Although the Philippines was one of the final countries in South East Asia that I visited, I still remember fondly my time in the country, and Manila was the first large city I visited. It may not have the charm of Singapore or Bangkok, nor the lure of Hanoi or Phnom Penh, but nevertheless Manila has some fascinating attractions within its city limits, especially if you like your Christianity!
10. Ayala Center is the premier shopping precinct in Manila, and with so many malls and precincts to choose from, that is a huge compliment! You can find everything here from local ware to international goods.
9. Villa Escudero is a charming coconut plantation and hacienda located not too far from downtown Manila. It provides a nice day trip away from the city and it is here where you can enjoy some local food and culture.
8. Manila Bay is probably the main tourist location in the city, and is comparable to bodies of water in other cities, like Sydney Harbour, Marina Bay in Singapore, or the Odaiba area of Tokyo.
7. City of Dreams Manila is one of two integrated resorts in the capital and this is Filipino luxury at its finest. Even if you cannot afford the hotels or the casino, it is nonetheless a great place to enjoy the atmosphere, both day and night.
6. Baclaran Market is arguably the finest place in Manila to find a good bargain. The chance to see local Filipino men and women ply their trade in the market is a great experience for all travellers to the Philippines – and make sure you seek out some Kwek-Kwek!
5. Intramuros is the oldest district and historic core of Manila, Philippines. It is also called the Walled City, and at the time of the Spanish Colonial Period was synonymous to the city of Manila itself. It was the seat of government when the Philippines was a component realm of the Spanish Empire. Many old forts and cathedrals are located within the Intramuros, and it is a must-see when in Manila.
4. Rizal Park is a historic urban park located near Manila Bay and adjacent to the old walled city of Intramuros. It has been a favourite leisure spot, and is frequented on Sundays and national holidays. Rizal Park is one of the major tourist attractions of Manila.
3. Black Nazarene is a life-sized iconic statue of Jesus Christ enshrined in the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene located at the Quiapo district. The image, which was carved by an anonymous Mexican artist sometime in the 17th century, depicts Jesus bearing the cross enroute to his crucifixion. The statue is renowned in the Philippines and considered miraculous by many Filipino Catholics. There are three annual dates when the statue is brought out of its shrine for public veneration: New Year’s Day (the first day of its novena); Good Friday; and January 9.
2. San Augustin Church is a magnificent Roman Catholic cathedral located within the Intramuros. The Philippines is the only Christian country in Asia, and as such there are churches all over the country. However, in Manila, San Augustin Church is probably the best one to check out, as the interior is so special.
1. Taal Volcano is 60km away from downtown Manila, but I still have to include it on the list because of its grandiosity. Taal Volcano is the second most active volcano in the Philippines with 33 eruptions, yet viewed from Tagaytay Ridge, Taal Volcano and its Lake present one of the most picturesque and attractive views in the whole country – and this makes it a very popular day trip from Manila for travellers!