Things to do in Manila
Attractions in the city range from colonial architecture and religious sites through to modern theme parks including Ocean Park and and Star City, offering the ideal mix of past and present. The city’s 16 districts can be overwhelming, so browse our list for some ideas to make your holiday perfect.
In Binondo, you’ll find the world’s oldest Chinatown, and in Quiapo, you can see the Black Nazarene, a famous statue of Jesus. Sampaloc is home to the famous Dangwa Flower Market, and San Nicolas is a great place if you’re looking for cheap buys.
People interested in history should make sure to check out the districts of Intramuros, Tondo and Paco; Intramuros, in particular, is a great historical site because the district is almost completely encircled by ancient stone walls and fortifications. Malate and Ermita are the districts to visit if you’re looking to party the night away. Great museums in Manila include Casa Manila, the Light and Sound Museum, the National Museum of the Philippines, the Museo Pambata and the Metropolitan Museum of Manila.
This 64-hectare stone citadel was founded by the Spanish colonists in 1571. As with many of the city's buildings, the citadel represents survival and endurance. The building has withstood natural disasters, numerous waves of colonial invaders and natural disasters. It's a good idea to arrive early and explore the building in the morning, before the temperature climbs to uncomfortable highs. Intramuros houses Fort Santiago, the former military headquarters of the colonial Spanish government. The iconic front gate with a wooden relief of St. James, the patron saint of Spain, is a major national landmark. When you've finished taking in the history and culture of the Philippines and explored the various different parts of Intramuros, head to the souvenir shops to pick up some special keepsakes to remind you of your time here.
As you'd expect from a predominantly Roman Catholic city, Manila is scattered with religious sites including the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, which is known locally as Quiapo Church. The basilica is the renowned home of the shrine of the Black Nazarene, a deep-coloured statue of Jesus Christ which is believed to have miraculous powers. The exterior of the Church is equally beautiful with Baroque styling and distinctive twisted columns on both floors.
Legazpi Sunday Market
One of the many markets available in Manila is the Legazpi Sunday Market. This market mostly offers food but if you would like a peice of clothing or local art you can be sure to find something of that sort there. The market is an outdoor market and is home to over 200 vendors.
Roxas boulevard, Manila is home to Rizal Park. Located near the Manila Bay, this park is an important site to Philippine history. This park harboured many moments of revolution and independence for the Philippines. If you would like to meander into an area that locals frequently visit on the weekend and also take a look at where historical events took place, you need to go to Rizal Park.
Ocean Park is a world-class marine theme park with a fascinating range of sealife exhibits including sharks and rays, the Mermaid Swim Experience, a display about the ocean, jellyfish, and sea lion show. Get there early to avoid missing out on anything. This is an excellent place for getting up close and personal with wildlife, as at Ocean park you can also get acquainted with (and hold!) majestic eagles at the Birds of Prey Kingdom or, if you're feeling brave, handle snakes and insects at the World of Creepy Crawlies.
Star City is a 35,000 metre-squared amusement park situated next to the Cultural Centre of the Philippines. This is the country's only year-round air-conditioned amusement park, making it an ideal place to stop by if you're visiting during the warmest summer months and want to keep cool and comfortable. Rides include a double-decker carousel, stomach-churning Zyklon Loop and traditional water log ride, Jungle Splash.
The Metropolitan Museum has been delighting visits for 40 years and features an incredible selection of exhibitions including gold and pottery from the 8th to the 13th centuries, a wide range of religious art and a special exhibition focusing on the evolution of Philippine art from the early 20th century onwards.
Other Tourist Attractions:
- National Museum of Philippines
- Manila Bay
- Greenbelt Park
- Malacanang Palace