cooking class. You’ll have the opportunity to prepare and savor dishes like adobo, sinigang, and lumpia, and take home recipes to recreate the flavors of the Philippines.
12. Bicycle Tours: – Duration: Varies – Description: Explore Manila’s neighborhoods and scenic spots on a bicycle tour. Options include guided rides through historic districts, eco-friendly routes, and culinary bike tours that combine sightseeing with food exploration.
13. Scuba Diving Excursions: – Duration: Full day – Description: If you’re a scuba enthusiast, consider joining a diving excursion to nearby dive sites. Anilao, Batangas, is a popular destination known for its rich marine life and coral reefs.
14. Whale Shark Watching in Oslob: – Duration: Full day – Description: For a unique adventure, travel to Oslob in Cebu for a chance to swim with gentle giants—whale sharks. These tours provide an opportunity to snorkel and observe these majestic creatures up close.
15. Local Market Tours: – Duration: Varies – Description: Dive into the local culture by exploring bustling markets like Divisoria, Salcedo Saturday Market, and Farmers Market in Cubao. These tours offer a glimpse of daily life and the opportunity to sample street food.
16. Wellness and Spa Retreats: – Duration: Half-day to full-day – Description: Rejuvenate your body and mind with wellness retreats in and around Manila. Options include spa treatments, yoga sessions, meditation classes, and wellness workshops.
17. Historical and Cultural Day Trips: – Duration: Full day – Description: Venture outside of Manila for day trips to historical sites like Malolos, Bulacan, and Taal Heritage Town, Batangas. These tours provide insights into the country’s colonial history and heritage.
18. Day Trips to Nearby Beaches: – Duration: Full day – Description: Manila is close to beautiful beaches like Anilao, Batangas, and Laiya, Batangas. Enjoy a relaxing day at the beach, swim, sunbathe, or try water sports activities.
19. Nightlife Tours: – Duration: Evening – Description: Experience Manila’s vibrant nightlife with guided bar-hopping tours in Poblacion, Makati, and other entertainment districts. Enjoy live music, cocktails, and the city’s dynamic nightlife scene.
20. Eco-Tours: – Duration: Varies – Description: Explore the natural beauty of Manila’s surrounding areas with eco-tours that take you to parks, forests, and eco-reserves. Activities may include birdwatching, nature walks, and wildlife encounters.
Whether you’re interested in history, adventure, culture, or simply enjoying the beauty of the Philippines, Manila and its surrounding areas offer a diverse range of tours and experiences to make your visit memorable. Be sure to book tours through reputable operators to ensure a safe and enjoyable exploration of this dynamic city and its surroundings.
Manila Accommodations Guide: Hotels, Guesthouses and Hostels
Manila offers a wide range of accommodations to suit every traveler’s needs and budget. From luxurious hotels to cozy guesthouses and budget-friendly hostels, Manila has it all. Here’s a comprehensive guide to accommodations in Manila:
- The Peninsula Manila: Located in the heart of Makati, The Peninsula Manila is an iconic luxury hotel renowned for its impeccable service, elegant rooms, and world-class dining options. It offers a serene garden and pool area, making it a tranquil oasis in the midst of the city.
- Shangri-La at the Fort: This 5-star hotel in Bonifacio Global City (BGC) boasts modern and spacious rooms with stunning city views. It features several restaurants, a spa, and a fitness center. The location is ideal for shopping and dining in BGC.
- Makati Shangri-La: Another gem in the Shangri-La chain, this hotel in Makati offers opulent rooms, exquisite dining, and a relaxing spa. It’s within walking distance of Greenbelt Mall, making it convenient for shopping and entertainment.
- The Ritz-Carlton, Manila: Nestled within the upscale Greenbelt area, this luxury hotel offers elegant rooms, exceptional dining experiences, and a spa. It’s well-known for its personalized service and attention to detail.
- Solaire Resort & Casino: Located in Entertainment City, this integrated resort offers a luxury hotel, a casino, dining options, and entertainment venues. It’s perfect for those looking for a blend of leisure and excitement.
Mid-Range and Boutique Hotels:
- Hotel Jen Manila: Formerly Traders Hotel, Hotel Jen offers comfortable rooms and a central location near Roxas Boulevard and the Cultural Center of the Philippines. The Sky Deck offers fantastic views of Manila Bay.
- The Henry Hotel: This boutique hotel in Pasay City is known for its quirky and artsy interior design. The Henry offers a unique and cozy atmosphere that’s perfect for travelers looking for something different.
- Citadines Salcedo Makati: Ideal for long-term stays, Citadines Salcedo offers serviced apartments with kitchen facilities. It’s situated in the vibrant Salcedo Village in Makati and is close to cafes, restaurants, and the Salcedo Saturday Market.
- Casa Bocobo Hotel: Located in the historic district of Ermita, Casa Bocobo offers comfortable rooms and easy access to cultural attractions like Rizal Park and Intramuros. It’s a great choice for budget-conscious travelers.
- Casa Amapola Bed and Breakfast: A charming and cozy guesthouse in Malate, Casa Amapola offers a homely atmosphere. It’s a short walk from Manila Bay, restaurants, and nightlife options.
Budget and Hostel Options:
- Z Hostel: Located in Poblacion, Makati, Z Hostel is a popular choice for budget travelers and backpackers. It offers dormitory-style rooms and a lively rooftop bar with great city views.
- Red Planet Manila Amorsolo: Red Planet is known for providing comfortable and affordable stays in strategic locations. This particular branch in Makati is within walking distance of shopping malls and dining options.
- 8Hostel: Situated in Malate, 8Hostel offers dormitory and private rooms at budget-friendly rates. It’s close to cultural attractions, nightlife, and public transportation.
- Lokal Hostel: Located in the hip neighborhood of Poblacion, Lokal Hostel offers a cozy and stylish space for budget-conscious travelers. It’s within walking distance of numerous bars and restaurants.
- MNL Boutique Hostel: Situated in a quiet area of Makati, MNL Boutique Hostel provides a comfortable and friendly environment for travelers. It offers dorms and private rooms.
- Holiday Inn Express Manila Newport City: Located just across from Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, this hotel is convenient for travelers with early or late flights. It offers comfortable rooms and a complimentary shuttle service to other terminals.
- Sheraton Manila Hotel: Situated within Resorts World Manila, Sheraton offers a luxurious and convenient option for travelers transiting through the airport. It features spacious rooms, dining options, and a casino.
- Ascott Makati: Ascott provides luxurious serviced apartments in the heart of Makati. It’s an excellent choice for long-term stays, offering fully equipped kitchens and a range of amenities.
- Fraser Place Manila: Located in Salcedo Village, Fraser Place offers spacious serviced apartments with modern amenities. It’s perfect for business travelers and families.
- The Mini Suites Eton Tower: Situated in Makati’s business district, these serviced apartments are ideal for both short and long stays. They offer kitchenettes and a rooftop pool.
No matter your budget or preferences, Manila offers a diverse range of accommodations to suit your needs. Whether you’re looking for luxury, mid-range comfort, or budget-friendly options, you’ll find a place to stay that allows you to explore the vibrant and dynamic city of Manila. Be sure to book in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure your desired accommodations.
Manila 3-4 Days Travel Itinerary
A 3-4 day travel itinerary in Manila, the vibrant capital of the Philippines, will allow you to explore the city’s rich history, culture, and modern attractions. Here’s a detailed itinerary to make the most of your visit:
Day 1: Exploring Historical Manila
- Start your day with a hearty Filipino breakfast at your hotel or a local eatery. Try traditional dishes like tapsilog (marinated beef, garlic rice, and fried egg) or champorado (chocolate rice porridge).
- After breakfast, head to Intramuros, the historic walled city of Manila. Explore the well-preserved Spanish-era architecture, including landmarks like Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, and Manila Cathedral. Don’t forget to stroll along the cobblestone streets and visit Casa Manila, a museum showcasing colonial Filipino lifestyle.
- Enjoy a Filipino lunch at Café Adriatico or Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant, both located within Intramuros, offering traditional dishes and a historic ambiance.
- Continue your historical journey with a visit to the Rizal Park (Luneta). Explore the park’s gardens, monuments, and the iconic Rizal Monument, which honors the national hero, Jose Rizal.
- Just across from Rizal Park, visit the National Museum of Fine Arts and the National Museum of Anthropology to appreciate Filipino art and culture.
- Dine at Ilustrado Restaurant within Intramuros. This elegant restaurant offers Filipino-Spanish cuisine in a historical setting.
- If you’re up for some nightlife, explore Poblacion in Makati, known for its bars and restaurants. Grab a drink at a rooftop bar like Z Hostel’s or Antidote for scenic views.
Day 2: Modern Manila and Shopping
- Begin your day with breakfast and coffee at a trendy café like Wildflour Café + Bakery in Bonifacio Global City (BGC).
- Spend your morning exploring BGC, a modern and upscale district known for its art installations and shopping. Visit the BGC Arts Center, featuring galleries and public art, and explore the high-end shops at Bonifacio High Street.
- Enjoy a meal at one of BGC’s many restaurants, such as Single Origin, which offers a variety of international dishes and craft cocktails.
- After lunch, visit The Mind Museum, an interactive science museum suitable for all ages. It’s a fun and educational experience.
- Continue your shopping spree at SM Aura Premier or Market! Market!, two popular malls in BGC.
- Head to the nearby city of Taguig to visit The Dessert Museum, a whimsical and Instagram-worthy attraction featuring themed rooms with sweet treats.
- For dinner, dine at Ninyo Fusion Cuisine & Wine Lounge, known for its romantic garden setting and fusion cuisine.
Day 3: Cultural and Culinary Experience
- Begin your day with breakfast at Hatch 22 Café & Bakery or Early Bird Breakfast Club in Bonifacio Global City.
- Explore the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) complex, home to theaters, galleries, and cultural performances. If there’s a show or exhibition that piques your interest, consider attending.
- Enjoy a seafood feast at Dampa Seafood Paluto in Pasay City. Choose your seafood from a market selection, and have it cooked to your preference.
- Visit the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 (NAIA 3) and explore the nearby Resorts World Manila. You can try your luck at the casino or enjoy the numerous dining and entertainment options.
- Take a relaxing stroll along the Manila Baywalk and enjoy the beautiful sunset views.
- Savor Filipino cuisine at Manam, known for its innovative takes on classic dishes. Don’t miss their sinigang na beef short rib and crispy pancit palabok.
Day 4 (Optional): Day Trip or Relaxation
Option 1: Taal Volcano Day Trip
- If you have an extra day, consider taking a day trip to Taal Volcano in Batangas. You can arrange a guided tour that includes a trek to the volcano’s crater, boat ride, and lunch with a view.
Option 2: Relaxation and Shopping
- If you prefer a more relaxed day, spend it shopping at the upscale Greenbelt Mall in Makati. Enjoy leisurely meals at one of its many restaurants and cafes.
- In the evening, you can experience the vibrant nightlife in the Poblacion area or opt for a relaxing spa treatment at a nearby wellness center.
This 3-4 day itinerary offers a mix of historical, cultural, culinary, and modern experiences in Manila. Adjust the activities based on your interests and the time available, and don’t forget to explore the city’s vibrant neighborhoods and immerse yourself in Filipino culture and hospitality.
Where To Visit After Your Trip To Manila?
After your trip to Manila, you have a multitude of exciting destinations within the Philippines and nearby countries to explore. Depending on your interests and the duration of your trip, here are some excellent options for your next adventure:
1. Boracay, Philippines:
- Why Visit: Known for its powdery white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters, Boracay is a tropical paradise offering water sports, vibrant nightlife, and relaxation.
- Travel Time from Manila: About 1 hour by plane to Caticlan Airport, followed by a short boat ride to Boracay.
- Activities: Enjoy water activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, kiteboarding, and island hopping. Explore lively White Beach and Puka Beach, and witness mesmerizing sunsets.
2. Palawan, Philippines (Puerto Princesa, El Nido, or Coron):
- Why Visit: Palawan is famous for its stunning landscapes, including the Puerto Princesa Underground River, limestone karsts of El Nido, and crystal-clear lakes of Coron.
- Travel Time from Manila: Flights to Puerto Princesa take about 1.5 hours, while El Nido and Coron require additional short flights or boat rides.
- Activities: Explore underground rivers, kayak through emerald lagoons, snorkel in coral-rich waters, and hike to viewpoints with breathtaking panoramas.
3. Cebu and Bohol, Philippines:
- Why Visit: Cebu offers a blend of urban attractions, while Bohol boasts natural wonders like the Chocolate Hills and tarsier sanctuaries.
- Travel Time from Manila: About 1.5 hours to Cebu City by plane, and a short ferry ride to Bohol.
- Activities: Visit historic sites in Cebu, swim with whale sharks in Oslob, and explore Bohol’s unique geological formations and vibrant marine life.
4. Siargao, Philippines:
- Why Visit: Siargao is a paradise for surfers, offering pristine beaches, lush landscapes, and a laid-back atmosphere.
- Travel Time from Manila: Approximately 2 hours by plane to Sayak Airport in Siargao.
- Activities: Surf the famous Cloud 9 waves, explore secret lagoons and rock pools, island-hop to nearby islets, and enjoy the island’s vibrant nightlife.
5. Banaue and Batad Rice Terraces, Philippines:
- Why Visit: Experience the awe-inspiring beauty of the Banaue Rice Terraces, often referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World.”
- Travel Time from Manila: An 8-9 hour scenic bus ride from Manila to Banaue.
- Activities: Trek through the terraces, visit local villages, and immerse yourself in the culture of the indigenous Ifugao people.
6. Bali, Indonesia:
- Why Visit: Bali is renowned for its stunning beaches, lush rice terraces, vibrant culture, and world-class resorts.
- Travel Time from Manila: Approximately 4-5 hours by plane to Denpasar, Bali.
- Activities: Explore ancient temples, surf in Uluwatu, hike to Mount Batur, indulge in Balinese spa treatments, and experience the nightlife in Seminyak and Kuta.
7. Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Phuket):
- Why Visit: Thailand offers a diverse range of experiences, from bustling street markets in Bangkok to tranquil temples in Chiang Mai and idyllic beaches in Phuket.
- Travel Time from Manila: Around 3-4 hours by plane to Bangkok, with additional flights or transfers to other destinations.
- Activities: Visit ornate temples, explore vibrant street markets, savor Thai cuisine, go trekking in the northern mountains, and relax on pristine beaches.
8. Japan (Tokyo, Kyoto, or Osaka):
- Why Visit: Japan is a land of contrasts, with a rich cultural heritage, modern cities, and natural beauty, making it a top destination for travelers.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to major Japanese cities take around 4-5 hours.
- Activities: Discover ancient temples and gardens in Kyoto, experience the futuristic vibe of Tokyo, indulge in sushi and ramen, and immerse yourself in Japanese traditions.
9. Hong Kong:
- Why Visit: Hong Kong is a dynamic city known for its skyscrapers, shopping, and culinary scene, as well as its unique blend of East and West.
- Travel Time from Manila: Approximately 2 hours by plane to Hong Kong.
- Activities: Explore the bustling streets of Kowloon, visit Victoria Peak for panoramic views, enjoy dim sum, and shop in the vibrant street markets.
- Why Visit: Singapore is a modern and efficient city-state known for its stunning architecture, diverse cuisine, and world-class attractions.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to Singapore take about 3-4 hours.
- Activities: Explore the iconic Gardens by the Bay, visit Sentosa Island, indulge in hawker center food, and experience the cultural diversity of Singapore.
11. Vietnam (Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, or Halong Bay):
- Why Visit: Vietnam offers a rich tapestry of history, culture, and natural beauty. Explore bustling cities, ancient temples, and the stunning karst formations of Halong Bay.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City take about 2-3 hours.
- Activities: Discover the history of the Vietnam War, savor pho and banh mi, cruise through emerald waters in Halong Bay, and explore the ancient town of Hoi An.
12. Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur or Penang):
- Why Visit: Malaysia boasts a blend of cultures, stunning architecture, and mouthwatering cuisine. Kuala Lumpur is known for its iconic Petronas Towers, while Penang offers historic charm.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to Kuala Lumpur take about 3 hours.
- Activities: Visit the Batu Caves, explore the cultural neighborhoods of Kuala Lumpur, sample diverse street food, and wander through the historic streets of Penang’s George Town.
13. Taiwan (Taipei):
- Why Visit: Taipei is a dynamic city with a mix of modernity and tradition. It’s known for its night markets, vibrant street food scene, and scenic natural beauty.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to Taipei take approximately 2-3 hours.
- Activities: Explore the bustling Shilin Night Market, visit the iconic Taipei 101, soak in hot springs at Beitou, and explore the lush landscapes in Taroko National Park.
14. South Korea (Seoul):
- Why Visit: Seoul is a city of contrasts, blending ancient palaces and temples with modern technology and pop culture. It’s a hub for K-pop, fashion, and culinary delights.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to Seoul take about 3-4 hours.
- Activities: Visit Gyeongbokgung Palace, shop in the trendy district of Myeongdong, try Korean BBQ, and explore the dynamic neighborhoods of Hongdae and Gangnam.
15. Australia (Sydney or Melbourne):
- Why Visit: Australia offers a diverse range of experiences, from the iconic Sydney Opera House and Bondi Beach to the cultural scenes of Melbourne.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to Sydney or Melbourne take approximately 7-8 hours.
- Activities: Climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, visit the Great Barrier Reef, explore the Royal Botanic Garden in Melbourne, and sample Australian cuisine.
16. Cambodia (Siem Reap):
- Why Visit: Siem Reap is famous for the stunning Angkor Wat temple complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a symbol of Cambodia’s rich history.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to Siem Reap take about 3-4 hours.
- Activities: Explore Angkor Wat and its surrounding temples, visit the Angkor National Museum, and experience the unique Khmer cuisine.
17. Sri Lanka (Colombo or Kandy):
- Why Visit: Sri Lanka offers lush landscapes, historic temples, and pristine beaches. Colombo is a bustling capital, while Kandy is known for its cultural heritage.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to Colombo take approximately 4-5 hours.
- Activities: Explore the historic city of Kandy, visit the Temple of the Tooth Relic, go on a safari in Yala National Park, and relax on the beaches of Mirissa or Unawatuna.
18. Laos (Luang Prabang):
- Why Visit: Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage-listed town known for its well-preserved architecture, Buddhist temples, and serene landscapes.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to Luang Prabang take about 3-4 hours.
- Activities: Explore the historic town center, visit Buddhist monasteries, take a boat trip on the Mekong River, and witness the morning alms-giving ceremony.
19. Myanmar (Yangon and Bagan):
- Why Visit: Myanmar offers a glimpse into a less explored part of Southeast Asia. Yangon is the largest city, while Bagan is famous for its thousands of ancient temples.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to Yangon take around 4-5 hours.
- Activities: Visit the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon, explore the temples of Bagan, and cruise along the Irrawaddy River.
20. New Zealand (Auckland or Queenstown):
- Why Visit: New Zealand is known for its stunning natural landscapes, outdoor adventures, and Maori culture.
- Travel Time from Manila: Direct flights to Auckland take approximately 9-10 hours.
- Activities: Explore the vibrant city of Auckland, visit the geothermal wonders of Rotorua, go hiking in Queenstown, and experience the Maori culture.
These are just a few of the many incredible destinations you can explore after your trip to Manila. Whether you’re seeking beach bliss, cultural immersion, outdoor adventures, or urban exploration, there’s a perfect destination waiting for you just a short flight or ferry ride away from the Philippines’ capital city.
Manila Travel Guide: Final Thoughts
As we conclude this comprehensive Manila travel guide, it’s worth reflecting on the dynamic and multifaceted nature of the Philippines’ capital city. Manila is a destination that can captivate visitors with its rich history, diverse culture, vibrant urban scene, and warm hospitality. Here are some final thoughts and tips to enhance your experience in Manila:
1. Cultural Diversity:
- Manila’s cultural tapestry is a reflection of its complex history. It’s a place where Spanish colonial influences, Chinese heritage, American legacies, and indigenous Filipino traditions have woven together. Embrace the diversity and celebrate the Filipino spirit.
2. Timeless History:
- Exploring Manila’s historical sites, such as Intramuros, Fort Santiago, and Rizal Park, is like taking a journey through time. These landmarks bear witness to the country’s struggles and triumphs, making them essential stops on your itinerary.
3. Foodie Paradise:
- Filipino cuisine is a delightful fusion of flavors and influences. Don’t miss the opportunity to indulge in local dishes like adobo, sinigang, lechon, and halo-halo. Be adventurous and try street food, as it’s an integral part of Filipino culinary culture.
4. Warm Hospitality:
- Filipinos are renowned for their warmth and friendliness. Don’t hesitate to strike up conversations with locals and immerse yourself in their genuine hospitality. Learning a few basic Tagalog phrases can go a long way in connecting with the people.
5. Be Mindful of Traffic:
- Manila’s traffic can be notoriously congested, so plan your day accordingly and be prepared for potential delays. Consider using ride-sharing apps, like Grab, for convenient transportation.
6. Explore Beyond the City:
- While Manila offers a wealth of experiences, don’t limit your adventure to the city alone. Consider day trips to nearby destinations like Tagaytay, Pampanga, or Batangas for a change of scenery and unique experiences.
7. Respect Local Customs:
- Filipinos hold strong cultural and religious values. When visiting churches and religious sites, dress modestly and be respectful of local customs and traditions. Avoid public displays of affection in conservative areas.
8. Stay Hydrated and Sun-Smart:
- The Philippines has a tropical climate, so it’s essential to stay hydrated and protect yourself from the sun. Wear sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, especially when exploring outdoor attractions.
9. Safety and Security:
- Like any other major city, it’s essential to take precautions with your belongings and be aware of your surroundings, particularly in crowded areas. Stick to well-lit streets at night and use reputable transportation services.
10. Enjoy the Arts and Culture: – Manila’s cultural scene is thriving, with numerous art galleries, museums, and theaters. Take the time to explore the city’s artistic side and attend cultural events, exhibitions, and performances.
11. Capture Memories: – Manila is a city filled with photo-worthy moments, from its historic architecture to vibrant street scenes. Don’t forget to capture memories but also take moments to put down your camera and immerse yourself fully in the experience.
A visit to Manila is an exploration of contrasts—the old and the new, the historic and the modern, the bustling city life and the tranquil oases. Whether you’re drawn to its historical treasures, culinary delights, or vibrant culture, Manila offers something for every traveler. It’s a city that can both challenge and charm, leaving you with lasting memories and a deeper appreciation for the Philippines’ rich heritage and the warmth of its people. So, pack your bags, immerse yourself in the Filipino way of life, and embark on an unforgettable journey in the heart of Manila.