Manila, the capital of the Philippines is sometimes avoided by a lot of tourists due to a variety of factors. It can be a daunting experience to navigate around a huge metropolis but at the same time can be rewarding as Manila offers its visitors a lot of nice surprises especially if you find this city’s hidden charms. Manila has a colourful history and a lot of friendly people. This city has multi-cultural heritage, a world famous nightlife, tons of shopping options and a variety of delectable cuisines (mostly fusion of Asian, European and American) that will definitely captivate your senses.
Being the capital of the Philippines, Manila has a lot to offer to its visitors but we’re rounding up here Ten Places to Visit in Manila that you shouldn’t miss:
1. Intramuros – Intramuros was the center of power in Manila during the Spanish Era where most government offices are then located. Today, the walled fortress is still intact and quite well preserved despite of the obvious wear and tear that this structure withstood from the time and the elements. It’s a great places to visit to learn a few facts about this colonial city.
2. Rizal Park – Locally known as ‘Luneta’, Rizal Park is probably one of the biggest parks in the world encompassing around 60 hectares of open lawns, gardens, paved walks and some wooded areas. This is also the same area where you could see the monument of the Philippines National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.
3. Malacañang Palace – Sometimes regarded as the “center of power” in the Philippines, this palace has been homed to several presidents in the past until the present time (if the president chooses to stay here). There are some areas open to visitors such as the museum if you want to learn a bit about Philippines history.
4. Fort Santiago – This is now a shrine in memorial of the Philippines’ National Hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. He was imprisoned here during the Spanish Era and you could learn a lot about Rizal on your visit in Fort Santiago. Today, there are also some urban legends about ghosts hunting this place (maybe because of its sad and cruel history).
5. National Museum of the Filipino People – The National Museum of the Filipino People houses a vast collection of historical and archaeological treasures of the Philippines including the skullcap of the earliest known inhabitant named the “Tabon Man”.
6. Baywalk – Manila is famous for its beautiful sunset and the best place to see this is at the Baywalk along Roxas Boulevard. In the past years, this place is full of restaurants and bars but was later cleared to keep this place clean. It’s also a nice place to observe people doing their exercises early in the morning.
7. University of Santo Tomas (Unibersidad de Santo Tomas (UST) – UST is regarded as the oldest university the Philippines and in Asia. It’s also said that during WWII, it was used as a camp by the Japanese during their occupation.
8. The Cultural Center of the Philippines – The Cultural Center of the Philippines is located at Roxas Boulevard and designed by noted Filipino architect Leandro Locsin and established by Philippines most prominent First Lady, Imelda Romualdez Marcos. Inside is an art gallery (admission free; 8am-6pm Tue-Sun), a library (8am-5pm Tue-Fri) and a museum of musical instruments (adult/child P40/20; 10am-6pm Tue-Sun).
9. Manila Central Post Office – Located at Lawton, this magnificent building structure was designed by Filipino architect Juan Marcos de Guzman Arellano. It was said that it has been severely damaged during the Second World War but it’s rebuilt and renovated in 1946 preserving a lot of its original design. This is also a great jump off point if you want to visit Chinatown (Binondo) and Divisoria.
10. Binondo Chinatown and Divisoria: Binondo would probably be one of the most colourful spots in Manila and home to some amazing Chinese restaurants that wouldn’t drill hole in your pocket. Near Binondo is Manila’s biggest shopping market locally known as Divisoria.
These are just some of the top places to visit in Manila.
Do you have additional tips and recommendations for Manila?
Photo Credits (Flickr Creative Commmons): Intramuros by Robert Verzo/ Rizal Park by asteegabo/ Fort Santiago by ewen and donabel/ National Museum by asteegabo/ Sunset by reneatqc/ UST by Kristoffer M.C./ CCP by Michael Francis McCarthy/ Manila Central Post Office by Stefan Munder Binondo by Trishhhh