This lively capital city of Philippines has not been getting the attention it deserves! The beauty of Manilla is that it is cosmopolitan, chaotic and cultural. Embrace it and you will find plenty of attractions you would not find in other countries. Here are 10 things to see and do in Manilla, Philippines.
The stone citadel of Intramuros is steeped in history and marks the oldest district of Manilla. Before the 20th century, this very spot was considered Manilla. Courtyards, churches, colonial architecture and cobbled streets whisk you away into an old-world Spain, punctuated by the surrounding cityscape.
2. Rizal Park
Rizal Park is an important historic site in Philippine. Named after Jose Rizal, this was where the national hero was executed in 1896, a crucial point that led to the Philippine Revolution against the Kingdom of Spain. In 1946, The Declaration of Philippine Independence was signed here.
Located adjacent to Intramuros, it is one of Asia’s largest urban parks with 60 hectares of ornamental gardens, paved walkways, ponds and wooded areas. Be sure to see the Rizal Monument!
Fort Santiago is the oldest Spanish fortress in the Philippines. Built in 1571 to protect the newly formed Manilla, it has recently been listed as one of 10 endangered architectural sites in Asia.
4. Manila Cathedral
Manila Cathedrals is one of the many grand churches built in Manila during the Spanish colonization. Rebuilt and restored for centuries, its Neo-Romanesque-Byzantine façade and features make it one of the most beautiful architecture in the capital city.
Another significant site for the country’s military history is laid to rest at the Manila American Cemetery. This is the resting place of 17,202 American soldiers who lost their lives during World War Two, the largest number of graves recorded outside of US soil.
Within the cemetery, you can also find several impressive views overlooking Laguna de Bay, mountains and lowlands.
6. San Agustin Church
Constructed between 1587 and 1606, The San Augustin Church is the oldest stone church in the country. In fact, this imposing Baroque church was the only building to miraculously survive the destruction of Intramuros during World War Two.
Today, the UNESCO Heritage Site also serves as a museum filled with antiques and popular venue for weddings.
7. Taal Volcano Island
55km south of Manila lies the smallest active volcano in the world – Taal Volcano Island. But don’t judge it by its size! Back in the 16th century, it has erupted 30 times and was considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes.
Tucked within the vibrant town of Tagaytay, the Taal Volcano rests on an island within a lake within an island. If you are up for an adventure, you could trek up Mount Tabaro or the main crater. Otherwise, you can take a boat and horse ride up to the Tagaytay Volcano.
8. Villa Escudero
If you would like to experience the quaint side of the Philippines, head to Villa Escudero, a coconut farm and resort that spans across 2,000 acres of plantation. You can learn about Filipino culture at the museum, splash into fun activities like carabao -powered cart rides, and live local music performances.
Once you feel peckish, you should definitely have a meal at the Labasin Dam, with your feet dipped into the gargling waters.