Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is one of the most visited cities in the Asia Pacific. The city offers a variety of tourist attractions; it is the perfect place if you want to learn more about history while fulfilling your gastronomic desires and enjoying the ocean. The unique architecture that Manila offers is hard to come by in any other place and it is what makes the city stand out.
Tourists from all around the world visit the Philippines each year to explore its rich history and to get a glimpse of its lifestyle that is unique in many aspects. If you’re one of the many travelers looking to visit Manila, you can book your flight through Cathay Pacific. From historical buildings to museums to amazing food, the city has a lot to offer.
Below, we have mentioned some of the best things to do and see in Manila that you will not find anywhere else in the world.
Intramuros, which literally translates to “within walls”, is the oldest district of the city. It is what Manila was in historic times; the walled city is a city within a city and is the perfect reflection of Manila and its rich culture and past. Although the modern city has grown beyond the walls of Intramuros, the district is still a major tourist attraction and many people visit Manila just to see what Intramuros has to offer. The Philippines was ruled from Intramuros when it was under Spanish rule, and it reflects in the architecture. The area is full of historic buildings and houses that reflect Spanish architecture; from churches to parks and museums, there are countless buildings that will leave you awe-inspired.
- Fort Santiago
A 16th-century fort that was turned into a historical monument in 1951, Fort Santiago is a unique fort that has been well preserved by the authorities and is a great reflection of the history of Manila. The fort was partially destroyed during World War 2 but was then successfully restored and turned into a tourist attraction. It is one of the many buildings in the city that were built under Spanish colonial rule, which is reflected in the architecture and design of the building. Fort Santiago is also important because of its connection to the independence movement that ultimately led to the end of colonial rule in the Philippines.
- San Agustin Church
A UNESCO world heritage site, the San Agustin Church is another historical monument that was built towards the end of the 16th century. Being the oldest stone built church in the country, the San Agustin Church is one of the four baroque churches that can be found in the Philippines. It boasts a rich interior, which makes it a must-visit for anyone looking to appreciate the rich history of Manilla. It is operational to this day, and many people visit it daily. The San Agustin Museum, which is located by the church, is another great way to learn about the colonial history of the country and is laden with unique crucifixes, paintings, and furniture that you cannot find anywhere else.
- Manila Cathedral
The Spanish Archbishop of Manila commanded the colony from the Manila Cathedral, which was built in 1571. It is open for tourists now and is definitely worth a visit if you find yourself in Manila. It has seen its fair share of natural disasters and has been restored time and again; it went through a remodeling less than a decade ago and has been one of the most visited buildings in the Philippines for quite some time now.
- Casa Manila
Located inside Intramuros, Casa Manila is a museum that is designed to depict the colonial lifestyle of the Philippines under Spanish rule. It is an exact replica of a grand house in Barrio San Luis, close to the San Agustin Church. If you want to see what it was like to be an aristocrat in the country while it was a colony, Casa Manila is the place. With furniture, art, and everything else that was there during earlier times, everything is set up in a way that portrays the history of the place with great accuracy. The bedrooms, the bathrooms, and the kitchens, all have been designed keeping the most minute details in mind.
- National Museum
The National Museum of Fine Arts in Manila is a great way to explore the culture of the Philippines. With a combination of both historic and modern paintings, the museum offers an insight into the Philippines’ society and customs. The museum is home to the most famous painting in the Philippines, known as the Spoliarium, painted by the well-known artist Juan Luna. It also hosts a series of other paintings from artists such as Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo, who is famous for his contribution to Filipino art.
The National Museum Complex also consists of the Museum of Natural history, the National Planetarium, and the National Museum of Anthropology, all of which offer a unique experience and are worth a visit.
- Rizal Park
Named after the famous writer and nationalist Jose Rizal, the Rizal Park is a place that holds significant value in Filipino history. It is located towards the southern end of Intramuros and is the place where Jose Rizal was executed in 1896, an event that played a major role in igniting the Philippine Revolution. A monument where the remains of Rizal are being held was built in 1917 to commemorate his contributions to the Philippine nationalist movement.
- Pasay Seafood Market
If you ever get tired of exploring all the historic places that Manila has to offer, you can visit the Pasay Seafood market, where you can find all types of seafood. From lobsters and shrimp to tuna, there is everything available. Furthermore, what’s special about the market is the fact that you buy what you like and then take it to the restaurants and get it cooked. Meaning you can handpick the type of white meat you want and can get it cooked as per your liking. This is something worth trying if you want to enjoy the real essence of visiting the Philippines.
- Maginhawa Street
A 2-kilometer long food street, Maginhawa Street is a road filled with all types of restaurants that provide the best local food in the city. It is famous for the atmosphere it provides. There are countless restaurants and stalls that provide all types of food and cuisines to fulfill your gastronomic desires.