things to do in manila

Discover Manila's lovely and vibrant city. What are the best places to visit? What should you do to enrich your cultural knowledge? While in Manila, what local delicacy should you try? What are some of its distinctive transport types? Read to learn more.

The Philippines' capital city, Manila, is often the jump-off point to the country's incredible coasts, islands, and hills. However, there are many tourist spots to visit in Manila alone! It's a beautiful city full of surprises and amazing things to try!

For first time visitors, Manila may appear like an overwhelming town to discover. However, there's no need to fret as it's quite manageable once you have your travel itinerary. Luckily, one of the best things to do in the city is to take a look at its most famous and iconic tourist places.

Regardless of your interest, you're bound to fall in love with Manila. Whether it's food, cultural heritage, shopping, and more, you're bound to discover something enjoyable and unique to do with your friends and family here! Read more about Metro Manila's best tourist destinations:


1. Travel back in Time at Intramuros      

manila intramuros

For history buffs, Intramuros, the oldest district and historic core of Manila, is the best place to visit in Manila. Known as the "Walled City," this landmark walled area within the modern city was the seat of government and political power when the Philippines was still under Spanish rule. 

One of the most significant locations to visit in Manila is the Intramuros district, Manila's "Walled City." This contemporary city's historic walled region was still under Spanish rule and was the headquarters of state and political power. Intramuros is Manila's only district where tourists can see complete architectural remnants of the Spanish Era. 

You can wander along paved roads and visit historical monuments and sculptures. You can even try a bicycle tour made of bamboo (locally referred to as Bambike) or by horse-drawn carriage called kalesa.

  • Fort Santiago - This is one of the country's oldest Hispanic stone castles. In 1951, Fort Santiago became a national historical monument and a well-kept tourist destination frequently visited by locals and visitors abroad.

  • Manila Cathedral - This is the religious center of the Archdiocese of Manila. It was the location of the Spanish Archbishop of Manila, who had jurisdiction over the whole archipelago during the Spanish colonial period.

  • San Agustin Church - It's one of the Philippines’ four Baroque Churches, registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many locals visit here daily to pray and contemplate.

  • Plaza de Roma - It's one of two significant squares in Intramuros. The plaza is regarded as the area's center of trade during the colonial past.

  • Casa Manila - It's a rebuilding of a 19th-century Spanish colonial house. The entire building dates back to 1981. Each chamber at Casa Manila is furnished in ancient style with wooden furniture, ornaments, and works of art.

  • Baluarte de San Diego - This was built from a circular tower that was initially intended to protect Manila from the problematic people during the Spanish times. This spot is where you can revel in nature, surrounded by colorful flowers and tiny trees.

  • Bahay Tsinoy - This building houses the Kaisa-Angelo King Heritage Center, a museum that documents the history, lives, and contributions of Chinese ethnicity in Philippine life and history.

2. Visit Rizal Park

In the middle of Manila, Rizal Park is a beautiful attraction full of historical significance. It has monuments, historical landmarks, squares and gardens, large stadiums, observatories, an open-air concert hall, the sanctuary for the performers, sound and light theaters, shops, food kiosks, playgrounds, and many fountains.

The park was a homage to the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal. He was a doctor and novelist who was shot by firing squad at this site on December 30, 1896, on charges of fostering local rebellion against the Spanish government. However, on June 12, 1898, the Philippines proclaimed their freedom from Spain, but the American forces soon replaced the Spanish colonizers.

The park is split into three parts, starting with the 16-hectare Agrifina Circle adjacent to Taft Avenue. It's where the Department of Tourism and the National Museum of Anthropology are situated. The northeastern segment; followed by the appropriate 22-hectare park extending down to Roxas Boulevard. The central section; and finishing at the southwestern part which contains Burnham Green.

3. Explore the National Museum Complex

Top 19 Things to Do in Manila

The National Museum of the Philippines has several sections: Art, Anthropology, Natural History, and Planetarium. All are within the same building complex and is made up of permanent collections representing the various facets of art, culture, and history of the country.

  • National Museum of Fine Arts - The collection contains both classical and contemporary Filipino paintings and sculptures. The famous paintings by the Philippine revolutionary artist Juan Luna, including The Spoliarium, are included here.

  • National Museum of Anthropology - It showed collections of artifacts of Anthropology and Archaeology and was once the Department of Finance. You can also have a look at the old Philippine script called "Baybayin," as well as collecting cultural memories from native people throughout the nation.

  • National Museum of Natural History - It presents the rich biodiversity of the country, including the Lolong skeleton, the most prominent captive crocodile. This building is made up of The Tree of Life, a glass elevator and a canopy-inspired roof.

  • National Planetarium - It contains astronomic displays of celestial bodies and their real-life projections. They also offer displays, presentations, and demonstrations for tourists who would like to have a world-wide planetarium experience.

4. Have a Food Trip at Binondo        

Binondo is a lively and historic Manila site. It was founded in 1594 and is considered to be the world's earliest Chinatown. Like the other Chinatowns, contemporary Binondo is created up of tight and vibrant alleys packed with hole-in-the-wall joints, traditional bakeries, and budget-friendly streetside shops.

  • Binondo Church - Since its construction in 1596, it has been an iconic location in Chinatown. It was built for Chinese colonists who became Christians. Its sponsor is the Philippine martyr of Chinese origin, San Lorenzo Ruiz. Mass generally takes place in English, Tagalog, and Chinese in this church. The church is also called the San Lorenzo Ruiz Basilica Minor.

  • Escolta - This is a location for Chinese dealers who lived on the galleon industry in the city center of Binondo, Manila. It became recognized to the community of Manila as a shopping mecca. Today Escolta brews fresh magic that involves performers, companies, and young people again.

  • Food Trip - Get your tummies ready for Chinese delicacies such as dumplings, frozen scallions, lumpia, oyster cake, kiampong and stir fry tofu as well as winter melon tea in Binondo.

5. Shop Until You Drop in Manila Stores

Top 19 Things to Do in Manila

Shopping is one of the most enjoyable activities. In specific, we can ease our stress from working when purchasing clothing like jacks, jeans, dresses, shoes, and accessories like earrings and collars. Others like electronic shopping devices like laptops, smartphones, digital swatches, and the like.

  • Divisoria - This is a shopping mall in the Philippines of Tondo, Manila. It is renowned for its low price stores and its various manufacturing facilities

  • Quiapo - There are a lot of shops in Quiapo. For gadgets, you can go to Raon and Hidalgo Street. For arts and handicrafts, you can go to Palanca Street and Plaza Miranda. Go to Quinta Market and Carriedo Street for other necessities.

  • Baclaran - They have a big market. You can look through so many shops and stores. The stores have a variety of products, from very affordable to more costly.

  • Greenhills Shopping Center - It's a charming shopping mall and has a mix of thrift stalls and significant shops. There are also excellent restaurants around.

  • Tiendesitas -This place in Pasig City has it all. From indigenous cuisine, fashion wear and clothing, furniture, antiquities, arts and crafts, private care, crops, and animals. Tiendesitas has shops from over 450 merchants, most of whom offer specialty goods, mainly from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

  • S.M. Mall of Asia - MoA is particularly famous for both domestic and international visitors. It is the biggest shopping center in the Philippines and has several establishments.

  • S.M. Megamall - It's the second-largest shopping mall in the Philippines. Aside from their various stores in the different buildings, they have their own Mega Fashion Hall.

  • Greenbelt - The establishment combines high-end boutiques, restaurants, amenities, leisure, and entertainment events. The Mall now includes five components: 2 rooms, two outdoor shops and Greenbelt 5, which were introduced in 2007.

6. Pray at Quiapo Church

The church of Quiapo replaces an old fire-destroyed building in 1933. Quiapo is the home of the Black Nazarene, a miraculous image of Christ, and one of the most known monuments in Manila. In 1767 Quiapo was the first to bring the life-size model, sculpted from ebony. Twice in one year, the Black Nazarene Procession, one of Manila's most significant religious celebrations, carries a favorite picture on the shoulders of thousands of devotees.

The façade of Quiapo Church, built in the baroque style, stands out from both sides with its rolling towers. A third of its column twists close to the foundation, while the bottom part has a soft surface. The top of the four-story bell towers is adorned with balustrades and enormous scrolls. It’s a popular church included in most pilgrimage tours in the country.

In the early 1980s, a four-foil window in the center of the front of the church was screened, and a picture of the pope's crossed keys and tiara was substituted. Only the facade and the transept dome maintained the classic architecture with its latest refurbishment.

7. Hop-On Board the Unique Modes of Transport   

Top 19 Things to Do in Manila There are distinctive transport modes that you can use to discover Manila as a whole. MRT and LRT, jeepney and tricycle are three of the most common transport. Here is some data you may be interested in knowing about:

  • MRT/LRT - A heavy railway line wields the three light rail stations of Manila. Service commuters for light rail-LRT-1, LRT-2, and MRT-3, from north to south as Quezon City as Pasay. Most interesting railway stations are located in Manila's primary town, especially along the route LRT-1.

  • Jeepney - The jeeps were initially produced of U.S. military Jeeps left over from the Second World War. These are renowned for their colorful ornaments that showcased Pinoy architecture and pop culture.

  • Tricycle -The tricycles are built with the construction of a sidecar and an imported motorcycle. These public utility cars either follow a specific route or are like taxis available for rent. Passenger tricycles may accommodate up to six or more passengers except for the driver.

8. Enjoy at The Ocean Park

Inaugurated in March 2008, the park is famous for its most massive drawing–the Oceanarium in the Philippine Archipelago. The Oceanarium contains more than 13000 ocean animals of approx. Two hundred seventy-seven species that are native to Southeast Asia and comprises 3,000 cubic meters of ocean waters split into seven parts.

The water used in this attraction is obtained from the newly upgraded Manila Bay. To make the water ideal for marine animals, the center must filter it through a variety of techniques. The park is also highly informative and instructional, especially for sightseeing tours.

You'll discover Hotel H20, the park's hotel, on the edge of the Oceanarium. As with most good Manila restaurants, Hotel H20 offers its visitors loads of refreshing equipment and amenities. Opening hours: Saturday and Sunday 09:00 to 08:00. 10:00-8:00 From Monday to Friday.

9. Spend a Day at Roxas Boulevard

Roxas Boulevard in Manila, Philippines' famous bay walkway. The boulevard, which extends along Manila Bay's coasts, is well-known for its landscapes and coconut trees. It has become a trademark of Philippine tourism, famous for its country club, restaurants, eateries, commercial properties, parks, and gardens. It's also the location of the CCP Complex, Baywalk, Star City, and a famous museum attraction, the BSP Money Museum.

  • Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex - The CCP Complex is an 88-hectare sport, cultural and art playground. The National Theater, Folk Arts Theater, CCP Library, and Archive, Philippine International Convention Center, Manila Film Center, and many more dominate the complex.

  • Baywalk -It's a promenade facing Manila Bay on Roxas Boulevard in Manila City, Philippines. The Baywalk is a two-kilometer path from U.S. Embassy, close to Rizal Park and the Philippines Cultural Center just past Manila Yacht Club.

  • Star City - It was founded in 1991 and had 30 distinct rides and attractions for all ages. The focus of Star City is to offer families full enjoyment through a range of exciting indoor and outdoor activities that enthrall both youthful individuals and old individuals. This a unique all-weather, air-conditioned fun park.

  • BSP Money Museum - The BSP Money Museum, located in central Bangko in the Philippines, shows the development of the Filipino economy and its past. The displays are chronologically arranged from the Pre Hispanic Period, Spanish and Revolutionary Periods to the American, Japanese and present-day Republics. The museum is full of elegant barter coats, gold rocks, gold barter chains, old paper money, envelope bills, and silver two-world banknotes.

10. Marvel at the Malacanang Palace

It is the official building and principal department of the President of the Philippines. It's generally connected to Mendiola Street in San Miguel, Manila. Often the President and his counselors use the term 'Malacañang' as a metonym. Malacañang's comprehensive scheme of mansions includes many mansions and departments, primarily built in neoclassical style.

Originally built as a private household home, Malacanang has been transformed into a magnificent Spanish colonial home. It consists primarily of wooden buildings complete of roofs, courtyards, and azoteas. The Americans have renovated and enlarged the property of Malacanang. Wooden structures were progressively replaced by horizontal concrete, and the exterior was added to with floors and candlesticks to prevent flooding during typhoons.

Ms. Imelda Marcos, then the first lady of the Philippines, rebuilt and extended the palace in 1978-79. Three years ago with the People's Revolution and the subsequent departure from Marcoses in 1986, the Malacanang Palace went to press as a monument. Visiting this place is a great opportunity to learn more about its contribution to the country’s history.

11. Explore the Modern Cities of Manila

One of the most exciting things to do in Manila is to visit its aesthetic and modern business districts. There's much to learn from the remnants of the past, and how it's incorporated in the present. After all, the Philippines is a progressive country. Here are some of the modern cities of Manila you can visit during your trip:

  • Makati - In addition to being one of the significant financial, academic, and business institutions in all Asia, it is the economic core of the Philippines. It has a remarkable multicultural culture and notoriety as the central amusement hub of the region of Manila.

  • Bonifacio Global City - More known as BGC, It's a leisure district in Metro Manila, Philippines. Besides the high structures, you'll most probably see, you'll also love the high-end retail stores. You can dine in world-class hotels, and be amused by multiple activities.

  • Taft Avenue - It's primarily considered to be a component of the University Belt, with several of Manila's leading colleges and universities nearby. This plus its closeness to primary forms of travel provides Taft Avenue, the youthful atmosphere and accessibility that has drawn an exciting combination of institutions.

12. Get Artsy at Cubao Expo

Cubao Expo has housed aesthetic institutions, art galleries, thrift stores, and shoe shops for several years. One may lose oneself among vintage comics, knick-knacks, and unique parts in the connectedness of this place and overlook the blazing heat of the sun.

As Quezon City generates a busy atmosphere, the whole rush of the people and public stations at Cubao Expo looks untouched and colorful. All stores are gathered and thoroughly selected solely out of their enthusiasm. You certainly knew that individuals were building these stores to not benefit but to add to the hidden landscape.

Besides photography, the Cubao Expo also serves as a plateau. Here you will discover the most excellent restaurant for lunch, whether it is natural, delicious baked food, or Italian. Whether you want to participate in activities, Cubao Expo also organizes events such as poetry reading, performances, skate road trips, book sales, music concerts, geek conferences, etc.

13. Paco Park and Cemetery

Paco Park is a leisure and nature park that was constructed by Dominicans in the Spanish colonial Era once in Manila's public cemetery. It is on the main street of General Luna in Paco, Manila and the eastern part of Padre Faura Street. During the reign of President Diosdado Macapagal, the reserve was transformed into a national park in 1966.

After the conflict, Paco Park's grandeur had been progressively rebuilt and has been a government beach and community promenade since then. During President Ferdinand E. Marcos' government, the Paco Park and its maintenance were under the authority of the National Park Development Committee (NPDC). 

Paco Park, with its interior curved strong as the first cemetery, is triangular. Its rooms became empty to become niches and a second outside door with dense, adobe-like bricks was constructed as the population proceeded to expand. The bottom of the towers then became walking paths. In the garden fence was also built the tiny, dome-coated Roman Catholic church devoted to St. Pancratius.

14. Drink and Enjoy Nightlife 

Top 19 Things to Do in Manila

Filipino's love to party! With their passion for singing and dancing, and coupled with excellent feelings of humor, you're bound to encounter some exciting and enjoyable events when visiting Manila's hot food and nightspots.

There are various places throughout Metro Manila, where you can encounter all types of bars and restaurants to eat, drink, and chill. Naturally, it's based on whether you want something lowkey or a full-on club scene. Here are some locations you should visit:

  • Poblacion -This is Makati's famous nightlife district, with a wide variety of beautiful hotels and bars to let individuals unwind from stress.

  • Bonifacio Global City - BGC is a region renowned for its high-quality lounges and cocktail clubs. Whether you spend the evening in one of the super bars in the area or want to rest on a hard day at a job, you will undoubtedly discover one that suits your plan.

  • Tomas Morato - This is a famous place for amusement. There are many fine establishments and cafes along these two paths. The nighttime recreation of customers is guaranteed by the discotheques, karaoke joints, and comedy clubs. 

15. Have a Gastronomic Food trip

pinoy streetfood

One of the best things to do in Manila is to have a gastronomic adventure! Try street food such as the infamous embryo of the shell or cooked duck. In the different places of the tourist industry, there are also fish balls, kwek-kwek, kikiam, taho, and sorbets (cheesecake) that are generally marketed in tiny shops.

If you can, go and taste Halo-halo, a Filipino famous dessert of rasped cake and evaporated milk, with several components for a delicious snack. The warm and humid Manila climate offers this colorful dessert. Aside from Binondo, you can go ahead and taste some of the local food here:

  • Maginhawa Street - Several local restaurants started on this 2.2-kilometer road as hole-in-the-wall food places, before extending to various subway regions. The region is also home to art and art galleries, while some cafes have enriched clients' food experiencing with creative vibrations or pop culture topics.

  • Jolly Jeep - This is the name of Makati's famous food trucks. They're affordable and found within area points in Makati such as Sisig from Rada Street, Mang Lirio's from Palanca Street, and Bulalo and Pares from Esteban Street.

  • Kapitolyo - Kapitolyo is an area renowned for its buildings has become some of the finest hole-in-the-wall establishments in other towns–resulting in its notoriety. Kapitolyo has two primary roads. East Drive features cheaper, more inexpensive establishments, while West Drive offers more intimate dates and unique events.

16. Get Ready for the Weekend Market

If you get excited by shopping for real, local products, an excellent activity is to join a city excursion at a weekend market in Manila! Sample a combination of delicious meals and Philippine cuisine, learn local customs with sympathetic distributors, observe local people trading for products, and discover anything else on a weekend market, like those listed below:

  • Salcedo Market - This weekend market starts at 6 a.m. and only on Saturdays. The location is situated in a kid-friendly mall. It has over 50 suppliers. There are delicacies from all over the world so that you can enjoy distinct global flavors as well as local culinary delights.

  • Legazpi Market -This market is Salcedo's equivalent, available only at 7 a.m. on Sundays. What's unique about the enterprise is its dry goods segment — many artsy items you can purchase from pictures to hand-crafted stuff.

  • Mercato Centrale - This cultural night weekend market is available during evenings in BGC and Glorietta. You'll discover an enormous range of meals you can consume or have ready-to-go in the popular dishes and rooms.

17. Visit Exciting Modern Museums

Modern exhibitions are opportunities in this day and age for painters and curators to present their artworks to visitors and commemorate the evolution of life type and variety. They give comparable feelings and thrill from antique collections but through fresh perspectives. Here are some contemporary and beautiful museums you can explore:

  • The Dessert Museum - This an ideal location to see desserts, eat them and take artistic pictures around them. This educational, dessert-filled and Instagrammable library welcomes you through a display! This 12,000. Ft. dessert-themed and mouth-watering chambers.

  • Lakbay Museo - It's recognized as the first virtual millennial center in the Philippines. Lakbay Museum brings you on an unforgettable journey through the island through displays and activities that catch the essence of Filipino society as a whole.

  • Art in Island - Art in Island, one of the world's largest animated 3D art museums, enables visitors to take beautiful photos with wall-to-floor sculptures. The employees can make your image while doing distinct activities in each of the 12 areas.

  • Upside Down - If you like to take pictures and direct individuals, this museum is your location. See the art of your pictures when you transform them upside down! Be surprised!

  • Mind Museum - Find out how science is to be discovered every day with an all-day trip to The Mind Museum, Philippines' first world-class research zoo. The Mind Museum is ideal for children and children at the core, with more than 250 educational displays displayed in five interconnected tales of Atom, Earth, Life, the Universe, and Technology.

18. Immerse in Beautiful University Campuses

The Philippines doesn't fall short of beautiful universities. These locations are not only an academic institution but also notable Manila tourist destinations. Check out these good Philippine colleges and experience an excursion at the university.

  • The University of the Philippines-Diliman - This campus has a vast area of 493 hectares and is wealthy in history and culture. On Sundays, the 100-year-old State University is a place for Sunday walkers, fitness enthusiasts, and nature lovers. The University Academic Oval provides a pleasant buffet with an architecture of the ancient structures and a cool acacia canopy. The University of the Philippines has its own UP Cine Adarna next to the UP Theater and the UP. Carillon tower. Carillon tower.

  • The University of Santo Tomas - Known as Asia's earliest university, UST has a wealthy heritage visible on its campus. There are a range of UNESCO heritage locations in the Catholic University and a magnificent museum full of memorabilia and pictures. The first house is worth visiting for the murals and the primary staircase-the Spanish architecture highlights.

19. Join a Day Trip from Manila

We all need to escape from Manila once in a while. Whether you're the eye-catching adventurer on a tour of the Philippines, or a local who wants to take some time off from the town, these are some great options:

  • Corregidor - It's like a day journey into the future going to this location. It is a national sanctuary commemorating the struggle of U.S. and Philippine forces there during World War II against overwhelming numbers of Japans.

  • Tagaytay - It is renowned for being a place for excellent restaurants and picturesque spots for tours. One of the factors why visitors enjoy Tagaytay is its cool breeze, which leaves it the second city of the Philippines during the rainy season.

  • Taal Lake - This is the Philippines' third-largest lake. The Taal Volcano, one of the lowest active volcanoes in the globe, is located inside the lagoon. Make sure to take photos of this fantastic destination.

  • Mt. Pinatubo - One of Manila's most breathtaking trips: walking along the picturesque Mount Pinatubo and admiring the province's panoramic perspective. You will see the manner nature can make something damaging lovely again from the beginning with the 4x4's to the real walk.

Manila is a fascinating culture and one of the fast-growing tourism spots in the globe. It offers so many great things for both locals and internationals alike such as sightseeing, food-tasting, museum-hopping, biking, heritage visits, adventure and nature parks, hiking, and many more.

Start planning your trip to Manila now! Explore Manila tours and activities that you can add to your itinerary for a complete and hassle-free travel experience.