Things to see Manila
Manila is a huge metropolitan city covering over 600 square kilometre and has a lot of sights worth visiting. Traffic congestion is a major problem in the city, and it takes a lot of time and patience to move from one part of the city to another. Fortunately most of the spots interesting for visitor are located in and around Intramuros.
Intramuros and surrounding
Strategically located on the mouth of the Pasig River in the Bay of Manila is Fort Santiago.Rajah Sulaiman build the first wooden fort on this location in . Spanish conquistadors recognized the strategic location and destroyed the fort 1570 and replaced it with Fort Santiago or Fuerza Santiago constructed of wood and clay in 1571. This fort was heavily damaged in the Chinese- Spanish war and rebuild the Fort with stone walls in 1592. The Fort is integrated in the walls of intramurous and served for over 300 years as the main port for the spice trade and was a prison for political activist.
Jose Rizal was executed here in 1890 by the Spanish. It was again heavily damaged in WWII by shelling from American and Philippine forces and restored to the current state in 1982. Today the Fort serves as a museum and has a restaurant and small souvenir shop. D aily open from 8am to 6pm. Admission is 2 USD.
San Augustin church
The oldest still standing building in The Philippines is a couple of blocks away from Fort Santiago and the Manila Cathedral and was declared a World Heritage site in 1993. A bamboo and nipa church of 1571 and a wooden church of 1574 predate the current building. Both were destroyed by fire and thats why the construction of the current stone church was started in 1586 and completed in 1607. Adjacent to the church a monastery was build, which was converted in 1973 to a museum housing paintings and sculptures of friars and relics from the Spanish era.The museum hardly gets any visitors, but provides a good insight into the live of former inhabitants. Daily open from 8 am to noon and from 1 pm to 6 pm. Entrance to the church is free, the museum charges an entrance fee of 2 USD.
The Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica has been destroyed six times due to earthquakes, typhoons and war since the original cathedral was build in 1581. Heavy bombing in WWII completely destroyed the cathedral, but was rebuild from 1954 - 1958 in a similar style and with financial help from Rome. The Cathedral is a magnificent structure with large marble pillars and stained glass windows, but is not as opulent as nearby San Augustin church. There is a dress code, your shoulders, upper arms and knees should be covered. Daily open from 6am to 8pm, admission is free.
Imelda Marcos created this replica of a colonial-era house in 1981. After passing through massive wooden doors you enter the patio where in the old days carriages were kept. A few steps up you enter the entresol with a library, office and maid quarters. On the top floor are the family living quarters. The spacious living room has an old organ and the kitchen complete with old utensils such as a ice box. Open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9 am to noon and 1 pm to 6 pm. Admission is 1,5 USD per person.
The Manila Hotel
This hotel is the oldest luxury hotel in Manila and there is an significant amount of history attached to this place. The hotel was opened in 1912 and was the residence of General MacArthur from 1935 to 1941. If you can't afford staying here, try the Filipino afternoon Tea and take in the grandeur of this majestic hotel.
Manila Ocean Park
The Manila Ocean park is part of a resort with hotel, restaurant and swimming pool and is located across Rizal Park. They host a wide variety of marine life in various size tanks. The largest ocean tank with a walk-through tunnel has a range of large marine life, such as sharks, turtles and rays. The park also displays a large variety of jellyfish, lighted with different colors they are floating gracefully in large aquaria. Opening hours: Mon-Tue from 10 am - 7pm , Wed-Fri from 10am - 8.30 pm and weekends from 9am - 8. 30pm. Admission is 10 USD for adults.
In the suburb of Santa Cruz is one of the oldest burial places in Manila is the Chinese cemetery, founded in 1879 when the Chinese were forbidden from using Catholic cemeteries. It's said the housing of the Chinese dead is better then that of most of the living Filipinos and indeed there are elaborate mausoleum complete with air-conditioning and kitchens for the relatives of the deceased. Hiring a guard as a tour guide is the best way to see the most interesting tombs. The cemetery is setup like a small barancay and best reached by taxi from the LRT - papa station. Open daily from 7am - 7pm.
Right in the hectic business district is Greenbelt Park, with the white dome shaped church of Santo Niño de la Paz on its grounds. The park covers 2,5 acres and contain a wide variety of plant life and flowers. The park provides a welcoming break for office workers and is a good place to relax after some hard shopping in one of the nearby shopping malls. Both the Greenbelt Malls and Glorieta are nearby and have a large upmarket selection of department stores and shops.
A 2-hours bus drive from the BLTB Termina in Pasay City will get you to the small town of Tagatay. Get off the bus near the Tall Vista Lodge Hotel from where you have a marvelous view of Taal Lake on a clear day. In the middle of the lake is the 400 meter high Taal Volcano, one of the smallest active volcano in the world. Boats to the volcano depart to the village of Talisay on the northern shore of the lake. The boat rides takes about 30 minutes and from there its an easy 1,5 hour climb to the summit and back.