The City of Manila never fails to surprise even the most seasoned travelers. While it doesn’t have the pristine beaches and picturesque islets that other world-famous destinations in the Philippines boast, Manila is teeming with the country’s rich history and culture that will always be worth discovering.
If you ever have a free day to explore the capital city of the Pearl of the Orient, here are some exciting and inexpensive things to do during your visit:
Walk Down The Storied Streets Of Intramuros
Be transported back in time by walking the storied cobblestone streets of the Walled City that is Intramuros. You may begin your journey from the historic Fort Santiago, a citadel, where some of the most significant events of Philippine history took place. Perhaps, it is best known as the place where one of the country’s national heroes José Rizal was imprisoned before his execution at Bagumbayan (now Rizal Park) in 1896.
Breathe A Prayer At The Manila Cathedral
Just a few meters away from Fort Santiago is the Manila Cathedral. This Neo-Romanesque minor basilica has withstood a slew of wars and disasters and has even seen Papal visits, with Pope Francis’ in 2015 as the most recent.
Visit The Oldest Church In The Philippines
Also located within Intramuros, San Agustin Church is widely known as the oldest church in the Philippines. A popular wedding venue, this UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site has an archaic charm that leaves visitors in awe. The church has a museum, if you’re interested to dig deeper into its rich history.
Sneak A Peek Into A Spanish Colonial House
Right across San Agustin Church is Nasa Manila, a museum that depicts colonial lifestyle during the Spanish era. Designed to look like a colonial house, complete with fully-furnished rooms, it gives you a clear picture of how ilustrados lived back in the day.
Dine At Ilustrado
Speaking of ilustrado, you can have a taste of delicious Filipino and Spanish dishes at Ilustrado, a restaurant and cafe that’s popular among Manileños. Sample their signature Paella and for dessert, cleanse your palate with their refreshing sampaguita ice cream, which is made with the Philippines’ national flower.
Join The Royal Postage Heritage Guided Tour
Explore the city beyond the walls of Intramuros, and join the Royal Postage Heritage Guided Tour. This free walking tour will give you all the essential information you need to know about the Manila Central Post Office’s colorful past and even take you beyond the Post Office Building. Check out nearby spots like Liwasang Bonifacio, Arroceros Forest Park—also known as Manila’s Last Lung—and the Manila Metropolitan Theater.
Embark On A Food Trip In Binondo
If you’re a huge adventurous foodie, Binondo is the place to go in Old Manila. This is where you will find the oldest Chinatown in the world and also some of the best eats in the city—from fried pork buns to the infamous Soup Number Five, which is made from bull’s testes or penis.
To easily navigate through Binondo’s bustling streets, sign up for this guided street food tasting tour in Manila Chinatown.