The city of Manila is a place that is both old and modern. With its rich history, almost all areas have become great tourist spots in Manila that everyone wants to visit. From the preserved architecture brought by Spanish colonialism to outstanding Filipino culture, Manila has everything you’d ask for!
And because these Manila tourist attractions are just oh-so-beautiful and very historic, you might think that everything comes at a price. But whether you are on a tight budget or if you’re just naturally a sucker for free things, there are tourist spots in Manila that you could actually visit for free!
To guide you on your Manila trip, we’ve listed 10 best places to visit in Manila that you should not miss!
One of the most historical places in Manila is Intramuros. When you see Intramuros, it will have you second-guessing whether you are still in the Philippines because of its cobbled streets and preserved establishments with Spanish-inspired architecture.
You’ll see what Spanish rule has left in the city in the form of grand churches and colonial houses. Intramuros is best visited on foot or by riding a bambike or bamboo bicycle. While you can just wander the streets on your own, the best way to get a deeper understanding of the country’s history is with a historic walking tour.
Escolta is one of the most underrated tourist spots in Manila. Although it looks greatly damaged and forgotten after World War II, it’s actually those factors that make Escolta so interesting. That’s why it’s easy to see why millennials and photographers love to visit it. Now, Escolta is not just a famous photography subject but also a great place to experience good food, arts, crafts, and music festivals.
3. National Museum of the Philippines
If you’re into history and culture, the National Museum of the Philippines is the perfect place to be. It is home to Juan Luna’s famous Spoliarium— a gigantic painting more than four meters high and seven-and-a-half meters wide, making it the Philippines’ largest painting. Another great thing about this museum is that admission is free! So don’t miss this best tourist spot in Manila!
4. Rizal Park
The city of Manila has a lot of parks to visit. One of these is the Rizal Park where the monument of Philippines’ National Hero Jose Rizal is. This is considered as one of the most historical places in Manila because this is where Jose Rizal was executed.
You can experience peace and a calm environment away from the city’s hustle and bustle. The park has also become a favorite leisure spot in Manila. You can also have a picnic there while enjoying Rizal Park’s greenery and calming ambiance. Apart from Rizal’s monument, there are also artworks and museums, fountains, and other statues found within the park.
5. Manila Baywalk
Another most frequented tourist spot near Manila is the Manila Baywalk in Roxas Boulevard. It is famous to all ages because everyone can walk, bike around, or just sit there while enjoying the majestic views of the sunset and Manila Bay. The good thing here is, you don’t have to pay to enjoy the amazing views! There are also many restaurants near the SM Mall of Asia by the Bay where you can eat at. Once you get there, it’s very easy to access other places to visit near Manila as there are many transportation terminals in the area.
6. San Agustin Church
One of the best places to visit in Intramuros is the San Agustin Church. It is the oldest church in the Philippines and the only church which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Manila. You’ll be amazed at the masterpiece painted on its ceilings. And one amazing fact to know about San Agustin Church is that the Philippines’ first governor-general, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, is buried there.
7. Manila Cathedral
The Manila Cathedral is the Premier Church of the Philippines as it was the first-ever cathedral in the country. The Manila Cathedral we see today is not the original structure. Actually, the cathedral has been through a lot but stands still. It has been a witness to a history that is worthy to tell to every generation— from ups and downs to wars and love stories. The Manila Cathedral is surely one of the best places to visit in Manila.
When in Manila, you can never consider yourself a real foodie until you have been to Binondo. Not only Binondo offers a great food adventure but it is also home to the oldest Chinatown in the world. From fried siopao, dim sum and roast duck to adventurous eats like frog legs, Binondo has just about everything your tummy could ever crave. Don’t miss the Beef Lamien in Lan Zhou La Mien and Hakaw in Wai Ying Fastfood. They’re not famous to foodies for nothing!
Because we want your trip to be memorable, here are other best places to visit in Manila.
One of the must visit places in Manila is Fort Santiago in Intramuros. It is the oldest Hispanic stone fortress in the Philippines. There are kalesas or carriage, old dungeons, an old theater, gardens, and more to keep your eyes and ears busy as you take in all the history.
The great news here is, the government has opened its dungeons for the public so visitors can explore the dungeons that were used as storage vaults and powder magazine of the Baluarte de Santa Barbara, a stone structure constructed in 1592. During World War II, the dungeons were used by Japanese troops to imprison resistance fighters and political prisoners.
Entrance fee: PHP 75 for adults; PHP 50 for students
Manila Ocean Park
If you want a sea adventure, why not visit Manila Ocean Park? It is one of the most popular Manila tourist attractions. Manila Ocean Park has regular aquatic performances and chances to get up close to some beautiful tropical fish. Everyone, especially the kids, will love this adventure! Manila Ocean Park also offers one of the most exciting things to do in Manila— the Aquanaut experience. It allows you to wear an oxygen-filled space helmet and walk underwater.
Entrance fee: PHP 620 – PHP 1,025
Now that you’ve seen all the best tourist spots in Manila, it’s time to look for your hotel! Book budget hotels in Manila at www.zenrooms.com and enjoy high-quality accommodation at a very affordable price!
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Some spots might be closed or there might be travel restrictions placed due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please keep the government mandate in mind.