Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It offers rich history with many ancient buildings unique to the architectural design of the 16th century. There are fantastic places to visit in Manila, including great restaurants, nightlife and activities.
Often overlooked as a travel destination, this city has much to offer, from the Manila marketplace, magnificent sunsets on the Manila Bay, and Binando — Manila Chinatown. It’s also a bustling and culturally interesting city.
And Manila is less than five hours by plane from major cities such as Hong Kong.
Places to Visit in Manila Philippines
San Sebastian Catholic Church
Famous for its all-steel architecture, the San Sebastian Church was built in 1891. With two imposing spires jutting high into the sky, the church is of Gothic architectural design. The beautiful stained glass is from Germany. Eusebio Garcia was the sculptor.
This all-steel church is the only one in Asia and is a national historic landmark. Another unique old building, the San Agustin Catholic Church, is the oldest stone church in the country. It was built in 1589. Used as a concentration camp during World War II, it is now known as the wedding capital of the world.
Crowded, hot and humid, Divisoria marketplace is an experience you’ll not want to miss. The key to an enjoyable time is to go early before the crowds arrive. Indoor and outdoor eateries and shops line the street and the wares are most affordable. Another marketplace you may want to visit is Quiapo. It’s known for its shops, Quiapo Church and ebony statue depicting Christ, the Black Nazarene statue.
During Holy Week and in early January, you can experience their festival in the streets to mark the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
Chinatown in Binondo
Many tourists visit Binondo for its large variety of excellent Chinese restaurants. Chinatown in Manila is the oldest Chinese neighborhood worldwide, established in the late 1500’s. The history of Chinatown is available if you hire a tour guide while visiting the area. So be sure to take a “Binondo Food Trip” while visiting Manila.
National hero, Jose Rizal, was imprisoned here before his death by execution in the 1500’s.
You can tour Fort Santiago, Rizal Park and Paco Park by carriage or take a walking tour if you would like. Rizal wrote some of his famous anecdotes, novels and poems while living in Fort Santiago. His memory lives on in the hearts of the people who live here.
For a look at the loveliest sunsets in the world, take a dinner cruise on Manila Bay.
You’ll want to be sure to visit Harbor View, Ermita, Manila with restaurants and shops along the walkway, among them the renowned Harbor View Restaurant. Although many do not appreciate its beauty because of pollution, Manila Bay is a busy trade and historical center and one of the top tourist attractions in Manila.
Is Caramoan Philippines The Secret Paradise?
If you’ve got a few extra days and the means to travel, you’ll want to visit Caramoan. While it’s not exactly “close,” — it’s 13 hours by plane from Manilla — it’ll be worth the trip. People consider it to be the secret paradise in the Philippines, a place that not many people hear about or know where it is.
Most people instead tend to crowd to the nearby Borcacay — a 14-hour flight from Manila — instead of Caramoan. Which makes Caramoan perfect for those looking for a paradise just for themselves off the beaten path.
Caramoan started getting some attention a few years ago when the French Survivor TV show started shooting there, and this year the Israel Survivor show will also be using the same location. The reason why these islands are such a popular shooting location for Survivor is because they want their contestants to feel like they are really far away from civilization. You can do that in Caramoan. It’s a wild paradise.
Explore the sights and immerse yourself in the culture of this amazing city.