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“.
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.
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.
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.
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. Best things to do in Manila – 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.
*Tip: Enjoy breathtaking sunsets during the Manila Bay Dinner Cruise that takes you along the shoreline of Manila Bay.
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.
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.
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.
My top choice is kayak.com. You can easily search for the best fares over 30 days or see where you can go on your budget. My favorite airline is Qatar Airways, I especially like the on-demand menu in Business Class.
I would recommend checking out Agoda.com. It is one of the leading hotel sites with worldwide more than 500,000 hotels. Other sites I check are Booking.com and Expedia. Trusted Housesitters connects you with home and pet owners who need a sitter when going away. Another great option is Airbnb – Use this link* to get $40 off your first stay. Visit TripAdvisor for hotel reviews.
This article is now available as a mobile app. Go to GPSmyCity to download the app for GPS-assisted travel directions to the attractions featured in this article.