Manila’s reputation might be a little lackluster, but that doesn’t mean Manila is lacking tourist attractions! In fact, things to do in Manila are plentiful because the capital city of the Philippines is loaded with personality, culture and a charm all its own! Whether you’re on a short layover in Manila or plan to spend some time exploring the city (before heading to one of the many popular beaches in the Philippines, of course), you should add at least one or two of these top Manila attractions – all conveniently located near Rizal Park – to your itinerary.
Visit Intramuros (Walled City)
A single visit to Intramuros can satisfy any traveler’s curiosity about things to do in Manila. This old-world district that neighbors with Rizal Park encapsulates many of Manila’s most famous landmarks within the confines of three miles’ worth of ancient city walls, which is why Intramuros also is known as the “Walled City.” Visitors can stroll down cobblestone streets or hop on a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) for a truly traditional experience. The historic district is famous for its Spanish-styled houses, multiple museums, ornate churches, lush parks – and ghosts! One of the star attractions within Intramuros is San Agustin Church. The historic cathedral is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, along with three other churches in the Philippines. Together, the churches are known as The Baroque Churches of the Philippines.
Can’t-miss attractions at Intramuros
- Fort Santiago
- San Agustin Church
- Manila Cathedral (The Minor Basilica and Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception)
- Museo de San Agustin (Convent Museum)
- Casa Manila
Manila Ocean Park
Just west of Rizal Park and overlooking Manila Bay, Manila Ocean Park makes for a fantastic family activity or a short sightseeing adventure for lovers of the sea. The aquatic theme park features lots of hands-on exhibits and educational displays, as well as up-close views of penguins, native birds, a “World of Creepy Crawlies!” and more than 14,000 sea creatures indigenous to Southeast Asia.
Manila Ocean Park is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are 570 PHP for an Ocean Saver package, which includes entry to six attractions, or 950 PHP for a Mega Experience package, which includes entry to 15 attractions.
Things to Do in Manila | Explore Manila Museums for Free
If there is one thing travelers can find in Manila, it’s history! One of the best things to do in Manila is explore the city’s many museums, some of which are as impressive on the outside as they are on the inside. Each of theses museums are located near Rizal Park and collectively contain all the history and architecture any sightseer needs. Plus, entrance is free! (Shows and exhibits may cost extra.)
4 Manila Museums that are free to enter
- National Museum of Fine Arts
- National Museum of Anthropology
- National Museum of Natural History
- National Planetarium
Enjoy local food at Binondo
Just over the Pasig River from Rizal Park is where travelers will find Binondo, Manila’s most popular street food haven. Considered the Chinatown of Manila, Binondo features streets lined with local culinary shops and cheap restaurants. Visitors can grab quick snacks on the go or sit down to Chinese dumplings and a steaming hot bowl of homemade noodles. Explore the streets on your own, or sign up for a foodie tour where you can taste everything from dim-sum to roast duck – and learn the history of the area along the way!
Go on a Shopping Spree at Divisoria Mall
From the Binondo area, sightseers can take a short walk to Divisoria Mall and pick up souvenirs to commemorate a trip to Manila! While this vast shopping area does have the modern appeal of a shopping mall paradise (some buildings are air conditioned), it also features an old-school market charm: so wear good shoes, and pack some water! Shoppers can find name-brand and stylish wears as well as second-hand items, antiques, knick-knacks, souvenirs and even bridal gowns at super cheap prices. Pro tip: prepare for crazy crowds, lots of haggling and an experience down winding streets you will never forget!
Divisoria Mall is open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily
Where to Stay in Manila | 3 Best Hotels
When looking for things to do in Manila, travelers also should look for a place to stay nearby. These three hotels appeal to various budgets and are located near some of Manila’s top attractions, including Rizal Park. Want to explore more hotels in Manila? Just click any link or photo to see more hotels and accommodations nearby!