Vast and sprawling, Manila at first sight can be daunting. One of the largest cities in the world and still growing, this metropolis of sixteen towns seems impossible to navigate. With no obvious centre, the new visitor can find themselves bewildered by the crowded streets, dense traffic and frantic pace. But spend a little time among its friendly people, learn a little of its fascinating but volatile history, and its charms will soon get under your skin.

Manila has been under occupation by the Spanish, British, Japanese and Americans, and has been destroyed many times by natural disasters including fires and earthquakes. More recently, the tragic devastation wrought by bombing raids during the Second World War brought the city to its knees. Now, thanks to an ambitious programme of reconstruction, many of the city’s historic buildings have been preserved for posterity.

Intramuros is the oldest area and one of the main focuses for tourism. This ancient walled city is surrounded by sturdy fortifications built by the Spanish in the 16th century to repel hostile invaders. Most of the walls were left in ruins by wartime bombing, but the remaining parts have been sympathetically restored. Follow the walkways to the Baluarte de San Andres and the Baluarte de San Diego to appreciate their strategic position overlooking Manila Bay and the Pasig river. Nearby Fort Santiago houses the Rizal Shrine, dedicated to national hero Dr José Rizal, who lost his life in the struggle for independence. See the place of his execution in Rizal Park, one of the largest recreational spaces in Asia.

Learn about the fascinating archaeology and anthropology of the region in the National Museum of the Filipino People, or visit Casa Manila Museum for a close-up view of the domestic life of an affluent Filipino family during the colonial era. Believers and non-believers alike can’t fail to be moved by the sight of faithful pilgrims flocking to Quiapo Church to pray to the Black Nazarene, one of the most important icons in the country. Take time to visit Manila Cathedral, still proudly serving the Catholic community despite being destroyed many times.

Getting around on foot is hard in this huge metropolis, but taxis are cheap and plentiful and the light rail links most of the main sites. For the authentic Manila experience, hop on a colourful jeepney and hold on tight!

Known for

shopping, cathedral and church

Explore map

Where to stay in Manila

Ortigas Center
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Ortigas Center

shopping, dining, liveMusic

Visit one of Metro Manila’s shining business districts to see the modern side of the Philippines. Join locals in its chic malls and entertainment venues.

Ermita
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Ermita

shopping, monument, dining

In the heart of Manila lies a compact district packed with museums, malls and parks, making it a sightseeing hub in the Filipino capital city.

Alabang
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Alabang

shopping, cafe, dining

One of the most modern corners of Metro Manila, this sleek region of Muntinlupa City is known for its vast malls and stylish skyscrapers.

Malate
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Malate

university, sport, baseball

Explore one of the tourist centers of Manila in an oceanfront district lined with markets, museums and family-friendly attractions.

Top hotels in Manila

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Image for Dusit Thani Manila
Dusit Thani Manila
4.5 out of 5
P5,100/night
25 Aug - 26 Aug
4.2/5Very Good! (2,048 reviews)

This family-friendly Makati hotel is located near the airport, within a 10-minute walk of Glorietta Mall, Ayala Center and Ayala Museum. Greenbelt Shopping Mall ...

4.2/5Very Good! (2,048 reviews)

"Great location and breakfast is great! Wonderful services!"…"

Reviewed on Aug 24, 2019

Dusit Thani Manila
Image for Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila
Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila
5 out of 5
P5,729/night
9 Sep - 10 Sep
4.2/5Very Good! (1,487 reviews)

This family-friendly Pasay hotel is located on the waterfront, within a 5-minute walk of Manila Bay and Philippine International Convention Center. SM Mall of ...

4.2/5Very Good! (1,487 reviews)

"The room and hotel were world class . It was a great stay ."…"

Reviewed on Aug 21, 2019

Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila
Image for New World Makati Hotel
New World Makati Hotel
5 out of 5
Esperanza Street corner Makati Avenue, Ayala Center, Makati, Manila
P5,100/night
7 Sep - 8 Sep
4.4/5Wonderful! (1,660 reviews)

Located in San Lorenzo, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Greenbelt Shopping Mall and Ayala Center. Glorietta Mall and SM Makati are also within ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (1,660 reviews)

"One of the politest and most courteous hotel staffs I have ever encountered."…"

Reviewed on Aug 21, 2019

New World Makati Hotel

Popular things to do in Manila

Rizal Park
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Rizal Park

Discover the uplifting story of the Philippines’ national hero in this lovely park renamed in his honour.

Baywalk
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Baywalk

Work out, chill out and dine out at Manila’s popular panoramic playground.

Manila Bay
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Manila Bay

Drift around the tranquil waters of a sheltered bay and watch a colorful sunset from the shores of Manila city.

Top activities in Manila

Taal Volcano Full-Day Trekking Adventure
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Taal Volcano Full-Day Trekking Adventure

P8,239

Hike up one of the Philippines' second-most-active volcano on this full-day tour. Take a scenic boat ride on Taal Lake, ride on a horseback across spectacular black lava flows and look down on the stunning vista from the summit of Taal Volcano.

Old & New City Half-Day Tour
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Old & New City Half-Day Tour

P2,503

Take a journey through Manila and explore its rich history, fascinating architecture and ancient buildings. Discover the Philippines' financial capital in bustling Makati City, the historic American Cemetery & Memorial, and the ancient walled-city of Intramuros—a remnant of Manila's colonial past.

Corregidor Island Full-Day Excursion
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Corregidor Island Full-Day Excursion

P7,545

Escape to a historic World War II island fortress on this full-day tour to Corregidor Island. Explore major battle sites & barrack ruins, visit the Pacific War Memorial, discover Malinta Tunnel, and enjoy scenic views of Manila Bay from the island's historic lighthouse.

Tagaytay Ridge & Manila City Tour
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Tagaytay Ridge & Manila City Tour

P6,140

Begin the day with a drive to the picturesque city of Tagaytay. Located on a ridge 2,250 feet (686 m) above sea level, it offers a panoramic view of Taal Lake and Volcano. After lunch, return to Metro Manila, visit bustling Makati, and see San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Full-Day City & Museum Tour
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Full-Day City & Museum Tour

P5,632

Discover Manila's rich history, cultural heritage and architectural grandeur on this full-day tour. Stroll through the ancient walled city of Intramuros, explore the Philippines' financial capital in Makati City, and visit ancient churches and historic museums.

Private Guided Tour of Old Manila
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Private Guided Tour of Old Manila

P2,920

Explore the historic center of Manila on a private tour, discovering important public spaces and the stone Fort Santiago. Then, venture into the narrow street of Ongpin, known as Manila's Chinatown, before covering some of the city's pre-World War II history with your friendly guide.

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Manila

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