Exploring Manila’s Historical and Cultural Hotspots: 25 Must-See Weekend Destinations in 2023!

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Metropolitan Manila or Manila is the capital of the Philippines and an emerging Asian Metropolis. The city carries a heritage dating back centuries and was governed by various nations including Spain, America, and Japan, all of which left a fragment of their culture in the city. Due to the assorted attractions to explore in Manila such as churches and historical monuments, the city is also known as the ‘Rome of the East’. However, the city offers more than just history; there are stunning gardens, theme parks, and other sightseeing spots eagerly awaiting discovery. Here are some incredible places to explore in Manila you must visit.

Manila Cathedral

25 Tourist Places To Explore In Manila

There is an abundance of destinations to explore in Manila. We have compiled a list of 25 based on popularity and taking into consideration the preferences of various types of travelers such as individual backpackers, couples, and more. Take a look:

  • Rizal Park: Pay Homage To The National Hero
  • Fort Santiago: Impressive Structure
  • Manila Ocean Park: Encounter The Marine Life
  • San Agustin Church: Magnificent Baroque Architecture
  • National Museum Complex: Place For History Aficionados
  • Malacanang Palace: Breathtakingly Beautiful
  • Manila Zoo: Observe The Wildlife
  • Manila Cathedral: Exquisite Woodwork
  • Arroceros Forest Park: Appreciate The Beauty
  • Star City Amusement Park: Experience The Thrilling Rides
  • Republiq: Bustling Nightlife
  • Manila Baywalk: Witness The Skyscrapers
  • Divisoria Market: Haggle Like A Pro
  • Casa Manila: Discover The Intriguing Facts
  • Robinsons Place Mall: For All The Shopping Enthusiasts
  • Greenbelt Chapel: Appealing Tourist Spot
  • Paco Park: Unwind In The Surroundings
  • Chinese Cemetery: Architectural Marvel
  • Bahay Tsinoy: Take A Tour Around
  • Money Museum: Treasure Trove Of Artifacts
  • Binondo: Older Chinatown
  • Ayala Museum: Discover The History
  • Bonifacio Global City: Entertaining Fusion Of Cultures
  • Mall Of Asia: Shop To Your Heart’s Content
  • San Agustin Museum: A Haven For History Enthusiasts

Rizal Park

1. Rizal Park: Pay Homage To The National Hero

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Rizal Park is the largest public park in the city and holds great significance to the Filipinos because of its historical importance. It is one of the finest destinations to explore in Manila, Philippines. The Park is the site of the execution of their national hero, Jose Rizal. Presently, the park spans over 140 acres and features exquisite embellished gardens, statues of notable figures from history, a Central Lagoon with melodic fountains, and an Orchidarium. Also known as Luneta Park locally, it is a premier sightseeing location in Manila for couples who enjoy leisurely walks along its charming streets and lawns. For the ultimate Manila sights and experiences, partake in a complimentary guided walking tour, where many of them commence from the park.

Location: Roxas Blvd, Malate, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila Admission fee: INR 26 Operating hours: 5 AM – 9 PM

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Fort Santiago

2. Fort Santiago: Grand Structure

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Fort Santiago is among the foremost locations to visit in Metro Manila. The fortress was completed in 1593 and is situated within the historic walled city of Intramuros. The stone walls of the fort encompass various structures, including the renowned Rizal Shrine that pays tribute to Rizal. From the Spanish conquest to World War II, the fort has witnessed the shaping of the city through historical events. It is one of the top-rated sightseeing spots in Manila to explore with friends, as the area not only brims with history but also offers stunning photography opportunities with its antiquated architecture. It is a must-visit as part of any traveler’s Manila sightseeing itinerary.

Manila Ocean Park

Location: Intramuros, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila Admission fee: INR 100 Operating hours: 8 AM – 9 PM

3. Manila Ocean Park: Encounter The Marine Life

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One of the finest locations to explore in Manila is the Manila Ocean Park. The park boasts numerous attractions that even an entire day at the park will not be adequate! The highlight is the Oceanarium which houses over 14,000 animals across 270 marine species, making it one of the largest aquariums globally. There are also thrilling animal performances such as the Seal Lion Show, Penguin Show, and the All the Bird Show that will leave you awe-struck! Some other fascinating exhibits include the World of Creepy Crawlies, Birds of the Prey Kingdom, and the Sharks and Ray Encounter. This is one of the outstanding places to visit in Manila with companions.

Location: 666 Behind Quirino Grandstand, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila Entry fee: INR 526 onwards Timings: 10 AM – 8 PM

San Agustin Church

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4. San Agustin Church: Magnificent Baroque Architecture

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The San Agustin Church is one of the most significant tourist attractions in Manila. The Church is the oldest church in the Philippines, and though originally constructed in 1586, it has undergone several renovations, including the most recent one in 2013. The church is both a National Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its remarkable Baroque architecture. The church is still actively used, and if visitors are fortunate, they might catch a glimpse of a traditional mass or wedding ceremony in progress! Without a doubt, it is one of the most frequented tourist attractions in Manila.

National Museum Complex

Location: General Luna St, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila Entry fee: INR 132 Timings: 8 AM – 6 PM

5. National Museum Complex: Destination For History Enthusiasts

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It is one of the top spots to visit in Manila for children. The Filipinos are enormously proud of their history and heritage, and you can witness that on full display at the National Museum Complex in Manila. The museum complex does not charge any entry fees as the government aims for individuals from around the world to explore the history of the Philippines in one of the finest locations to visit in Manila without feeling bored! The complex consists of the National Art Gallery, Museum of the Filipino People, and the Planetarium.

Venue: P. Burgos Drive, Rizal Park, Manila Operating Hours: 10 AM – 5 PM (Not available on Mondays)

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6. Malacanang Palace: Stunningly Gorgeous

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It is one of the finest destinations to explore in Manila for couples. Officially the abode of the President of Philippines, the Malacanang Palace rarely appears in the list of popular tourist spots in Manila. Nonetheless, it is an exceptionally beautiful site drenched in history, and without a doubt, it is one of the prime places to visit in Manila without any cost! The Palace was established in the 18th century in the Bahay na Bato and Neoclassical design. The palace is well-preserved, and tourists can access the Presidential Museum and Library to gain a better understanding of Manila post its autonomy.

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Venue: Malacañan Palace, JP Laurel Street, San Miguel, Manila Operating Hours: 8 AM – 5 PM (Not available on Saturdays and Sundays)

7. Manila Zoo: Observe The Wildlife

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Hippopotamus, Elephant, Bengal Tiger, Malayan Civet, Monitor Lizard, and numerous other animals can be observed at the Manila Zoo. The zoo is among the finest destinations to see in Manila if you are traveling with children. There are over 500 animals from over 100 species. Within the premises of the zoo, there is also a Botanic Garden and Arboretum to observe a variety of plants that belong to the local ecology of the Philippines. It is a captivating stop, and you can easily spend an hour observing all the animals.

Manila Zoo

Location: Adriatico St, Malate, Manila, 1004 Metro Manila Entry fee: INR 132 Timings: 8 AM – 6 PM

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8. Manila Cathedral: Elaborate Woodwork

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The Manila Cathedral has endured earthquakes and conquests for over 400 years now! The Basilica was originally constructed in 1571 but has developed, and the current structure is the eighth building! The cathedral is an outstanding example of Neo-Romanesque architecture and is admired by architecture enthusiasts from around the globe and features among the Manila attractions for the top 10 list. The highlight of the cathedral is the enormous pipe organ and the high-vaulted ceiling with elaborate woodwork. It is one of the finest destinations to visit in Manila alone.

Manila Cathedral

Location: Sto. Tomas, Intramuros, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila Timings: 7 AM – 6 PM

9. Arroceros Forest Park: Admire The Beauty

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Manila is infamous for its traffic congestion and constant hustle and bustle, but visitors can find sanctuary for a few hours in one of the most stunning destinations in Manila – the Arroceros Forest Park. The Park is a compact yet dense forest and offers the much-needed green space in the bustling city. It has more than 60 tree species and over 8,000 plants that now serve as a habitat for more than ten different bird species. It is also one of the most romantic destinations in Manila, and you can find many couples having their wedding photo shoots in the park! This is undoubtedly one of the excellent places to visit in Manila.

Arroceros Forest Park

Place: Antonio Villegas Street, 659 A Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila Working hours: 7:30 AM – 6 PM

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10. Star City Amusement Park: Experience The Thrilling Rides

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The greatest thing to do after exploring all the historical attractions is to relax and have fun at the Star City, Amusement Park. The largest amusement park in the nation, it is also among the top places to visit in Manila during nighttime. The sparkling lights of the Ferris Wheel and the vibrant lights and sounds of the rides and attractions make it one of the most captivating places in Manila. The park has attractions for individuals of all ages, but the most thrilling ones are the intense rides including Star Frisbee. It also features a unique attraction, the Snow World, where visitors can enjoy the experience of playing in the snow!

Star City Amusement Park

Place: Vicente Sotto Street, Pasay, Metro Manila Entrance fee: INR 645 Working hours: 2 PM – 10:30 PM

11. Republiq: Lively Night Scene

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Visit one of the largest and most popular clubs in Manilla for an exceptional nighttime experience. Republiq is a club styled after Las Vegas and is renowned for hosting various extravagant events featuring EDM and House genre music with DJs from all over the world. It is the ultimate place in Manila to hang out at night. If you’re seeking great places to visit in Manila for partying, then this is the place to be.

Outer view of the famous bar and club

Place: Unit 8, Second Level, Newport Mall, Resorts World Manila Working hours: Open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays

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12. Manila Baywalk: Observe The Skyscrapers

Witnessing a amorous sunset at the Manila Baywalk should not be missed at all when you are in the Philippines. Extending from the American Embassy down to the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Baywalk measure around 2 kms along the shore. You can find towering buildings across the road, and at the Manila Yacht Club, one can unwind at cafes, restaurants, and enjoy live street music performances as well. You will have the time of your life here with friends and family.

Manila Baywalk

Location: Roxas Blvd, Malate, Manila, 1004 Metro Manila Entry fee: None Timings: 5 AM – 12:30 AM

13. Divisoria Market: Bargain Like A Pro

Image Credit: Timothy Albano

This is considered to be the Mother of all Markets in the city of Manila. This flea market lies precisely in the city’s heart, that is Chinatown. The bustling market has everything you’re seeking. The finest part about this market is that you’ll obtain everything at truly inexpensive prices. From shopping to dining, you’ll be overwhelmed by the variety that you’ll discover here. When seeking souvenirs, do pay a visit to this place.

Location: plaza sans luis complex, General Luna St, Intramuros, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila, Philippines Timings: 7:00 am – 9:00 pm

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14. Casa Manila: Explore The Fascinating Facts

Image Credit: Jorge Láscar from Melbourne, Australia

This is a museum in the city of Intramuros that was built in the year 1980 by the architect, Imelda Marcos. The museum has been constructed in intricate Spanish colonial architecture. This museum has been constructed as a replica to San Nicolas House that represented the colonial way of living of the Filipinos. There are astonishing elements from the past that have been exhibited here. If you’re a history enthusiast, this place is a must-visit!

Location: plaza sans Luis complex, General Luna St, Intramuros, Manila, 1002 Metro Manila, Philippines Timings: 9:00 am – 5:00 pm

15. Robinsons Place Mall: For All The Shopaholics

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If you desire to embark on a shopping spree, then this mall is the ideal destination for you! Situated just behind the renowned Philippine General Hospital, this mall is regarded as one of the most frequented establishments in the city of Manila. There is an extensive array of branded showrooms within this mall, where you can purchase garments and accessories. After an exhilarating shopping expedition, you can indulge your cravings at the food court.

Location: Pedro Gil St, Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila, Philippines Timings: 10:00 am – 9:00 pm

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16. Greenbelt Chapel: Captivating Tourist Site

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Situated in Makati District, this location is perfect for those who have an inclination towards the religious aspects of Manila city. The construction of this chapel was finalized in the year 1983. Aside from being one of the most religiously significant places, Greenbelt Chapel is also celebrated for its architectural marvels and thus ranks among the most enchanting structures in the city.

Location: Ayala Center, Greenbelt Park, Legazpi Village, Makati, 1228 Metro Manila, Philippines

17. Paco Park: Unwind Amidst Tranquility

Image Credit: Angelyn Marquez

This park is renowned for its luxuriant foliage and is one of the prime destinations to visit if you seek serenity. The park was previously known as Cementerio General de Dilao when it served as a cemetery during the Spanish colonial era under the Dominicans. The park not only serves as a recreational spot for both locals and tourists, but it also holds significant historical importance.

Location: Belen, Paco, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines Timings: 8:00 am – 5:00 pm

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18. Chinese Cemetery: Architectural Marvel

Image Credit: David Stanley Wikimedia

Renowned as the “Row of Millionaires,” the Chinese Cemetery is bordered by lavish mansions and breathtaking houses on a two-way street. These two or three-story villas are actually tombs but they also serve as fully-equipped residences. They are adorned with exquisite chandeliers, running water, kitchens, and bathrooms. Explore this place to experience cultural, architectural, and historical enlightenment.

Location: Manila, Philippines Entry Fee: Not Applicable Timings: Open 24/7

19. Bahay Tsinoy: Explore Around

Image Credit: Bahnfrend for Wikimedia

Discover this museum on Cabildo Streets in the City of Intramuros. This is an ancient museum situated within the premises of the Kaisa-Angelo King Heritage center building, which preserves the history and contributions of the Chinese in the bygone era. Visit this place to learn more about porcelain collections.

Location: Manila, Philippines Entry Fee: Not Applicable Timings: Open 24/7

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20. Money Museum: Hidden Gem

Image Credit: Vavaniada for Wikimedia

The Museum is an actual treasure trove of ancient coins, banknotes, barter exchanges, bills, and more. It is owned and operated by the Central Bank of the Philippines. A popular tourist attraction in the city, the museum fundamentally traces the history of the Philippines’ economy.

Location: Manila, Philippines Entry Fee: Not Applicable Timings: Open 24/7

21. Binondo: The Oldest Chinatown

Image Credit: patrickroque001 for Wikimedia

Renowned as the oldest Chinatown in the world, Binondo is a district in Manila. It teems with markets brimming with quaint shops of goldsmiths, bakeries, incense sticks, tea houses. It formerly served as a center for Chinese trade and commerce overseen by the Filipino-Chinese in bygone eras.

Location: Manila, Philippines Entry Fee: Not Applicable Timings: Open 24/7

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22. Ayala Museum: Discover The History

Image Credit: Ayala Museum for Wikimedia

The Ayala Museum is a renowned museum in Metro Manila that showcases four levels of modern artifacts of Filipino culture, history, art & grand museums. The main highlight of the collection is the depiction of the 60 diverse magnificent dioramas, all tracing the historical facts of the country. The place is perfect for history buffs and those who love to delve into ancient facts & tales. While here, you can also participate in workshops, lectures, exhibitions on photography, writing, and art.

Location: Manila, Philippines Entry Fee: Free. Timings: Open 24/7

23. Bonifacio Global City: Amusing Fusion

Image Credit: Mjdiamzon for Wikimedia

Popularly known as the Global City or The Fort, Bonifacio Global City is a financial, lifestyle, and business district. The city used to be a military base that was later transformed into a well-planned community. It has now become a major hub for shopping, entertainment, dining, and tourism. Here, you will also find towering skyscrapers, elegant hotels, world-class museums. Overall, the place is a perfect blend of everything a tourist typically seeks for.

Location: Manila, Philippines Timings: Open 24/7

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24. Mall Of Asia: Explore Around

Image Credit: Patrickroque001 for Wikimedia

Located in the Pasay district of Metro Manila, The Mall of Asia is the fourth largest mall in the Philippines. The Mall consists of four sections- The main mall, the Entertainment Mall, the south and north parking buildings that are linked through walkways. The walkways offer various options for entertainment, leisure, shopping, etc.

Location: Manila, Philippines Entry Fee: Free. Timings: Open 24/7

25. San Agustin Museum: A Place For History Buffs

Image Credit: Rmdelossantos for Wikimedia

Situated near the San Agustin Church, The San Museum is a stunning museum that houses religious art pieces depicting the rich history of Catholicism. It is a UNESCO world heritage site that attracts visitors with its breathtaking architecture. The gallery and hallways are filled with paintings of the saints. Tourists will also come across sculptures and other art pieces from around the world. Notable artifacts include botanical drawings, antique furniture, ceramics, liturgical goods, etc.

Location: Manila, Philippines Entry Fee: Not Applicable Timings: Open 24/7

Further Read: A Shopping Enthusiast’s Guide To Shopping in Philippines

Now that you are aware of the numerous amazing and captivating places to visit in Manila, when will you reserve your Asia vacation? Don’t delay. Plan your trip in advance and avail exciting deals and discounts. Accommodation and airfare in Manila tend to be expensive, except during the offseason. So, choose wisely.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Places To Visit In Manila

Is it secure to travel internationally in the upcoming weeks or months?

The tourism industry is gradually reopening, and if you travel in a small group while adhering to all the guidelines, you can visit most of the aforementioned places and more. However, do not solely rely on our information: make sure to stay updated on the latest travel advisory, Covid-19 measures, and number of cases before your departure.

Where can I visit in Manila with friends?

You can visit Maginhawa Street, Greenhills Shopping Center, and Rizal Park with friends and even family. These places are perfect tourist spots that you should explore with your loved ones.

What is Manila renowned for?

The city of Manila in the Philippines is known for its markets, parks, museums, etc. There are various places in Manila that tourists can explore.

Where can I go for free in Manila?

There are several free activities that you can engage in when you are in the city of Manila. Some of them include visiting the National Museum, taking a language course, strolling around Luneta Park, exercising in UP Diliman, and more.

Is December the rainy season in Manila?

Yes, December marks the beginning of the dry season. The dry season starts in late November and lasts until May. The rainy season begins in June and extends until October. The months of September and October are often considered typhoon season in the Philippines.

What is the coldest month in Manila?

January is considered the coldest month in Manila, with a temperature of 78°F (26°C). The month with the most daily sunshine hours is April, with up to 9 hours of sunshine per day. May is the hottest month in Manila, with an average temperature of 85°F (30°C), and the wettest month is August, with an average of 140mm of rainfall.

Does it snow in Manila?

Manila does not experience snow. The Philippines is located in a warm region and does not have very low temperatures or snowfall. However, if it were to snow, it could be a significant effect of climate change.

Is Manila safe for tourists?

Like many other countries, the Philippines has certain areas where violence occurs more frequently, while other areas are generally considered safe. There is an active travel advisory for the Philippines, but it applies only to certain regions. Most other parts of the country are generally considered as safe as other places in Southeast Asia.

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