Looking for cool things to do in Manila?
Well, the beaches of the Philippines may be a-calling but I wouldn’t dash off too quickly. Fresh off the flight, give yourself a few days to adjust to the time zone while also soaking up a little of the Manila mayhem before you then hop over to one of the many islands.
From its quirky art scene to bustling food markets, the ‘Pearl of the Orient’ has much more to offer than you might think.
As a former Spanish colony and a city that had to rebuild itself after World War II, it’s packed full of history, culture and cemeteries that strangely are worth seeing. For the top things to do in Manila, take a look at the list below.
52 Cool Things to Do in Manila, Philippines
1. Have a wander around the Plaza de Roma and say hello to the statue of King Carlos IV.
2. From the king to the queen – stop by the Puerta de Isabel II Gate and see the queen’s statue on the top.
3. Stop trying to battle the traffic and get in amongst with it a motorised tricycle tour of the city.
4. Get one or more of your five a day at San Andres fruit market.
5. Feel that sugar hit by trying the local delicacy, Halo-Halo.
6. Time your visit to the Manila Cathedral with a local wedding so you can have a snoop and see how they do it.
7. Congratulate yourself on finding secret bar, Bank Bar, with a cocktail.
8. Visit the country’s oldest stone-built church and UNESCO World Heritage site, the San Agustin Church.
9. Then go next door to the San Augustin Museum to learn about the colonial times.
10. Continue your history lesson with a visit to Casa Manila.
11. Indulge yourself with a day pass to the Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort just outside the city.
12. Try your hand at cooking like a local with a cooking class.
13. Resist the urge to buy all the woven baskets at Silahis Arts & Artifacts.
14. Put on your fanciest attire and do a tour of the Malacanang Palace.
15. Get all the feels with a sunset cruise of Manila Bay.
16. Take a calesa ride around Chinatown.
17. In the same area, stock up on your favourite remedies at the herbal stores along Ongpin and Carvajal Streets.
18. Pick up your holiday reads at the Solidaridad Bookshop.
19. Be amazed at how pretty a cemetery can be with a walk around Paco Park.
20. Then continue the cemetery visits with one to the Chinese Cemetery.
21. It’s closed right now for renovations but when it opens again, make sure to spend an afternoon taking in local art and culture at the Ayala Museum.
22. Enjoy a brunch at the Wildflour Café and Bakery in the Bonifacio Global City neighbourhood.
23. Afterwards walk it off and check out some of the area’s street art.
24. Or get stretching with a free yoga class at the Legazpi Active Park with Jivamukti Yoga Classes.
25. Get more of your history fix at Fort Santiago.
26. Save the pennies and opt for a ride in a jeepney over a taxi.
27. See some cool sculptures at the APEC Sculpture Garden.
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28. Put a night aside to catch a cultural dance show.
29. Do some night shopping at St. Francis Square.
30. Listen to some live music at Route 196.
31. Find your daily caffeine fix at one of the many Single Origin coffee shops.
32. Feast on all the fish at the Pasay Seafood Market.
33. Take a parkour class with the Ninja Academy.
34. Make like the locals do and grab your friends for a session of videoke somewhere like Republiq Karaoke.
35. Do a walking tour of what’s known as the walled city, aka the Intramuros neighborhood.
36. Enjoy some local delicacies at the Milkyway Café.
37. Try exploring the city on a bamboo bicycle tour.
38. Go window shopping in the Greenbelt Mall.
39. Breathe a sigh of relief and relax a bit in the Greenbelt Park once you’ve made it through with budget in tact.
40. Seek out the Greenbelt Chapel inside the park.
41. Day trip to the memorial island of Corregidor.
42. Watch the locals play basketball while eating some of the best street food around at Buendia at the Court.
43. See some underwater life with a visit to Manila Ocean Park.
44. You may have only been able to pack a few pairs but there’s nothing stopping you from admiring the hundreds at Marikina Shoe Museum.
45. Then visit the largest pair of shoes in the world a little outside of the city in Marikina.
46. Be brave and try a balut, aka a fermented duck egg.
47. Catch the twice weekly pyromusical at the SM Mall of Asia.
48. Unwind in one of the many affordables spas with a Filipino style massage.
49. Take an early morning walk along the promenade at Manila Bay.
50. Forget the malls and go all in for your souvenirs at Divisoria Market.
51. Spend an evening at Cubao X.
52. Swot up on all things Filipino at the National Museum of the Philippines.