Manila had a history of Spanish colonization in 1751, and the capital city of the Philippines has Spanish influence in their culture amalgamated. The city is the educational and administrative centre of the country.
Manila is also referred to as the “pearl of The Orient”, and the city has a lot to offer as a tourist destination. You can get submerged in the city’s history and culture by visiting the museums, parks, memorials, and theatres and enjoy by visiting some of the biggest shopping malls in Asia, exploring restaurants and traditional Philippine cuisine.
Discover the best of Manila without breaking the bank! This Manila itinerary and budget guide provides everything you need to know for a memorable trip.
How to Travel to Manila?
Manila is the cultural and economic centre of The Philippines. Air, rail, and other transportations are available for travelling to Manila. There are direct flights to the Aus, Canada, UK, USA, and many other countries, or you can fly via Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur.
The city is also connected to by rail with the major cities and towns of the Philippines. The main highroads of Metro Manila are the highways NLX and SLEX. The city is connected from North to South with EDSA.
Airport: Manila has one international airport that is Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), with three international terminals and one domestic terminal. The airport is connected with most Southeast Asian cities and other popular airports around the world.
Bus Services: Bus Services around Manila City is available, and the services are convenient. You can take the P2P bus services from the NAIA terminal. There are a total of 31 bus routes in Manila connecting east to west and north and south of the city. Most bus services in Metro Manila are available for 24 hours.
Grab Services: Grab is a ride-sharing taxi booking service in Manila. Use the Grab app to transport around the city if you are not comfortable moving around in public transport. Beside Manila other major cities that offers Grab services are in Cebu City, Davao City, Iloilo City, Bacolod City, and Baguio City.
Best Time to Visit Manila
The best time to visit Manila is generally in Winter, the dry season. Manila is best to visit in between November to February. And, if you want great Spring weather, you must visit between January and April. The temperature remains around 22 degrees to 27 degrees.
But for people who love Winter, December to February are also a great option, but there tends to be slightly high humidity in December. The dry season allows tourists to have a great visit, and rainfall is rare at this time.
Where to Stay in Manila?
Manila has great accommodation in many areas of the city, but where you should stay totally depends on the purpose and your itinerary.
Makati: For first-time tourists, Makati is a great place to stay for first-time visitors as it gives easy access to stay tourist sights, nightlife, shopping areas and restaurants. You can find great luxury hotels like City Garden Grand Hotel and New World Makati with exceptional city views and great hospitality services.
Malate & Ermita: If you are a foodie and trying to find an area with authentic Filipino cuisine but that’s also close to the attractions, Malate and Ermita is the perfect area. The main landmarks are quite close from this area, and the area is the beaming part of great restaurants. Some of the budget-friendly options in this area are the luxury Rizal Park Hotel, Jen Manila Hotel, and Bay Area Suits.
Quezon City: This is the most populous part of Manila City and is located northeast of the Bay area. This area has the best showcase of interest of the young population of the city, being the educational centre of the city. Quezon City is around 25 minutes by road from Makati, and it has the best street foods and cafes to offer. Novotel Marina Arantina and Seda Vertis North are worthy options.
Manila Itinerary for Top Tourist Attraction-1 Day Itinerary
The city of Manila can be covered in 1-day, and tourists can discover the Spanish influence, culture, and architectural buildings of this city. The 1-day Manila itinerary is going to be busy, enjoyable, and full of pleasant surprises for first-time visitors. Manila’s top itinerary places are Fort Santiago, St. Augatine church, Rizal Park, National Museum, and more. This
Manila Itinerary will cover all of the best places to visit.
Start your day by taking an Intramuros walk tour. Stop by Fort Santiago and the Museum of Jose Rizal to take in the essence of the history of the place. Then use the time before lunch for Rizal Museum, cathedrals in the city.
If you are down in Manila, you must experience one of the city’s unique rides, Jeepeny, after lunch and go down to Chinatown for shopping, eating and enjoying the experience. You can wrap your tour there and head to the station in the evening or stay here late to enjoy the sunset and club at night.
1. The Walled City of Intramuros:
The walled city of Intramuros is one of the first things that you should visit. The fort was built for defence against enemies, and the Spanish began building the walls in 1921. The walls stand as a sign of the past history of invasion and natural disasters. The walls were built as Spaniard’s military and political base in Asia.
Also, visit Fort Santiago, the very fort where national hero Jose Rizal was imprisoned. Fort Santiago is situated just by Intrausous, just a few meters away from Manila Cathedral. This is one of the historical fortresses. Spanish governor Miguel López de Legazpi built it in the newly established city of Manila.
2. Cathedral of Manila & St. Cathedral Church:
St. Cathedral Church is inspired by the Baptist Church, and it was established in 1571 as a Parish Church by Juan de Vivro under the Archdiocese of Mexico. In 1581, it was chosen to be the cathedral as the Phillipines were separated from the Archdiocese of Mexico. The present structure of the Manila Cathedral has 8 chapels. One of them is the most important chapel being, the Chapel-Shrine of the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Manila’ Chinatown, also known as Binondo, is the oldest Chinatown in the whole world. The Chinatown in this city was also established by the Spanish in the 1590s. This area was mostly inhabited by the catholic Chinese. One of the most popular streets in Chinatown is Carvajal Street. You will find cool wall art and graffitis there.
And you will see fresh fruit vendors, herbal shops, and Chinese medicine shops as well. You should obviously try the Chinatown’s amazing street foods and eateries, including Tea Brothers, Sincerity Chinatown, Dong Bei Dumplings, and New Po Heng Lumpia House.
You should try the purple ube tea, Lan Jhou La mien, wai ying, dong bei dumpling, and more in this street.
Manila 3-Day Itinerary
Three days is a reasonable amount of time for visiting all the worthy places in Manila. The Manila 3-day itinerary gives you enough time to explore more places including Rizal Park, the museums, and to explore the city.
With the Manila 3-day itinerary. Here are some more exciting places to explore if you are living in Manila other than Intramous Wall, Fort Santiago and Chinatown. Cover the itinerary of day 1, and on day 2 and day 3, cover these below-mentioned places.
Manila Day-2 Itinerary:
1. Rizal Park
Rizal Park is located in ermita, manila. It’s a historical park spread over 58 acres area and has over 500 species of trees. The city park is located on the east shore of Manila Bay. You can learn about the national hero Jose Rizal and have a great time looking at the beautiful landscape.
The park was created in 1820 and is the main attraction of Rizal Park, and the monument was built during American colonization in 1901. The Rizal, Prior to World War II, was the location for carnivals and exhibitions.
2. Baluarte De San Diego:
It’s one of the greatest architectural wonders of the city, located just nearby Intramuros City. The bulwark is shaped like a spade, and you can enjoy walking through this.
The fort was created from the remains of the upper part of a circular watchtower. The watchtower fell during an earthquake in 1863. The fort is currently looked after, and there is a garden around it as well. The Baluarte is a must-visit during your trip to the historic city.
3. SM Mall of Philippines:
The mall is the third largest mall in Asia. SM Mall in Asia is the largest MoA in the Philippines. It is located in Bay City, Pasay, and more. The SM mall is a fun place to explore and do fun things. SM Mall was built by SM Prime Holdings and is spread over 68 acres.
SM MoA went through renovation from 2011 to 2015, expanding its area and becoming the third largest SM MoA. You can enjoy and explore the food hall, game park, events held in the open-air theatre, and the only Olympic-sized ice-skating rink in the Philippines.
4. Manila Ocean Park:
Philippines’ first premium-quality oceanarium that displays marine animals and has an excellent education facility for oceanography. The oceanarium contains 14,000 animals from 277 species. The main feature is the 220-degree curved 25-metre walkway tunnel. If you have some time, head over to this oceanarium, and you will be amazed.
Manila Day-3 Itinerary:
1. National Museum of Philippines:
The National Museum of the Philippines in Manila is an educational and cultural institution for natural history and science. The history of this establishment goes back to 1891, and the history of Museo-Biblioteca de Filipinas was established by the Spanish government.
In 1904, the name was changed to Philippine Museum in the Louisiana Purchase Centennial Exposition at St. Louis. The museum has displays of botanical species, an archaeology exhibition, geological and paleontological displays and more.
2. Malate Church:
The Malate Church is a Mexican baroque-style church that is located in Malate. It’s a Parish church located by Manila Bay, and it’s also known as Our Lady of Remedies Parish. It was accepted as an Augustinian Church in 1590, and it is one of the oldest Church outside the Intramuros.
The Malate Church is dedicated to Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, the patroness of childbirth. The architecture of the Church is a good blending of the Muslim and Baroque styles. It has a prominent square structure enhanced by the cylindrical buttresses and detailings of the design. The Church is open from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
3. Manuel Quezon Memorial & Museum:
Quezon Memorial Shrine of Memorial and collection of things related to the previous President of the Philippines, Manuel Quezon. The Memorial has a monument dedicated to Mr President and has a museum at its base. Manuel Quezon.
Architect Federico Ilustre built the Quezon Memorial Shrine, composing three connected towers, and there is also an observation deck at the top. The museum, located at its base, houses the interred remains of Mr. Quezon and his wife, Mrs. Arora Quezon. You can also see a replica of the President’s office.
4. National Museum of Natural History:
National Museum of Natural History exhibits the biological and geological diversity of the Philippines and has a total of 12 galleries. The National Museum of Natural History The museum is located near Rizal Park and along Agrifina Park.
The museum was built in the late 1930s, but the building was destroyed in World WarII. After that, it was reconstructed in its original place after the war. The National Museum of History building belongs to the Department of Tourism.
Enjoy the tour by visiting all of the collections and if you are a flora. Fauna and archaeology enthusiasts, this spot is definitely for you.
5. Ayala Museum:
The Ayala Museum is one of the most unique museums in Manila. It was founded by the private group Ayala and is located in Greenbelt Park, Makati. The museum displays gold artefacts and also geological, archaeological, and ethnographic exhibits. While visiting the museum, don’t forget to see The Digital Gallery, Microcosm, and Diorama Experience, exhibiting some of the handcraft from the core exhibitions of Ayala, artefacts, and more.
6. Greenbelt Chapel:
The Greenbelt Chapel is located inside the Ayala Centre, and it is the spiritual centre for the Sto. Niño de Paz Catholic community. It is located among the lush green tree-filled park of Greenbelt. The chapel is dome-shaped, with an altar in the middle. It was inaugurated in 1983, and it was handled by the selsians of Don Bosco back then, but in 2012, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Manila took over the affairs and service of the chapel.
7. Bonifacio High Street:
Bonfacio High Street is the 1-km long boulevard point that is Philippine’s first shopping street. It’s a great attraction for shopping complexes and dining restaurants. Bonifacio High Street is the perfect spot for fashion enthusiasts as well as those who are trying to buy any souvenirs from the trip. The entertainment options range from fashion, beauty shops, movie theatres, eateries and more.
Nightlife in Manila
If you are living 3 days in Manila, you can set aside the second night to go out for partying, dining and other fun activities to explore the nightlife of Manila. There are a lot of live music bars with artists playing jazz, rock and Filipino music, like the Craft Rock & Grill and Tago Jazz Cafe.
Another thing to explore is the Karaoke bars in Manila. You can find small cool Karako bars, which are great for going out with friends. And, if you want to go to clubbing and hop clubs all night long, some of the recommendations are House Manila, Club ZZYZX Manila, and Black Market.
Explore Eateries in Manila During Your Stay
There are some signature dishes of the city of Manila that you can not miss. Some are street foods, and some are restaurant foods. In Manila, you must try the Kwek Kwek, Isaw, Banana cue, and adobo. Here are some best restaurants and eateries to visit in Manila
Cafe Ilang-Ilang: Cafe Ilang-Ilang is the epicentre of trending dining in Manila. Cafe Ilang Ilang’s international buffet menu is one of the best foods Manila has to offer. Cafe Ilang-Ilang has a multicuisine buffet which has charcuterie boards, freshly baked bread, pasta, salad bars, noodle bowls, karekare, adobo, lumpia, pancit, and desserts.
Toyo Eatery: Toyo Eatery is an international Filipino-cuisine restaurant. Toyo Eatery in Manila is located in Metro Manila in Karrivin Plaza. Toto Eatery is known for their contemporary take on classic Filipino foods like lugow and stuffed squids, and the most famous dish of this restaurant is the dish inspired by Bahay Kubo. It’s definitely is an experience to reveal all the Filipino flavours in a new way.
The Aristocrat: The Aristocrat is a good restaurant for staple food during your stay on a low budget. The Aristocrat is a classic Filipino resto at the Ermita in Metro Manila. The two most delicious and decadent recipes of this eatery is the chicken BBQ and Torta Delos Reyes.
Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant: It’s one of the oldest Manila restaurants. Barbara’s Heritage restaurant serves authentic Filipino food and has a rustic, homey atmosphere for a traditional Filipino vibe. Barbara’s heritage’s some of t most famous foods from the menu are paella de mariscos, halo-halo, tortang tagalong and more. The restaurant is located outside Intramuros city.
Grace Park: Grace Park is a restaurant in Makati City, which is a high-class multi-cuisine fine dining restaurant that is cosy and comfortable for a date night dinner. Grace Park’s menu is served with different signature Filipino dishes and Italian dishes. The food there is created using organic items fresh from the farm.
And, along with fine dining and trying cafe foods, you can’t really ignore the street foods and foods from small eateries. While exploring Chinatown and other parts of the city, if you find a stall or eatery selling some of the famous street foods of Manila, you must try it. Here is the ultimate list of foods to try certainly.
● Green Mango with Shrimp Paste
● Kwek Kwek ( Battered and Deep Fried Quail Egg)
● Taho ( Soft Tofu in Brown Sugar Syrup)
● Isaw ( Barbecue chicken or pig intestine)
● Lumpia Banana
● Puto ( Steamed Rice Cakes)
● Sisig ( Minced and Seasoned Pig’s Liver and Meat)
● Halo Halo ( Mixture of flan, fruit jelly, and ice cream on shaved ice)
Estimated Manila Tour Budget
Depending on the preferences, style of travel, mode of transportation and planned activities, the budget for the Manila tour may vary. Here is a rough estimated budget for all of the costs that will impact your travel budget. The total budget would come to around RM 500 to RM 800 per person.
Accommodation: Manila has different types of accommodations, starting from just RM50 to RM80 per night. And,for the luxury hotels, the budget can go upto RM300 per night for booking. Depending on the area of the city the accommodation cost will vary.
Transportation: Basic transport costs for buses around the city are RM5 to RM15, and cabs or taxis are available for RM 15 to RM 30.
Activities: Many tourist spots around Manila have free entrance. And, the entrance fee for the museums and historical parks are quite low as well. The tickets are generally RM 5 to RM20 per person.
Food: There are loads of low-budget food options along with fine dining budgets. The food from eateries will cost you around RM 20 to RM100 per meal per person.
Manila is the hub of academics, culture, and economy in the Philippines. It’s one of the cities you must visit when you travel to the Philippines. Manila is enriched with rich history and culture, historic landmarks, diverse food options and vibrant nightlife. It is a cheap travel destination with exciting tourist spots.
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