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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


Fort Santiago

One of the most important historical sites 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 of Manila. It is a key feature of the famous Walled City of Manila, which is referred to as Intramuros. José Rizal, considered a national hero in the Philippines, was imprisoned at Fort Santiago before his execution in 1896, as were countless others. It played a role in the city’s penal and defense system all the way up to World War II, and has been occupied by: the Spanish, free Filipinos, the US (the Stars and Stripes were raised there in 1898), and the Japanese Imperial Army. Today, this beautiful, 16th century structure is home to a shrine dedicated to Rizal, which includes an eerie set of footprints painted onto the street outlining the great man’s final steps as he was led to his death.More


The historic heart of Manila, Intramuros (literally meaning "within the walls") is the oldest district in the capital city. The three-mile-long stone wall completely surrounds the district (with the exception of a small stretch near the River Pasig) and despite the fact that the district was nearly entirely obliterated by US bombers, it remains for visitors a rich cultural experience. Historical attractions within Intramuros include Fort Santiago, Postigo del Palacio, Baluarte de San Diego, Puerta de Isabel II, Plaza de Roma, San Agustin Church, and Ayuntamiento. The church, which was the sole structure left unmarred by the bombers, has been declared an UNESCO World Heritage Site There are also multiple museums and other points of cultural interest, many ruins, and a few tasty eateries. Intramuros is also a great locus for buying souvenirs and local wares. There are also a few choices for overnight stays.More

San Agustin Church and Museum

Located in the historic Intramuros district of Manila (the oldest district and historic core of Manila, otherwise known as the "Walled City"), the Church of San Agustin was designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site as an example of the Baroque architecture that was specific to the Philippines. A Roman Catholic Church, it was constructed by the Spanish in the sixteenth century, but was not consecrated until 1607. Its beautiful architecture is worth the visit all by itself, though it also houses the tombs of several historical figures, including several conquistadors, statesmen and artists. The accompanying San Agustin Museum is housed in the adjacent San Agustin Monastery, and exhibits art and artifacts from the Philippines, Spain, Mexico and other cultural centers. The original Augustinians arrived in the Philippines in 1565 just a few decades after Magellan explored the islands, meaning that the aforementioned museum is no slouch.More

Casa Manila

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

Taal Volcano

In the middle of the Philippines’ third-largest lake lies Taal Volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in the country. Sitting on the Pacific Ring of Fire, Taal has had 33 eruptions in its history; even the lake it sits on was created by volcanic eruptions more than 500,000 years ago. To get to the volcano, head to the little town of Talisay 2.5 miles (4 km) southeast of Tagaytay, where you can catch a boat. The 30-minute ride across sulfuric Taal Lake will bring you to the shores of Volcano Island from where you can hike or ride a horse to the top of Taal Volcano. Horse rides are popular because of the heat, but if you’d rather hike, there are many routes around the volcano, the most popular being the Spanish Trail, which goes to the very top. From here, enjoy views from the rim of Main Crater Lake to Vulcan Point, the world’s largest island that’s in a lake on an island in a lake on an island. Yes, you read that right!More

National Museum of the Philippines

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

Pagsanjan Falls


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

Top activities in Manila

Manila by Night

Manila by Night

Subic Bay Day Trip from Manila

Subic Bay Day Trip from Manila

Full Day City and Museum Tour

Full Day City and Museum Tour


Recent reviews from experiences in Manila

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.
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!
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.
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.

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