So you’ve decided to travel the Philippines, which means it’s likely your first stop is Manila (duh, that’s where the international airport is). Congratulations! I can guarantee that you’re going to have a BLAST! Okay, maybe I’m a little bit biased because I was born in Manila, but regardless, it’s still a wonderful city and even if you don’t have a lot of time to explore it, there are still some gems you definitely have to check out while you’re there.
By the way, if you’re planning to check out any other hotspots in the Philippines, I may or may not have written about other places, too. You can check them out below:
Full Day Itinerary for Manila, Philippines
I really wish I had spent more time in my hometown, but the reality is that when we travel, we don’t always get what we want. Weather conditions, lack of transportation infrastructure, and poor planning can keep us in one place for too long, or not long enough.
If you happen to be as unfortunate as I am, you may only have 24 hours in Manila. And that’s okay. Because I’m creating this guide just for you, so you know how to maximize your stay in this fabulous city.
University of Santo Tomas
The better part of my morning comprised of getting back in touch with my roots. This means that I spent some time around the University of Santo Tomas (UST) area, mainly because my parents wanted me to see the hospital where I was born and the university campus where they met. I know, it’s all super corny but I still had fun taking photos with my cousins.
If UST has a special place in your heart too, that’s awesome! #twinsies
But if not, I think it’s still worthwhile to pay a visit since the university campus and church is among the oldest in the Philippines.
Intramuros, otherwise known as “The Walled City”, is a highly historic area and is the home of many famous landmarks. The hotspots to visit in this area include Casa Manila (more on this below), San Augustin Church, Fort Santiago, and the Manila Cathedral.
If the Kardashians are any indication, I would safely assume that we are obsessed with the lifestyles of the rich and famous. And if you’re looking to get your regular dose of the crazy rich lifestyle, the Casa Manila is the place to do it. The Casa Manila is a well-preserved home turned museum depicting the colonial lifestyle. Everything about this place is, well, extra. From the music room to the bedrooms, every inch of this place is the definition of 18th century luxury.
National Museum of Anthropology
My favourite museum out of the three that I’ll mention in this blog post. If you’re curious to learn more about the Filipino people pre-colonization, this is the spot for you! Here, you can learn about our ancient way of writing, Baybayin, traditional tribal clothing and textiles of our Filipinos, and more.
National Museum of Fine Arts
Art geeks are my favourite type of people. And they’ll probably like this museum, particularly because it’s filled with paintings, sculptures, and more by Filipino artists. Here, you’ll also be able to view the famous piece Spoliarium by Juan Luna. The artworks will give you a glimpse of what life in the Philippines was like during the Spanish colonial era.
National Museum of Natural History
Definitely regret not being able to visit this museum. It’s famous for its dome ceiling that you can see near Agrifina Circle in Rizal Park. Here you can see the “Tree of Life”, the Mangrove Diorama, and the Marine Realm. If you do end up going, make sure to send me a few photos from your trip!
SM Mall of Asia
If you’re coming from a Western country, you may have noticed that your dollar goes a little further in the Philippines. Why not treat yourself to a shopping day?
When I’m travelling, I try to support local vendors and brands. My rule is, if I can get it back home, I shouldn’t sacrifice luggage space for it. Luckily, Manila’s SM Mall of Asia is home to many brands, including my Filipino favourites Kultura and Snow Beauty Inc.
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