Manila

Image for Quiapo Church which includes a church or cathedral, a city and religious elements

Visit Manila

From the hectic pace of its high-rise business district to the tranquillity of its flower-filled parks, Manila is a city of strong contrasts.

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!

Where to stay in Manila

Alabang
Alabang featuring a park

Alabang

Known for shopping, cafe, dining

4.5/5(62 reviews)

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

Ortigas Center
Ortigas Center which includes a park and a city

Ortigas Center

Known for shopping, dining, liveMusic

4/5(83 reviews)

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
Ermita showing a hotel

Ermita

Known for shopping, monument, dining

4/5(289 reviews)

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.

Malate
Malate featuring a statue or sculpture, heritage architecture and religious aspects

Malate

Known for university, sport, baseball

3.5/5(25 reviews)

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
Dusit Thani Manila
Dusit Thani Manila
5 out of 5
P4,560
per night
21 Dec - 22 Dec

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! (2,055 reviews)

"Great staff and property. Everyone is always very friendly and willing to assist in any way."…"

Reviewed on Dec 2, 2019

Dusit Thani Manila
Holiday Inn Express Manila Newport City
Holiday Inn Express Manila Newport City
3 out of 5
P4,230
per night
15 Dec - 16 Dec

Situated near the airport, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Resorts World Manila and Fort Bonifacio. City of Dreams Manila and Venice Grand Canal Mall ...

3.5/5Good! (3,233 reviews)

"The hotel was beautiful !! And the location was great for the purpose of our trip. Only thing that sucked was that we had to call the front desk 3 times about the same noise complaint before they did anything about it"…"

Reviewed on Dec 2, 2019

Holiday Inn Express Manila Newport City
Makati Shangri-la Hotel, Manila
Makati Shangri-la Hotel, Manila
5 out of 5
P5,525
per night
21 Dec - 22 Dec

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

4.5/5Wonderful! (1,057 reviews)

"Shangrila is a 5 star hotel if you’re not sure where to stay go to Shangrila. We stayed there for 10 days w/ my 2 kids and husband from California. They have an excellent service and very secure hotel. It’s very close to airport too and it’s in the high ends area. You really cannot beat this hotel ..."…"

Reviewed on Dec 6, 2019

Makati Shangri-la Hotel, Manila

Popular things to do in Manila

Rizal Park
Image for Rizal Park

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
Image for Manila Bay

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
Image for Taal Volcano Full-Day Trekking Adventure

Taal Volcano Full-Day Trekking Adventure

P8,013

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
Image for Old & New City Half-Day Tour

Old & New City Half-Day Tour

P2,434

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
Image for Corregidor Island Full-Day Excursion

Corregidor Island Full-Day Excursion

P7,354

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
Image for Tagaytay Ridge & Manila City Tour

Tagaytay Ridge & Manila City Tour

P5,985

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
Image for Full-Day City & Museum Tour

Full-Day City & Museum Tour

P5,477

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.

Half-day Davao City Tour
Image for Half-day Davao City Tour

Half-day Davao City Tour

P2,029

This tour departs daily from any Davao City Hotel with departure time of 9am and another trip at 1pm and concludes upon return to hotel. The mode of transportation is car for 1-3 persons, a minivan for 4-7 persons and a commuter van for 8-10 persons.

Read travel guides and advice on visiting Manila

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