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7 Days Exploring Manila: A Dive into The City’s Heart and Soul

Welcome to Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines that boasts a blend of Spanish colonial architecture, modern skyscrapers, and vibrant street life. With its intricate history and a melting pot of cultures, Manila offers an array of experiences for every traveler. In this 7-day itinerary, we will guide you through the city’s historic landmarks, serene parks, bustling markets, and everything in between. Join us as we uncover the charms of Manila, one day at a time.

Horse Drawn Carriage, Fort Santiago

History, Culture, and Language

Manila’s rich tapestry is woven with threads of diverse influences, from its indigenous roots to Spanish colonization, American occupation, and Japanese invasion during World War II. Each era has left an indelible mark on the city’s cultural and architectural landscape.

Today, Manila stands as a testament to resilience and evolution, with remnants of its past preserved amidst the burgeoning urban sprawl. It’s a city where jeepneys zip through the streets, towering malls coexist with centuries-old churches, and where the Filipino spirit called ‘Bayanihan’ remains palpable.

The official languages are Filipino and English, but the Tagalog dialect is commonly spoken. You’ll find that language is hardly a barrier, as Manila boasts one of the highest English-speaking populations in Asia.

Queue of Typical Jeepneys in Manila, Philippines

What to Pack and How to Prepare

  • Pack Light: Manila’s climate is tropical, with warm weather year-round. Light clothing, comfortable footwear, and a rain jacket for sudden showers are essential.
  • Stay Connected: Purchase a local SIM card upon arrival for easy navigation and communication.
  • Vaccinations and Health: Stay updated on routine vaccinations, and consider ones specific to the region, like Typhoid and Hepatitis A.
  • Currency: Philippine Peso (PHP) is the local currency. Carry smaller bills for local markets and jeepney rides.
  • Travel Insurance: Always a good idea to cover unexpected trip disturbances or health emergencies.

With preparations out of the way, let’s embark on a 7-day journey that will immerse you in the heart and soul of Manila.

San Agustin Church

Day 1: Historic Intramuros and Manila Bay Sunset

Morning: Walk The Walled City of Intramuros

Start your Manila adventure in the historic core, the walled city of Intramuros. Get lost in the cobbled streets, discovering the Fort Santiago, a citadel and former military prison showcasing the country’s colonial past. Don’t miss the storied Manila Cathedral and the stunning San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its Baroque architecture.

Afternoon: Lunch at Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant

For a taste of authentic Filipino cuisine in a historical setting, head to Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant. Indulge in classic dishes such as Adobo and Sinigang, while being serenaded by local musicians playing traditional Filipino songs.

Evening: Sunset at Manila Bay

Cap off your day with a breathtaking sunset view at Manila Bay. Take a leisurely stroll along Roxas Boulevard and watch as the sky paints itself with hues of orange and purple.

the National Museum of the Philippines

Day 2: Art, Museums, and Shopping

Morning: The National Museum of the Philippines

Dedicate your morning to art and history at the National Museum of the Philippines. Housing an extensive collection of artifacts, it’s a testament to the Philippines’ rich cultural heritage.

Afternoon: SM Mall of Asia Arena

Experience Filipino retail culture at one of Asia’s largest malls. The SM Mall of Asia Arena is not just a shopping destination, but also a place for entertainment and dining with a seaside view.

Evening: Cultural Show and Dinner at The Cultural Center of the Philippines

Immerse yourself in the arts with a performance at The Cultural Center of the Philippines, followed by a delectable dinner at one of its fine restaurants.

Rizal park (Luneta) and Rizal Monument, Manila

Day 3: Natural Wonders and Thrilling Rides

Morning: Manila Ocean Park

Explore the marine life at Manila Ocean Park, the country’s first world-class marine theme park and aquarium. Engage with interactive exhibits and marvel at the underwater creatures.

Afternoon: Rizal Park

Recharge with a picnic lunch at Rizal Park, one of the largest urban parks in Asia. Take a moment to pay respect at the Rizal Monument, dedicated to the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

Evening: Star City

Finish your day with thrilling rides at Star City, an amusement park offering fun for all ages. From roller coasters to water rides, it’s an evening filled with excitement.

Binondo Chinatown, Manila

Day 4: Markets and Filipino Street Food

Morning: Binondo, The World’s Oldest Chinatown

Experience the vibrant energy of Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown. Sample delectable street food, visit historic temples, and browse the bustling markets.

Afternoon: Lunch at New Po-Heng Lumpia House

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Binondo is New Po-Heng Lumpia House, known for its fresh and delicious lumpia (spring rolls). Savor these alongside other Filipino-Chinese delicacies.

Evening: Night Market Shopping at Greenhills

For shopping with a local twist, head to the Greenhills Shopping Center’s night market. Here you can find pearls, handcrafted goods, and more at bargain prices.

Taal Volcano, Tagaytay

Day 5: Day Trip to Tagaytay

Full Day: Tagaytay City

Take a break from the city with a day trip to Tagaytay. Just a couple of hours away, enjoy the cooler climate, picturesque views of Taal Volcano and Lake, and sumptuous local cuisine at restaurants such as Balay Dako or Antonio’s.

Bonifacio Global City

Day 6: Historical and Modern Contrast

Morning: American Cemetery and Memorial

Reflect on history at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, home to thousands of white marble crosses honoring those who served during World War II.

Afternoon: Bonifacio Global City (BGC)

Transition to the modern face of Manila at BGC, a bustling financial and lifestyle district. Walk around to admire street art, upscale boutiques, and trendy cafes.

Quiapo Church, Manila

Day 7: Relax and Reflect

Morning: Quiapo Church

Start your last day with a visit to the Quiapo Church, a significant religious site housing the Black Nazarene. The church is a symbol of Filipino faith and resilience.

Afternoon: Arroceros Forest Park

Find solace in the “last lung” of Manila, the Arroceros Forest Park. Walk among native trees and listen to the city’s heartbeat one last time.

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7 Days Exploring Manila: A Dive into The City’s Heart and Soul

Welcome to Manila, the bustling capital of the Philippines that boasts a blend of Spanish colonial architecture, modern skyscrapers, and vibrant street life. With its intricate history and a melting pot of cultures, Manila offers an array of experiences for every traveler. In this 7-day itinerary, we will guide you through the city’s historic landmarks, serene parks, bustling markets, and everything in between. Join us as we uncover the charms of Manila, one day at a time.

Horse Drawn Carriage, Fort Santiago

History, Culture, and Language

Manila’s rich tapestry is woven with threads of diverse influences, from its indigenous roots to Spanish colonization, American occupation, and Japanese invasion during World War II. Each era has left an indelible mark on the city’s cultural and architectural landscape.

Today, Manila stands as a testament to resilience and evolution, with remnants of its past preserved amidst the burgeoning urban sprawl. It’s a city where jeepneys zip through the streets, towering malls coexist with centuries-old churches, and where the Filipino spirit called ‘Bayanihan’ remains palpable.

The official languages are Filipino and English, but the Tagalog dialect is commonly spoken. You’ll find that language is hardly a barrier, as Manila boasts one of the highest English-speaking populations in Asia.

Queue of Typical Jeepneys in Manila, Philippines

What to Pack and How to Prepare

  • Pack Light: Manila’s climate is tropical, with warm weather year-round. Light clothing, comfortable footwear, and a rain jacket for sudden showers are essential.
  • Stay Connected: Purchase a local SIM card upon arrival for easy navigation and communication.
  • Vaccinations and Health: Stay updated on routine vaccinations, and consider ones specific to the region, like Typhoid and Hepatitis A.
  • Currency: Philippine Peso (PHP) is the local currency. Carry smaller bills for local markets and jeepney rides.
  • Travel Insurance: Always a good idea to cover unexpected trip disturbances or health emergencies.

With preparations out of the way, let’s embark on a 7-day journey that will immerse you in the heart and soul of Manila.

San Agustin Church

Day 1: Historic Intramuros and Manila Bay Sunset

Morning: Walk The Walled City of Intramuros

Start your Manila adventure in the historic core, the walled city of Intramuros. Get lost in the cobbled streets, discovering the Fort Santiago, a citadel and former military prison showcasing the country’s colonial past. Don’t miss the storied Manila Cathedral and the stunning San Agustin Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its Baroque architecture.

Afternoon: Lunch at Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant

For a taste of authentic Filipino cuisine in a historical setting, head to Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant. Indulge in classic dishes such as Adobo and Sinigang, while being serenaded by local musicians playing traditional Filipino songs.

Evening: Sunset at Manila Bay

Cap off your day with a breathtaking sunset view at Manila Bay. Take a leisurely stroll along Roxas Boulevard and watch as the sky paints itself with hues of orange and purple.

the National Museum of the Philippines

Day 2: Art, Museums, and Shopping

Morning: The National Museum of the Philippines

Dedicate your morning to art and history at the National Museum of the Philippines. Housing an extensive collection of artifacts, it’s a testament to the Philippines’ rich cultural heritage.

Afternoon: SM Mall of Asia Arena

Experience Filipino retail culture at one of Asia’s largest malls. The SM Mall of Asia Arena is not just a shopping destination, but also a place for entertainment and dining with a seaside view.

Evening: Cultural Show and Dinner at The Cultural Center of the Philippines

Immerse yourself in the arts with a performance at The Cultural Center of the Philippines, followed by a delectable dinner at one of its fine restaurants.

Rizal park (Luneta) and Rizal Monument, Manila

Day 3: Natural Wonders and Thrilling Rides

Morning: Manila Ocean Park

Explore the marine life at Manila Ocean Park, the country’s first world-class marine theme park and aquarium. Engage with interactive exhibits and marvel at the underwater creatures.

Afternoon: Rizal Park

Recharge with a picnic lunch at Rizal Park, one of the largest urban parks in Asia. Take a moment to pay respect at the Rizal Monument, dedicated to the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal.

Evening: Star City

Finish your day with thrilling rides at Star City, an amusement park offering fun for all ages. From roller coasters to water rides, it’s an evening filled with excitement.

Binondo Chinatown, Manila

Day 4: Markets and Filipino Street Food

Morning: Binondo, The World’s Oldest Chinatown

Experience the vibrant energy of Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown. Sample delectable street food, visit historic temples, and browse the bustling markets.

Afternoon: Lunch at New Po-Heng Lumpia House

Tucked away in a quiet corner of Binondo is New Po-Heng Lumpia House, known for its fresh and delicious lumpia (spring rolls). Savor these alongside other Filipino-Chinese delicacies.

Evening: Night Market Shopping at Greenhills

For shopping with a local twist, head to the Greenhills Shopping Center’s night market. Here you can find pearls, handcrafted goods, and more at bargain prices.

Taal Volcano, Tagaytay

Day 5: Day Trip to Tagaytay

Full Day: Tagaytay City

Take a break from the city with a day trip to Tagaytay. Just a couple of hours away, enjoy the cooler climate, picturesque views of Taal Volcano and Lake, and sumptuous local cuisine at restaurants such as Balay Dako or Antonio’s.

Bonifacio Global City

Day 6: Historical and Modern Contrast

Morning: American Cemetery and Memorial

Reflect on history at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, home to thousands of white marble crosses honoring those who served during World War II.

Afternoon: Bonifacio Global City (BGC)

Transition to the modern face of Manila at BGC, a bustling financial and lifestyle district. Walk around to admire street art, upscale boutiques, and trendy cafes.

Quiapo Church, Manila

Day 7: Relax and Reflect

Morning: Quiapo Church

Start your last day with a visit to the Quiapo Church, a significant religious site housing the Black Nazarene. The church is a symbol of Filipino faith and resilience.

Afternoon: Arroceros Forest Park

Find solace in the “last lung” of Manila, the Arroceros Forest Park. Walk among native trees and listen to the city’s heartbeat one last time.

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