Travel Guide: Must-Do Things in Manila

Manila is the capital of the Philippines and is full of hustle and bustle — depending on where you go. With a population, according to the census a few years ago, of 1.7 million people, it is one of the most densely populated cities in the world. And if you are traveling to the Philippines and Southeast Asia, it is a definite must-stop destination.

Manila Bay Sunset - Must-Do Things in Manila
Manila Bay Sunset – Must-Do Things in Manila

So, what should you do and see while in the “Pearl of the Orient” itself? Here we bring you our guide to just some of the highlights…

Anyone visiting Manila for the first time should go to Intramuros – Latin for “inside the wall”. It is the oldest district of the city and is often referred to as the “Walled City” for obvious reasons. The cobbled streets are a delight, and if you want to find out a little more sign up for one of the many tours.


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You can also go off and explore yourself, of course — and if you do, be sure to stop at Fort Santiago, a lovely park near Pasig River, and do visit some of the designated World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

Manila Cathedral
Manila Cathedral

It can get very hot in Intramuros — depending on the time of year — so dress appropriately and make sure you have plenty of water with you, although there are a number of restaurants you can stop at — such as the Ristorante Delle Mitre and even a McDonalds.

It can be quite fun to take a Calesa Ride, too, just one of those tourist things that has to be done, or not!

Rizal Park should also be on the “to visit list” — especially if you just want to take a bit of time to relax after exploring Intramuros. It’s located adjacent to it, by the way, so you can’t miss it.

Also known as Luneta National Park, it is one of the biggest urban parks in Asia and is so big —almost 150 acres — that it is split into three parts with a central lagoon in the middle.

There is also an open-air auditorium, the Orchidarium and Butterfly Pavilion and if you fancy a game of chess, head to Chess Plaza on the north side.

Rizal Monument in Rizal Park
Rizal Monument in Rizal Park

Now if you are into shopping, then you should hop on over to Robinsons Place Manila — the biggest in the city. If you are looking for a bargain, however, and want to be a bit more adventurous try Divisoria Market, located in the city’s Chinatown.

Manila Bay at Night
Manila Bay at Night

During the day, Divisoria Market sells pretty much anything, while at night you can only get fruit, meat, and fish. Just be warned it can be very busy, so hold on tight to your valuables. If you know a local, go with them and do haggle, too.

If you still have some energy left after a thrilling day of seeing all the sights, there are a lot of options for the evening. The Resorts World Manila, for example, is billed as a one-stop destination –— with restaurants, a shopping mall, a cinema, a theater and also a casino, where you can witness players in action and try out a few different tactics and strategies yourself, too.

Malate Church
Malate Church

If you’d rather be out and about, try a Manila Bay sunset dinner cruise — perfect for couples and those just wanting to relax, take in the views at night, or plan what to do next. However you spend your time in Manila, take care — like with any major city around the world. Nevertheless, you know you are in good company with around 1.5 million tourists making the trip to the “Pearl of the Orient” every single year.

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