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With Spanish, Chinese, Japanese and American influences, Manila offers a captivating mix of Asian heritage and Western influence through its tastes, sight and sounds. Come for excellent shopping, dining and stunning natural scenery.
1/tab.galleryImage.size}Manila is the vivacious bay-side capital of the Philippines, found on the island of Southern Luzon
2/tab.galleryImage.size}Explore Manila’s old town, Intramuros, in a horse-drawn carriage and discover the historic capital from which the Spanish colonialists ruled the East Indies
3/tab.galleryImage.size}Beautiful Mt. Taal is the world’s smallest active volcano and easily reached from Manila
4/tab.galleryImage.size}Manila’s Quiapo Church is a stunning example of Baroque architecture and dates back to 1586
5/tab.galleryImage.size}Enjoy an incredible island sunset with an evening walk down Manila Bay Waterfront
6/tab.galleryImage.size}Uncover Manila’s fascinating history at Fort Santiago, an important Spanish defence fort in the spice trade with the Americas
Manila is the vivacious bay-side capital of the Philippines, found on the island of Southern Luzon
Explore Manila’s old town, Intramuros, in a horse-drawn carriage and discover the historic capital from which the Spanish colonialists ruled the East Indies
Beautiful Mt. Taal is the world’s smallest active volcano and easily reached from Manila
Manila’s Quiapo Church is a stunning example of Baroque architecture and dates back to 1586
Enjoy an incredible island sunset with an evening walk down Manila Bay Waterfront
Uncover Manila’s fascinating history at Fort Santiago, an important Spanish defence fort in the spice trade with the Americas
Things to do
We've chosen the must-see highlights of this fantastic city.
We've chosen the must-see highlights of this fantastic city.
Manila can be an affront to the senses, but Rizal Park provides a tranquil oasis amidst the mayhem. Named after national hero José Rizal, who was executed by the Spanish colonial government for his fight for independence, the park features a large bronze monument to commemorate the site of his execution. Today, this popular picnic spot also boasts an open-air concert hall, restaurants, and dozens of fountains.
Padre Burgos Avenue, Maria Y. Orosa Street, Roxas Boulevard
The name may suggest elitist inclinations, but national chain Aristocrat is cheap, cheerful, and beloved by all for its Filipino comfort food and cozy atmosphere. Ever since it opened in 1936, generations of diners have been swearing by its best-selling chicken barbecue, paired with java rice and java sauce.
Sample some of the city’s most popular Filipino restaurants
Former Filipino President Benigno Aquino III is a regular at Casa Roces, which serves Spanish-influenced Filipino fare like callos ala abolita (soft tripe stew with chorizo and chickpeas) and lengua (ox tongue) in mushroom-cognac sauce. Built in the 1930s, the ancestral home of the prominent Roces family was eventually converted into Casa Roces, with alfresco dining in its genteel gardens and private dining rooms on the second floor. At Barrio Fiesta, authentic Filipino cuisine takes centre stage on a lengthy menu that includes crispy pata (deep-fried pork leg) and kare-kare (oxtail stew).
Former first lady Imelda Marcos, wife of Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos, infamously cooked up the lavish Coconut Palace in an act of unbridled extravagance. Upon hearing that Pope John Paul II would soon be visiting the Philippines, she spent $37 million on a mansion made primarily from coconut shells. While the Pope may have ended up rejecting her offer to stay there, free guided tours mean you can get up close and personal with this fantastical folly.
Party ’til dawn
Follow Manila’s coolest club kids straight to Today x Future, a dance-club-meets-flea-market that hosts some of the hottest nights in town. Their unusual cocktail selection – like the Junkie shot, so-called because it’s served in a syringe – loosens the crowd up for a long night ahead. Black Market is another late-night sanctuary for those who like to drink heavily and dance hard. The underground, industrial warehouse-style club holds different nights showcasing soul and funk, techno, garage, and more. If you prefer high heels and Dom Pérignon, high-end nightclub Revel ups the glamour stakes with VIP booths and table service.
This homey café is popular for a reason: it serves up freshly baked pastries, delicious baguettes, and a tempting array of brunch and lunchtime treats. Grab a seat at one of its charmingly distressed wooden tables and tuck into the Wildflour Breakfast Plate. With eggs, crispy potatoes, homemade pork sausage, and ciabatta, it’s the best kind of guilty pleasure.
You’ll have to look hard to locate this bar but, as the name suggests, find it and you won’t want to leave. Tucked behind Joe’s Meat Shack diner in Warehouse 5, this intimate speakeasy boasts finely crafted cocktails, friendly bartenders, and a hipster crowd. Want to party even harder? Underground nightclub Black Market is conveniently located next door.
Manila’s energetic art scene is home to an impressive number of large-scale museums, boutique galleries and warehouse spaces devoted to showcasing contemporary art. At Manila Contemporary, the capital’s only international art museum, a number of exhibitions and educational programs seek to increase exposure to contemporary art and culture, as well as support Filipino artists. Expect bucketloads of style from Silverlens, a commercial gallery with a presence at Art Basel each year while multi-disciplinary space 1335 Mabini hosts exhibitions, workshops, lectures, and an artist-in-residency program.
Founded in 1571, the walled city of Intramuros was the private preserve of the Spanish government. The 64-hectare stone fortress protected the colonial ruling class and encompassed churches, government buildings, schools, monasteries, hospitals, homes, convents, and plazas. Visit the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church in a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) or on foot. Active travellers can sign up for a tour with Bam Bike, an ethically minded enterprise whose fair-trade bamboo bicycles offer two-wheeled tours around Intramuros’ historic streets.
Enjoy authentic Filipino cuisine known for its spices and colourful presentation at Barrio Fiesta. Try its famous recipes including crispy pata (deep-fried pork leg) and kare-kare (oxtail stew) at the Adriatico branch where narrow streets and good food reflect the close-knit Filipino communities.
Shop ’til you drop at SM City Manila, a 25,000 square-metre, multi-purpose shopping mall that will keep the entire family entertained. Kids can head straight to arcade centre Quantum Amusement while you peruse the racks for stylish bargains at the factory outlet. Over in Greenbelt 3, Ayala’s luxury shopping complex seamlessly integrates Manila’s lush foliage within its modern architecture. A number of high street and designer stores sit alongside popular restaurants.