Manila is continually expanding outwards and upwards. Scores of skyscrapers and business centers are rising up across the city and Filipinos from rural areas pour into the capital everyday looking for opportunities. This is one of the largest cities on the planet.
Manila can be overwhelming at first glance. The sprawling metropolis is a collection of 16 towns with no discernible center. The streets are busy, crowded and loud, but it’s this energy and chaos that gives the city its charm.
To really get to know Manila you need to understand its past. The city has been bombed, devastated by fires and earthquakes and occupied by the Spanish, British, Japanese and Americans.
Start your trip in Intramuros, the oldest part of Manila. It’s surrounded by fortifications and moats that were built by the Spanish in the 16th century. Most of the fortifications were destroyed by bombs during World War II. What was left has been rebuilt and restored. Walk around and on the walls and visit some of its key defensive structures such as the Baluarte de San Diego and the Baluarte de San Andres.
Go to the defensive centerpiece the Fort of Santiago, a large citadel and park, then visit Manila Cathedral. The present structure dates from the mid-20th century. Close to Intramuros is Rizal Park, a green expanse with ornamental gardens, lawns and monuments.
Pay a visit to the National Museum of the Filipino People to learn about the history and culture of the Philippines, and visit Casa Manila Museum, a reproduction of a Spanish colonial house.
Manila captivates with some of its modern charms. Take a ferry along the Pasig River and enjoy the nightlife of the Baywalk, a seaside promenade.
Like many Asian cities traffic is a huge problem. Fortunately, taxis are plentiful, cheap and air-conditioned. A good way to get around is on the light rail and metro. The main forms of public transport are the jeepneys, small brightly colored buses. If you travel by road it may take you longer to get to your destination than you planned. Allow plenty of time and do as the Filipinos do, just go with the flow.
Shopping, Cathedrals and Churches
Relax in one of the largest urban parks in Asia, home to gardens, orchids, tropical plant species and a monument to a Filipino hero.
This is a lively seaside promenade where you can wine, dine, watch live music and join the locals for a daily fitness class.
Drift around the tranquil waters of a sheltered bay and watch a colorful sunset from the shores of Manila city.
Hike up one of the Philippines' second-most-active volcano on this full-day tour. Take a scenic boat ride on Taal Lake, ride on a horseback across spectacular black lava flows and look down on the stunning vista from the summit of Taal Volcano.
Take a journey through Manila and explore its rich history, fascinating architecture and ancient buildings. Discover the Philippines' financial capital in bustling Makati City, the historic American Cemetery & Memorial, and the ancient walled-city of Intramuros—a remnant of Manila's colonial past.
Escape to a historic World War II island fortress on this full-day tour to Corregidor Island. Explore major battle sites & barrack ruins, visit the Pacific War Memorial, discover Malinta Tunnel, and enjoy scenic views of Manila Bay from the island's historic lighthouse.
Begin the day with a drive to the picturesque city of Tagaytay. Located on a ridge 2,250 feet (686 m) above sea level, it offers a panoramic view of Taal Lake and Volcano. After lunch, return to Metro Manila, visit bustling Makati, and see San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Discover Manila's rich history, cultural heritage and architectural grandeur on this full-day tour. Stroll through the ancient walled city of Intramuros, explore the Philippines' financial capital in Makati City, and visit ancient churches and historic museums.
Explore the historic center of Manila on a private tour, discovering important public spaces and the stone Fort Santiago. Then, venture into the narrow street of Ongpin, known as Manila's Chinatown, before covering some of the city's pre-World War II history with your friendly guide.