Things to Do in Manila, Philippines

by WordWelder

Spending a couple of days in Manila? Here are a few things that can help you enjoy the city to the max.

The Philippines has recently launched a campaign to attract tourists to the country. Anyone who has paid a visit to this Southeast Asian country will attest to the fact that they have some of the best beaches in the world, some of the warmest people, and some of the most satisfying dishes. With more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is a veritable treasure trove to be discovered.

Its capital, Manila, may not have the famed beaches but it sure does have more than a handful of things to offer its visitors. Even if you only have a few days in the city, you can enjoy the world renowned Filipino hospitality.

Here are some things that you can do during your visit to Manila.

Image via pantranco_bus on Flickr

Intramuros Walking Tour
Intramuros Walking Tour

Take a Manila Walking Tour

Manila is an old city, although much of it has given in to "progress". If you want to get a taste and feel of the historical Manila, Intramuros - and the surrounding areas - is the place to haunt.

You can always go on your own, but it is more fun to sign up for a walking tour guided by local celebrity Carlos Celdran. He has been running his Walk This Way tours for several years now, to the delight of both FIlipinos and visitors.

There are different tours which you can choose from, but the common thread is that you mostly go around on foot. It is not a mean feat in Manila, trust me, but the insightful and funny commentary of the guide with a very colorful personality will make everything worth it. Plus, you actually get to experience the city - not within the confines of an air-conditioned car or cab!

Taking these tours will open your eyes to the city's (and country's) history - way back to the Spanish and American times - as well as give you the opportunity to rub elbows with the locals.

For more information on the tours, visit Carlos Celdran's blog.


The Filipino people love to eat. They are serious lovers of food of all sorts, and they will proudly tell you that old school habits dictate eating five times a day: breakfast, meryenda (snack), lunch, meryenda, and dinner.

The one thing that you will not lack for in Manila is food. From street food to home cooked Filipino meals to Chinese food to Italian food to burgers - you can have whatever it is that you are craving for!

For Filipino cuisine, your head will spin due to the overwhelming number of choices. There are two restaurants that I will recommend to anyone, though: Adarna Food and Culture and Serye Cafe Filipino. The former is a wonderful blend of ambiance and local food, an experience that will make you fall in love with the cuisine. The latter is a chain, but their Filipino food is almost as good as what you can expect to have if you're invited to a Filipino house for a meal.

If you're the sort who needs his pasta fix, then you will love the proliferation of Italian restaurants in the metro. For this type of cuisine, I suggest two other restaurants: Italianni's and Casa Nostra. The first one is a huge chain, and you will certainly enjoy their food wherever you are in the city. The second one is an Italian restaurant Manila is very lucky to have with its simple but mouthwatering and belly busting creations.

If you have the time, you also need to go on a Chinatown tour, if only for the food. There is a plethora of restaurants in this area, as it is with any other Chinatown in the world, and you are in for a treat!

Now, if you are the adventurous kind, you do not have to go far for one. Just look at the side streets for street food vendors, and you will have an experience worthy of the show Bizarre Foods. Ask for balut (boiled fertilized duck egg) and isaw (grilled pig or chicken intestines). Don't worry, it is 100% safe!

Ride a Jeepney

The jeepney is the iconic automobile that was born out of the creativity of Filipinos. It is the main means of transportation all throughout the country and was created from the remnants of American soldiers' Jeeps back in the day. Today, you will not see two jeepneys that are exactly alike as their makers and owners make it a point to put their stamp of individuality on each automobile.

Truth be told, the easiest and most convenient way to get around the city is via taxi cab. There is no shortage of cabs in the metro, and the fare is very cheap as well. You do have to be careful with making sure that you do not get ripped off by unscrupulous drivers, but just a bit of street smarts will get you through that.

I digress, though...

Back to jeepneys - it can be quite an experience to take one of these babies. They follow specific routes, so you might want to ask your local contacts to go along with you so that you know where you're going. The point is that taking a ride on a jeepney to get to your destination is a one-of-a-kind experience that you are not likely to forget. From having to flag them down by waving your hand as you stand on the street to asking the person next to you to pass your fare to "shouting" to the driver that you want to get out - FUN!

Updated: 06/28/2012, WordWelder
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