Things to do in the Philippines – Manila
If you’re visiting the Philippines for the first time, you’ll probably land in the nation’s capital – Manila. It could just be a pit stop to your next destination but while you’re here, why don’t you stay a while and experience the culture of the Manileños the way Manileños know how.
1. Learn history – Manila is the center of commerce and business and is also the seat of government. If you want to learn about Philippine history, you’re in the right place. If you’re into politics, schedule a tour of the Malacañang Palace and marvel at the stories the place has to tell. There are a lot of tours out there but we would recommend that you take Ivan Dy’s walking tour (www.oldmanilawalks.com). Ivan is not only well informed, he’s also animated, gregarious and hilarious.
Intramuros is also an amazing place to visit. Ivan Dy also gives walking tours within the historical walled city. This is the place where our national hero was kept before he was shot in Luneta. You can learn about the Spanish colonial times and influences as you walk the cobbled streets.
Manila is the best place to learn about Philippine history, so before you hop on to another plane bound for the beach or the mountains, stay for a couple of days and learn about the Philippines.
2. Ride Filipino Transport – Talk about ingenuity – Filipinos have managed to refurbish a military vehicle into a public utility vehicle! The jeepney, in all its vibrant colors and designs (as well as its almost comical sounds), is a must ride. Jeepneys go where buses cannot – in smaller main streets and side streets, thereby making it an effective means of transportation.
The tricycle or the trike, is a three wheeled taxi. They usually pepper the streets of subdivisions or villages, providing public transportation to areas where only private cars can go to.
Another ride you must experience while in Manila is the calesa. The calesa is a horse drawn carriage that can usually be found in provinces. Although now, you can mostly find calesas in tourist spots and areas.
3. EAT – Since Manila is the capital of the country, you can expect that there are a myriad of different cuisines from the different restaurants, cafes and specialty establishments. You’re bound to find a new restaurant opening this week or a new bar or a new dining place with a different kind of dining experience (like the new MeiDolls Cafe in Cainta).
If there’s something that you absolutely must try in Manila, that would be the street food. Nowhere else in the Philippines is there a plethora of exotic “things to eat” on a stick than there is in the streets of Manila. Just go to the corner at night and you can have some balut, penoy, chicharon or inihaw. You can have isaw, tokneneng, proben, kwek-kwek, tenga, adidas, walkman or betamax grilled right in front of you. (That would be chicken intestines, deep friend orange quail eggs, breaded deep fried chicken gizzard, deep fried orange duck egg, pig ears, chicken feet, chicken head and coagulated blood)
If you’re not into exotic fare, you can have a taste of our traditional Filipino dishes such as the Adobo, Lechon, kaldereta, etc. Have a go with our desserts such as the kakanin and the halo-halo. Bite into your choice of Filipino fruits as well. Better prepare yourself with the meals because only in the Philippines do we eat 5 times a day, courtesy of “merienda”
4. SHOP! – Manila is home to a lot of malls and shopping centers/areas. You can always find a bargain somewhere, it all depends on what you want, your budget and your ability to withstand crowds.
You can visit Greenhills Shopping Center for the different branded items, shoes, clothes, gadgets and pearls. If you’re more brave, walk the crowded streets of Divisoria for a great bargain. Gold jewelry and other precious items can be bought in Chinatown in Ongpin and every Manileño knows that the best Filipino handicrafts in Manila can be bought in Quiapo.
Manila is not just a pit stop and another urban city. There are a lot of different things to do while you’re in the nation’s capital. If you’re looking for a different kind of experience, you can also check the post we made about the 5 different things to do in Manila.
Discover something new today. Discover the Philippines!