When backpacking through the Philippines, most travelers use Manila as a short stop in order to grab the next bus, ferry or plane to one of the islands. But what to do if you have a few days to fill?
I arrived in Manila 5 days ago (female solo traveler). I stayed at The Good Shepherd Hostel in Makati, the business district of Manila, known for its many (many) restaurants and bars. The hostel is great, the staff is super helpful and breakfast is included. The common area is perfect for meeting fellow travelers. If you want to know more, check out there facebook page or book through hostelworld.
Intramuros is the oldest district of Manila and surrounded by the “Muralla”. You can book guided tours, wander through the streets or tour around in a tricycle or horse-drawn carriage. If you stay at The Good Shepherd Hostel, you can join a tour with a great, local guide. The tour includes a jeepney ride, walking on the Muralla and visiting the San Augustin Church. It was built during the Spanish Colonial and was listed as a World Heritage site by the Unesco.
Ocean Park and Rizal Park
The Oceanarium with its shows is not something I would usually recommend, but I guess it can be a good day trip if you have kids.
Right next to it, is Rizal Park. Also known as “Luneta”, this historical urban park is actually one of the largest urban parks in Asia. The lawn is usually very crowded, especially in the evening, with people relaxing or picknicking. The Rizal monument, built to commemorate José Rizal, an executed Filipino nationalist, is a very popular motive for photos. In the evening, a light and music show was shown in and around the water fountains.
Markets in Makati
If you would like to walk around in Makati, I would recommend you check out some of the markets:
- Salcedo Saturday Market, a popular Farmer’s market, organized on Saturday mornings (7am – 2pm)
- Legazpi Sunday Market
- one of the many night markets
Food tour in Chinatown
The district “Binondo” is referred to as Manila’s Chinatown. Again, if you like exploring cities on food, just wander around the streets and taste the food. Jeepneys and horse-drawn carriages are available if you prefer a breeze in your face (yup, walking isn’t all that easy in Manila) or you could join a food tour if you want some expert advice. 🙂
For every shop-a-holic, Manila has to be a dream destination. Sadly, my backpack does not allow for extended shopping sprees. However, even a walk through one of the many malls can be a good outing for a day. The most popular among tourists might be the Mall of Asia, one of the largest malls in the world.
My favourite part here was definitely exploring intramuros on foot, hopping on and off the jeepneys (even though I still don’t see where the hell the stops are) and crossing the streets by just sort of running in front of the cars and hoping for the best 🙂
I’m sure there are many more things to be explored, so if you have any tips, please let me know in the comments. 🙂