Manila holidays will transport you to the Philippines’ energetic and unforgettable capital. Discover ancient forts, vibrant morning markets and sweeping white sand beaches in the much-loved ‘Pearl of the Orient’.
Explore historic Intramuros, the city’s colonial Spanish centre. Here, Fort Santiago tells the tale of Spanish conquistadors while horse-drawn calesa trundle along the district’s cobblestone paths.
Dive into Manila’s lively dining scene and find fresh new flavours and local favourites among the food stalls of the Tutuban Night Market. Take a seat and watch the sun set over the harbour from the waterfront restaurants of Baywalk.
As evening falls, this popular promenade becomes the centre of life in Manila, with live music and dancers performing late into the night.
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From colonial splendour to bustling night markets, you’ll never be short of amazing things to do during your holiday in Manila. Dive right in…
At Manila’s heart lies Intramuros, the ‘Walled City’ that was once the focal point of the Spanish Empire in the Philippines.
To soak up its sights, take a ride on a horse-drawn carriage, called a calesa, then visit Fort Santiago, once an infamous prison holding Filipino revolutionaries and national heroes.
San Agustin Church has stood since 1607 and was one of the only buildings to survive intact after the destruction of the city during World War Two.
Though much of Intramuros was razed to the ground, the quarter has since been restored to its original beauty.
Manila is a fantastic shopping destination, perfect for bargain hunters and big-label shoppers alike.
Visit Robinsons Place Mall in Ermita for world-renowned brands, family-friendly restaurants and entertainment options including bowling and a huge cinema.
For something more authentic, head to Divisoria Market for a taste of traditional Filipino shopping.
Here you’ll discover stall after stall of clothes, fabrics and accessories – try your hand at haggling and grab a bargain.
When the sun goes down, head to Tutuban Night Market for shopping and dining under the stars.
Manila’s waterfront is dominated by its commercial harbour, but you’re never too far from a stretch of white sand and a strip of colourful coral in the Philippines.
The best sands for a Manila beach holiday are just a couple of hours away in nearby Batangas.
Here you’ll find clear waters ideal for snorkelling, while more seasoned divers can take to the reef.
The coast here is rich in marine life, with many vivid fish and graceful rays calling these waters home. In summer, look out for rare sea turtles.
Manila has several parks where you can spend an afternoon with a showstopping view.
Rizal Park, also known as Luneta, stands between Intramuros and the harbour.
Once the centre of revolution within the Philippines, these days it’s a popular destination for locals and visitors alike.
A place for gatherings, live shows and picnics on the lawn, you’ll find several museums, serene gardens, an auditorium and outdoor art installations.
It’s a fantastic setting for a blissful stroll during the day.
Manila holidays are perfect for history fans. The city has several fascinating museums where you can learn about the capital’s past, from the Spanish Empire to Japanese occupation.
The National Museum of the Philippines in Rizal Park is the place to start, with exhibitions on the country’s natural, archaeological and anthropological history.
Art fans should head to the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, which has extensive collections of indigenous Filipino art from the early 20th century onwards.
You’ll also find collections of works from around the world too. It’s free to enter on Tuesdays, while there are guided tours each Saturday.
The harbourfront area is a great place to stay if you want to combine fabulous ocean views with access to green space.
It’s also an ideal spot if you’re planning on spending lots of time in the city’s downtown area.
The Manila Hotel is a grand five-star escape that's perfect for a Manila honeymoon, with four restaurants to dine in and Rizal Park on your doorstep.
With stunning dive sites close by, there’s plenty of opportunity for an active holiday in Manila.
The beaches of Batangas are just a couple of hours away by road from Manila. Here you can snorkel in crystal-clear waters brimming with colourful corals and reef fish.
Lucky divers may be able to spot an olive ridley turtle. These rare turtles nest in the area, remaining in these calmer waters before heading out to sea.
The modern Bonifacio Global City is perfect for a luxury holiday in Manila.
It was designed with pedestrians in mind, making it easy to walk around and explore the flagship stores and upmarket restaurants that line the main High Street.
The Shangri-La at the Fort is a stunning high-rise retreat with two swimming pools and several high-end dining options.
It’s also close to the city metro, making it easy to hop on and off as you explore the rest of Manila.
The local currency is the Philippine Peso. ATMs are widely available, while credit cards are accepted in shops, restaurants and tourist attractions.
The main language in Manila is Filipino, though English is the second official language and is widely spoken. Other languages, including Chinese, can also be heard around the city.
The city-wide metro system is typically the quickest way of getting around. There are stations throughout the city, often close to key landmarks. Car hire is also available if you plan to explore beyond Manila.
Manila is a great year-round destination. The dry months of December to May are usually the most popular, with the warm conditions excellent for exploring the city.
Filipino culture mixes Spanish colonial heritage and Roman Catholicism with longstanding Filipino traditions.
Nowhere is this truer than in Manila. Once the centre of the Spanish Asian colonies, it’s now a modern megacity with an international community.
Look out for Aliwan Fiesta in April, which celebrates Filipino culture with dance and colourful street processions.
In January, the Feast of the Black Nazarene draws millions of Catholics, who walk barefoot through the streets in a display of religious devotion that can last for most of the day.
Manila was originally a Moorish settlement, surrounded by sleepy fishing villages.
In the late 16th century, the Spanish conquered the city and settled in the capital, building the fortified Intramuros district to defend it.
Manila became the centre of anti-Spanish revolutionary sentiment in the 1890s, and, in 1896, rebel leader Jose Rizal was executed in what is now Rizal Park.
Defeat for the Spanish soon followed, as Manila passed to the US, and later the Japanese. In 1945, the city was left severely war-damaged, but independent and able to begin building for the future.
Many rebel heroes are now commemorated in the names of parks, public buildings and even hotels.
Manila’s food scene serves up a wonderful blend of hearty street food and inventive fine dining options.
Cuisines from around the world are easy to find, with some particularly good Thai restaurants, as well as celebrated Australian and Basque eateries.
Adobo, a spiced meat dish with a slightly sour sauce, is the national dish. Grilled meats and fish are hugely popular and make for a great street food snack – particularly in the city’s night markets.
For a sweet treat, look out for halo-halo, an iced dessert made from fruit and evaporated milk that is perfect for cooling down in the warm weather.
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