What to Do in Manila, You Ask? Here’s our Top 7! (City)

calendar_todayAugust 29, 2022
account_circleJanine Daquio

Manila is the capital city of the Philippines and in terms of population, the second most populated city in Southeast Asia.

It was because of the nilad plant, which used to grow abundantly along the Pasig river, where the name Manila was derived. 

On June 24, 1571, a Spanish conqueror declared the city as a territory of New Spain and it had become the capital of the new colony. Fast forward to today, the Philippines is already an independent country but June 24 is still regarded as Manila Day.

The Philippines was colonized by the Spaniards for 333 years. It wouldn’t be a surprise that while reading this blog, you may find yourself stumbling a lot about how the Philippines are very much Spanish-influenced. The city of Manila was the center of business and trade during the Spanish colonization.

What are you waiting for? Give yourself a break from reading and see the Philippines’ history in the flesh! Give yourself a brief day tour in Manila

Manila Hotel

Built in 1909, Manila Hotel is the oldest hotel in Manila. It has accommodated a lot of popular guests from the past like Michael Jackson, The Beatles, President Bill Clinton, and more. 

Experience and embrace its Filipino-themed interiors plus an art gallery can be visited as well in the hotel. Apart from that, you can also try their halal-certified buffet restaurant, Cafe Ylang-Ylang.

You can also check the 5 Restaurants in Manila You Should Try.

Manila Ocean Park

The first marine-themed park in the Philippines presents you with many marine life attractions at a very affordable price. For as low as 700 PHP, (subject to promos), get to enter the following:

  • Oceanarium
  • Trails to Antarctica
  • World of Creepy Crawlies
  • Super Toy Collection
  • All-Star Bird Show
  • Sea Lion Show

Take a peak of what you can expect when you visit Manila Ocean Park.

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From the Spanish word “intra” meaning within, and “muros” wall, Intramuros means The Walled City. Created to be protected from foreign invaders back in the 16th century, Intramuros is now open to everybody to feast their eyes on the beautiful facade and attractions. A 146-hectare land, you can find the top 5 following attractions:

Fort Santiago

It is where Rizal was imprisoned before his execution and it was the fortress of armies of the foreign rulers from the Philippines’ history (Spain, America, and Japan). There were over 600 Americans that were trapped in the dungeons during the war.

Manila Cathedral

Manila Cathedral has been a venue for Papal visits in the country, namely Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Francis. Pope John Paul II issued a papal decree designating the cathedral a minor basilica.

Apart from pope visits, Manila Cathedral is simply stunning inside out making the tourists like to visit the cathedral.

San Agustin Church

The oldest stone church in the Philippines, walking into this sacred place would surely make you think how sturdy it was built. It was named a National Historical Landmark by the Philippine government in 1976. Source.

Read more: Church Suggestions for Visita Iglesia in Metro Manila

Baluarte de San Diego

A fortress that was built for protection from foreign invasion during the Spanish era, this medieval-style wall is now a tourist attraction and was rehabilitated in 1992.

Luneta Park

Also known as Rizal Park, it was named after the Philippines’ national hero Dr. Jose Rizal who was executed on December 30, 1896. Seen as a threat by the Spaniard conquerors, Rizal’s clever writing of El Filibusterismo and Noli Me Tangere exposed the wrongdoings of the Spanish government. Rizal’s death was the beginning of the revolution to free countrymen from the tyranny of the Spaniards.

Noli Me Tangere Original Book

Apart from the Rizal monument, you can also visit the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, Lapu-Lapu’s monument, and National Museum.

National Museum

There are 3 national museums in Manila, each with different studies.

National Museum of Fine Arts

Located at Padre Burgos Ave, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila, get to see in person Juan Luna’s masterpiece, Spoliarium, which won the first of the three gold medals in the Exposiciones Nacionales de Bellas Artes competition in 1884. That competition was held in Madrid established by a Royal Decree from Queen Isabella II.

National Museum of Anthropology

Located at P. Burgos Drive Rizal Park, Metro Manila, exhibits of cultural materials of the Filipinos from the past can be seen in this museum. 

National Museum of Natural History

Located at Sabah Malaysia, Teodoro F. Valencia Cir, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila, get to see the skeleton of the largest crocodile ever recorded in the Philippines. There are mangroves and life-size replicas of whale sharks to view as well.

University of Santo Tomas

Established in 1611, the University of Santo Tomas is not just the oldest existing university in Asia but also the largest Catholic University in the world. The university was situated in Intramuros and was transferred to Sampaloc, Manila in 1927. The university celebrated its quadricentennial year last 2011. 

The Main Building of UST was the first earthquake-resistant building in the Philippines.


Chinatown in the Philippines is also known as the oldest Chinatown in the world. It was during the Spanish colonization that Chinatown was built to separate the Chinese Catholic immigrants. Today, you can enjoy the best Chinese food at an affordable price!

Arch of Goodwill in Binondo

There you have it! I’m sure you can squeeze a day to know the Philippines’ history by visiting the places mentioned above. Make sure to have a reliable tour guide when visiting Manila to save your time for traffic. 

For more activities to do in Manila, check more blogs below.

Janine Daquio
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