If you’re looking for a worldly getaway without leaving the Philippines, look no further than Manila. The country’s capital is home to an array of attractions that amaze and entertain.
Manila has something for everyone, from towering skyscrapers and centuries-old churches to vibrant nightlife and delicious food.
To help you make the most of your trip, we’ve compiled a list of the best 13 tourist attractions in Manila.
Whether you’re a history buff, a nature lover, or just looking for a good time, these attractions are sure to please.
So read on and start planning your vacation today!
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What is Manila famous for?
The Manila we know today is a city rich in history and culture.
There’s something for everyone, from the old churches and Spanish colonial buildings to the vibrant nightlife and world-class shopping malls.
Manila is also famous for its food.
The city is home to some of the best restaurants in the country, serving up a variety of international and local dishes.
Whether you’re in the mood for a taste of China, Japan, Korea, or the Philippines, you’ll be able to find a restaurant that will satisfy your cravings.
Finally, Manila is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You’ll be spoilt for choice if you want some sun and sand.
Is Manila worth visiting?
Absolutely! Manila has a lot to offer, from cultural attractions to natural wonders; you’ll always have things to do during your visit.
There’s something for everyone, from centuries-old churches to awe-inspiring skyscrapers and landmarks like the Rizal Monument and Intramuros.
It’s worth seeing why the city of Manila is so beloved.
Whether it’s your first time or you’re a frequent visitor, there are tons of experiences you should check out while exploring the streets of Manila:
- Shopping in Divisoria and Quiapo.
- Eating delicious street food in Binondo Chinatown.
- Catching up on local history at the National Museum.
Manila is also home to Southeast Asia’s best nightlife spots.
This bustling city has something for everyone, from themed bars and rooftop lounges to house music clubs with some of the country’s best DJs. Make sure to set aside some time for a night on the town.
1) Intramuros: A Historic Icon
Manila is a melting pot of culture, and no part of the city showcases this diversity more than Intramuros.
This district is a historical icon, home to some of the country’s most well-preserved colonial buildings.
Walking through its cobblestone streets, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
Intramuros is a must-see for anyone visiting Manila, and it’s the perfect place to start your exploration of the city.
2) Philippine Science Centrum: A Science Haven
The Philippine Science Centrum (PSC) is one of Manila’s most underrated attractions.
It’s a science haven with interactive exhibits and demonstrations that are perfect for kids and adults alike.
Some must-see exhibits include the energy lab, where you can learn about renewable and non-renewable sources, and the weather lab, which simulates different weather conditions.
There’s also a 3D planetarium and an IMAX theater.
The best thing about PSC is that it’s affordable and accessible.
It’s open from Monday to Friday, 9 am to 4 pm, and admission is only Php180 for adults and Php160 for kids.
3) Manila Ocean Park: Marine Adventures
You’ll find plenty of marine adventures at Manila Ocean Park. From dolphin and sea lion shows to the world’s largest aquarium, there’s plenty to see and do.
Check out the shark exhibit, where you can get up close and personal with some of the ocean’s most feared predators.
You can dive in the aquarium’s shark tank if you’re brave!
4) Manila Zoo: The Home of Rare Animals
The Manila Zoo is one of the largest and oldest zoological parks in the Philippines. Home to some of the world’s rarest, most exotic animals, the Manila Zoo is a must-visit destination.
The zoo boasts over 200 species of animals, including tigers, giraffes, zebras, and various primates.
There are also reptiles and other animals that can only be found in the Philippines. A walk through this zoo will be a memorable experience for anyone visiting.
Moreover, visitors can feed some of these animals with food provided by the zoo keepers.
They could also get an up-close experience with some of these animals by taking advantage of photo opportunities and petting them all under professional guidance!
In addition, several educational programs are available for adults and children alike at the Manila Zoo, making it a great way to learn more about conservation efforts and preservation.
5) Rizal Park: A National Symbol
Rizal Park is a must-visit if you’re looking for a place to learn about Filipino history. This national park honors the Philippine national hero, José Rizal, and provides several inspiring features.
This park has something for everyone, from statues and monuments that remind us of our fight for freedom to a koi pond where you can take a peaceful break.
Rizal Park is considered one of Manila’s top sites, as it was officially declared the National Shrine of Freedom by the Philippine Government in 1962.
Take your time to wander around, and you’ll find memorials honoring various historical events, like a Museo Pambata garden near the entrance commemorating the centennial anniversary of Rizal’s martyrdom and an old locomotive that symbolizes the ‘Oriental past.’
There is also an iconic wooden footbridge where you can get great views of Manila Bay.
6) The National Museum of anthropology
If you’re interested in culture and history, visiting the National Museum of the Philippines should be at the top of your list.
The museum is home to a vast collection of art, artifacts, and sculptures that span hundreds of years.
You can get a natural feel for Philippine cultural heritage, from precious religious items to ancient weapons.
The museum also houses natural history, Archeology, and fine arts galleries.
Visitors can learn about various topics, including traditional handicrafts such as weaving, pottery, and wood carving.
There’s even a grand hall showcasing traditional dress; you’ll get some real insight into the country’s history through the clothes worn by different regions.
Plus, it’s free to get in, so it’s an economical way to learn about culture during your trip.
7) Taal Volcano and Lake: An Active Volcano and Crystal Clear Lake
Taal Volcano and Lake, located south of Manila, is a must-visit site. This active volcano, which stands at a height of 406 meters, is surrounded by a picturesque crystal-clear lake.
The stunning landscape is perfect for introspection; take a boat to the crater and stare in awe at the lava spewing from the volcano.
You can also experience some of the local cultures with a visit to the villages clustered around the lake, visit Taal Heritage Park, or relax by the lake and take in the beautiful scenery.
And, of course, no trip to Taal Volcano and Lake is complete without indulging in some typical Filipino cuisine head to one of the local establishments and enjoy some fresh seafood dishes like sinigang na hipon or grilled tilapia!
8) Corregidor Island: An Important Piece of History
If you’re a fan of stories from the past, Corregidor Island should be at the top of your list.
This former military base, located just off the coast of Manila, is full of fascinating history and stories you won’t miss.
The island is home to various sights and sounds, including old bunkers and cannons that look back in time.
You’ll also find a range of monuments, such as the Malinta Tunnel, MacArthur’s headquarters, and the Eternal Flame of Freedom monument.
There are also guided tours offered that will help you get an even better understanding of this vital piece of history and its significance in times gone by.
Even if you don’t have a lot of time to spare, I recommend you make an effort to check it out!
9) Malacañang Palace: The Presidential Residence
You will want to see Malacañang Palace if you’re in Manila!
It’s the official residence of the President of the Philippines and is located in the San Miguel district.
The beauty of this palace lies in its grandeur and its history.
It was built in 1750 and has been host to several Filipino rulers throughout the centuries. It has also been home to many foreign dignitaries, including former US president Dwight Eisenhower.
There are many exciting things to see here, such as the Music Room, which houses a collection of musical instruments and memorabilia, a museum where you can view artworks and photographs, and an extensive library with books from the 18th century onwards.
Guided tours are also available to visitors to learn more about the palace’s history.
10) Quiapo Church: Religious Landmark
You may have heard of the iconic Quiapo Church or the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene as it’s officially called, but do you know what makes it unique?
It’s the oldest church in Manila and a popular pilgrimage site for Roman Catholics, who come to honor the miraculous statue of Jesus known as the Black Nazarene.
The church is remarkable, made of adobe stone with red tiled roofing, and some of its original features remain intact.
Inside you can find a variety of relics and an impressive main altar made from marble.
The most prominent feature, though, is the life-sized black image of Jesus known as “the Black Nazarene,” which attracts thousands of pilgrims to worship each year.
No visit to Manila would be complete without a visit to Quiapo Church; it’s a great place to get a sense of religion and culture in the Philippines!
11) Binondo Chinatown: Historic and Bustling
Welcome to the oldest Chinatown in the world! Shopping, street food, and culture await you in this historic and bustling part of Manila.
The colorful streets come alive during Chinese New Year when traditional lion dances and firecrackers are proudly displayed.
Walk through the narrow alleys of Binondo Chinatown and discover trinkets, herbal medicines, and religious artifacts unique to this part of town.
You can also visit centuries-old Taoist temples, such as the Seng Guan Temple, that offer plenty of photo ops.
Binondo Chinatown is a fascinating part of Manila; it’s worth spending a few hours exploring its winding alleys.
If shopping is your thing, you’ll be pleased to know that this is one of the best places for bargain hunters; there’s no shortage of things to buy here!
12) Asia’s Biggest Shopping Mall: SM Mall of Asia
No list of Manila tourist attractions is complete without mentioning SM Mall of Asia.
As Asia’s biggest shopping mall, it’s a one-stop destination for shopaholics from all over the world. You can find everything under one roof, from designer clothes to local handicrafts, at SM Mall of Asia.
But that’s not all this massive shopping complex has to offer.
There are also plenty of food courts, cinemas, and entertainment venues to keep you occupied for hours on end.
So if you’re looking for a fun-filled day in Manila, SM Mall of Asia is the place to be.
13) San Agustin Church: World Heritage Site
The San Agustin Church is a world heritage site, and it’s not hard to see why. This baroque-style church is one of the most beautiful in the country, if not the world.
Its intricately carved ceilings, majestic columns, and stunning stained-glass windows are a must-see for any tourist visiting Manila.
Historically, the San Agustin Church is also significant.
It’s the oldest church in the Philippines and played an essential role in its history.
It was here that Spanish colonization of the Philippines began, and it served as a spiritual and cultural center for the country’s Catholics.
Is Manila Philippines safe for tourists?
When visiting Manila, we understand your safety concerns. That’s why it’s essential to take precautionary measures when traveling.
The good news is that Manila is generally safe for tourists, provided you take the proper steps to protect yourself and know your surroundings.
Although street crime can happen, it can usually be avoided by being vigilant and exercising common sense, such as avoiding dark alleys, keeping valuables out of sight, and avoiding big crowds.
The Philippines has an effective police force and a comprehensive security system in more touristy areas, making them generally safe.
It’s also wise to avoid solo travel after dark and always trust your instincts.
If a place seems unsafe or feels suspicious to you, leave the area immediately. With the suitable precautions taken, visitors can explore Manila safely.
How many days is enough in Manila?
Suppose you’re planning a visit to Manila. In that case, it’s important to remember that the city is filled with many activities and attractions, so you will want to plan your itinerary accordingly!
Ideally, you should give yourself at least three days in Manila (or more!).
This will give you enough time to explore the many museums and walk around the oldest part of the city Intramuros which is full of incredible Spanish colonial architecture and still has some buildings from its original fortifications.
You can also explore Chinatown, known for its bustling night markets and street food.
If you’re looking for fun in the sun, a beach day trip to Boracay or Coron would be perfect!
On your last day, make sure you get a taste of the local cuisine, such as Bistek Tagalog (a Filipino-style steak) or Adobo (a stew), for an authentic culinary experience.
Overall, Manila is a city with a lot to offer tourists.
Whether you’re interested in historical landmarks, cultural experiences, or just soaking up the sun on the beach, you’re sure to find something to enjoy in the Philippines’ capital city.
Just be sure to plan your trip well in advance, as there’s a lot to see and do!