What to do in Manila

Manila doesn’t have natural beauty like the 7,106 islands in the Philippines. If you’re looking for some hustle and bustle, then Manila will surely fit the bill. The city is one of the most densely populated cities in the world, but surprisingly modern, with world class shopping malls, hotels and apartments as well as a bustling economy that’s growing at rapid speed. Manila is worth a couple of days, but you’ll be soon begging for the paradise islands of the Philippines. Manila is a lot to take in with congested traffic, crime and smog. You should always take a metred taxi or you’ll be paying a lot more that you should. But, there’s plenty to enjoy, so read on!

Manila Travel Blog


Rizal Park

Named after the Philippine national hero Jose Rizal. The big draw is the display of water wizardry in the central fountains, with jets of multi-coloured water swinging and swishing in time to a medley of upbeat music.

Manila Bay

The long promenade outside the enormous Mall of Asia is another popular place to hang out, especially around sunset when it seems everyone in Manila takes their seats to watch the sun.

Makati City

If you haven’t shopped till you drop at the Mall of Asia, take a trip to Makati City for more wall to wall shopping malls. Makati is the most popular part of the city for tourists to stay.

Manila Travel Blog

Red light district

If you want the nitty gritty of Manila, then you’ll find it here. There are plenty of bars for all sorts of action. I had a few drinks around here and even watched midget boxing. Yes, you can find lots going on here!

Manila Travel Blog

Fort Santiago

Located inside the walled city of Intramuros in Manila, Fort Santiago is the oldest Spanish fortress in the Philippines. Strategically located near the mouth of the Pasig River just off Manila Bay, Fort Santiago was built in 1571. The area was destroyed by Spaniards and the fort was built and soon became the main defence fortress during the spice trade with the Americas.

Manila Travel Blog

Mall of Asia

This monumental entertainment complex has restaurants, a Ferris wheel, a bowling centre, a 3D Digital IMAX theatre, a stage for live events, a skating rink, a Storyland for kids, and a 20-seater tram to get from one end to the other. In total, it covers 407,000 square meters and sees 200,000 people milling about every day.

Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown

North of the Pasig River from Makati is a neighbourhood that traces its roots all the way back to a Chinese trading village established in 1571, making it the world’s very first Chinatown. The 400-year old Buddhist temple dedicated to Kuang Kong, the God of War is also there. Close by is the tower dedicated to Quan Yin, the Goddess of Peace, and a few steps away are the Catholic Basilica de San Lorenzo Ruiz and the Church of Santa Cruz.

Manila Ocean Park

A country made up of thousands of tiny islands has a special relationship with the sea. This oceanarium celebrates aquatic life, and provides visitors with an aquarium filled with exotic fish, a coral reef protection centre, a shark tank, manta rays, and a glass underwater tunnel to observe ocean life from below.

Where to Stay

Z Hostel

Z Hostel is perfect for backpackers and group travellers. It’s clean and well-designed with mostly dorm style accommodations, though they do have a floor with private rooms for couples as well. It’s near many restaurants, bars, convenience stores, and shopping malls. Over the weekends, it has a small roof deck that turns into a bar with DJs and live music.

Facts on Manila

– Population: 1.6 mil (city), 22 mil (urban)
– Manila is the most densely populated city in the world with 42,857 people per square kilometre.
– In 1571, Spanish Conquistadors arrived from Mexico, across the Pacific and founded present-day Manila
– Manila became the centre of Spanish activity in the Far East and one end of the Manila
– Towards the end of WWII, during the Battle of Manila, most of the city was flattened by intensive aerial bombardment by the US Air Force.

Manila Travel Blog


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