Manila, the capital of the Philippines, has been called many nicknames over its 450-year history. It’s been described as the Pearl of the Orient. It’s been compared to Venice, Rome, and Havana. But to us Filipinos, it will always be the city of our affections. National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin couldn’t have said it better.
The City of Manila is and always will be the heart and soul of the capital. Its historical districts—Quiapo, Binondo, Intramuros, San Miguel, and Ermita, to name a few—each has a distinct character you can’t find anywhere else in the metro. There’s simply no place like Manila.
The city has seen a rebirth, a resurgence in recent years. So now is a good time to rediscover its hidden gems. For an immersive experience, take one of these authentic Manila tours that show you the best of the city and the unique places you can’t miss.
Binondo: Chinatown guided street food tasting
Binondo is one of the world’s largest Chinatowns. Here, you’ll find Chinese-Filipino groceries and hole-in-the-wall restaurants that have been around for decades. Foodies from across Metro Manila often come to Binondo to savor Chinese-Filipino fare. If you have a hearty appetite and you’re looking to try the tastiest food in the city, go on a Chinatown street food tasting tour.
Divisoria: Manila shopping tour
A true bargain hunter knows that the lowest prices can be found in Divisoria. Situated in the districts of Tondo and Binondo, Divi is a shopper’s haven. Its narrow streets are lined with hundreds of stores and street vendors. And if you prefer to shop in the comfort of a mall, there’s Divisoria Mall, 999, and 168. Experience bargain-hunting like no other with a Manila shopping tour. Make sure to choose Tour 1, which includes a trip to Divisoria.
Intramuros: Private cultural dinner show
Intramuros or the Walled City is Manila’s historic center. This is the place to visit if you want to learn about the city’s Spanish colonial past. You can spend an entire day within the walls of Intramuros: explore Fort Santiago, study the architecture of Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church, or simply wander centuries-old streets. But why not cap off your day of sightseeing with a private cultural dinner show at Barbara’s?
Rizal Park: Manila City Tour
No trip in and around Manila is complete without visiting the Rizal Monument. This memorial to the National Hero marks the country’s Kilometer Zero, where all distance markers in Luzon are measured. The landmark is one of many sights within Luneta Park or Rizal Park. Quirino Grandstand, Manila Hotel, and Museo Pambata encircle the park grounds. Get the chance to see the Rizal Monument up close through a full-day Manila City Tour that also explores Intramuros.
Ermita: Manila museum tour
Ermita is a genteel district known for civic structures such as the Supreme Court and the Philippine General Hospital. The area also hosts the Rizal Park grounds and the National Museum complex. Looking for Manila museums to visit? The National Museum houses four distinct buildings: the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Anthropology, the National Museum of Natural History, and the National Planetarium. So, whether you’re interested in science, art, or the story of our people, there’s a museum for you. The National Museum recently reopened to the public; be sure to visit them soon in a Manila Museum Tour.
*Featured image via Kristine Wook on Unsplash