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World Travel Guide > Guides > Asia > Philippines > Manila

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Local time Manila

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Things to see in Manila

Attractions

Chinatown

Located around Binondo District, Manila’s Chinatown is a mazy district packed with the city’s Tsinoy heritage and cuisine. The Spanish colonial Governor first donated Binondo’s land to a growing influx of Chinese migrants in 1594. Besides hundreds of crowded food stands and fresh wet markets, the blackened Santa Cruz Church dates back to 1608. Key streets include Ongpin and Escolta.

Address: , Chinatown, Manila,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Oceanarium

This superb aquarium is the must-see attraction of the new Manila Ocean Park’s mall. Visitors are taken on a journey through a range of fishy habitats from freshwater tanks to oceanic exhibits featuring rays, sharks and iridescent reef fish. Don’t miss the 25m (82ft) underwater tunnel or the illuminated exhibition of ‘dancing’ jellyfish.

Address: , Manila Ocean Park, Quirino Grandstand Luneta, Manila,
Telephone: +63 2 567 7777.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-2000.

Website: http://www.manilaoceanpark.com
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

SM Mall of Asia

You don’t have to be a shopaholic to be wowed by this mega-mall, which embodies the rise of indoors retail therapy in the Philippines. SM Mall of Asia is the country’s fourth largest, and leaves visitors wide-eyed by its immensity and pizzazz. Besides myriad retail and food outlets, it boasts an IMAX theatre, an Olympian ice-skating rink, ten-pin bowling and even a science museum. A sunny terrace overlooks the Bay of Manila.

Address: , SM Central Business Park, Island A, Bay City, Pasay City, Manila,
Telephone: +63 2 556 0680.
Opening times:

Daily 1000-2200.

Website: http://www.smsupermalls.com
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Ayala Museum

Ayala Museum is known for its dioramas (3D miniatures) depicting vital points in Philippine history. The most magnificent exhibition is Gold of Ancestors – a glittering assemblage of golden pre-colonial artefacts and treasures, particularly intricately engraved jewellery fashioned by indigenous island tribes. Elsewhere, Embroidered Multiples displays 18th to 19th-century Philippine costumes.

Address: , Makati Avenue corner of De la Rosa Street, Greenbelt Park, Makati City, Manila,
Telephone: +63 2 759 8288.
Opening times:

Tues-Sun 0900-1800.

Website: http://www.ayalamuseum.org
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

National Museum of the Philippines & National Museum of the Filipino People

In close proximity, these two monolithic museums can comfortably be seen together. The National Museum of the Philippines feels a little empty given its size but it hosts important artistic works by Filipino masters such as 19th-century painter Juan Luna. Meanwhile, the star turn of the National Museum of the Filipino People’s historical and anthropological exhibits is the preserved wreckage and treasures of the San Diego, a Spanish galleon sunk in Philippine waters in 1600.

Address: Rizal Park, Padre Burgos Street, Manila,
Telephone: +63 2 527 7889.
Opening times:

Tue-Sun 1000-1700.

Website: http://www.nationalmuseum.gov.ph
Admission Fees:

Yes for the National Museum of the Filipino People; No for the National Museum of the Philippines

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

San Agustin Church and Museum

Stunning baroque church dating from 1587 making this one of the oldest in the Philippines. It miraculously survived the wartime devastation and is now the standout highlight of Intramuros in Manila. Trompe l’oeil murals decorate its interior and a small museum in an attached monastery contains some exquisite ecclesiastical artefacts such as altarpieces and screens. Don’t miss Father Blanco’s garden.

Address: Intramuros, General Luna Street, Manila,
Telephone: +63 2 527 4061.
Opening times:

Daily 0800-1200/1300-1800 (museum).

Website:
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: Yes

Fort Santiago

One of the oldest and most dramatic colonial buildings in the Philippines, Fort Santiago was built to guard the entrance to the Pasig River around 1571. Its most famous prisoner was the national hero, José Rizal, who spent his last days at this site before his execution by the Spanish in 1896. Perhaps the height of architectural grandeur is the 1589 gate decorated by motifs of St James, the Slayer of Moors. The Japanese used Fort Santiago as their final redoubt against American forces and the fort was correspondingly damaged.

Address: , General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila,
Telephone: (02) 527 1572.
Opening times:

Daily 0800-1800.

Website:
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Intramuros

This lovely old walled colonial quarter was founded in 1571 by the Spanish on the Pasig River’s southern bank. It survived 400 years before being devastated by the battle for Manila between the Japanese and Americans in 1945, in which over 100,000 locals died. Faithfully restored after the war, it possesses atmospheric streets of plazas, churches and monasteries. Tours by kalesa (horse-drawn carriages) are easy to arrange.

Address: , Intramuros, Manila,
Telephone: (02) 527 4084.
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Chinese Cemetery

Founded in the 1850s, Manila’s Chinese Cemetery was designated as the resting place for Chinese citizens denied burial in Catholic cemeteries. The cemetery has an array of ostentatious tombs including some outfitted with air conditioning, flushing toilets, chandeliers and modern conveniences for the well-off corpses. Guards will offer impromptu tours to the pick of the tombs for a small consideration. On All Saints Day (1 November), lavish feasts honouring the dead take place here.

Address: Blumentritt , South Gate, Aurora Avenue, Manila,
Telephone:
Opening times:

Daily 0630-1900.

Website:
Admission Fees:

No (charge for vehicle entry)

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Rizal Park

Known locally as ‘Luneta’, this 58-hectare (143-acre) park remains downtown Manila’s green lungs. The park is named after José Rizal who is remembered by an imposing obelisk-style memorial. The park hosts several themed gardens, a planetarium and an orchidarium (with a butterfly pavilion). Above all, Rizal Park is somewhere to picnic, people-watch, practice tai chi, or jog. The open-air auditorium hosts occasional free public concerts.

Address: , Between Bonifacio Drive and Taft Avenue, Manila,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Tourist Offices

Philippines Department of Tourism

Address: Makati City, The New DOT Building, 351 Senator Gil Puyat Ave, Manila,
Telephone: +63 2 459 5200.
Opening times:

Mon-Fri 0700-1800, Sat-Sun 0830-1730.

Website: http://www.tourism.gov.ph

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Featured Hotels

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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.