Manila Itinerary For 1 – 5 Days + Best Things To Do In Manila Philippines [2024]

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Heading to Manila and looking for the perfect itinerary in Manila? Great! We can help in this Manila itinerary blog post.

An assault on your senses, Manila is noisy, chaotic, vibrant and often steamy-hot!  The capital of the Philippines, the city has a booming economy and a surprisingly hip new wave of restaurants, nightlife and galleries… alongside world-class hotels.

Sure, you’ll experience traffic jams and witness poverty, but this sprawling city – home to over 21 million people – is much, much more than that.  And unlike many destinations, Manila won’t break the bank!  

With an almost endless list of things to see and do, the best attractions in Manila include: Spanish heritage and colonial architecture at Intramuros, world-class museums, walking and cycling city tours, art galleries offering works from Filipino masters to modern art, and Binondo, thought to be the oldest Chinatown in the world.  Ride colorful jeepneys (a must do in Manila!), shop at any one of the numerous Malls, catch the sunset at Manila Bay, explore the undersea world at Manila Ocean Park or just hang out at Rizal Park, one of the best places in Manila.  

Then there’s the food… not particularly world-famous for good cuisine; there are still many places in the city to eat well and some very fancy rooftop cocktail bars, speakeasy bars or laid-back pubs for after dinner drinks.  

And, once you’ve exhausted the Manila top attractions, all the fun activities in Manila, and all the places to go in Manila, there’s also a plethora of day-trip destinations just outside the city, such as to stunning Mt Pinatubo or the exotic Hundred Islands.

Below, you will find the ultimate itinerary: Manila! We walk you through options whether you are just looking for a Manila itinerary day tour or need a Manila 5 days itinerary. You can simply stop following our Manila trip itinerary if your trip finishes in less than 5 days when you hit the number of days you have or pick the days that sound best from the full 5 days itinerary in Manila below.

We also have a complete list of the top things to do at Manila so you can decide if the stops in our Manila city tour itinerary are perfect for you. Below you will find all the options for what to do in Manila, Philippines.

Finally, we also recommend some top places to stay in Manila depending on your budget, as well as a map of all the what to do Manila options. 

Manila Itinerary 2024

Remember, this is a full 5 day tour in Manila itinerary. If you have fewer days, simply pick the days that most appeal.

Manila Itinerary 1 Day: Explore Historic Manila: Intramuros and Rizal Park

Here we go!  Whether you’re staying for the full 5 days or just following a Manila 1 day itinerary, today you’ll delve into the city’s past, ticking off all the historical Manila places to visit.  Join a group tour (walking or on bamboo-bikes!) or simply self-discover Intramuros:

  • Fort Santiago and Baluarte De San Diego Gardens
  • Rizal Shrine Museum
  • San Agustin Church and San Agustin Museum
  • Manila Cathedral and Plaza Roma
  • Puerta de Santa Lucia
  • Casa Manila, Plaza San Luis

After lunch at Intramuros, relax the rest of the day at Rizal Park and perhaps catch The Martyrdom of Dr Jose Rizal open-air sound and light presentation.

In the evening, join an Old Manila Filipino Food Crawl – click here to book tickets.

Manila Itinerary 2 Days: Iconic Manila – Culture, People, History

Today you’ll join a full day tour, full of things to see Manila and with many activities in Metro Manila.  This Manila 1 day tour itinerary sample is iconic, discovering the older parts of Manila and learning about its history, culture and people.

Old Manila Historic Day Tour:

  • Bird watching at the Micro Parks
  • Planetarium
  • National Museum of the Filipino People
  • Cinematheque Centre Manila
  • Escolta
  • Roxas Boulevard
  • Manila Baywalk
  • SM Mall of Asia

In the evening, head to Ginhawa Spa for a relaxing massage after your long day of walking!

Click here to book this tour.

Manila Itinerary 3 Days: Manila Day Tour: Hundred Islands

Another amazing Manila day-tour itinerary awaits you today.  On this, the last day of your Manila 3 days itinerary, get your sunblock and snorkels at the ready… cause we’re off on a:

Time to depart from Manila – hopefully to other beautiful parts of the Philippines – if you’re enjoying our 3 days, 2 nights Manila itinerary.  But, if staying longer, have a good sleep and on to Day 4…

Manila Itinerary 4 Days: Manila Day Trip:  Nature Overload!

It’s a full day of nature on today’s Manila 4 days itinerary.  A new-comer to our list of Manila activities, this is hot, becoming one of the top things to do around Manila. 

In the evening, if you’ve recovered from the day’s activities, join a fun Chinatown Food Tour (click here to book a tour).

Manila Itinerary 5 Days: All things Manila!

Your last day, but there are still many Manila things to do and must-see places in Manila to tick off!  Starting with one of the most fun things to do in Metro Manila…

  • Visit Ocean Park

And then it’s a busy day around the city, taking in…

  • Bamboo Organ of Las Pinas
  • The Manila American Cemetery
  • Quezon Memorial Circle (take a picnic to this park for lunch)
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Manila

End your vacation with an evening cruise (from Manila Baywalk), followed by a fancy dinner harbourside.

Best Things To Do In Manila Philippines

In this section, you will find more details on all of the Manila attractions mentioned above and others you may want to incorporate into your Manila tourist spots itinerary.

Explore Fort Santiago

Part of the famous Intramuros – the oldest district and historic core of Manila – Fort Santiago is one of the top things to see in Manila, Philippines.  Surrounded by beautifully landscaped grounds, on the Pasig River bank, this is a great escape from the bustle of the city.  

Built by the Spanish in 1590 to serve as a forward base for Spanish ambitions in the Far East, the Fort has a harsh history with the Japanese having massacred thousands here during their short but brutal occupation in the 1940s.  Today, though, Fort Santiago is a really nice place to visit in Manila, where you’ll find gardens, plazas, fountains and lily ponds, with the fort’s military barracks mostly in ruins.  

Don’t forget to drop by the onsite Rizal Shrine museum, which features memorabilia relating to the national hero, Dr Jose Rizal.  Executed at the Fort by the Spanish in 1896, Dr Rizal was one of the Philippine Revolution leaders.  The museum takes you through his time in prison and his courtroom trial, and the ripple effects of his martyrdom on the Philippine struggle for independence.

Drop by here early in your Manila itinerary as it’s a good place to visit in Manila to understand the country’s history, giving context to many of the other places of interest in Manila.

Address: Intramuros, Manila

Visit San Agustin Church

Known as the Church of the Immaculate Conception of San Agustin, this is the Philippines’ oldest church.  A masterpiece of architecture, it’s stood as a place of worship since 1595.

With remarkable features, such as altars of high Baroque style and wall buttresses separating crypto collateral chapels, the church is most noted for its ceiling paintings in the trompe l’oeil style.

Having stood witness to 400 years of Spanish rule, survived many bombings and earthquakes, and countless renovations, over the years, other influences – Filipino and Chinese – have been incorporated within the designs.  In 1762, during the Seven Years War, British forces looted the church, and in 1898 it was the venue for the American and Spaniards to sign the surrender of Manila over to the Americans.

During World War II, the Japanese forces turned the church into a concentration camp for prisoners. As the Battle of Manila in 1945 drew to a close, the Japanese held hostage priests and hundreds of residents inside the church. To drive out the remaining Japanese, American and Filipino forces conducted an air raid inside Intramuros. Because of this, structures in the walled city were mostly reduced to rubble, but the San Agustin Church remained standing, one of the few that was left intact. 

A famous landmark and a Manila must-see, the church was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  A visit here is essential for anyone who wishes to learn about the Catholic Church’s rich history in the Philippines.  

Also, stop by the San Agustin Museum, home to a collection of Spanish era artifacts, furniture, paintings and other church ornaments.

Usually combined with a visit to other Intramuros must-visit places in Manila, be sure to include this on your itinerary!

Address: General Luna St, Manila

See Manila Cathedral

Facade of Manila Cathedral, Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Ferdinand Magellan set foot in the Philippines in 1521, marking the arrival of Catholicism in the Philippines.  In the following three centuries of colonization, grandly designed churches sprung up around the country – including the Manila Cathedral.

Situated at the heart of the walled city of Intramuros in the Plaza Roma, the Cathedral has seen several significant reconstructions since its inception and has long been the seat of the Archbishop of the Philippines.  This splendid cathedral is also the venue for many weddings; thus it’s one of the most popular places to visit in Manila for couples, all hoping to secure a special date!

Built initially of nipa, wood and bamboo, a fire that razed the city in 1583 destroyed the Cathedral.  The second and third versions, both made of stone, were damaged by earthquakes and strong typhoons.  The current Cathedral was built slowly across two centuries, completed in 1863, with numerous altars and chapels.  An imposing bell tower with a clock on top, stained glass windows and marble pavings are its best features, making this a nice place in Manila to spend an hour at.  

Address: Beaterio St, Cabildo St, Intramuros, Manila

Walk Around Intramuros

There are many group tours – walking or cycling – offered to discover Intramuros or simply self-discover the many buildings and streets that make this area a favorite of Manila tourist attractions.

For hundreds of years, Intramuros’ walled city was all that existed of “Manila”, home to several thousand Spanish colonists, their families, and Filipino servants.  The Spanish occupation continued for almost 400 years, with Spanish political, religious and military power in the region controlled from Intramuros.  

Following a significant restoration effort in the 1980s, Intramuros and the surrounding areas became the most prominent tourist places in Manila.

Stroll the walled city to discover churches, restaurants and museums.  If under your own steam, start at the Intramuros Visitors Centre, where you can pick up brochures on the places you plan to see and check for any special cultural events.  

Intramuros Manila

Ensure to include Baluarte De San Diego Gardens at the entrance to Fort Santiago, the Rizal Museum, the green open space of Plaza de Armas, Manila Cathedral, a public park of Plaza Roma, Puerta de Santa Lucia (a beautiful gate in the Intramuros wall), and San Agustin Church and Museum.  Finally, don’t forget to drop by at one of Manila’s most interesting places, Casa Manila at Plaza San Luis  – showcasing a reconstruction of a Spanish colonial home from the 19th century.

We recommend avoiding the heat of the day by starting early or arriving towards the end of the afternoon, and during your stroll, take a break at one of the local cafes or restaurants.  

With cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages and atmospheric colonial buildings, you’re transported back in time and spirited far from modern-day Manila!

Picnic In Rizal Park

Manila’s Rizal Park (or Luneta Park, as it’s locally known) is one of Asia’s largest urban spaces!  Spanning back almost two centuries, Filipino has enjoyed family picnics, playing sports and generally hanging out at this spot.  

Renamed in the early 1900s in honor of Dr Jose Rizal – the freedom fighter who was controversially executed for his revolutionary views at a spot in the park, now commemorated by an impressive monument.  The bronze and granite memorial, containing his remains, stands almost 13 meters high and to this day, is protected by soldiers standing guard.

You can learn more about Rizal’s final hours at The Martyrdom of Dr Jose Rizal, an open-air sound and light presentation that takes place every evening from Wednesday to Sunday – definitely something to include on your list of things to do in Manila at night.

Away from the memorial, Rizal Park features gardens full of orchids, tropical trees and ferns, a pavilion with free-flying butterflies, a healing-stone Reflexology footpath, a Rocky Trail climbing wall and for the younger children, a playground full of animal sculptures.  …all making this one of the most fun places to go in Manila.  

You’ll often find some events here, with dancing, live music or perhaps a sporting match.  High on “top 10 things to do in Manila” listings, an afternoon hanging out at Rizal Park, perhaps with a picnic, is one of the most fun things to do in Manila.

Address: Ermita, Manila

Learn At The National Museum Of The Filipino People

Drop by this wonderful museum to discover relics from shipwrecked Spanish galleons and Chinese junks. 

Many of the items displayed come from the priceless collection retrieved from San Diego, a Spanish galleon that sank off Fortune Island in Batangas after a battle with the Dutch in 1600.  Recovered in 1992, the ship has yielded over five thousand objects!  

In other rooms, discover objects from wrecked 11th century Chinese junks, showing compelling evidence of trade links that existed long before the Spanish arrived.

Head up to the third floor for the anthropology section, with items on display from almost every region and tribal group in the Philippines.  Fascinating and enthralling, some items date back to 5BC!  

We recommend dropping by here early in your itinerary as it’s perhaps the best place to go in Manila to gain an insight into the diversity of the Filipino culture.

Address: Padre Burgos Ave, Ermita, Manila

Discover Manila’s Past On An Old Manila Historic Day Tour

Join this fabulous full-day tour to discover the charms of old Manila, ticking off many of the main places to see in Manila, Philippines.  

The tour incorporates stops at Rizal Park, bird watching at the micro parks, the Planetarium, the National Museum, Cinematheque Centre Manila, Escolta and Roxas Boulevard!  …not to forget, dining on a lunch of authentic Filipino chicken and seafood dishes. 

Some of the highlights of this tour include viewing most of the country’s artistic treasures at the National Museum, old Filipino films at the Cinematheque Centre Manila, while at Escolta, you can dive into the local art communities and shop for vintage merchandise.  

One of the best things to do, Manila Baywalk, is one of your last stops.  Catch a dramatic sunset before ending your tour at the epic SM Mall of Asia.  With hundreds of shops, this is one of the liveliest places to visit in Manila at night, and you’re sure to find somewhere great for dinner.

Click here to book tickets for this tour.

Experience The Chinese Cemetery

Far from an ordinary cemetery, this is again one of the must-go places in Manila.  The Chinese Cemetery feels more like a residential suburb, just the streets happen to be lined with mausoleums.  You’ll spot crystal chandeliers, air-con, hot and cold running water, kitchens and flushing toilets…

Fully functional homes, fitted with these modern conveniences, are the last resting place for Manila’s wealthy Chinese residents.  Relatives visit the dead in their “homes” during the weekends, offering food and burning incense.

Known amongst the locals as “Millionaires’ Row” and “Little Beverly Hills,” the cemetery dates back to the late 19th century, built for the non-Catholic Chinese who were denied burials by the Spanish colonials.  These days, a cemetery plot can easily cost up to 50 million pesos for a 25-year lease!

One of the more weird things to do in Manila, visit the sprawling grounds by bicycle or hire a guide to best access these spectacular tombs. 

Address: Santa Cruz, Manila

Take A Chinatown Food Tour

Wandering the oldest Chinatown streets globally, the Binondo district is one of the many surprising places to visit in Metro Manila.  Established during the Spanish period, the market had already long been an active commerce place for Chinese traders.  

The Binondo Food Crawl is a favorite activity for many tourists and locals, with delicious dumplings a top recommendation!  Dong Bei Dumplings is one of the most popular restaurants, with pork dumplings a must-try, along with their fried pancakes.  A small restaurant, you’ll have a hard time trying to get a table… so eat on-the-go!

You’ll find lots to tempt you on this Chinatown Food Tour, with dim sum, steamed buns, siomai, congee, rice toppings, noodles, seafood lomi, kamto soup, beef wanton and tofu dishes, fried chicken, lumpia and so much more!  

You’ll mostly find small, canteen-style restaurants tucked away in intimate alleys, inexpensive, offering a fast-and-casual-service, with plates and bowls piled high with steaming food.   

After you’ve eaten as much as you can, check out the Chinese bakery shops for takeaways and gifts.

Definitely one of the most fun things to do in Manila, with the whole area being one of the most popular tourist attractions, Manila. 

Click here to book your tour tickets.

Walk The Baywalk

Manila Baywalk is a popular sunset location for tourists and locals, famous for its golden skies and calm bay waters. Stretching 2km along the coastline, it runs alongside Roxas Boulevard and past the Manila Yacht Club, up to the US Embassy and Cultural Center of the Philippines.  

Palm trees line your route, with plants swaying in the coastal breeze.  Yachts lay at anchor in the harbor, while cafes, outdoor restaurants and open-air bars spill out onto the walk, with more than one or two live bands usually filling the air with music.

If you’re staying around for the evening, at the southern end of the Baywalk, you can catch a nightly cruise of the bay – one of the top things to do in Manila for couples – watching the twinkling lights of the city from the boat’s open top deck.  After which, there’s a myriad of fancy restaurants around the harbor for dinner, with many catered cuisines including Thai, Korean, Middle Eastern and western dishes.  

One of the most popular places to go, Manila Baywalk, is top of places to visit in Manila with friends.

Address: Roxas Blvd, Malate, Manila

View Art At The Metropolitan Museum Of Manila

Aiming to bring the appreciation and awareness of the arts to the Filipinos, the MET is a world-class gallery and one of the new attractions in Manila.  Tracing Filipino art’s evolution from the early 20th century to the present day, virtually all the great Filipino painters from the last century are represented.  You’ll also find a wide selection of contemporary and experimental art that genuinely can’t be beaten anywhere else in the country.

Be sure to check out the basement gallery, holding some of the nation’s treasures: pre-Hispanic gold and pottery artifacts that showcase Filipino art and culture from the 8th-13th centuries.

Located just opposite the Manila Yacht Club, combine a visit here with a sunset stroll of Manila Baywalk.

Address: BSP Complex, Roxas Blvd, Malate, Manila

See The Famous Bamboo Organ of Las Piñas

Bamboo Organ Church, Las Piñas City
Las Piñas Bamboo Organ Church

Our top pick of unique things to do in Manila, here’s something that you don’t see every day! Created in 1824 by the Spanish missionary Fray Diego Cera, the Las Piñas Bamboo Organ is the only working bamboo organ globally.

With 1031 pipes, 902 made of handpicked bamboo, it has been designated a national cultural treasure. For a small fee, visitors can enjoy a tour of St Joseph Parish Church of Las Piñas – on the southern fringes of Metro Manila – and listen to a short organ concert. However, attend the Sunday at 6pm mass for a longer free show.

Address: 1742 Quirino Ave, Las Piñas City

Learn More About The Philippines At Ayala Museum

Looking for things to do in Metro Manila?  Spend a few hours at the Ayala Museum, one of the top places to visit in Manila. Located at the heart of the Makati Central Business District, it’s named after the founder and late artist Fernando Zobel de Ayala y Montojo.  

On show, you’ll find sixty handcrafted dioramas, chronicling the rich tapestry of Philippine history, visually narrating the many milestones.  There’s also a one-of-a-kind boat gallery, with miniatures of some of the watercraft that contributed to the development of Philippine maritime trade and colonial economy.  

Archaeological and ethnographic objects from the country’s Northern and Southern cultural communities are also on display. Many visitors find the “Gold of Ancestors: Pre-Colonial Treasures,” the highlight of the museum.  These stand as a testament to the Filipino’s rich ancestry and inherent craftsmanship.

Additionally, you’ll find a fine arts collection featuring works by three painters considered pioneers in Philippine art. The sixth floor has become the Filipinas Heritage Library home, contemporary space with references on Philippine arts, history, and culture.

A fairly serious museum, this is an ideal venue if the weather turns and you’re looking for indoor activities in Manila.  

Address: Greenbelt Park, Makati Avenue cor. Dela Rosa Street, Ayala Center, Makati

Pay Respects At The Manila American Cemetery

Occupying 152 acres on a plateau, visible from afar to the east, south and west, the Manila American Cemetery contains the American World War II military’s graves.  

A somber memorial, this is home to over 17,000 marked graves of those that lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines.  Headstones are aligned in 11 plots forming a generally circular pattern, set amongst a peaceful variety of tropical trees and shrubbery.  

At the center stands a white chapel, enriched with sculpture and 25 mosaic maps that recall the American armed forces’ achievements in the Pacific, China, India and Burma.  A further 36,286 names are inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing.

One of the largest overseas cemeteries for American WWII soldiers, with only the Normandy American Cemetery in France being larger, the scale of loss is intense.  

Address:1634, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig 

Eat Everything On A Food Crawl

The Old Manila Filipino Food Crawl has something for everyone.  Whether you’re into seafood, red meat or chicken, Manila has you covered!  Dine on delicious fusions of Spanish, Chinese and other influences in each Filipino dish.  And the fun doesn’t stop there!  Learn as you dine – with tales of the history of traditional Filipino cooking.  

A feast for your eyes and your stomach, this exciting food tour takes you on a 4-restaurant journey.  You’ll try Spanish dishes such as tapa, paella and a variety of seafood dishes.  Chinese delicacies are also on the menu, with fried rice, xiao long bao, hakaw and more.  

Still hungry… next up, dine on spare ribs adobo or salpicao rice with a Filipino twist!  Wash this all down with Spanish Hot Chocolate but save some space for the end of the tour at Seaside Dampa, with fresh-off-the-market seafood dishes.  

If you’re looking for fun activities to do in Manila or perhaps fun things to do in Manila with friends, look no further!  This tour is one of the top things to do in Manila, terrific fun!

Click here to book your tour tickets.

Take A Manila Markets Tour

Shopping malls are, without a doubt the most popular places in Manila, loud and busy, sometimes heaving with shoppers!  However, this full-day guided tour will take you on a one-of-a-kind shopping spree.  …in search of quirky items, locally-crafted goodies, fresh produce or exclusive shops… it’s all covered on this Manila Markets Tour.

Home to some of the largest shopping malls in the world, Manila is well-known for its retail.  However, if you want to truly experience its shopping culture, visiting local markets and humble stores is the way to go.  Start your day at Dapitan Arcade, where you’ll find those one-of-a-kind holiday souvenirs that you’ll keep for years.  …and don’t forget to barter your way to a good deal!  

The second stop is the Farmer’s Market in Cubao, a traditional wet market famous for its fresh seafood, meat and poultry.  Finally, end your day at one of the cool places in Manila – Greenhills Shopping Centre – a 16-hectare mall that is home to over 6000 retailers!

Click here to book your tour tickets.

Enjoy The Quezon Memorial Circle

Time to relax at the national park of The Quezon Memorial Circle, at Quezon City, Metro Manila.  Located inside a large traffic circle, in the shape of an ellipse, this vast park is the center of where several major avenues merge.

One of the most fun places in Manila, with playgrounds, amusement park rides, restaurants, bazaars and more, couples come to hang out and families take picnics, relaxing through the afternoon heat.  

In the center of all stands the 36 meter art-deco Quezon Memorial Shrine, topped by three angels above the mausoleum of former President Manuel Quezon.  There’s also a small history museum (with free admission) dedicated to the President and his historically important time in office across WWII.

Hang around until the evening for a small light show and dancing fountains, great for families looking for free things to do in Manila!

Address: Elliptical Rd, Diliman, Quezon City

Hang Out At The Mall Of Asia

Possibly the largest mall in Asia, this massive mall in Pasay City is full of what you expect… lots of shops!  Pretty much everything you could possibly want is sold here, with tons of stores and shops to explore.  The mall’s size is so mind-blowing that it’s become one of the top Manila city tourist attractions!

There’s an entertainment sector too – with a bowling alley and small amusement rides – and a movie theatre.  And you won’t go hungry, with food stands, classy restaurants and fast food joints found throughout the mall.  

With ample space, it’s less claustrophobic than most local malls and has delightful Manila Bay views.

Address: 123 Seaside Blvd, Pasay, 1300

Have A Ginhawa Spa Experience

After all your Manila activities, you deserve some pampering!  Indulge in this tour to Ginhawa Spa, taking their Hacienda Spa Package (especially nice if you’re looking for couple activities in Manila).

With an eclectic mix of essential oils and expert techniques, you are guaranteed a relaxing time as you enjoy a shower, sauna and full body massage.  

Click here to book discounted tour tickets.

Address: High Pointe, 1184 Chino Roces Ave, San Antonio Village, Makati

Paraglide Over Manila

Looking for a once-in-a-lifetime activity or cool things to do in Manila?  Look no further than this thrilling Paragliding Experience.

Choose between a morning or afternoon session, and – after a safety check – join your professionally certified pilot in a wonderful tandem flight.  With spectacular city and green views, we reckon this is one of the top things to do in Manila! 

Click here to book discounted tickets.

Address: Brgy. LantikCarmona, Cavite

Visit Hundred Islands

If you’ve exhausted all the stuff to do in Manila, how about escaping the city’s hustle and bustle on this full day (12-hours) tour to the Hundred Islands, with snorkeling, banana boating and more.  

Totalling 124 islands, the Hundred Islands National Park in Pangasinan is a slice of paradise!  Only three islands have been developed for tourism, leaving empty, nature-filled, small white-sand beach islands waiting to be discovered. 

Believed to be around two million years old, the islands are actually ancient corals that have become exposed to the surface due to lowering sea levels.  Shaped like giant umbrellas or mushrooms – due to the waves’ continuous movement – they are surrounded by brilliantly clear sparkling water that the Philippines is famous for.

Of the three developed islands, Quezon is the most developed and most visited.  Catering for picnickers and campers, you’ll find dining and grilling areas.  Spend your day swimming, snorkeling or have a go at kayaking.  

Nearby Governor Island has some rooms, ideal for overnight stays, and again many picnic tables.  This island also offers some amazing views across the Hundred Islands.

Lastly, Children Island offers a calm beach, perfect for swimming.  Floating cabanas can be rented and there are cottages too, with cooking facilities.  

Of the other islands, some are known for snakes and bats, some for interesting caves, and with the right tide, you’ll find a few sandbars!  

250km from Manila, it takes approx 3-4 hours depending on traffic.  Lengthy travel for a day trip, but if you aren’t lucky enough to be moving on to Cebu, Palawan or other parts of the Philippines, a visit to the Hundred Islands National Park will be a stand out day within your itinerary.

Click here to book discounted tour tickets.

Masungi Georeserve

Outdoor activities in Manila don’t come more epic than this!  Offering a spectacular day out, visit the increasingly popular Masungi Georeserve.  Hidden between lush 600-million-year-old rainforests and limestone formations in Baras, Rizal, this 1,600 hectare conservation area protects several flora and fauna endemic to the Philippines.  

The park is ideal for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers, challenged by the famous Discovery Trail.  Leading visitors through karst landscape, along 3-4 hours of nature trails and through forests, this is an at-one-with-nature experience.   Caves, stone trails, rope courses and a hanging bridge 600m above sea level make this a truly memorable tour. High on lists of new places to visit in Manila, the reviews are quickly making this top of lists of things to do in Manila, 2024.

Click here to book discounted tour tickets.

Manila Ocean Park

Perhaps the best attraction in Manila, Ocean Park, is an oceanarium located near to Rizal Park.  Housing over 14,000 sea creatures, this is a top family attraction.  

Make your way through the seven sections, with the main feature the curved walkway tunnel through the inside of the Oceanarium.  Marvel at sharks, rays and jellies.

You’ll also find an onsite Birds of Prey Kingdom and the World of Creepy Crawlies with exhibits of frogs, insects, spiders and worms.  …a great destination for a rainy day in Manila!

Click here to book discounted tour tickets.

Address: Quirino Grandstand, 666 Behind, Ermita, Manila

Hiking at Mt Pinatubo

Taking a roundtrip of around 18-hours, this “day” trip isn’t for everyone… but wow, the scenery is mindblowing!  

Starting very early from Ortigas, Manila, you’ll drive out towards Mt Pinatubo, eventually transferring to a 4×4 for the final portion of the trip, arriving at the jumping off point for Pinatubo around 8 am.  

From the foot of Mt Pinatubo crater, your guided hike takes you approx 2 hours up the mountain, where you’re rewarded with a truly amazing sight… Mt Pinatubo’s crater is famous for changing water colors, from green to deep blue, depending on the season. Rest, explore the area, and enjoy a lunch-with-a-view.

You’ll need proper hiking shoes for this trip, sunblock, extra clothes and best to include some toiletries.  Ensure to pack super light and only carry one small bag.  Restrooms are available at the jumping off point and you can also take a shower there after the hike.

Definitely a very long day of travel, the Instagram-worthy scenery makes it all worthwhile.

Click here to book tour tickets.

Best Places To Visit In Manila Map

Find all the best places to visit Manila on the map below.

Best Things To Do In Manila Philippines map
Click the Map to open in Google Maps. You can then access directions to each of the locations discussed in this article.

Best Places To Stay In Manila

Finding the perfect neighborhood to stay in Manila can be confusing!  Currently, the fifth most populous urban area globally – with a population twice as dense as New York – the city center sprawls across more than 40km.

Should you stay in Makati (the largest district, centrally located and possibly the cleanest and safest), Poblacion (a lively and hip area located within Makati), Malate (safe area packed with bars, clubs and restaurants, near to Manila Bay), Quezon City (north-east of the city center, one of the coolest places to stay with a hip and trendy, youthful edge) or perhaps atmospheric Intramuros (one of the oldest parts of the city).

No matter your budget, your holiday style, or who you are traveling with, you’ll find a great range of hotels across the city.  

Below I’ve listed a few different places to consider, including a budget, mid-range and more expensive option.

BEST – Raffles Makati Hotel Review

Almost everyone’s top pick of Manila hotels, Raffles, is the city’s grand old dame.  The 30-storey complex opened its doors to guests in December 2012, making it the first luxury hotel to open in the Central Business District (CBD) of Makati in almost two decades.

Winner of many Conde Nast Traveler, Tripadvisor, and Philippine Tatler awards, the hotel is an architectural masterpiece.  A graceful and elegant ambiance exudes from all corners, with your needs catered for by Raffles Butlers.

Rooms feature views of the city and are spacious air-conditioned suites with modern amenities, seating areas and flat-screen satellite TV.  Luxurious en-suite bathrooms also come fully equipped with bathrobes, hairdryers and free bath amenities.  Select from junior and executive suites, or splurge on the presidential suite.  One, two or three-bedroom Raffles Residences are also available.

The reception offers a 24-hour front desk, luggage storage, currency exchange and laundry service.  There’s an onsite spa for pampering and a tour desk to assist with sightseeing.  Spectrum Restaurant serves a wide variety of international cuisines, while Cafe Macaron tempts you with tasty pastries.  The famous Raffles Long Bar is where you can grab a delicious cocktail pre or post-dinner.  With a swimming pool, free WiFi, airport shuttle and superb onsite fitness center, this is a world-class hotel.

The hotel is only a 3 minutes walk to the luxury Greenbelt Malls and Glorietta Malls; the airport is a 30-minute drive.

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MID-RANGE – Heroes Hotel Review

Located just 2km from the Philippines’ Cultural Centre and 3km from Greenbelt Mall, Heroes Hotel is a modern 3-star hotel.  One of the newer hotels in the city, you can expect a clean, comfortable and secure stay.

Rooms are fitted with air-conditioning and some rooms offer a balcony and bathtub.  All rooms are themed on heroes and come as quadruple, suite, deluxe or superior.  

An American breakfast is served daily, with the in-house restaurant serving international and steakhouse cuisine throughout the day.

You’ll find an onsite business center and a bicycle rental service (free for inhouse guests – nice!).  Manila Airport is only 7km from the hotel.

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BUDGET – Maine City Residences Review

Found in Malate, ideally located only 10 minutes to Manila Bay, Ocean Park and near Rizal Park, budget hotel Maine City Residences is a 2-star hotel that offers 20 air-conditioned rooms.  

Guests rooms come with a television and walk-in shower, toiletries and towels.  Rooms come as a queen or standard.

A 24-hour reception will assist with luggage storage, and the hotel has WiFi in public areas and free parking. It is conveniently located right next to a mall, offering various restaurants for your dining needs.

Click here to check current pricing and availability

Visiting Manila With Kids

Manila is full of things to do with children, for new experiences, to make family memories or even to learn a new skill or two!  It may be a crazy city, but the Philippines’ chaotic capital is vibrant and colorful, and surprisingly family-friendly!

There are so many places in Manila for kids that you will always find something to do, come rain or shine.  Add in that it has some of the best food in Asia, along with the famous warmth and humor of the Filipino people… it’s hard NOT to have a great time here!

Explore old Manila, with canons and stories of conflicts, ride horse-drawn carts through Intramuros, head beneath the sea and interact with animals at Ocean Park (always a firm family favorite Manila), try a flying trapeze, watch a show, picnic at the parks, learn the history of the Philippines or discover tales of shipwrecks at the museums, and even visit the home of the President – The Malacanang Palace.  Kids will especially love Star City, with its vast collection of rides and thrilling horror house, or perhaps the Enchanted Kingdom with a wide variety of attractions.  …and so, SO, much more!

As traffic can be horrendously slow, try not to cram in too much into any one day.  Organize your days by focusing on just one area or neighborhood at a time, aiming to minimize the traveling time.  Have fun!

Final Words

Manila… an eclectic mix of modern attractions and rich history.  Innumerable shopping Malls, stunning Manila Bay sunsets, great parks and museums, epic countryside just outside the city for great days out, and world-class hotels and restaurants.  

As with most capital cities, you’ll find there’s something for everyone here.  And you can never underestimate the value of being surrounded by fun-loving, friendly Filipinos – it makes everything you do twice as much fun!

We hope you enjoyed this Manila travel itinerary and a complete list of things to do in the Philippines Manila. If you’re after one of the best beach resorts near Manila click here, find all the best 5 star hotels in Manila here or if you’re headed to one of the islands like Boracay, you can find out how to get there from Manila here.  You can also find more information in our complete guides to the Philippines here.

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By Julia Rolph

Julia first discovered the Philippines in 2011, eventually settling in beautiful Bantayan Island, Cebu, with her daughter and Filipino partner.  The family spend every vacation exploring the Philippines, and Julia enjoys helping others discover this wonderful destination. When she's not sharing her vast Philippines knowledge here, she works as a travel planner planning trips for people who want to visit the Philippines