Best things to do in Manila, Philippines

20 Best things to do in Manila, Philippines

Is there a convincing reason why people should visit Philippines’ capital city Manila? Well, despite some negative reviews on the internet, there are more advantages why local and foreign tourists need to give Manila a chance. The plethora of entertainment venues and historical sites never fail to amaze visitors all year round.

1. Araneta Coliseum

Named after the boxing icon Muhammad Ali, this is where the historic boxing even Thrilla in Manila was staged. It is now the venue of local and international events such as basketball competitions, and concerts.

2. SM Mall of Asia

Shop until you drop is highly applicable in this place. With hundreds of boutiques to choose from, this massive shopping complex is one of the largest in the world.

3. Chinese Cemetery

The Manila Chinese Cemetery is the city’s second oldest cemetery that was built as a resting place for Chinese citizens. Some of the remarkable landmarks you will see in the cemetery are the Chong Hock Tong Temple, Liat See Tong, Carlos Palanca Memorial, and the Ruby Tower Memorial. Notable burials include Vicente Lim, Ma Mon Luk, and Dee Cheng Chuan.

You can book a tour to the Chinese Cemetery and other parts of Manila with “Old Manila Walks“.

20 Best things to do in Manila, Philippines
Best things to do in Manila, Philippines – Chinese Cemetery

20 Best things to do in Manila, Philippines

20 Best things to do in Manila, Philippines

4. Street Food

Manila is famous for the vast selection of street food.  Try their deep fried variety – fishballs, kwek kwek, chicken skin, calamares and one day old duck. It’s a Fear Factor adventure on the streets.

5. Chinatown

One of the oldest Chinese settlements in the world, Chinatown will take you back to several centuries ago. With a wonderful old school arc welcoming you at the façade, it looks like you are transported to Hong Kong in the old days. Have your fill with authentic Chinese food if you are done with shopping.

6. National Museum

The National Museum in Manila houses the artworks of famous artists from all over the world. Among the most popular is Juan Luna’s Spoliarium; a massive work of art depicting dead gladiators being stripped off with weapons and clothes.

7. Greenhills Shopping Center

Shopping may be considered the national sport of the country, as the Greenhills Shopping Center is one of the many in demand places to buy goods, especially fake ones. Here you can see imitations of luxury products from watches to bags. If it is not your thing, then go explore the variety of restaurants – from Eastern to Western that caters to their different clienteles.

8. Intramuros

The infamous walled city during the Spanish colonization in the Philippines, Intramuros will take you back in time. You can still see the cobbled stones pathway and colonial style buildings.

Best things to do in Manila, Philippines
Best things to do in Manila, Philippines – Old house inside the walled city
Best things to do in Manila, Philippines
Best things to do in Manila, Philippines – Fort Santiago Gate

9. Ride the local transportation: Jeepney

Be one with the local! Ride a jeepney to your destination. Jeepney, has become a popular local icon. Decorated with flags, paintings and fitted with loud stereos that play all day, it is the most common form of transportation preferred by the masses.

10. Ocean Park

A  favourite among the locals, Ocean Park is located near Manila Bay. It houses a plethora of numerous marine creatures that both children and adults can enjoy visiting.

11. Hotel H2O*

If one of your bucket lists includes sleeping in a room with an aquarium as an entire wall, then head to Hotel H2O to enjoy that experience. The hotel bar also is a perfect place to chill and drink while gazing at the Manila Bay.

12. Sunset in Manila Bay

Famous for its stunning sunsets and sunrise, you can enjoy this activity for free; just stroll along Roxas Boulevard and its many restaurants or coffee shops.

Best things to do in Manila, Philippines

13. Dinner Cruise in Manila Bay

For a more unforgettable experience, you can enjoy a buffet dinner in a yacht, being serenaded with live music, while cruising around Manila Bay.

14. Try Boodle Eating

To fully immerse in the local culture, try eating with your bare hands with the food served in an entire banana leaf. This common tradition is a form of bonding with the family. Viands like frilled fish, fresh seaweed, steamed crabs and seafood are served.

15. Visit Quiapo Church

One of the country’s famous landmarks, Quiapo houses the Black Nazarene. Devotees from all over the country visit this church and during the festival, fight tooth and nail to hold on to the rope that carries the Black Nazarene, believed to bring you luck for the entire year.

16. Rizal Park

Home to the remains of the country’s national hero, Rizal Park consists of open lawns, gardens, ponds, monuments and paved walks. It’s a good place to hang around with kids and pets.

Best things to do in Manila, Philippines

17. City of Dreams

The first among many of the casino franchise in Manila, City of Dreams is an all around entertainment hub. Flocked by families, couples and friends during weekdays and especially weekends to shop, eat and simply to have fun.

18. Cultural Center of the Philippines

The building itself is a work of art. It is the venue of international plays such as Miss Saigon. Aside from that, it also caters to cultural performances from concerts to ballets.

19. Manila Cathedral

One of Manila’s oldest and grandest churches, the Manila Cathedral is a perfect example of a Romanesque influence. Build in the 15th century; it has seen several reconstructions, the last of which is in 1950s, after sustaining massive damages from the World War II.

Best things to do in Manila, Philippines
Best things to do in Manila, Philippines – Manila Cathedral

20. Bonifacio Global City

This is Manila’s take on New York City. An urban jungle littered with massive buildings with impressive architecture, Bonifacio Global City is the home of many multinational companies. With that, upscale accommodations, shopping centres and entertainment hubs can be found everywhere in the area.

My Hotel recommendation for Manila

I recommend staying at Sofitel Manila. It is a luxury 5 star Resort Hotel located next to the Philippine International Convention Center. The food at the hotel is amazing and they have a large pool with poolside bar.

sofitel-manila
Best things to do in Manila – Photo by Sofitel Manila

For more photos, information and prices check Agoda* or Booking.com*

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links (*=Affiliate Link) within this article, which help me to travel more often! If you purchase items through these links, I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

Universal Traveller – Luxury Adventure Travel & Lifestyle

Honey J

Honey J is an online writer/journalist from the Philippines who loves to write about food, places, people, events, and especially adventures. She has worked on various content marketing campaigns since 2014, but her ultimate dream is to travel and blog each experience so that other passionate travel buffs are clued-up with the latest hotspots and trends across the globe.

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