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Things to do in Manila

Things to do in  Manila

Welcome to Manila

Although many first-time visitors to the Philippines use Manila as a jumping-off point for Luzon, Davao, and the rest of the scattered archipelago, the Asian metropolis yields great rewards for travelers willing to stick around. A Jeepney (colorful mode of public transport) tour is indisputably the best way to discover Manila. Explore Makati (Old Manila), Intramuros, and Chinatown (Binondo); roam around the Rizal Park and Shrine, and delve into World War II history at Corregidor Island and Fort Santiago. An evening cruise on the illuminated Manila Bay reveals a different side to the capital, as do excursions to the coconut farms of Villa Escudero. Then, once you’ve had your fill of Manila’s cosmopolitan culinary scene and chaotic allure, take a day trip to farther-afield natural wonders such as the Taal Volcano, Tagaytay Ridge, and Hidden Valley, where volcanic water pools and mountain landscapes soothe the soul. Art tours cover the Angono Caves, a UNESCO World Heritage–listed site home to prehistoric petroglyphs, and the Nemiranda Arthouse; cultural experiences combine Filipino cuisine with traditional dance performances; and passes to Manila Ocean Park guarantee a fun-filled day out for those traveling with kids. For families wanting the best of both worlds, choose a sightseeing tour of Manila and Makati that includes admission to Manila Ocean Park.

Top 10 attractions in Manila

#1
Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago

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One of the most important sites for Philippine history in Manila, Fort Santiago was built by the Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi as a defensive fortress designed to protect the newly formed city. The fort is a key feature of the famous walled city known as Intramuros — a complex of manicured gardens, fountains, lily ponds, and sunny plazas, as well as the Rizal Shrine museum, located in the building where Dr. Jose Rizal (a Philippines national hero) was incarcerated during the late 19th century.More
#2
Intramuros Walled City

Intramuros Walled City

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The colonial heart of Manila, Intramuros—which means “within the walls”—is the capital’s oldest district and home to some of its most impressive historic monuments. Founded by the Spaniards in the 16th century, the gigantic stone citadel is surrounded by impressively preserved city walls, stretching for almost 3 miles (5 kilometers).More
#3
Casa Manila

Casa Manila

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Step back in time and see how upper-class Filipinos lived during the colonial era at Casa Manila, a beautifully reconstructed traditional Spanish colonial home within the walls of Intramuros, in the heart of Manila. Casa Manila is filled with period furniture, furnishings, decorative objects, and artwork from the colonial era.More
#4
Rizal Park and Shrine

Rizal Park and Shrine

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Situated next to the walled city of Intramuros, historical Rizal Park is one of the largest urban parks in Asia and covers 140 acres (58 hectares). With lawns, gardens, walkways, ponds, museums, an observatory, a concert hall, and more, it’s one of the most popular attractions in Manila for locals and visitors alike.More
#5
Roxas Boulevard

Roxas Boulevard

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One of Manila’s best-known streets, Roxas Boulevard hugs the waterfront for most of its length and includes Rizal Park, the historic Manila Hotel, and the popular promenade Manila Baywalk. It’s backed by the lively Malate district, with its open-air bars and restaurants, while Manila Bay sunset views make it a popular early evening stop.More
#6
San Agustin Church and Museum

San Agustin Church and Museum

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Located in the historic Walled City of Old Manila, the beautiful baroque Church of San Agustin is both the oldest church in the country and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site. Highlights include the tombs of several historical figures—including conquistadors, statesmen, and artists—as well as the adjoining San Agustin Museum.More
#7
Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort

Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort

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An ever-popular retreat from Manila, Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort is a historic hacienda and working coconut plantation. Attractions here run from a restaurant set in a waterfall, where you dine with water running over your toes, to swimming pools, a river, a museum, buffalo-cart rides, bamboo rafts, and cultural dance shows.More
#8
National Museum of the Philippines

National Museum of the Philippines

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Established in 1901, the National Museum of the Philippines is a vast complex of museums and a planetarium located next to Rizal Park. Immerse yourself in the artistic, historical, and cultural heritage of the Philippines through the museum’s expansive collections covering fine art, ethnography, anthropology, archaeology, and natural history.More
#9
Mt. Pinatubo Crater

Mt. Pinatubo Crater

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Towering 4,757 feet (1,450 meters) above Luzon, the Mt. Pinatubo stratovolcano blew its top quite spectacularly in 1991. Today, the crater lake that’s left behind and the surreal mudflow landscapes around it make one of the Philippines’ most fun adventures—and one that’s well worth the early start. The volcano is carefully monitored for safety.More
#10
Pagsanjan Falls

Pagsanjan Falls

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About 60 miles (97 kilometers) from Manila, a visit to the 33-foot-high (10-meter-high) Pagsanjan (Magdapio) Falls delivers an epic thrill ride. First, paddle upstream in a small boat. Then ride a bamboo raft under the cascade itself into Devil’s Cave. Finally, race down the jungled gorge through a series of adrenaline-pumping rapids.More

Trip ideas

Food Lover's Guide to Manila

Food Lover's Guide to Manila

How to Spend 1 Day in Manila

How to Spend 1 Day in Manila

How to Spend 3 Days in Manila

How to Spend 3 Days in Manila

Recent reviews from experiences in Manila

star-5
Well worth a visit
Samantha_G, Feb 2020
Villa Escudero Coconut Plantation Day Trip with Buffet Lunch
There was lots to see and do, we really enjoyed the cultural show and the dining by the waterfalls.
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Long drive - but WORTH it!
Sarah W, Nov 2019
Banaue & Batad UNESCO 3days 2 nights Tour ( Private Group Tour Max 6 Travelers)
We were so glad we made the trek to see them!
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Don't hesitate - go
josephprovost, Nov 2019
Amazing Anilao Snorkel Safari (with transfers from Manila)
BUT worth it as you get to see parts of the country one wouldn't see from a hotel room.
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One not to miss
johnpD2112ST, Oct 2019
Intramuros: History of Old Manila | Manila Shore Excursion
It’s mainly a walking tour with a short drive to the start point and back to the ship but the pace is relaxed and we got to see way more than the ships tour who we saw being regularly hearded on and off of coaches and rushed around attractions.

All about Manila

When to visit

As the capital of the Philippines, Manila celebrates festivals like no other city in the archipelago. Held annually during the steamy months of April or May, Aliwan Fiesta showcases cultural traditions from the Philippines’ 7,000 islands. Alternatively time your visit for Feast of the Black Nazarene, which takes place during the cooler month of January, for a taste of local culture without the hot, hot heat.

Frequently Asked Questions