Things to do in Manila

Manila Cathedral. (Photo by Benjamin Canapi/D5 Studio)

Food

Filipinos love to eat. Their love for food is so ingrained that it’s perfectly normal for complete strangers to offer you food. Filipino cuisine is an interesting mix of meats, particularly pork, beef, and seafood, as well as a variety of vegetables, and spices. Filipino food is savory and rich, with a hint of sweetness and sourness. Adobo is one of our more popular dishes, but also try out sinigang, caldereta, tinola, bulalo, and kilawin.

There are quite a number of Filipino restaurants in Manila, but you could try out the Dampa (Seafood Food Market) closest to the Mall of Asia Arena for the freshest catch cooked on the spot.

Shopping

Manila is mall-crazy. The Mall of Asia Arena itself is situated beside the SM Mall of Asia, one of the biggest malls in the world. Most Manila malls are self-contained shopping/food/entertainment destinations, and one can spend hours within their confines.

However, if you’re looking for a more grounded, organic, barebones shopping experience, ask someone to bring you to either Quiapo or Divisoria. These exciting if chaotic enclaves have the megacity’s lowest prices, but they are not for the faint of heart. Still, there is a crazy and colorful vibrancy to these places that you need to see for yourself.

If you want the best of both worlds, head on over to the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan City east of Manila. The prices may be a bit higher, but the complex is more comfortable and there are still bargains to be had.

Weekend street markets are popular in Manila. (Photo by Benjamin Canapi/D5 Studio)

Heritage & Culture

As a true melting pot of cultures, Manila’s slew of offers ranges from the historical to the awe-inspiring.

A must-see for those looking to trace history is Old Manila -- boasting of historical Spanish colonial architecture, it is home to Intramuros, a walled city preserving a storied citadel, a baroque 16th-century Church, and the old prison of the country’s national hero.

For golf enthusiasts, there is the Club Intramuros Golf Course. An 18-hole par-66 layout, it is the oldest golf course in the Philippines and one that even offers night golf!

Club Intramuros Golf Course. (Photo by Benjamin Canapi/D5 Studio)

Also paying tribute to the national hero, Jose Rizal, is the iconic Rizal Park which is about 60 hectares of open lawns. It is the perfect atmosphere to walk leisurely during early evenings and weekends, have authentic sorbetes (Filipino street ice cream).

Rizal Park in the heart of Manila, with Rizal Monument on the right. It is the final resting place of the country’s national hero Jose Rizal. (Photo by Benjamin Canapi/D5 Studio)