FOLLOW US

World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Philippines > Manila

Manila Weather

35°C

Local time Manila

Currency

Php

Manila History

Manila has been through the ringer, with destruction and rapid development creating chaos where a grand colonial city once stood.

Manila's history is intertwined with its geographic location. Manila Bay was an ideal port for Spanish ships bearing gold, spices, silk and ceramics (treasure hunters still seek sunken Manila galleons today).

Unfortunately for Manileños, this also attracted a string of invaders. Spain first conquered Manila in 1571, and for 300 years, it successfully repelled a series of invasion attempts by the Chinese, Dutch and the British.

The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 boosted trade to the region, and in the 19th century, Manila was a flourishing Asian metropolis lined with broad boulevards and elegant townhouses.

But anti-Spanish attitudes were becoming more prevalent by the 1890s, and the city surrendered to the USA in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.

US occupation proved positive for Manila. Public schools and a university opened, and increased trade gave the city a more affluent buzz than ever before.

Today, there isn’t a great deal remaining of the Spanish colonial city Miguel Lopez de Legaspi founded on the Pasay River. Earthquakes, WWII wartime Japanese occupation and US bombing in 1945, alongside unbridled development, have seen to that.

Manila’s broken past now lies scattered across a modest collection of museums. The best are eye-catching exhibitions of pre-colonial and shipwreck treasures found at fine exhibitions at the National Museum and Ayala Museum.

Otherwise only Intramuros’ old city hints at a once beautiful architectural past. Its narrow streets host the Philippines’ oldest building, the 16th-century San Augustin Church, and recreate an atmosphere long vanished outside this enclave’s doughty walls.

Did you know?
• Manila used to be peppered with art deco buildings; one of the few remaining examples is the First United Building (formerly the Perez-Samanillo Building) on Escolta Street, the tallest building in the city when it opened in 1928.
• Secret underground tunnels lie beneath Manila’s streets, built by the Americans in the early 20th century as a supply route.
• The city’s name derives from the nilad, a flowering mangrove shrub.

Book Accommodation

Featured Hotels

SEE MORE

Pan Pacific Manila

This luxurious skyscraper hotel in Manila is justifiably popular because of its top-drawer location in Malate's tourist quarter. It's worth the extra splurge to access the top-floor, glass-surrounded Pacific Lounge – lovely in the evening for sipping cocktails and listening to the pianist. The Manila hotel also offers 24-hour butler service and Japanese, Chinese and international restaurants. Early-bird bookings on Pan Pacific's website push prices down into the moderate bracket.

Sonya’s Garden

This divine slice of tranquillity is located two hours' drive from downtown Manila's hullabaloo. County vogue furnished cottages replete with lace curtains, iron bedsteads and polished wooden floors, all surrounded by herb gardens and sumptuous countryside. Sonya's organic farm ensures guests enjoy tasty and healthy food. The bread is baked on site while the garden spa offers a full range of holistic treatments.

The A.Venue Hotel Suites

Swish and trendy, this is affordable chic amid Makati's skyscrapers. Set in three towers, the suites have Asian-styled contemporary interiors and minimalist décor and feature kitchenettes and free Wi-Fi. Amenities include a gym, a spa, a swimming pool, a Mediterranean restaurant and a cafe.

Hostel 1632

Penny pinchers and night owls will find succour in this budget hostel. Its 106 air-conditioned, en-suite rooms are boxy and cramped and almost have a capsule feel. But Hostel 1632's position on M Adriatico Street is plum in the heart of Malate. There's a café in the lobby serving local and international food for those craving pasta or pizzas.

ZEN Rooms Peñafrancia

Set in a quiet residential area, this small hotel offers light, simply furnished rooms in Japanese style at a good price. Amenities include flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi and tea and coffee-making facilities.

Henry Hotel

Conveniently located in the heart of the city, within walking distance of the Mall of Asia and close to the airport, this boutique hotel is a tranquil escape from the city and features landscaped gardens and a swimming pool. The hotel itself is comprised of a number of buildings and includes a small museum and art gallery. Rooms are chic and spacious. Breakfast is included, and there's also a cafe.