I love it when you go to a place, you get a tourist map that maps out where you should go, what you should see, what train / bus stations are nearby. And all other such information. Even a street map! We don’t have that in Manila yet. Our Tourism department is too busy doing other things (like what?!).
So here are some places you can visit while you are in Manila:
1. Around the Intramuros area. There is a wealth of things to do within and around the Intramuros area in Manila. There is no direct MRT (train) to the area, so you’ll have to get off and do some walking. Or take a bus or a jeep. Here are places to visit:
a. Intramuros (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intramuros). The original walled city of Manila. You can stroll along the city walls, visit the jail of our National Hero, Jose Rizal, go to the different parks, visit the CBCP office, there are also many classy restaurants within the walls of Intramuros.
b. Manila Cathedral (http://www.manilacathedral.org/index.htm). This is also within Intramuros. The main Cathedral of the Archdiocese of Manila. Be sure to visit the tombs under the Church.
c. National Museum (http://www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph/#page=page-1). Across the street from Intramuros (the “street” being the one near Pamantasan ng Maynila) is the National Museum. There’s the new building with all the recent exhibits. And the old building which houses the Spolarium by Juan Luna.
d. Rizal Park (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rizal_Park). After exiting the museum, take a walk down towards the bay, and you will reach Rizal Park. Dedicated to our National Hero. This is also where Manila holds many major activities. Walk a bit further and you will reach Manila Bay, Manila Ocean Park (http://www.manilaoceanpark.com/) and you can even walk the Roxas Boulevard Baywalk.
e. Near Intramuros again, is Quiapo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiapo,_Manila). This should actually be a site on it’s own! You can walk the streets of Chinatown. Eat cheap and delicious food. Visit one of the most popular churches in the Philippines – Quiapo Church. But better to go here with someone local. Unless you have nerves of steel.
2. La Mesa Eco Park (http://www.lamesaecopark.com/) – After all that walking through the streets of Manila, go up north to the Eco Park. It is a park at the foot of the La Mesa watershed – which supplies water to most of Metro Manila. You can bring food, have a picnic, go swimming, enjoy nature.
3. Antipolo (http://www.antipolocity.com/church.htm) – All tourists should make the trek up to Antipolo. And visit the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. Say a prayer, and then eat some local Antipolo delicacies like suman and cashews.
4. Shopping? Try Bonifacio High Street (http://bonifaciohighstreet.com/) if you want high end, though the place is fun enough to just hang around / Tiendesitas (http://www.tiendesitas.com.ph/) if you like affordable yet comfortable, and if you like pets / Divisoria (http://168shoppingmall.com/) if you want cheap and want to haggle, again, bring a local.
5. Ayala Museum (http://www.ayalamuseum.org/) – Who, in Manila, hasn’t visited the Ayala Museum and looked at the Dioramas? I think it was mandatory for all schools to visit at least once. Take a trip here. And then go next door to the mall to go shopping or to eat something nice.
6. Malls. Malls. Malls. They are everywhere. Go crazy.
7. Resorts World (http://www.rwmanila.com/) or Araneta Coliseum (http://www.aranetacoliseum.com/2006/index.php). Catch a show! Resorts World is near the airport, and Araneta is in Cubao. They usually host international acts.
8. Malacanang Palace (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malacañang_Palace). Visit the seat of government (you can actually also visit the Senate in Pasay (http://www.senate.gov.ph/) and Congress in Quezon City (http://www.congress.gov.ph/index.php)). You will need to schedule the museum visit in Malacanang. But it is interesting, from what I remember YEARS ago. I wonder if they still have all of Imelda’s shoes.
9. Ateneo de Manila (http://www.admu.edu.ph/). A nice open campus where you can walk around and smell the fresh air. 🙂 My alma mater of course.
10. QC Memorial Circle (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quezon_Memorial_Circle). A big memorial dedicated to Manuel Quezon (he is buried in the base of the big tower). Just be careful getting to it because the circle around it is a killer!