10 Best Things to Do in Manila, Philippines

Best Things to Do in Manila

The capital city of the Philippines boasts a nice blend of cultural attractions weaved through modern infrastructure. From centuries-old churches to towering skyscrapers, this vibrant city has something for everyone.

If you’re a fan of the arts, you’ll love Manila’s thriving art scene, which showcases the best of Filipino creativity and talent. History buffs will be delighted by the city’s well-preserved landmarks, which offer a glimpse into its colonial past. And if you’re a foodie, Manila’s culinary scene will surely satisfy your cravings with its delicious and diverse offerings.

Read on to discover the best things to do and see in Manila and plan your itinerary accordingly.

San Agustin Church

A UNESCO World Heritage site, the San Agustin Church in Intramuros is the oldest surviving church in the Philippines.

Having experienced a series of earthquakes, ransacks, and rebuildings, this church surely boasts an interesting and colorful past. The interior is adorned with lavish embellishments, and the high ceiling depicts meticulously painted murals.

If you want the best view of the interior, go upstairs through the museum to the choir loft, where you have a fresh, grandiose perspective of the church.

Manila Cathedral

Located at the heart of the old city of Intramuros, the Manila Cathedral is a prime example of Romanesque Revival architecture in the Philippines.

The exterior is adorned with sculptures of saints, and the grand door artistically depicts the journey and history of the church. Inside, you are greeted by the high vaulted ceilings and playful colors of stained glass.

Even with several reconstructions and renovations, the cathedral still stands as one of the most impressive and adored churches in the country.

Casa Manila

Yet another attraction located in the walled city of Intramuros, this museum is a must-visit if you want to peek into the fabulous lifestyle of the 19th-century elite.

It is a reproduction of a grand Spanish colonial house filled with authentic pieces of art and furniture. Admire the craftworks of local artisans as opulent antique furnishings dot the building.

With stories and information scattered throughout, you’ll surely feel as if you’ve gone through a portal back in time.

Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago Intramuros Manila

One of the most visited attractions in Intramuros is Fort Santiago, and it is revered for its significance to Manila’s, and the country’s history.

It is a citadel built by the Spanish occupants in the 1500s and garnered a notorious rapport with the locals as numerous citizens were imprisoned here, with the most notable being the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal. The fort was nearly destroyed in its entirety during the 2nd World War but is now being restored and slowly reclaiming its glory.

Explore the beautifully landscaped grounds of Plaza Moriones, which is characterized by plentiful sculptures of historical figures. Pass through the bridge, and you are greeted by the carved gate of the fort, then begin your journey as you learn more about the site’s past.

Newport World Resorts

Situated a mere kilometer from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3, Newport World Resorts offers fine dining, luxurious experiences, and world-class entertainment. This marvelous leisure complex has all the things you’ll ever need and want; it houses 8 hotels, a performing arts theater, the country’s largest ballroom, a grand casino, numerous bars and lounges, and so on.

From the airport, you can either opt to take the free RWM shuttle service that rotates around the entire complex or walk through the vibrant connecting bridge; Runway Manila.

Bonifacio Global City (BGC)

A juxtaposition from the rich historic architecture of Intramuros, Bonifacio Global City (BGC) represents the modern, upscale area of Manila.

The upcoming business capital of the country boasts a wide range of activities. Explore your gluttonous side as you stroll through mouth-watering stalls of the Mercato Centrale night market surrounded by creative, Instagram-worthy artworks and graffiti.

Bars are densely packed in the area, offering bustling nightlife and unique entertainment. This highly commercialized city ensures a fun and youthful experience for all those who visit!

National Museum of Natural History

While the museum itself is relatively new, opened in May of 2018, it has already gained a lot of attention from both locals and visitors alike and has become one of the most popular museums in the country.

Be amazed at the centerpiece of the atrium, “Tree of Life,” as light plays and dances around the building. It is an artistic and architectural representation of a universal iconography that symbolizes the natural history and man’s place in it. This museum also contains five floors of interesting exhibitions and a roof garden.

Mall of Asia

Being the 13th largest mall in the world, you can pretty much imagine the different features this gigantic complex holds. It is quite literally a one-stop shop for everything you need and want.

With over 600 shops and more than 200 restaurants, you’ll be sure to find something that suits your budget. Bring out your inner figure skater and glide through the ice rink, or play a thrilling game in their bowling alley.

If that’s not enough for you, watch a concert at its 20,000-seater arena, or spend a day of fun in its bayside amusement park.

Dampa Seaside

A country’s culture can indeed be defined by its cuisine, and what more to experience that than in the seafood market in Pasay!

This outstanding gastronomic destination is lined with restaurants offering “pluto”, a trend wherein you pick out your ingredients from the wet market and they will cook it for you in your chosen restaurant. It is a trendy place for locals to gather and celebrate, ensuring a more authentic experience for foreign visitors.

It’s not just about the food, but rather the experience. Browse through the fresh selection and give in to your cravings- you’ll be going out of there with a full stomach and a big smile on your face!


Divisoria Flea Market Manila

Divisoria is a flea market located in the heart of Chinatown in Manila. It’s famous for its extensive assortments of stalls- from clothes and textiles to electronics.

You can find almost anything imaginable in this market, and for a low cost. It also serves as a great opportunity to test your haggling skills. The market can be pretty hectic and crowded especially on the weekends, so it’s best to do your shopping on the weekdays in the morning so you don’t get trapped in the swarm of buyers.

If you’re up for the challenge, though, grab your most comfortable pair of shoes and shop to your heart’s content.


What is the best time of year to visit Manila?

Are you planning a trip to Manila and scratching your head over the ideal time to visit? Well, that’s a tough nut to crack!

The answer is as elusive as the city’s traffic situation. It all boils down to your preferences and the purpose of your visit.

Do you prefer mild weather? Then pack your bags for December through February, when the city is blessed with cooler temperatures and less rainfall, making it ideal for outdoor activities and city exploration.

But hey, if you’re one of those who thrive in the heat and humidity, March to May might just be your cup of tea. These months offer a cornucopia of cultural events and festivals to keep you on your toes.

However, brace yourself for the occasional downpour if you plan on visiting between June and November. That’s when the rainy season unleashes its wrath on the city, putting a damper on your outdoor plans.

So, before you take the plunge and book your tickets, consider the weather and the local happenings to get the most out of your trip. Manila welcomes you with open arms, any time of year, but be prepared for some twists and turns along the way.

Are there any festivals I should attend while in Manila?

Behold! The city of Manila, where festivity reigns supreme throughout the year! Partake in the grandeur of the Ati-Atihan Festival, a January celebration in honor of the Santo Niño. Behold the resplendent Chinese New Year fete in February, where jubilant merrymaking ensues. Be swept away by the enchanting Flores de Mayo, a splendid floral gala held in the merry month of May.

Venture further into this city of merriment and witness the grandiose Feast of the Black Nazarene, a January jubilee that captivates with its magnificence. Come June, the Araw ng Maynila revelry beckons, with a display of bountiful festivities. And let us not forget the magical Christmas season, where the city truly shines with its wondrous displays of joy.

Truly, in this bustling metropolis, there is never a dull moment, for there is always an occasion to celebrate.

Is it easy to get around Manila?

Picture this: Manila, a buzzing and chaotic metropolis with a labyrinthine transportation system. The ease of navigating this city is contingent upon several factors.

Brace yourself, as the traffic is notorious for its overwhelming congestion, especially during peak hours, turning any drive or taxi ride into a maddeningly frustrating ordeal.

Nevertheless, there exist alternative modes of transportation, such as the MRT and LRT train systems, which are comparatively swift and economical. The commonplace jeepneys and buses are also available, but they tend to be cramped and uncomfortable.

All in all, while getting around Manila might leave you feeling perplexed at times, with a dash of patience and meticulous planning, you can explore and experience the dynamic vibrancy of this city.

What kind of cuisine is available in Manila?

The culinary landscape of this vibrant city is a true reflection of the country’s rich cultural heritage, boasting an exquisite array of flavors that will tantalize your taste buds like never before. From traditional Filipino fare to international cuisine, there is an endless list of gastronomic delights to discover in Manila.

Get ready to sink your teeth into mouthwatering dishes such as adobo, a heavenly stew made with succulent pork or chicken, sinigang, a tangy soup infused with the zesty flavor of tamarind, and lechon, a roasted whole pig with a perfectly crispy skin and a tender, juicy center.

Whether you crave street food or fancy dining, Manila has it all! Savor the delights of Japanese sushi, Korean barbecue, or indulge in the guilty pleasure of American fast food.

So why wait? Come and immerse yourself in the perplexing and bursty culinary scene of Manila, where every meal is an adventure for your taste buds.

Are there any fun outdoor activities in Manila?

Yes, Manila is a hub of outdoor activities galore. The heat and humidity add a pinch of spice to the potpourri of options available to thrill-seekers and nature-lovers alike.

For those who crave adventure, Manila has a cornucopia of water sports to choose from. Wakeboarding is all the rage in the placid waters of Manila Bay, where one can revel in the stunning vistas while being towed along at high speeds. Jet skiing and banana boating are not for the faint of heart either, providing ample doses of adrenaline.

Cycling is yet another popular pursuit in the bustling metropolis. The city’s dedicated cycle paths are a great way to explore the city and its surroundings. Those looking for an organized tour can opt for guided tours, but if you’re feeling daring, grab a picnic basket and take off on your own, as the journey is sure to yield many picturesque surprises.

For those who seek respite in leisure, the city’s numerous parks and urban gardens are just the ticket. Luneta Park is the granddaddy of them all, with its expansive gardens perfect for a languorous saunter or an idyllic picnic. Rizal Park, on the other hand, offers a great running or jogging experience.

Final Thoughts

Manila city capital

As you can see, this bustling metropolis is a kaleidoscope of vibrant experiences that will leave you dazzled and gasping for more. Prepare to be whisked away on a wild ride as you explore the rich tapestry of culture and history woven throughout this majestic city. From the ancient walls of Fort Santiago to the enchanting Intramuros, Manila’s heritage is alive and thriving.

But that’s just the beginning of the adventure! Get ready to experience the pulse-pounding nightlife in districts like Makati and Bonifacio Global City, where the energy is electric and the excitement is palpable. Satisfy your culinary cravings with local favorites like adobo and lechon, tantalizing your taste buds with a symphony of flavors that will make your head spin.

And for those who can’t resist the siren call of retail therapy, Manila’s world-renowned shopping destinations like SM Mall of Asia and Greenbelt Mall will leave you breathless and your wallet empty. Or, if you prefer to soak up the sun and take in some natural beauty, take a stroll through the lush Rizal Park or enjoy the breathtaking Manila Baywalk.

So pack your bags and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime, because Manila is waiting to blow your mind.

Be sure to share your favorite experiences in the comments below, and let’s all marvel at the wonder that is Manila!

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