Manila may be both chaotic and congested but never dull. New shopping malls are rising next to the slum areas, the poverty and the luxury coexist just next to each other. Manila may not be famous for its beauty, but its magnetic energy gives you the special feel. Diverse and lively in so many ways, it’s a great city to explore even if you only have one day of time.
What’s the best time to visit Manila?
The best time to visit Manila would be in December and January. Both months offer nice and dry weather and the lowest average temperature. Dry season continues until April, while the wet season starts in May and lasts until November. If possible skip July and August cause of the too much rain at that time and May cause of the unbearable heat.
Few facts about Metro Manila
Metro Manila is the capital region of the Philippines composed of 16 cities and a home to 12 million citizens. One of the cities inside the region is Manila, the capital city of the country, while the most populous city is Quezon City. In pre-Hispanic time the province known as Manila, encompasses kingdoms of Tondo and Maynila. At the time of Spanish occupation, the city inside the walls (Intramuros) became the capital of the country. Today Metro Manila region is the cultural, economical and governmental center of the Philippines.
One day in Manila itinerary
Top things to do in Metro Manila, The Philippines
Follow this guide and make the best of your trip even if you’re short on time. These are the top sights and things to do on your one day in Manila.
Start your day at Intramuros
Intramuros or ‘within the wall’ represent the oldest district of Metro Manila, built during the Spanish occupation. It’s the best place to start your day and to soak in the rich history of the Philippines. The part of the boundary walls is still well preserved, even though the huge part was destroyed in the WWII, during the Japanese-American battle for Manila. Still, lots of historical buildings, museums and even 2 churches can be found inside the area. For those who want to know more about this place and the Filipino history in general, it’s recommended to book Intramuros walking tour.
Stop at the Fort Santiago
Stop at one of the famous sights inside the Intramuros – the Fort Santiago. As a defense fortress , this citadel played a very important role in the history of Manila. Today it’s still very well preserved and together with lovely gardens and plazas makes a perfect oasis in the center of the city, perfect to enjoy on hot sunny days.
If you’re interested, visit the Museum of Dr José Rizal, Philippines’ national hero and one of the most important figures in their history.
Visit the Cathedral of Manila and San Agustin Church
Not far from the Fort, stands the Cathedral of Manila, a Roman Catholic basilica, dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s been heavily damaged several times, but it’s now restored to it’s full glory. If you’re lucky enough, on weekends, you’ll have a chance to see a Filipino wedding ceremony.
The San Augustin Church, the other church inside the Intramuros, was constructed during the Spanish colonial period as one of four churches. This Baroque church was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and named a National Historical Landmark.
Check out the National Museum
To continue your Filipino culture and history lesson, head to the National Museum. It houses the nation’s heritage and greatest artwork. The exhibits are divided into the two separate buildings, one with the historical artifacts and one with the artwork. The great part is that the museum is admission free so it’s really open for everyone to enjoy it.
Have a break at Rizal Park
You’re probably a bit tired by now. Adjacent to the Intramuros, Rizal park is the best place to relax a bit and escape Manila’s heavy traffic. It’s a favorite outdoor spot for both tourists and locals. On weekends, it usually packed with people. There are numerous statues in the park, so make sure to capture a few photos while there.
Take a Jeepney ride
Taxis in Manila are very affordable and pretty convenient, but not as exciting as jeepneys. This cheapest public transportation in the Philippines costs less than quarter of a dollar, which is nothing compared to the fun it offers you. All of that, if you manage to fit inside. You should stop a Jeepney at the random place as there are no actual stops.
Visit the Chinatown and try the best dumplings in the Philippines
Binondo may be the oldest Chinatown outside the territory of China, but it’s actually not that different from any other. Still, it’s worth a visit for several reasons. The place Lan Zhou La Mien serves the best dumpling in all the Philippines. You need to try them even if it means waiting in a line for 15 minutes. Not just the food is super delicious, but it’s also a super cheap place.
It’s the shopping time!
One more reason to visit Binondo is the shopping. It’s the area where several markets and malls are located, but the most famous ones are Divisoria Market and 168 Shopping Mall, located just next to each other. Clothes, accessories, souvenirs and many other items can be purchased there at very cheap prices. Just don’t forget to bargain.
Watch the sunset from the roof top of Bayleaf Hotel
After a long day of walking, it’s time for some drinks and relaxation. Sky Deck View Bar at the top of the Bayleaf Hotel offers both hot drinks and cocktails, but it’s also the best place in the city to enjoy Manila’s magical sunset. Watch the amazing colors of the skyline, as the sun covers all the Manila bay in an orange glow.
Have a dinner at Makati
Makati, the another city within the Metro Manila, is the financial center of the Philippines and the central business district of Metro Manila. It’s where all the exclusive bars, hotels and restaurants are located and it looks nothing similar to the other cities within Metro Manila.
You can find a variety of nice restaurants at the Greenbelt, Ayala Center that’s surrounding the beautiful Greenbelt Park. Nice atmosphere, many different cuisines to choose from and amazing food are pretty good reasons to visit this place.
Enjoy Makati’s nightlife
Makati may be a bit pricey compared to the other Manila’s districts, but it’s without a doubt the best place for a night out. For those who love the Red light district atmosphere, head to the P Burgos Street. If clubbing is your things, Royal Club may be a great place for you. Those who love deep house and techno should definitely visit Time club.
Where to stay in Manila?
City of Dreams Manila – Nüwa
City of Dreams Manila – Nüwa is definitely one of the top class hotels in the whole city. It has a wide range of amenities & facilities like pool and fitness area, great selection of restaurants to choose from as well as the casino.
Raffles Makati situated in the heart of Makati central business district features an outdoor swimming pool, a gym and business center. Spectrum restaurant serves a wide variety of international cuisines, and Café Macaron has tasty pastries. Cocktails are available at the Raffles Long Bar, and room service is provided.
Rizal Park Hotel
Located just next to the Rizal Park, the Rizal Park Hotel is an excellent choice for those who are time limited. The hotel is newly renovated from 1911 old navy and army club and nicely decorated – the whole interior feels pretty classy and luxurious. The food, served at all day dining restaurant, comes in many varieties.
Element Boutique Hotel
Element Boutique Hotel is a cozy, very well furnished hotel with a cool flair. The rooms are modern and stylish, the staff are friendly and wonderful and the quality of the food and wine list is high. The location is pretty central, close to many restaurants and bars though quiet.
Extra tips for visiting Metro Manila
– The heat in the city can be unbearable. Wear lighter clothes and bring a bottle of water with you.
– It’s pretty common to experience the stare of the locals, especially if you’re tall or white-skinned. They may also stop you in the street and ask for a photo.
– Be careful with your belongings, as there are occasional pickpockets, especially on the touristy sights.
– Make your trip to Manila even more exciting! Check out Tripadvisor for the detailed list of all the activities and organized tours in Manila or around the area.
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