A Beginner’s Travel Guide to Manila

The Philippines is quickly becoming the go-to destination for many people looking to enjoy a full-fledged vacation without having to spend a fortune. The country has so many things to offer that you might not be able to explore everything in a single trip. 

Manila, the capital of The Philippines, is the most-visited city in the country and is full of unique tourist spots that will leave you amazed. From the Intramuros to the seafood market and other places, there are so many things in the city that you can center your whole trip around Manila. 

The city was the capital of the Philippines under Spanish colonial rule and has a rich history, which is evident in its ancient buildings and architecture. If you are someone who loves history and has a knack for exploring unique architecture, you won’t find many places better than the Philippines. 

To start your trip in the best possible way and to enjoy a seamless experience, you should fly into Manila using Cathay Pacific. It will not only save you the hassle of standing in long lines but will also help you book your tickets at the best rates. 

If you are someone who has never been to Manila before, you are in luck because below we have provided a comprehensive travel guide to the city that will allow you to make the most out of your trip. 

  1. Explore the Intramuros

The old walled city of Manila, also known as the Intramuros, is the place where you should begin your trip. During the Spanish colonial rule, the city of Manila was located within the walls of the Intramuros; it was from where the whole country was run.

Even until the 19th century, the Intramuros was all there was of Manila. However, today, the city has expanded way beyond the walls of the old city, and the Intramuros has become the biggest tourist attraction in the country. 

It is home to centuries-old buildings that take you back in time and allow you to experience what it was like living in 17th-century Manila. There are several different buildings, from churches to forts and palaces; you get to see a number of structures that will take your breath away. 

Below, we will mention some of the best places that you cannot miss within the Intramuros; however, in order to make the most of your trip, we recommend staying here for a couple of days and exploring each and everything. 

If you do not have a lot of time on your hands, you can simply rent a bicycle and embark on a tour of the Intramuros, trying to catch as much as possible in the limited time span. 

  1. Casa Manila

Located within the Intramuros, Casa Manila was built in the 1980s but is an exact replica of what an old house inside the Intramuros was like. 

The house features the exact same designs and houses artifacts from different eras that are a full reflection of what life was like in the olden times. From the courtyard to the lounges and bathrooms, every place tells a unique story. 

  1. Fort Santiago

A 16th-century military base, Fort Santiago is another building that is located within the boundaries of the Intramuros. 

It sustained significant damage during the Second World War but was restored to its original condition and was turned into a tourist destination. 

Fort Santiago is also quite significant when it comes to the Philippines’ independence movement as it served as a place that was used to hold pro-independence leaders like Jose Rizal captive. A shrine dedicated to Jose Rizal can also be found in the Fort that was built after the nation got independence from Spanish colonial rule. 

  1. San Agustin Church and Museum

Another monument dating back to Spanish colonial rule, the San Agustin Church, is just like the historic churches you see in Spain. It is a must-visit for someone looking to explore the architectural brilliance of old Manila. 

The interior of the church is covered with unique paintings and artifacts that you will never get to see in any other place. It is also home to a 16th-century crucifix and has several other unique things that will make your time worthwhile. 

Right beside the church was a monastery that was destroyed following the Second World War and was later turned into a museum that we know as the San Agustin Museum. The museum is the perfect place to learn about the history of the city and find out more about what life was like under colonial rule. 

The museum is home to statues, paintings, and several other artifacts that have been perfectly preserved over centuries. A trip to the San Agustin Church and Museum is something you must not miss. 

  1. Ayala Museum

The Ayala Museum is one of the best places in the whole of Manila. The museum has a unique design and looks different from your mainstream museums. 

It offers you a chance to learn more about the Filipino culture and how the society evolved into what it is today. From traditional clothing to artworks from numerous renowned national artists, the Ayala museum is a great place for anyone looking to learn more about life in the Philippines. 

There is a proper chronological guide to the history of the country with artifacts from different eras stored in different rooms. 

  1. Rizal Park

Located towards the south of the Intramuros, Rizal Park is the place where the independence of the Philippines was officially declared. It also holds the remainder of Jose Rizal, the person who led the independence movement for the people of the Philippines; it is also where he was executed. 

Now, the park serves as a reminder of the struggle of the freedom fighters and the toll it took to become an independent nation. 

  1. Pasay Seafood Market

The Pasay Seafood Market is a place where you will find all types of seafood; from exotic fish to lobsters, shrimps, and crabs, you can get everything here. 

If you love seafood, you can purchase fresh meat, take it to one of the restaurants located outside the market and get it cooked right in front of you, making it a meal to remember. 

  1. Divisoria Market

If you want to go shopping the way the locals do, this is the place for you. At the Divisoria Market, you can also try several local dishes from the stalls and explore what Filipino cuisine is actually like. 

You can also buy souvenirs to take back home from the huge collection of artifacts that are available here. 

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