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Unforgettable Sightseeing Tours in Manila – Top 10 Must-See Attractions

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Sightseeing Tours in Manila

Embark on an Adventure: The Ultimate Sightseeing Tours in Manila Awaits!

Are you ready to discover the rich cultural tapestry and vibrant energy of Manila? The capital city of the Philippines is brimming with historical landmarks, stunning architecture, and unique experiences that promise to make your sightseeing tour one for the books. With a blend of Spanish colonial influence and modern Filipino flair, Manila offers a diverse array of attractions to explore. From significant historical sites to bustling markets and serene parks, this listicle dives into the top 10 must-see spots in Manila that will leave you captivated and eager for more. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or planning your first trip, get your cameras and walking shoes ready – we’re about to embark on an unforgettable Manila adventure!

1. Intramuros: The Walled City Worth the Walk

Ian Jay Traquena, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Intramuros, known as the “Walled City,” is the oldest district and historic core of Manila, Philippines. Built by the Spanish colonial government in the late 16th century, it is a quintessential example of a Spanish fortress city in Asia. Intramuros were designed to protect the seat of the Spanish government from foreign invasions and uprisings by the local population. Its walls have withstood wars, natural disasters, and the test of time.

Facts

  1. Construction of the walls began in 1590 and took over a century to complete.
  2. Intramuros was the seat of government and political power during the Spanish Colonial Period.
  3. The walled city suffered extensive damage during the Battle of Manila in 1945 and has since undergone significant restoration efforts to preserve its historical landmarks.

2. Rizal Park: A Tribute to a National Hero

Richmond Chi, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is a historical urban park located in the heart of Manila. It is named in honor of Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ national hero, who was executed on this site in 1896 by Spanish colonial authorities for his role in catalyzing the Philippine Revolution. The park is a symbol of Filipino pride and is a popular venue for various social, political, and cultural events.

Facts

  1. The Rizal Monument in the park holds the remains of Dr. Jose Rizal and serves as a mausoleum.
  2. Rizal Park is the location for the annual Independence Day celebrations on June 12th.
  3. The park covers an area of about 58 hectares (140 acres), making it one of the largest urban parks in Asia.

3. National Museum Complex: A Feast for Culture Vultures

The National Museum Complex in Manila is a group of museums that serve as the repository of the Philippines’ natural and cultural heritage. The complex includes the National Museum of Fine Arts, the National Museum of Anthropology, the National Museum of Natural History, and the Planetarium. It occupies the former government buildings that have been converted into spaces dedicated to preservation, research, and public education.

Facts

  1. The National Museum of Fine Arts houses works of classical Filipino artists including Juan Luna and Felix Resurreccion Hidalgo.
  2. The National Museum of Natural History was officially opened to the public in May 2018 and features a stunning DNA tree of life structure in its central atrium.
  3. Admission to the National Museum Complex is free of charge to encourage more visitors to learn about the country’s rich heritage.

4. Binondo: The Oldest Chinatown in the World

View of the fountain in front of Binondo church

Binondo is recognized as the world’s oldest Chinatown, established in 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement for Catholic Chinese. It has since grown into a bustling commercial and cultural hub, playing a critical role in the historical and economic development of Manila. Binondo is a melting pot of Filipino and Chinese cultures, symbolized by its diverse architecture, cuisine, and religious practices.

Facts

  1. Binondo was created by the Spanish Governor Luis Pérez Dasmariñas for the Chinese immigrants who converted to Christianity.
  2. The Binondo Church, also known as Minor Basilica of San Lorenzo Ruiz, is an important landmark founded by Dominican priests in 1596 to serve the local Chinese community.
  3. Binondo is famous for its culinary offerings, especially during the Chinese New Year, when the district is adorned with festive decorations and streets are lined with vendors selling traditional Chinese fares.

5. Manila Ocean Park: Underwater Explorations Await

Lian Alyssa Cordon, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Manila Ocean Park is a state-of-the-art oceanarium located behind the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park in Manila. Opened to the public in 2008, it features a variety of marine habitats, a 25-meter underwater acrylic tunnel, and educational facilities promoting marine life conservation. The park is an all-in-one experience, combining entertainment with education and environmental awareness.

Facts

  1. Manila Ocean Park is home to over 14,000 sea creatures from about 277 species, all indigenous to the Philippines and Southeast Asia.
  2. The Oceanarium’s journey takes visitors through the watery depths of the Philippines’ marine ecosystem, divided into seven sections from shallow to deep water habitats.
  3. Aside from the Oceanarium, the park also includes a mall, and a marine-themed hotel, and offers various aquatic-themed shows and experiences, such as the Sea Lion Show and the Symphony Evening Show, which combines lights, fountains, and music.

6. The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP): A Hub for Art Aficionados

Leandro Locsin, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), created through Executive Order No. 30 s. 1966 by President Ferdinand Marcos, is the premier showcase of the arts in the Philippines. Located in the City of Manila, it aims to promote and preserve Filipino arts and culture. It hosts both local and international productions, with a diverse portfolio that includes music, dance, theater, visual arts, film, and literary events.

Facts

  1. The CCP Complex spans some 88 hectares and includes numerous performance venues, among them the Tanghalang Pambansa (National Theater), Tanghalang Francisco Balagtas (Folk Arts Theater), and the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (Little Theater).
  2. The architecture of the main building, designed by National Artist for Architecture Leandro Locsin, is a landmark of Brutalist design in the Philippines, featuring the use of raw concrete and bold, simple lines.
  3. The CCP also serves as the home of resident companies such as Ballet Philippines, the Philippine Ballet Theatre, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tanghalang Pilipino, and the National Music Competitions for Young Artists Foundation (NAMCYA).

7. Quiapo Church: A Spiritual Journey

LMP 2001, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Quiapo Church, formally known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene and St. John the Baptist Parish, is a prominent Roman Catholic church located in the Quiapo district of Manila, Philippines. The church is famous for housing the revered Black Nazarene, a life-sized image of Jesus Christ which many Filipinos believe to have miraculous powers.

Facts

  1. Quiapo Church is the site of the annual Feast of the Black Nazarene every January 9, attracting millions of devotees in one of the largest religious processions in the country.
  2. The original structure of Quiapo Church was built by the Franciscans in 1586, but it has gone through numerous reconstructions due to damage from fires, earthquakes, and the Second World War.
  3. The current baroque-inspired edifice was completed in the 1980s, featuring a distinctive façade with twisted columns and intricate carvings, but the image of the Black Nazarene dates back to the 17th century.

8. Ayala Museum: Where Philippine History Meets Art

Dan Lundberg, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Ayala Museum, located in the heart of Makati, Metro Manila’s financial district, is a modern museum that offers a comprehensive collection showcasing the rich history and diverse cultural heritage of the Philippines. Founded in 1967 and opened to the public in 1974, the museum is the brainchild of the Ayala Foundation, and it presents a wide range of exhibits from ethnographic and archaeological artifacts to contemporary art.

Facts

  1. The museum features six floors of exhibitions, which include the Diorama Experience – 60 handcrafted dioramas that depict pivotal moments in Philippine history, from pre-Hispanic times to the EDSA People Power Revolution.
  2. The museum also holds a notable collection of pre-Hispanic gold and indigenous textiles, highlighting the craftsmanship and trade of pre-colonial Filipinos.
  3. To promote modern and contemporary Filipino art, the museum periodically holds temporary exhibitions and public programs that support local artists and their work.

9. Star City: The Thrill Seeker’s Playground

By patrickroque01 – Taken using my own camera, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Star City is a popular amusement park in Pasay City, Metro Manila, beloved by families and visitors seeking entertainment and amusement. It is an all-weather, indoor-outdoor park that features a variety of rides, attractions and shows designed for all ages.

Facts

  1. Star City opened its doors in the late 1980s and has grown to become one of the leading amusement parks in the Philippines, often integrating themes and characters from Filipino folklore and pop culture.
  2. The park is known for its variety of rides, including family-friendly attractions, thrilling roller coasters, and a Ferris wheel that offers panoramic views of Manila Bay.
  3. In October 2019, a fire struck Star City, causing significant damage and necessitating the temporary closure of the park for rehabilitation. However, efforts to rebuild and revive the beloved amusement center are underway.

10. Manila Baywalk: The Perfect Sunset Spot

Ramon FVelasquez, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Manila Baywalk is a picturesque promenade along the shores of Manila Bay, known for its stunning sunsets and lively atmosphere. Extending from the US Embassy to the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Baywalk is a popular spot for both locals and tourists to enjoy open-air dining, leisurely strolls, and cultural performances.

Facts

  1. The Manila Baywalk area was revitalized in the early 2000s to become a clean and safe environment for public recreation, showcasing the natural beauty of the bay and its horizon.
  2. Various statues and monuments can be found along the Baywalk, including the Rizal Monument, dedicated to the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, and a selection of modern art installations and sculptures.
  3. In recent years, Manila Bay has been the subject of major rehabilitation efforts by the government to address pollution and restore its waters, ensuring the Baywalk remains a cherished Manila landmark.

Looking for thrilling and stunning views? Just click here.

Sealing the Deal: Your Sightseeing Tours in Manila Memories to Last a Lifetime!

As our sightseeing tour of Manila draws to a close, it’s clear that this city’s blend of history, culture, and modern excitement leaves visitors enthralled. Each attraction on our list brings a unique flavor to the Manila experience, showcasing the city’s ability to harmoniously marry its past with the present. Whether you’ve marveled at the architecture in Intramuros, indulged in culinary delights in Binondo, or savored the serenity at Manila Baywalk, these memories will linger long after your trip. So, when wanderlust strikes again, remember that Manila’s warm embrace and extraordinary sights are waiting to welcome you back for another adventure. Mabuhay and see you soon in the heart of the Philippines!

FAQs About Sightseeing Tours in Manila

1. How long does a typical sightseeing tour in Manila take?

Sightseeing tours can vary widely in duration, ranging from a half-day (approximately 4 hours) to a full day (around 8 hours), depending on the itinerary and whether you include nearby sites.

2. What is the best time of year to visit Manila for a sightseeing tour?

The best time to visit Manila for good weather is during the dry season, which runs from December to May, with the coolest months being December to February.

3. How do I get around during my sightseeing tour?

You can get around Manila by taxi, jeepney, tricycle, or through various ride-hailing apps. Organized sightseeing tours often provide their own transportation.

4. Are Manila sightseeing tours expensive?

The cost of sightseeing tours in Manila can vary depending on the company, tour length, inclusions, and whether it is a private or group tour. Generally, Manila offers a range of options to fit different budgets.

5. Is it safe to go on a sightseeing tour in Manila?

Manila, like any major city, has areas that are safer than others. Stick to tourist-friendly areas, remain vigilant, and follow safety advice from your tour guide or locals.

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Lester A

Lester is the owner of Hanapph Online. Since 2023, Lester started writing and blogging about the Philippines to give locals and foreigners an idea of what makes this country unique. His goal is to be your guide and to show you the beautiful islands of the Philippines.
Welcome to the Philippines. Let's explore together!

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