Top Things to See and Do in Manila
The island nation of the Philippines consists of a staggering 7,107 islands in the South China Sea, in the area between Vietnam and Borneo. The capital, Manila, is a modern metropolis of over 20 million people in its greater metropolitan area. Manila is a city rich with Spanish and local heritage, having being the capital of the Spanish East Indies for over three hundred years. As in its neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, hotels in Manila can range in quality. Making arrangements to stay at a reputed chain is a good way to ensure a pleasant travel experience.
Intramuros is Manila’s oldest district. Built by the Spanish in the 15th century, it’s home to some amazing historical architecture, including moats, a fortress, and wonderful Spanish colonial houses. Some were ruined during WWII, such as the Governor’s Palace and Municipal Hall. Others, for example, the Archbishop’s Palace, San Agustin Church, Manilla Cathedral, Santo Domingo Church, the Hospital de San Huan de Dios, and San Nicolas de Tolentino Church, remain intact, and are currently used by the state or private companies. Intramuros also has some really excellent Spanish-Filipino and fusion restaurants.
Fort Santiago is located at the mouth of the Pasig River where it runs into Manila Bay, inside the Intramuros area. This fortress was built in 1571 for the Spanish conquistador Miguel Lopez de Legazpi and is the oldest of its kind in the country. Used as a port for the spice trade to the Americas and Europe for over 300 years, the fort later served as a military base for different regimes including the Japanese, British and US. Don’t miss the Sherman tank, the underground tunnels, the Rizal Shrine, or the Plaza de Armas.
Manila’s Chinatown is a bustling and exciting place to find bargains. Situated across the Pasig River from Intramuros, Manila’s Chinatown stands out from Chinatowns elsewhere with its Buddhist and Taoist temples, calesas (horse drawn carriages), and distinct Spanish architecture looming in the background (for example, the Binondo and Santa Cruz churches).
Also known by its official name of Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, Quiapo Church is one of the most popular churches in the country. This Roman Catholic church in the Quiapo area houses the Black Nazarene, a famous statue of Jesus Christ to which many have attributed miracles. While it’s almost always busy, Fridays tend to be the most crowded days for the church.
Greenbelt is a complete city block of smaller malls. Consisting of budget and higher end shopping and eateries, Greenbelt Park has its own game center as well as an open air Catholic chapel. This fresh and exciting complex is great for keen shoppers as well a family outing with children.
Manila Ocean Park
Rivalling even Singapore’s Sentosa Underwater World oceanarium in size, Manilla’s oceanarium features a 25 metre lond underwater tunnel. The park has freshwater, corals, shark and deep water marine tanks, sea lion shows as well as an open water marine habitat. The habitat is an outdoor swimming pool open to guests for snorkelling or diving.
Just 45 minutes by ferry from Manila, this tadpole shaped island is located at the entrance of Manila Bay. Used as a strategic defence spot for the Bay area along with surrounding islands, Corregidor was fortified during the American occupation and played a significant role during WWII. The buildings on the island stand as they were at the end of WWII, and there’s a memorial, a lighthouse, and barracks, all to be explored against the striking natural backdrop of the island.
Whether visitors are travelling to the Philippines or anywhere in the surrounding region, such as Malaysia or Doha, hotels chosen carefully will allow you to make the most of your trip