Planning a trip to the capital of the Philippines, but don’t know what to do in Manila? Guess what? You, as an international traveler, will be spoiled for choice, once you’ve arrived at the Manila Airport.
A wondrous mash-up of American, Spanish and Filipino cultures, Manila is overflowing with colors, life and activities. Even if you’re visiting the city for a short time, the options for Manila tourist attractions to visit are simply endless.
Looking for ideas on things to do in Manila, Philippines? Check out our picks for the top Manila tourist attractions!
For most tourists, Manila is only viewed as the gateway to the Philippines’ most beautiful tourist spots. Unbeknownst to many, the country’s capital also offers great experiences just around the corner. Here are is our top 10 adventures to do on a day out exploring Manila:
1. Intramuros Manila
They don’t call Intramuros the best tourist spot in Manila for nothing. Also known as Manila’s Walled City, Intramuros boasts 16th-century architecture and is only a 30-minute bus ride away from NAIA.
This former Spanish empire colonial outpost exudes a wondrous European charm, thanks to its colonial-style villas, towering churches, and cobblestone streets.
Among the top spots to stop at the Intramuros are Fort Santiago, Stone Sentries, and Casa Manila.
Fort Santiago is now opening its restored dungeon that was once used as ammunition storage before it was converted into prison cells and torture chambers. The Stone Sentries are the barricade of walls that are meters high, once built to position canons. We also have Casa Manila, a cultural mansion museum containing antique furniture, paintings, and books that depict the lifestyle of the people during the Spanish-era.
One great way to end your Intramuros experience is to shop at Casa Manila’s souvenir store or have a coffee at their on-site café.
While you can do a DIY Intramuros tour, the best way to experience Manila’s oldest district is to take a guided walking tour. Click here to review and choose your preferred dates!
2. Ayala Museum
Set right at the heart of Manila, this tourist spot in Manila is famous for its contemporary art collection inspired by the Philippine history.
Here, you’ll find a heritage library as well as a collection of textiles, trade ceramics, and archaeological artifacts. And, while it houses permanent dioramas, it frequently updates its current programs and exhibits, meaning there’s a different experience every time you visit it.
Ayala also has a place called Greenbelt Park. This is a natural oasis in the middle of four shopping malls that allows you to shift into a mountain park atmosphere in the middle of the buzzy city life. What makes this place a five-star tier in travel recommendations is perhaps the diversity of mini lagoons, waterfalls, and fountains that disrupts the cosmopolitan monotony. The best time to visit Greenbelt Park is at 11:00 am to 3:00 pm, so why don’t you take a nature walk after dining at one of the Filipino restaurants near it?
PRO Tip: Visit Ayala Museum during the afternoon when the clock is near the golden hour. The sun rays even make the artifact look magical. Also, look out for their special events as they occasionally hold talks, lectures, and special exhibitions.
3. Manila Ocean Park
Looking for kid-friendly places in Manila? Why not include Ocean Park to your list of must-visit Manila tourist attractions? Praised for its lively aquatic performances, this park allows you to get an up-close look of some gorgeous tropical fish.
Manila Ocean Park is the nation’s first world-class marine-themed park highlighting the Oceanarium – a 55-meter walk-in aquarium that houses 14,000 indigenous marine animals. The crowd favorite was the 220-degree underwater tunnel but certainly, the fun does not stop there. This park also offers 14 more attractions: including Trails to Antarctica and the Jellies Exhibit.
You may also want to book their Aquanaut Voyage that enables you to experience ultimate underwater encounters. A special diving helmet is given to allow guests to breathe making it 100% safe and ideal even for non-swimmers. The price range starts at Php 570.00 to Php 995.00 per head depending on the package.
And, if you can’t get enough of this tourist spot in Manila, you may spend the night at any of H20 Hotel’s marine-themed rooms. Hidden inside the park, the hotel rooms boast a ceiling to the floor aquarium wall. Head’s up and clicks here to start this underwater adventure:
Manila shopping experience is almost as interchangeable with the iconic Divisoria Market. Imagine the alley at your neighborhood with side shops and yelling vendors plus the seven RTW malls that stood nearby. Welcome to Divisoria, the “shopping mecca” right at the heart of Manila.
Divisoria is one of the oldest marketplaces in the city known for its super low-priced goods. This place is a great find from textiles, office supplies, and even your kitchenware. A word of caution though: never bring jewelry or expensive gadgets with you.
Remember: To make the most out of your money, don’t forget to haggle with the sellers and vendors in this shopping district. Keep in mind as well that this is an urbane market, and you might lose something valuable while finding those cheaper deals.
Check out this Viator tour for a shop-til-you-drop tour!
Food trip is one of the best things to do in Manila, and there is no other way than a quick visit to the oldest Chinatown in the world –Binondo. Although it was originally built for Chinese immigrants, it has amazingly turned into a premier tourist destination in Manila. Famed for its mouthwatering culinary goodies, Binondo will appease your taste buds with authentic Chinese dishes, such as dumplings, century eggs, and Peking duck. What’s more, Manila’s Chinatown offers an endless array of souvenirs and cheap knock-offs.
What’s more? There are cooking schools in Binondo for those who want to learn the art of Chinese and Filipino cooking. Check out your preferred dates and book this Chinese-inspired experience on Viator.
6. Manila Bay
A perfect way to end a perfect day of sightseeing in Manila is to savor the magnificent sunset views at Manila Bay. As the sun begins to set, stop by the bay and look for a prime spot to enjoy a world-famous view. Afterward, take a stroll along Roxas Boulevard’s pedestrian-friendly paths, which are lined perfectly by palm trees. To cap off the Manila Bay experience, make your way to a nearby bar or al fresco restaurant and enjoy some cocktails while relishing in the scenery.
The best spots for a cocktail with a view in Manila are the Sky Deck View Barn in The Bayleaf Hotel and Manila Sunset Bar in Sofitel. You can even book a cruise dinner just right before the sunset.
7. National Museum
On a tight budget? Worry no more! The Philippine’s all-in-one museum offers you Fine Art, Natural History, and Anthropology exhibitions for free. Even if you’re not a history buff or art connoisseur, you’ll still have a blast exploring the national treasures displayed inside the National Museum Complex.
The museum is developed to be an educational, scientific and cultural institution that acquires, preserves, and exhibits the country’s artworks, artifacts, and unique specimens. It also offers interactive displays and a library to quench your mind.
As you hit the Museum of Fine Arts, you’ll see the internationally acclaimed and most renowned artwork in the Philippines – Juan Luna’s Spolarium. Meanwhile, the Museum of Natural History – the newest installment of the complex – is a magnificent architectural wonder housing the skeletal remains of the world’s largest captured crocodile. Aside from the museums of Natural History and Fine Arts, the complex is home to the National Museum of Anthropology and the National Planetarium as well.
As a reminder: the museum of Fine Arts, Natural History, and Anthropology are stationed at different buildings so expect a short commute in-between.
Pair this with an Intramuros-Rizal Park-Ayala Museum tour and you have completed the Manila historical quest! Looking forward to doing this? Review your preferred dates and book a tour now on Klook.
8. Bonifacio Global City
Need a break from Manila’s hustle and bustle? You might want to spend a few hours or the whole day at Bonifacio Global City. A man-made urban oasis, BGC is a cool, relaxing, and hip spot where trendy locals and expats socialize, drink, eat and shop. For photographers, the place teems with sophisticated and colorful street art.
You may join a guided art tour where you’ll make stops at every splashy and visually appealing wall within the vicinity. Going around Bonifacio Global City on a bike or foot, these tours will highlight the murals as well as tell stories of every piece of art there. There is also a novel museum inside called the Mind Museum and you can easily book it here: www.klook.com
9. Upside Down Museum
Upside Down Museum ups your travel photos by creating a mishmash of wonderfully bizarre photographs. Cars, bedrooms, kitchens, and offices have been flipped to an angle or upside down to create an illusion on your camera that you’re balancing in amazingly impossible positions or standing on your hands. Bring your phone or camera and ask the staff around the area to snap your photo. For sure, they know all the best and most fantastic angles. Review your preferred dates and book by clicking here.
10. Rizal Park
Rizal Park, or also referred to as Luneta Park, isn’t just a historical landmark dedicated to the national hero of the Philippines, Doctor Jose Rizal. Today, it’s a local, go-to spot for family picnics, sightseeing, and free activities in Manila. Furthermore, it has an open-air auditorium that serves as a venue for a variety of year-round events.
With a land area of more than 60 hectares, the park offers a smorgasbord of entertainment for everyone. Not only is home to ornamental gardens and open lawns, but it also a Chess Plaza and tons of artworks. Moreover, it has magical dancing fountains and statues of some of the notable heroes in the Philippines. And, with its relaxing atmosphere, it’s a favorite strolling destination for locals in the early evening or late afternoon. You can book a private or group tour by clicking here.
11. Art in Island
Art in the Island is the world’s first selfie museum and Asia’s largest trick art gallery. With over 200 3D paintings at different theme zones, these artworks bank on the illusions that when viewed from a certain angle would look realistic.
You might be Spiderman one minute and then become a shark attack survivor next. One thing to keep in mind: bring a camera and wear socks since the museum won’t allow you to wear your shoes inside. Visit this fun tour on Viator for reviews and booking options.
12. Van Gogh is Bipolar
Wait, we still want you to dine with excitement. Presenting the unpredictable and ever-shifting meals of Van Gogh.
Much like Alice in Wonderland, this place is filled with random objects – from a test tube to a giant clock, its diversity is endless. Before ordering, the restaurant requires you to brew your tea depending on your mood (though this may change again depending on Van Gogh’s mood). It highlights its daily-changing menu where food is 100% organic and cooked without preservatives. If you are someone who wants a Manila tour while also passively helping for a cause, try this restaurant. The owner advocates for mental health awareness and gave job opportunities to his servers who have ADHD and Chronic Depression.
13. Sip and Gogh
Looking for more things to do in Manila? Another unique experience is a painting session while drinking your favorite wine. Sip and Gogh is the first paint and sip studio in Manila envisioned by its owners to be a cozy venue in finding your creative self. There are art instructors in the studio who personally coach you how to paint for three hours.
The quality reviews from its customers are the reason why this place made it to our list. First-time painters and even ‘stick-figure artists’ testified that this art studio has a friendly and open atmosphere making even the introverts become comfortable and able to express their art.
While these may be the best places to visit in Manila, there are also other destinations from Manila that are perfect for hiking or nature tripping. The nearest must-see spots from Manila were Pagsanjan Falls, Taal Lake, and Corregidor Island. Here is a quick list https://www.viator.com/en-PH/Manila/d4674-ttd to unlock your best Manila experiences!