A regional guide to Metro Manila

No trip to the Philippines is complete without a stay in its capital, bursting with the most culture, day and nightlife and iconic attractions. Manila, the capital city, does just what it should; invites you into the lively culture within its architecture, food, and entertainment. Next time you land here for the start of your Philippines itinerary, don’t overlook this as a stopover – we urge you to dig deeper into this ancient city.

At a glance

The cityscape of the metro includes twinkling sky scrapers ascending into the clouds whilst the shanty towns frame the hub of the city. Metro Manila is spread across 17 cities, so you are really spoilt for choice when it comes to exploring. Without looking, this metropolis could be perceived as a bit of a concrete jungle, however you’ll also find a treasure trove of ancient monuments between.

Reach out to Harbour Square and you’re welcomed by the Philippines’ natural beauty; the elegant port surrounds the west side of the capital, with bobbing yachts, city and landscape reflections that lead out to the China Sea.

What to see

The first stop has to be Fort Santiago. Built during the Spanish occupation as part of the seat of government, Intramuros, this concrete fort is adorned with intricate embellishment creating a wall of pure beauty and respect. Today, its iconic gate and the National Hero’s shrine within it immortalize the history of the place and the country.

When you’ve had your fix of colonial history, be sure to head over to the contemporary central business district of Makati for some modern inspiration. Ayala Museum is your chance to wander through fine exhibitions, archaeological artefacts, traditional craft pieces and ancient tapestries with a modern twist. This museum has it all to ensure you enjoy every aspect of Manila’s artistry. What’s more, with a mix of permanent and limited edition exhibitions, there is always something new to discover.

Why we like it

In a city full to the brim of cosmopolitan people, businesses and buildings, it’s amazing to think you can still find scenes of tranquillity. Stretching over 60 hectares of the city, Rizal Park is our favourite spot to enjoy the more botanical side of the capital. Here you can find peace in every corner.

If you’re a morning person, join those at sunrise in the auditorium for tai-chi, or stroll past the central lagoon as the sun glimmers over the fountains. Enjoy watching the deep concentration by players in the Chess Plaza, or take the weight off your feet on the lawns with a picnic. There is so much hidden within this city, you’ll certainly be glad you made time to explore Manila.