Historical sites, some of Asia’s largest shopping malls and a great selection of museums make it hard to feel bored in Manila. The capital of the Philippines has a huge range of tourist attractions suitable for solo travellers, couples and families alike.
Below, we’ve listed the best places to shop, historical sites, interesting museums and peaceful public parks in Manila.
SM Mall of Asia
SM Mall of Asia is a huge shopping mall in Metro Manila’s Bay City. The mall is the 10th largest shopping complex in the world, with a large variety of clothing, consumer electronics, accessory and grocery stores, a supermarket, cinema complex and Olympic-sized ice skating rink.
Robinsons Place Mall
Robinsons Place Manila is a shopping complex located a short distance from the University of the Philippines in Manila’s historic city. The mall contains a variety of high street fashion shops, restaurants and a cinema.
Divisoria Market is a large market in Manila’s Chinatown. Hundreds of small shops sell a huge range of products, from cheap clothing and souvenirs to children’s toys. Be wary of pickpockets in the market and make sure you haggle before you purchase anything.
Historic and Cultural Sites
Intramuros is Manila’s historic city centre — the original city of Manila during the country’s period as part of the Spanish Empire. The city is surrounded by protective walls and contains most of Manila’s historical and religious sites.
A beautiful Roman Catholic church in Intramuros, San Agustin Church was built between 1586 and 1607 by the Spaniards. The church, which was used as a prison camp during the Second World War, is one of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines — a group of four churches built during the Philippines’ colonial area to become UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
One of Manila’s most well known historical attractions, Fort Santiago is a large citadel built by Miguel López de Legazpi in Intramuros. The fort acted as an important defensive structure for Manila during wars against Britain, and as a prison for these Japanese Army in World War II.
Manila Cathedral is a Roman Catholic basilica on Plaza de Roma in the centre of the historical Intramuros district. The basilica, which was consecrated in 1581, has been visited by Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul II, and most recently by Pope Francis on January 16, 2015.
Binondo Church is a historical church in Manila’s Chinatown. Founded in 1596 by Dominican priests as part of an effort to convert Chinese and Filipinos to Christianity, the church suffered heavy damage during World War II but was rebuilt in the 1950s.
Gardens, Nature and Wildlife
Adjacent to the historical centre of Manila in Intramuros, Rizal Park is a large public park that’s popular as an exercise and leisure spot for Filipinos. The park is named after Filipino hero José Rizal, who was executed in the park by the Spanish Army in 1896.
Formerly Manila’s municipal cemetery, Paco Park is a circular public park and garden. The park contains the burial sites of several historically important Filipino priests, a bust of national hero José Rizal and the small, picturesque St. Pancratius Chapel.
Art, Culture and History
National Museum of the Philippines is a large museum dedicated to the history and culture of the Philippines. Highlights include the museum’s collection of 1,032 fine art pieces, including the incredible Spoliarium by Filipino artist Juan Luna.
Metropolitan Museum of Manila
The Metropolitan Museum of Manila is a modern art museum that was founded in 1976 to show works by Filipino and international artists. In addition to modern art, the museum contains work by famous Filipino artist Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, as well as important historical artefacts.
The Money Museum is a small but interesting museum located inside the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas complex. The museum showcases 50 years of central banking in the Philippines, as well as coins and banknotes from the country’s pre-colonial and Spanish colonial eras.
Marikina City Footwear Museum
Former First Lady of the Philippines Imelda Marcos was famous for her absurdly large collection of shoes, handbags and other luxury goods. The Marikina City Footwear Museum contains most of Marcos’s collection, with 800 pairs of the former First Lady’s shoes on display.