Manila Sights and POI
If you ask the locals for recommendation on what to see in Manila, you almost always get the same standard reply "there's nothing to do here" urging you to head over to the next destination in your travel itinerary. But do not hurry. While Manila cannot boats world-class attractions, it is a massive city and there's almost always something worthwhile to see on any given day.
Visiting the historic walled city of Intramuros is like getting a crash course on Philippine history. There are several ways to get there: you can join walking tours which can set you back around PHP1,350 (Walk This Way tour), or you can do a complete immersion and have a ride in a horse drawn carriage otherwise known locally as calesa. A 30-minute ride costs between PHP350 - PHP500 depending on where you depart. If you opt for this option, be aware that there are known scams. When you're negotiating the rates and we hope you do before you set for the ride, video-record the driver quoting the rate. Your phone camera will do just fine. Alternatively just download a map and walk around all by yourselve.
The Philippines was under the Spanish regime for more than 300 years and one of the greatest influences The Spaniards produced apparent to this day is the practice of the Catholic religion. You can easily spend a day visiting churches like San Agustin Church for its Baroque and Spanish Colonial Architecture. The Manila Cathedral which sits just inside Intramuros is where you can almost always catch a wedding or two. If you're ready for some interesting sights, then you should head on to Quiapo church where you can get your fortune told, buy some charms, indulge in some street food, or browse a local market. Lastly, you can light a candle in Binondo Church on your way to Chinatown.
Museums are a great way to get a glimpse of the nation's storied past and Manila have a few that are well worth a visit. Start with the Presidential Museum and Library, National Museum (2/F Kalayaan Hall, Malacañang J.P. Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila) Located right next to the palace. The museum gives an insight into the lives of the past Presidents with memorabilia and books. The tour is free but you have to book about two weeks in advance so please visit their website. The museum is open on weekdays except holidays from 9 am to 12 noon and 1 pm to 3 pm.
If you have a penchant for modern art then the Metropolitan Museum of Manila is for you (Roxas Blvd. Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, Manila , Monday to Friday 10 am to 5.30pm ). Admission fee is PHP100 only although you can join a guided tour for an extra fee. As it is common with museums, cameras are prohibited in some floors.
Go green in Manila parks
Although Manila is a sprawling urban jungle and we sometimes wish there were more parks than malls, there are still spots worth checking out. Paco Park which used to be a municipal cemetery is quite beautiful. Rizal Park is a historical landmark that shouldn't be missed by anyone. Last but not least, we urge you to visit Manila Ocean Park especially if you have kids in tow. We really like their jellyfish exhibition and the walk through the underwater tunnel. The park is located behind Quirino Grandstand in Luneta and they're open from 10 am till 8pm. They run special deals all the time so be sure to check their official website.
Much has been said about Manila Bay where you can witness the best sunsets ever. And all of it is true. You can join a sunset dinner cruise which starts at about PHP2,900 through Viator or you could just wing it and go behind Mall of Asia. It can get crowded but it gives you a good chance to observe the locals and best of all, there's a firework show every Saturday at about 7 pm.