Manila, the bustling capital city of the Philippines, is a vibrant metropolis rich in history, culture, and urban energy. For those pondering things to do in Manila, exploring the historic walled city of Intramuros, which houses ancient forts, churches, and museums, and visiting the iconic Rizal Park, dedicated to the national hero Jose Rizal, are top activities.
The city’s bustling Divisoria Market offers a chaotic yet charming shopping experience, with vendors selling a wide variety of goods at bargain prices. Nearby, the National Museum Complex provides a comprehensive look into the country’s history, art, and culture.
Beyond its historical and cultural attractions, Manila is also known for its lively entertainment scene, with numerous bars, clubs, and restaurants catering to every taste and preference. For those seeking the best places to visit in the Philippines, Manila’s blend of historical significance, cultural richness, and urban vibrancy makes it a captivating destination.
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Attractions & Things to Do in Manila, Philippines
Intramuros, the walled city within Manila, is a historic fortified area and one of the oldest districts of Manila. Its architecture and cobbled streets reflect the Spanish colonial period.
Travel Tip: Consider taking a guided tour on foot or by calesa (horse-drawn carriage) to fully appreciate the history.
2. Rizal Park
Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is a historical urban park dedicated to Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. It is one of the largest parks in Asia, rich in monuments, gardens, and the site of the Rizal Monument.
Travel Tip: Witness the Philippine flag-raising ceremony at sunrise for a patriotic start to your day.
3. National Museum of the Philippines
The National Museum of the Philippines is a complex of museums that includes the National Art Gallery, the Museum of the Filipino People, and the Planetarium. It is dedicated to the preservation and exhibition of artifacts related to the history, culture, and heritage of the Philippines.
Travel Tip: Admission is free on Sundays, making it a perfect weekend activity.
4. Manila Ocean Park
Manila Ocean Park is an oceanarium that offers an entertaining and educational experience for all ages, featuring marine life exhibits and interactive activities such as the oceanarium tunnel and sea lion shows.
Travel Tip: Check the schedule for feeding times and special shows to maximize your visit.
5. Fort Santiago
Fort Santiago is a citadel first built by Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi. The fort is part of the structures of the walled city of Intramuros and is one of Manila’s most significant historical sites.
Travel Tip: Visit the Rizal Shrine inside the fort, dedicated to the lifework of Jose Rizal.
Binondo is the world’s oldest Chinatown, established in 1594 and is a bustling hub of Chinese commerce and cuisine in Manila.
Travel Tip: Explore Binondo on a food tour to taste authentic Chinese-Filipino dishes that you won’t find anywhere else.
7. Quiapo Church
Quiapo Church is a famous Roman Catholic church that houses the Black Nazarene, a much-venerated statue of Jesus Christ. Many people visit the church to attend the mass and experience the local faith culture.
Travel Tip: The area can be quite crowded, especially on Fridays, so be cautious with your valuables.
8. San Agustin Church and Museum
San Agustin Church is a Baroque-style church that is one of four Philippine churches designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its museum houses religious art and artifacts.
Travel Tip: Attend a service at the church for a spiritual and cultural experience.
9. Mall of Asia
SM Mall of Asia is one of the largest malls in Asia, offering a wide range of shopping, dining, and entertainment options, including an IMAX theater and an ice-skating rink.
Travel Tip: Visit at sunset to enjoy the view over Manila Bay from the mall’s esplanade.
10. Greenbelt Chapel
Greenbelt Chapel, also known as Sto. Niño de Paz Community Greenbelt Chapel, is a serene, open-air chapel set amidst a lush garden in the Greenbelt mall complex.
Travel Tip: Take a break from shopping to enjoy the tranquil setting of the chapel.
FAQ About Things to Do in Manila, Philippines
What are the must-visit historical sites in Manila?
In Manila, Intramuros, the walled city, is a must-visit for history buffs, featuring Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church, and Manila Cathedral. Rizal Park, where the national hero Jose Rizal was executed, is also significant.
Can I explore Manila Bay and its surroundings?
Yes, you can take a leisurely walk along Roxas Boulevard to enjoy the scenic Manila Bay sunset. The newly rehabilitated Manila Baywalk area also provides a refreshing spot to relax.
Are there any shopping destinations in Manila?
Manila is home to some of Asia’s largest malls, such as SM Mall of Asia and Robinsons Place Manila. For a more local shopping experience, Divisoria Market offers a wide range of goods at bargain prices.
Is there a place to experience nature in Manila?
Yes, the La Mesa Eco Park and the Arroceros Forest Park offer a green escape from the urban environment. They provide trails, picnic areas, and a chance to enjoy the local flora and fauna.
What cultural experiences does Manila offer?
Manila is rich in cultural experiences, from the National Museum of the Philippines, which showcases Filipino art and history, to the Cultural Center of the Philippines, which hosts various performances and exhibitions.
Are there any unique food experiences in Manila?
Absolutely! You can try street food in Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown, which is the oldest in the world. For a more upscale experience, there are numerous restaurants offering traditional Filipino dishes with a modern twist.
Can I take a boat ride in Manila?
Yes, you can take a ferry ride along the Pasig River to see Manila from a different perspective or visit the Manila Ocean Park to experience marine life up close with an oceanarium and a sea lion show.
Are there any amusement parks in Manila?
Star City, located near the Cultural Center of the Philippines, offers a variety of rides and attractions. While it was temporarily closed due to a fire, it’s best to check the latest status before planning a visit.