More than the magnificent white beaches and breathtaking views of rolling hills, the Philippines has a lot more to offer. Take a look at the country’s capital, Manila. The place is so interesting that more and more tourists are frequenting the city. Because aside from the scenic views, there are a lot of fun things to do in Manila. 

From cultural and heritage tours to exquisite food trips, Manila will surely satisfy your adventure cravings. No wonder, most tourists, even after several times, keep on coming back to discover and rediscover Manila’s charm.

What’s inside this blog?

Top Things to Do in Manila

Here are the top things to do in Manila:

1. Travel back in time in Intramuros

intramuros manila

Intramuros, also known as the Walled City, will have you second-guessing whether you are still in the Philippines. 

In between the walls of Intramuros is the mark that 300 years of Spanish rule have left in the form of grand churches and colonial houses. Within the city is the ancient Church of San Agustin and Manila Cathedral, with its beautifully sculpted and painted ceilings, and Fort Santiago, where the National Hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned before his execution in 1896.

Intramuros is best visited on foot or by riding a 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. This tops the list of the best activities in Manila.

2. Go on a food trip in Binondo


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!

3. Shop at Divisoria

a street in divisoria

Shopping at Divisoria in the district of Tondo is one of the activities in Manila you shouldn’t miss. It’s a one-stop-shop, so many people would really go here even all the way from the provinces to score great deals. With prices lower than those you’d find in shopping malls, the most exciting part here is the fact that you can still haggle for a much lower price.

Though there are malls within the area that provide air-conditioning and are more organized, that takes away the real Divisoria shopping experience.

Also, it’s a good thing that the Divisoria now is cleaner and more organized than before. The roads are now easily passable because the street vendors were asked to sell in the designated areas. 

Pro tip: Wear sneakers, dress down, avoid wearing jewelry or anything flashy and shop until you drop!

4. Shoot at Escolta

escolta street

Escolta is one of the few streets in Manila that has never lost its charm. No matter where you look, you can easily find Instagram-worthy architectural spots in Escolta. Many of the buildings incorporate Renaissance, Neoclassical, and Art Deco styles in its design.

Be sure to visit the Burke building, home of the first elevator in the Philippines, and the William A. Jones Memorial Bridge—more popularly known as the Jones Bridge—which connects Binondo to Ermita.

Jones Bridge was designed by Juan Arellano (who also designed the Metropolitan Theater and the Manila Central Post Office). The bridge is heavily ornamented with classical elements reminiscent of Haussmann-era Paris bridges.

Escolta is a great location for photoshoots and street photography so make sure to bring a camera with you to take snapshots of these old wonders. Shooting in the evening at Escolta is one of the best things to do in Manila at night.

5. Go to museums

visitors observing spolarium in national museum

If you’re into history and culture, you can visit a lot of museums around Manila, both traditional and modern. These include the National Museum, Casa Manila, San Agustin Museum, and the Metropolitan Museum.

The National Museum of Fine Arts is one of the top Manila attractions. 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.

The painting features a glimpse of Roman history centered on the bloody massacre brought by gladiatorial matches. Spoliarium is a Latin word referring to the basement of the Roman Colosseum where the fallen and dying gladiators are dumped and deprived of their worldly possessions.

6. Have a picnic at Rizal Park

rizal park

Experience peace and a calm environment away from the city’s hustle and bustle by visiting Rizal Park. 

Rizal Park has become a favorite leisure spot in Manila. With its greenery and calming ambiance, it’s perfect to have a picnic at Rizal Park with your friends or family— definitely one of the must-try outdoor activities in Manila.

Apart from Rizal’s monument, there are also artworks and museums, fountains, and other statues found within the park.

7. Visit the Manila Ocean Park

manila ocean park

If you want a sea adventure, why not visit the Manila Ocean Park? It 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. 

8. Take a cruise

manila bay cruise

Another activity that goes to the list of underrated yet fun things to do in Manila is taking a cruise! Have your dinner and enjoy the magnificent view of Manila’s sunset while on a cruise.

For an hour and a half, you can enjoy the calming waves and beautiful skies as you sail away from the busy city. The average cost is around P500-P700 per person, not bad for one of the most exquisite things to do in Manila at night.

You can avail the dinner cruise at Esplanade Seaside Park, Seaside Boulevard, MOA Complex. Make sure to arrive one hour prior to your schedule as latecomers will not be accommodated.

9. Watch the sunset by the bay

manila sunset

If you’re looking for a romantic but inexpensive place to visit in Manila, then you should go to Manila Baywalk.

Manila Baywalk is a two-kilometer stretch of pedestrian-friendly paths with lined palm trees. The place is a very popular sunset-watching spot as it gives you the best view of the ocean and the sun as it sets.

The place is also enjoyable in the evening as live music starts in several resto-bars. You can also feast on fresh catch seafood with the Manila Bay as your backdrop. If this doesn’t make it to your list of things to do in Manila, we don’t know what will.


11. Party the night away at the best nightlife spots

a crowd partying in the club

To cap off your trip, why not drink the night away and party at the best nightlife spots in the metro? Most popular party hubs are in Makati, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, and Quezon City.

The most recommended clubs are The Island and Early Night? in BGC. While in Makati, Poblacion is known for its hole-in-the-wall bars and restaurants. And in Quezon City, you can find bars that are LGBTQ+-friendly like The Nectar.

Related article: Activities During Wet Season 2022

Where to Stay in Manila

  1. ZEN Rooms V Plaza Manila – Starts at P760/night
  2. Garden Plaza Hotel and Suites – Starts at P1800/night
  3. JMM Grand Suites – Starts at P2576/night
  4. Aloha Hotel – Starts at P3000/night

If you’re planning to visit Manila, book your budget hotels in Manila at ZEN Rooms and enjoy a high-quality service at an affordable price. Travel more, Pay less!

Frequently Asked Questions About Things to Do in Manila

What are the best things to do in Manila? 

There are many exciting things to do in Manila, including: 

  1. Visiting Intramuros 
  2. Going on a food trip in Binondo 
  3. Shopping at Divisoria 
  4. Photoshoot at Escolta 
  5. Visiting museums 

What are the best things to do in Manila for couples? 

If you want to go on a date with your SO, there are many exciting things to do in Manila, including: 

  1. Watching the Manila sunset by the bay 
  2. Taking a cruise
  3. Having a picnic at Rizal Park 
  4. Dining at Casa Roces 
  5. Food trip in Binondo 

What are the best places to visit in Manila? 

Some of the best places to visit in Manila are: 

  1. Rizal Park
  2. Fort Santiago
  3. Manila Ocean Park
  4. San Agustin Church
  5. National Museum Complex
  6.  Malacanang Palace
  7. Manila Zoo 

Disclaimer: ZEN Rooms claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on ZEN Rooms, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.

The Philippines has many beautiful places that have become world-famous but there are also offbeat places that are as beautiful as the famous ones which are Instagram-worthy by the way!

And if you are the kind of traveler who likes to go off-the-beaten-path and the traveler who is always on the lookout for new or unfrequented places where there are less to no tourists but worthy to be shared, then we’ve got you covered!

We’ve rounded up the offbeat but mind-blowingly stunning places in the Philippines!

1. Escolta

Escolta is another place to see and feel a blast from the past. It is one of the oldest streets in Manila that was created in 1594. After World War II, Escolta has been greatly damaged, hence losing its beauty. But in the past few years, youth organizations are trying to bring back the glory of what was once dubbed as the Queen of Manila Streets. Now, it is revived as it became a hub for people who want to experience food, arts, crafts, music festivals, and other events and activities.

Places to check out:

First United Building – it has artsy shops and establishments for local crafts, interesting artworks, limited edition merchandise, innovative food items, upcycled clothes and accessories, independent clothing labels, DIY wares, vintage goods and refurbished antiques that you may not see at malls.

Calvo Museum at Calvo Building, El Hogar – this place has been a famous shoot location for TV Commercials and Films. There’s also a ferry nearby that you can take for free until January 31, 2020!

2. Bataan 

Bataan is an overlooked destination in the Philippines but it’s a place where you can do many interesting activities. It is located in the Central Luzon region with historical and cultural sites, mountains, beaches, springs and waterfalls combined! It’s easy to get there by land (car or bus for about 3-4 hours) or 1 hour by ferry. Once you get there, you may burn some calories from biking as it has various mountain trails you can go to while you enjoy breathtaking views of Mariveles Valley, Corregidor Island, Manila Bay, and Mt. Mariveles (Tarak Ridge) or for the advanced trail passing the old WWII Guerilla roads and tracks which circles around Mt. Samat.

Places to check out:

Las Casas De Filipinas Acuzar, Balanga World War II Museum, Surrender Site Marker, Mt. Samat War Museum, Death March Marker, Philippine-Japanese Friendship Tower for historical landmarks, Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, Morong Beach, Sisiman Bay to swim and watch the sunset, Kairukan Falls, Limutan Falls, Ambon-Ambon Falls and Dunsulan Falls, Tarak Ridge, Mt. Natib, and Mt. Malasimbo in Dinalupihan.

3. Batanes

Batanes is actually not an overlooked destination in the Philippines but it’s not frequented by Filipinos because the airfare is very expensive! It is in the northernmost province of the country and just 190 kilometers south of Taiwan. Batanes is a typhoon destination in the Philippines, so it’s best to visit it during the dry season from March to May. June is also a good travel date so you can experience the fun in Batanes Day! You will also find the famous Honesty Coffee Shop there. No one mans the store so the people who will buy goods there will have to pay and get their change on their own in the cashier.

For most Filipinos, Batanes is a dream destination. Its vast greenery, rolling hills, and clean environment catch everyone’s hearts. That’s why it’s called Breathtaking Batanes. And the Ivatans— Batanes’ locals— are, without a doubt, the kindest people you’ll ever meet!

Places to check out: Racuh A Payaman (Marlboro Hills), Sabtang Island (where most of the traditional Ivatan stone houses are located), Morong Beach, Mt. Iraya, Vayang Rolling Hills, Homoron Blue Lagoon, and Diura Village.

4. Siquijor

It is a small island province located in the Central Visayas region oozing with pristine beaches, beautiful diving spots, waterfalls, and a cave. It’s used to be known as an Island of Fire enveloped by mystic traditions such as witchcraft, healing, spiritual rituals. For centuries, people have been brewing concoct special potions to cure physical ailments, treat emotional scars, and to dispel evil spirits. There are love potions available, too! 

Places to check out:

400-year old enchanted Balete tree, Paliton beach, Kanheron Ranch, Kagusuan Beach, Cantabon Cave, Cambuhagay Falls, Lugnason Falls, Marelle’s Underwater World Museum.

5. Pink beaches

If you’re like Aerosmith that believes “pink is love at first sight and can get you high as a kite,” well these 5 pink beaches are perfect for you! Most of these pink beaches are located in the southern parts of Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

1. Great Sta. Cruz Island (Zamboanga City, Zamboanga del Sur)

2. Sila Island (San Vicente, Northern Samar)

3. Subic Beach (Matnog, Sorsogon)

4. Cape San Agustin (Governor Generoso, Davao Oriental)

5. Parola Island (Panganiban, Camarines Norte)

The pink sand beach is, in fact, a coloration effect from a crushed red organ-pipe coral that is fused with the white sand.

It’s always fun to visit the most famous tourist spots in a country but sometimes, the off-the-beaten spots offer more exciting experiences and stories that travelers will surely treasure.

For a value for money and a hassle-free stay,  book budget hotels in the Philippines and enjoy a high-quality service at an affordable price. Travel more, Pay less!

Disclaimer: ZEN Rooms claims no credit for images featured on our blog site unless otherwise noted. All visual content is copyrighted to its respectful owners. We try to link back to original sources whenever possible. If you own the rights to any of the images, and do not wish them to appear on ZEN Rooms, please contact us and they will be promptly removed. We believe in providing proper attribution to the original author, artist or photographer.