Manila On A Weekend: Travel Guide + Things To Do

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Manila remains as one of my most favorite cities in the Philippines having been able to retain its old world charm and distinction.

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Manila remains as one of my most favorite cities in the Philippines. Despite the modernization and the ravages of times, it was able to retain its old world charm and distinction like a dignified nobleman.


Roxas Boulevard in Manila
Roxas Boulevard (courtesy of pexels.com)

Manila On A Weekend: Travel Guide + Things To Do


    Set against the majestic Manila Bay and its breathtaking sunset, Manila is a destination that is hard to forget, whether you love it or you hate it. Personally, I think there is so much more to adore in Manila than otherwise.

    If you plan a trip to Manila, you will find below some helpful information on tourist spots, activities to try, and attractions to visit that might be of great help to you when you plan your itinerary.

    Manila Bay with the Manila skyline
    Manila Bay (courtesy of pixabay.com)

    Manila is a bustling metropolis, as such, you will never run out of amazing things to do and places to see in this magnificent city. And while you are outside walking the streets in Manila, be adventurous and take advantage of the opportunity to sample some famous Filipino street food.

    The City of Manila is easily accessible because of its proximity to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. For those coming from nearby provinces, Manila can be easily reached via bus, jeepneys, ferries, and passenger vans.

    Top Things to do in Manila


    If it’s your first time in Manila, the best way to explore it is to join a walking tour where guides will take you around the city’s oldest streets and heritage sites. Some operators would even include food tours in their packages to allow guests to sample traditional fares and heritage cuisines offered by historic restaurants.

    Jeeps in Manila
    Jeepneys in Manila (courtesy of pixabay.com)

    Alternatively, you may hire a horse-drawn coach to take you around Intramuros and Roxas Boulevard for a glimpse of Manila Bay.

    The City of Manila is small and easy to explore. As such, you do not really need a lot of time to get around it. Of course, you are welcome to stay longer if you fall in love with it.

    In any case, here are top five things to do in Manila and in the neighboring city of Pasay if you only have a weekend to spare:

    1. Explore Intramuros

    Address: Manila

    One of my most favorite places in Manila is Intramuros. It’s a walled settlement built during the Spanish era. Intramuros is also the original site of old Manila, a pre-Spanish period Tagalog colony along the banks of Pasig River.

    Manila Cathedral in Intramuros
    Manila Cathedral

    The land was bequeathed by the former native rulers to the Spaniards and eventually became the seat of education, government and religion during the Spanish colonial era. The wall was constructed to protect the city from natural disasters as well as attacks from pirates and other invaders.

    What you should not miss in Intramuros:

    • Visit the Manila Cathedral
    • Visit San Agustin Church and San Agustin Museum
    • Stroll around Fort Santiago
    • Explore Baluarte de San Diego



    2. Tour Manila Ocean Park

    Address: Behind Quirino Grandstand, Ermita, Manila

    Manila Ocean Park is a premier oceanarium located behind Quirino Grandstand. It is frequented by schools for their educational tours, so expect a lot of pupils even on weekdays, but it also welcomes curious individuals who would like to take a glimpse of what the deep waters hold as well as the beautiful sea creatures that inhabit the ocean.

    Fishes at Manila Ocean Park
    Manila Ocean Park

    It serves as home to around 14,000 sea creatures found in the Philippines as well as in Southeast Asia. Manila Ocean Park is regarded as the pioneering and the biggest aquarium facility in the Philippines and one of the best in the world.

    Manila Ocean Park is a family-friendly destination. We have been to Manila Ocean Park in 2015 and we completely enjoyed our adventure; it was an educational yet fun way to spend the day.


    Things to see at Manila Ocean Park:

    • Sharks & rays encounter
    • Oceanarium
    • Trails to antarctica
    • Aquanaut voyage
    • The barnyard
    • Jellies exhibit
    • Fish spa
    • Symphony evening show
    • Sea lion show
    • All star bird show
    • Penguin talk show
    • Supertoy collection
    • Birds of prey kingdom
    • World of creepy crawlies
    • The birdhouse
    • Augmented reality encounter
    • Neon rides
    • Mermaid swim experience

    3. Enjoy the rides at Star City

    Address: Vicente Sotto St, Pasay City, Metro Manila

    Star City is possibly one of the most iconic landmarks in Manila. Ask anybody from Manila to name a theme park and Star City would easily come to mind. This theme park is a favorite weekend destination among families and group of friends.

    Star City in Pasay City near Manila
    Star City

    Technically, Star City is located in Pasay City but it is very near the Pasay-Manila border so you do not have to travel too far if you are already in Manila. Star City features a number of indoor and outdoor rides and attractions that are sure to keep visitors thrilled and lively throughout the day.

    Things to try at Star City:

    • Attractions
    • Extreme Rides
    • Family Rides
    • Kiddie Rides
    • Teen and Adult Rides

    4. Have a Manila Bay Cruise

    Terminal address: Esplanade Seaside Terminal, Seaside Boulevard, SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Complex, Pasay City, Metro Manila

    Manila skyline
    Manila skyline with Manila Bay in the background (courtesy of pexels.com)

    Many people may not admit it but Manila Bay does provide quite a romantic backdrop. Coupled with a view of the setting sun, it’s an artwork that will remain indelible in the mind of a beholder. However, a cruise at Manila Bay with a dinner buffet and a stunning view of the Manila skyline at night raises the romantic mood on a higher level.

    Things to keep in mind:

    • Book your ticket ahead
    • Pregnant mothers are not allowed to go on a cruise for their safety
    • Children below two years old are free of charge
    • The cruise is an hour and a half
    • There is live entertainment aboard the vessel

    5. Satisfy your sweet tooth at The Dessert Museum

    Address: Unit 124, 126, 127a, S. Maison, Coral Way, Conrad Hotel Manila, SM Mall of Asia Complex, Pasay City, Metro Manila

    The Dessert Museum in Pasay City near Manila
    The Dessert Museum

    The Dessert Museum is one of the latest attractions to take Manila by storm. Located in the SM Mall of Asia complex, it is best described as heaven for dessert lovers or those with sweet tooth. The Dessert Museum consists of eight themed rooms, all filled with various desserts. 

    Aside from being given the chance to have a bite of the some of the goodies in The Dessert Museum's themed rooms, guests will also be provided with fun facts and information about the featured sweet treats. If you are on the hunt for your next set of Instagram photos, then The Dessert Museum might just be the place that you are looking for.

    Things to see at The Dessert Museum:

    • Cake pop
    • Candy cane
    • Cotton candy
    • Donut room
    • Gum ball
    • Gummy bear
    • Ice cream
    • Marshmallow

    Where to stay in Manila


    Manila, being a popular leisure and business destination, offers a good number of hotels that cater to different travelers depending on their budget.

    Manila neon sign
    Photo courtesy of pexels.com

    Here is a list of some of the best hotels in Manila:

    1. Palm Grove Hotel

    Address: Pedro Gil cor. M. Adriatico Street, Malate, Manila

    Palm Grove Hotel is highly-recommended for those who want to be near the touristy areas of Manila, particularly bars, malls, and restaurants. It is also just a few minutes away from the airport, making it one of the most conveniently-located hotels in Manila.

    2. Manila Lotus Hotel

    Address: A. Mabini St. cor. P. Faura St., Ermita, Manila   

    Manila Lotus Hotel is ideal for those who are looking for a relaxing and have fun stay. It is also located near Manila's top tourist destinations, thus, making it an easy choice for travelers as well as families who are looking for a weekend staycation.

    3. Executive Hotel

    Address: A. Mabini St, Malate, Manila

    Executive Hotel's modern interiors is perfect for business travelers or for those who are looking of an upscale accommodation in the heart of Manila. Executive Hotel is near bars, restaurants, shopping malls, and business districts, thus, its popularity among visitors.   

    4. Las Palmas Hotel de Manila

    Address: A. Mabini St., Malate, Manila

    Las Palmas Hotel de Manila provides a great balance between price and quality. It provides clean and well-maintained rooms, and superb service at a price that is easy-on-the-pocket.

    5. Silver Oaks Hotel and Suite

    Address: A. Mabini St., Ermita, Manila

    Silver Oaks Hotel and Suite offers good quality rooms at a price that will not break your budget. Its rooms are clean and well-kept, its staff are friendly and accommodating, and includes free breakfast.

    6. Okada Manila

    Address: New Seaside Drive, Entertainment City, Manila Bay, Manila

    Okada Manila is an integrated resort complete with a five-star hotel, luxury shops, fine-dining restaurants, entertainment complex, a spa, and the world's largest multi-color dancing and musical fountain. If you want to splurge and are looking for an opulent accommodation, then Okada Manila is for you.    


    MAP OF MANILA

    How to use Airbnb in booking your accommodation in Manila


    Another easy option to book your stay in Manila is through AirBnB. Aside from AirBnB being a reliable booking site, the properties listed there are usually more affordable as compared to other websites, are generally attractive and homey, and sometimes even unique in terms of design and features.

    CCP Complex in Manila
    CCP Complex


    Here are the steps in booking via Airbnb:

    1. I would suggest using the AirBnB app so that you can easily book anytime and anywhere as long as you have internet connection. If you have not yet downloaded the AirBnB app, go to either Apple App Store or Google Play Store and search for “AirBnB.”

    2. Once you have located it, download and install the AirBnB app.

    3. Register and create your profile here to get up to Php2,200 worth of credits.

    4. Once you have created your profile, log on to the app, then go to “Explore.” In the search field, type "Manila."

    5. Choose "Places to stay" in the next window.

    6. Then choose the dates of your stay.

    7. Next, enter the number of guests (adults, children, and infants), then click "Search"

    8. A list of available units will appear in the results page. Here, you will see the number of beds, the name of the unit, the price per night, and the rating.

    9. You may click on a unit of your choice to reveal more details such as the rest of the amenities, house rules, location, and detailed reviews, among others. You may also check if the property is available during your planned travel dates.

    10. Once everything is set, you may already proceed with booking at AirBnB. Only credit card payments are accepted by AirBnB, by the way.

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    16 comments

    1. I grew up in Manila..There are lots of places to visit but sadly some are not maintained well

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    2. Wow this is helpful specially for me who is not familiar in the new establishments now in the PH!

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    3. I've never seen Manila Bay this good. It resembles the nice view at Macau. I got to try that cruise!

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    4. Blair villanueva30 October 2018 at 17:58

      I like visiting the old city. Hope DOT will promote more urban destinations.

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    5. Yup, I hope so too. For now, let's just do our part in promoting uncommon destinations.

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    6. Yup, it looks like a great date night idea. Haha.

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    7. Me, too! Thank you for dropping by.

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    8. Yup, hope those places get the attention they deserve. I am not from Manila but I am so in love with that city.

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    9. Yup, thank you for dropping by.

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    10. I really like going to the attractions in Manila even up to this day but our government doesn't maintain them well... Spending a day in Manila makes you haggard! I wish we could do something about this to attract more foreign tourists.

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    11. I haven't been to Dessert Museum.. I wanna go there soon and maybe Intramurous again, I can't remember the last time I went there!

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    12. I have yet to visit Ocean Park but Intramuros has always been my go-to escape in Manila.

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    13. I love Intramuros, too. Thank you for dropping by!

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    14. I miss Intramuros a lot! Thank you for dropping by!

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    15. Yup, that's the sad state of Manila.

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