Manila Tour Guide
Manila was my first destination during my Asia trip. While coming to Philippines, my first plan was to go to English course for 4-5 months in Manila and then to travel to the islands of Philippines and nearby countries. But my plans did not go well. I did not stay in Philippines for a long time. The reasons behind this are expensive cost of living, too much pollution, high crime rate and constant traffic problems. The city is literally the city of sins. Moreover, since I thought that the English course was inadequate, I stayed in Philippines for about 2,5 months. In that 2,5 month period, I had the opportunity to travel to its islands and cities. In this article, I will only mention about the places to visit in Manila. And apart from this, I will write detailed articles about house renting in Manila, transportation, extending the Philippines visa, nigh life and food & beverage.
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The City of Manila
It is the capital city of Philippines and located on Luzon, the biggest island of the country. Manila is a developing metropolis in which over 12 millions people live. The name of the country originated from the Spanish King Felipe II. And the name of the Manila city originated from May Nilad. In Tagalog language, “Nilad” means tropical coast and “Mangrov” is a plant which grows in swamps. The biggest problems of Philippines and Manila especially are high population, traffic, crime rate, pollution and climate.
How Long to Stay in Manila?
2 days are enough to visit all the places of Manila. Most of them are in Intramuros area. You can finish your city tour by visiting Rizal Park afterwards. Since I stayed for more than a few days in Manila, I visited the places in different days. If you have a limited time, you better take a taxi and go to Intramuros area. You can call for a taxi with Grab in Manila. Since you know how much you will pay before you call for the taxi, you don’t need to worry about such things like if you will get stuck in traffic or if the driver takes the long way. You can review the apps that I use during my trips.
Places to Visit:
- Santiago Castle (Fort Santiago)
- Manila Cathedral
- San Agustin Cathedral
- San Agustin Museum
- Baluarte de San Diego
- Puerto Real Garden
- National Museum
- Filipino People Museum
- Rizal Park
- Chinese Garden
- Ayala Museum
- Quiapo Cathedral
- Golden Mosque
- Chinese Neighbourhood
- Quiapo and Divisoria Bazaars
- Greenbelt Shopping Mall and Park
- Mall of Asia
Manila Timelapse Video
Santiago Castle (Fort Santiago)
This has been the place which I liked most during my Manila trip. Santiago Castle was used as a place in which the Spaniards collected their booties in 1571. The castle is also used as a prison, torture and death point for years.
Working Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 09:00-18:00 – Monday 13:00-18:00
Entrance Fee:75 Pesos
It is a good starting point for Manila tour. The church was established by Mexican archbishop in 1571 in order to spread Christanity and rule over. Pope Francis visited and consecrated the cathedral in 16th January 2015. There are cemeteries underneath the church. If you visit there while it is open, you can see them. Outside the cathedral, the guides offer to take you a tour with the maps in their hands which show the places to visit. You can also rent a phaeton.
After leaving the cathedral, you witness the lives of Philippines that live in the historical area. You should watch your purse while walking here. People leave in quite small houses. You see people lying on the floor in every corner.
San Agustin Church and Museum
After walking in the street, San Agustin Church appears just before you. Unfortunately, we could not go in due to a wedding. Watching the wedding was a nice memory for me. San Agustin Museum is next to the church. When I asked to the visitors coming out from the museum, they said that there are nothing much worth to see inside. Moreover, the entrance fee was high and I preferred not to go inside.
Working Hours: 08:00-12:00 – 13:00-18:00
Museum Entrance Fee: 200 Pesos
Baluarte de San Diego
Baluarte de San Diego was built on the southwest corner of Intramuros. It is a pretty interesting building. When it first was built, it was in a form of vaulted castle. Then it was changed a few times. The are many sanctuaries, cisterns, prisons, places to stay and workshops inside the castle. The constructions have never been finished due to the conditions.
Baluarte de San Diego is an interesting building. It consists of three homocentric circles. First circle has a diameter of 8 meters and a wall thickness of 1,41 meters. Second circles is a little bit damaged. The third circle, the biggest, has a diameter of 32 meters and a wall thickness of 3 meters. The most outer circle consists of 11 rooms.
Working Hours: 08:00-17:00
Entrance Fee : Adult 75 Pesos, Student 50 Pesos
Puerto Real Garden
The garden inside Intramuros is located just beneath Baluarte de San Diego. The garden is well-cared. There are creepers on the castle walls. And there are many plants. It is a great point to have a rest during your tour. A part of the park is used as a golf course. They turned the inside of the historical building into a golf course.
The National Museum, which is opened as Ethnology, Nature History and Trade Museum in 1901, is located just behind Rizal Park. Its name was changed to National Museum in 1998. There are many artifacts in the museum which are about Ethnology, Anthropology, Archeology and visual arts. Especially the part on the top floor, in which paddies grew in different parts of the country are on show, is pretty interesting. The clothes and the instruments that are used by Philippines local people are on show in the museum.
Working Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10:00-17:00
Entrance Fee: 150 Pesos (Free during June)
Filipino People Museum
It is a museum affilliated with the National Museum. There are the sculptures of many important people who claimed a place in Philippines history. And there are also some paintings of people who were important in recent past. Since there were renovations when I visited the museum, many galleries were closed.
Working Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10:00-17:00
Entrance Fee: 120 Pesos (Free during June)
When I came to Philippines, the first place that I visited was Rizal Park. There are not much beauties in the park which has been built on a large field. Actually I was expecting a more beautiful park before my visit. Sadly, it dissapointed me. The park is a meeting point for many Philippines in the evening times. The name of the park originates from Dr. Jose Rizal who started the independence battle in order to get rid of the Spanish colony. You may visit the Chinese and Japanese Gardens while touring the Rizal Park.
Chinese and Japanese Gardens
The are Chinese and Japanese-themed gardens in Rizal Park. There are some trees and plants brought from Japan and China. You can visit there for a short rest in Rizal Park.
Working Hours: Everyday 09:00-18:00
Entrance Fee: 10 Pesos
I didn’t prefer to visit Ayala Museum in Makati. In the museum that belongs to the members of Ayala family, one of the wealthy families in Philippines, there are many paintings, sculptures and model ships. You can also visit the shopping mall near the museum.
Working Hours: 09:00-18:00
Entrance Fee: 425 Pesos
It is a central place which you can arrive with Jeepney easily. You can see the Black Jesus Sculpture just near the entrance gate of the cathedral. According to my Philippine friend who shows me around, many ships were coming to Philippines after the exploration of the islands. One of those ships started to burn in the harbour. One of the items salvaged from the ship was a sculpture of Jesus which turned into black due to fire. Despite I didn’t find it convincing, the Philippines believe to this story. This is one of the most important cathedrals in the city. You should beware of incense, flower and Bible sellers and beggars at the entrance of the cathedral. It is a place in which you can witness the reality of the country.
It is really close to the Quiapo Cathedral. Golden Mosque takes its name from its golden-colored dome. The mosque was got started to be built by former first lady Imelda Marcos on 4th August 1976 for the visit of Libya president Muammer El-Kaddafi. But Kaddafi canceled his Philippines visit. It currently gives service to Muslims in Manila. Every Friday, there is a community that consists of about 3000 people. The people living near the mosqu and most of the sellers are Muslims. Philippines is quite a polluted country. I would expect that the places near the mosque is neater but i am disappointed about that. It really upset me that the neighbourhood in which the Muslims live is so polluted.
Address: Globo De Ero St, Quiapo, Manila, 1001 Metro Manila, Philippines
As many places in Asia, there is a Chinese neighbourhood also in Philippines. The entrance gate of the neighbourhood in which many Chinese people live is really very nice. It also may be a place to taste the Chinese meals. There is also a Chinese Mall.
If you only 2 or 3 days for your Manila visit, it would be enough to visit the places that are in the list. In my next articles, I will tell you more about the shopping, accomodation, food&beverage and nigh life in Manila. You can also read the articles about other islands that I visited.
How to Go to Manila?
You can fly directly to Manila with Turkish Airlines or you can prefer a connecting flight over Dubai with Emirates Airlines. According to the connecting time, they provide you food and accomodation service. Since my connectime time was short, they gave me a coupon with my flight ticket that allows me to eat something during my connecting time. After a smooth flight, we landed on Manila Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Since the Turkish citzens are alllowed to visit for 30 days without a visa, I went through the passport control without any problem. Before I go out in order to take a taxi after passport control, I exchange my money (1 Dollar=46 Pesos). I have already booked the place in which I will stay on Airbnb. My hotel is in Makati, a touristic district of Manila. From the airport, you can arrive there by using SkyWay (highway) for 350-500 Pesos, according to your arrival time.