City

Manila City Tour: Half-Day and Whole Day Sightseeing Trips in Manila

manila city tour

Don’t skip Manila! If you have one day for a quick and easy sightseeing trip, here are your options for a Manila city tour.

For many tourists, Manila is just a stopover before going to the “real vacation places” in the Philippines.

It doesn’t help that the city is known mostly for massive traffic and commercial malls. But there are many Manila attractions to experience local culture, learn history, and taste unique flavors without going too far.

This post is for every tourist or Filipino who wants to visit unusual Manila tourist spots. If you’re up for an easy, convenient, and affordable Manila city tour, then you’ve come to the right place:

Intramuros Ghost Walk Manila Cathedral

Old Manila

A great way to get to know Manila is by visiting the Old Manila which consists of major areas such as Binondo, Intramuros, Quiapo, and Luneta Park. 

The Old Manila is one of the truly local spaces and a must in any Manila city tour. It represents the era where Manila was released from Spanish, American, and Japanese colonization and are finding out what it means to be truly Filipino.

Old Manila tourist spots

  • Malacañang Palace. This is where Filipino presidents have resided, similar to the White House in the United States. Guests are allowed to visit the Malacañang Museum during weekdays, but advance booking is necessary.
  • Quiapo Church. A true immersion in Filipino culture, Quiapo Church is where religion and mysticism mix. Hundreds of devotees go to mass, shop in the wet market, and do tarot card reading or magical charms and potions.
  • Manila City Hall. Its iconic clock tower, the largest in the Philippines, is the ultimate symbol of Manila.

BOOK NOW: Old Manila Tour

  • Duration: Whole day walking tour
  • Places to see: Rizal Park, Manila Planetarium, National Museum, Cinematheque Centre Manila, Escolta, Roxas Boulevard, SM Mall of Asia, etc.
  • Food stops: Aristocrat or Seaside Dampa
  • Notes: Children 0-3 years old are allowed
  • Price: PHP 2,100

BOOK NOW: Chinese Cemetery Walking Tour

  • Duration: Half-day walking tour
  • Places to see: Cong Hock Temple, World War II Memorial, a tour of various mausoleums, etc.
  • Notes: Conducted by the well-known Old Manila Walks tour guide, Ivan Man Dy; Children up to 2 years old are free; English and Filipino languages are used
  • Price: PHP 1,100

BOOK NOW: San Miguel + Malacañang Palace Walking Tour

  • Duration: Half-day walking tour
  • Places to see: Legarda Mansion, Malacañang Palace Museum, San Rafael Street, etc.
  • Notes: Weekdays only, foreigners need to send a scanned copy of passport
  • Price: PHP 1,500

banawe chinatown

Binondo Chinatown

The Manila Chinatown is the world’s oldest Chinatown! Along the banks of Pasig River is where the rich culture of Filipino-Chinese communities have thrived for centuries. Binondo is also the home of the Filipino Catholic saint and martyr, San Lorenzo Ruiz.

Today, this Manila city tour stop is known for its gastronomic treats and Chinese New Year festivities. It livens up with fireworks, firecrackers, performances, and street-side markets! Try the hopia (moon cake) of Eng Bee Tin, a homegrown bakery that is being lined up for during special occasions, and more.

Binondo Chinatown tourist spots:

  • Escolta. Called the “Wall Street” of the Philippines, Escolta is the former financial district of Manila. Today, it’s being revived via the Escolta Block Party.
  • Binondo Church. Called Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, this is a symbol of the Catholic Filipino-Chinese community named after San Lorenzo Ruiz.
  • Chinatown Museum. Get to know the heritage and history of the Filipino-Chinese community in Binondo thorugh the Chinatown Museum Binondo.
  • Binondo food crawl. Go on a Binondo Food Trip and taste traditional Filipino-Chinese cuisine and snacks such as hopia, siopao, tikoy, lumpia, dumplings, and more!

How to commute to Manila Chinatown: You can take the LRT-1 and get off at Carriedo station. You can also take the LRT-2 and get off at Recto station, and walk all the way to Ongpin Street (about a kilometer’s distance).

BOOK NOW: The Big Binondo Food Wok

  • Duration: Half-day food tour
  • Places to see: Binondo Chinatown, Binondo Church, Ongpin Street, Plaza Calderon dela Barca, Basilica de San Lorenzo Ruiz, etc.
  • Dishes to try: local lumpia, siopao, pancit, champoy, etc.
  • Notes: Hosted by the Old Manila Walks founder, Ivan Man Dy; English and Filipino languages are used
  • Price: PHP 1500 on weekdays; PHP 1,760 on weekends

museum of natural history manila

Luneta Park

Luneta is one of the largest city parks in Asia. It’s commonly called Rizal Park after the Filipino national hero, Jose Rizal. He was executed here via firing squad and his remains lie in the Rizal Monument.

As a public space, this Manila city tour destination is now known for Sunday leisurely activities such as aerobics, kite flying, tai chi, and local games.

Rizal Park tourist spots

  • There are many national museums located just within Rizal Park such as the National Museum of the Philippines, National Museum of Anthropology, National Museum of Natural History, National Library of the Philippines, the Museum of the Filipino People, and the Manila Planetarium
  • Manila Bay. Across Luneta Park the place to catch the world-famous golden sunset stop for a Manila city tour.
  • You can also find the tallest flagpole in the Philippines, Kilometer Zero, a man-made lake and sculpture representing the Philippine archipelago, and sculptures of local heroes.

How to commute to Luneta Park: You can take the LRT-1 and get off at U.N. Avenue Station. You can also ride a jeepney or van bound for Vito Cruz and Buendia and get down at T.M. Kalaw. From any of the two stations, take a stroll to Rizal Park.

 

Corregidor Island

Corregidor Island is of historical significance during World War II, as Manila’s military center located in the middle of Manila Bay.

The tadpole-shaped island was fortified with sophisticated coastal guns and mortars, anti-aircraft artillery batteries, a school for servicemen, and an airfield. Until now, many American, Filipino, and Japanese war veterans and historians still go on a Manila city tour to visit Corregidor to relive what transpired in its shores. 

Corregidor Island attractions

  • Pacific War Memorial and Eternal Flame of Freedom. Every May 5th noon-time, the light falls perfectly on the sculpture’s Oculus, the time when Filipino and American troops surrendered after 72 days of bombing. A similar Japanese Garden of Peace was constructed for their Japanese counterparts.
  • Malinta Tunnel. The last stronghold of the Philippine and American forces against the Japanese. It now has audio-visual storytelling of what transpired in the island.
  • Corregidor Lighthouse. One of the oldest landmarks in the island that guided seafarers safely.

How to go to Corregidor: Since it’s an island, it’s best to book Corregidor tours that use private ferry boats. These are usually packaged with historical tours and optional overnight accommodations.

BOOK NOW: Corregidor Historical Tram Day Tour

  • Duration: Whole day tour via tram
  • Places to see: Manila Bay ferry ride, Corregidor Memorial War Zone, Malinta Tunnel, Spanish lighthouse, Lorcha dock, etc.
  • Notes: Lunch included, PWD-friendly but pregnant women are not allowed
  • Price: PHP 2,500

before travel blogging manila city tour intramuros

Intramuros

Intramuros is known for its romantic cobblestone streets, vintage Hispanic architecture, and its surrounding stone wall. It takes you back to the colonial era of Manila without the time travel!

Literally translating to “within the walls”, Intramuros was the Spanish seat of power during Manila’s pre-war heyday. Intramuros Manila has withstood heavy bombings during the World War and now has been rebuilt and preserved for the Filipino cultural heritage.

Intramuros tourist spots:

  • Plaza San Luis. The arts and culture center of Intramuros to find folk dance performances, live music, local restaurants, souvenir shops, and a museum under one roof. It houses the Casa Manila Museum, which re-imagines a classic 19th century Filipino home.
  • Fort Santiago. The citadel within Intramuros is famous for being the last detention cell of the Philippine national hero, Jose Rizal. It was also rumored to be the hiding place of the buried Yamashita treasure.
  • Manila Cathedral. A must for any Manila City tour, this beautiful cathedral endured tragedies such as earthquake, fire, and war. During his Papal Visit of Manila, Pope Francis celebrated mass here with the clergy.
  • San Agustin Church. The oldest church in Manila, a UNESCO World Heritage Site as one of the Baroque Churches of the Philippines, and the only survivor of the World War II bombings!

How to commute to Intramuros: Take public transport that goes Lawton or Quiapo. The landmark that you won’t be able to miss is the Manila City Hall. Get off your ride and pass through the underground subway to cross to the entrance of Intramuros.

 

BOOK NOW: Intramuros Bambike Tour

  • Duration: Half-day biking tour (AM or PM)
  • Places to see: Intramuros attractions like Fort Santiago, Rizal Shrine, Casa Manila, etc.
  • Notes: Participants must know how to bike, the Bambike (bamboo bike) is handcrafted by local craftsmen and is made with durable, all-bamboo and abaca materials
  • Price: PHP 799

BOOK NOW: Walls of this Content: An Intramuros Interactive Walk

  • Duration: Half-day walking tour
  • Places to see: Intramuros attractions like Fort Santiago, Rizal Shrine, Casa Manila, etc.
  • Notes: Expect trivia, fun facts, and witty tales about Philippine history
  • Price: PHP 1,300

BOOK NOW: Intramuros Night Tours by Bambike

  • Duration: Option for Bambike Sunset Tour (4-6 PM) or Bambike Night Tour (5- 7 PM)
  • Places to see: Intramuros attractions like Fort Santiago, Rizal Shrine, Casa Manila, etc. under the sunset sky or city lights
  • Notes: Participants must know how to bike, the Bambike (bamboo bike) is handcrafted by local craftsmen and is made with durable, all-bamboo and abaca materials, children aged 0-9 are not allowed, a requirement to sign insurance and waiver
  • Price: PHP 1,200

BOOK NOW: White Knight Electric Chariot Intramuros Day Tour

  • Duration: Option for Budget Tour (30 mins) or Grant Intramuros Tour (1 hr)
  • Places to see: Intramuros attractions like Fort Santiago, Rizal Shrine, Casa Manila etc.
  • Notes: White Knight e-Chariot is electric 2-wheel equipment with automatic balancing that moves forward when you body leans forward and backwards when you lean back, riders must be at least 130 cm in height and 45kg in weight, protective gear is included
  • Price: PHP 500 for Budget Tour; PHP 900 for Grand Intramuros Tour

manila nightlife

Cultural Tours in Manila

Want to have an immersive cultural, artistic, and political experience? Try these off-the-beaten-path Manila city tour destinations.

If you’re interested in Filipino culture, you may opt to see how Filipinos shop from massive malls to the bargain spaces. You can also watch some Filipino indie films to get to know the local arts and culture scene. The Philippines has many award-winning films that depict the political and social issues of the country.

Other Manila attractions

  • Manila nightlife. The city comes alive with various options for unwinding by nightfall. These come in the form of laid-back gastro-pubs, sophisticated super clubs, family-friendly karaoke bars, and even adult entertainment.
  • Divisoria Mall. It’s the go-to place for bargain-hunting for extremely cheap items that can also be bought in bulk. It’s particularly crowded during Christmastime.
  • Manila Golden Mosque. One of the few mosques in Manila within Muslim Town Quiapo is the Manila Golden Mosque. It’s a community sharing traditional Filipino-Muslim halal culture.

BOOK NOW: Manila Cinephile Crawl

  • Duration: Whole day tour
  • Places to see: Philippine Cinematheque, Black Maria Cinema, Cinema ’76, etc.
  • Food stops: Santiago’s, CO/OP
  • Notes: Children aged 0-7 are not allowed to join the tour
  • Price: PHP 2,100

BOOK NOW: Manila Shopping Experience

  • Duration: Option for a whole day or half-day tours of SM Mall of Asia, Divisoria, or Greenhills
  • Places to see: SM Mall of Asia, Divisoria, or Greenhills
  • Notes: Guests must choose between the three shopping places, children aged 0-3 are free of charge but must be accompanied by adults at all times, PWD-friendly
  • Price: PHP 2,200 for Whole day; PHP 1,500 for Half-day shopping tours

Other Metro Manila Tours

If you’re up to experience the newer cities in Metro Manila, I would highly suggest Makati and Bonifacio Global City (BGC). As the biggest business districts for expats and young adults staying in apartment in Manila, it’s a unique addition to your Manila city tour itinerary.

BOOK NOW: Makati Bambike Tour

  • Duration: Whole day bike tour
  • Places to see: Poblacion bars, Salcedo Market, La Casistas Mercedes, Pasig River, Museo ng Makati, etc.
  • Notes: Participants must know how to bike, the Bambike (bamboo bike) is handcrafted by local craftsmen and is made with durable, all-bamboo and abaca materials, children from 0-9 are not allowed to join
  • Price: PHP 1,120

BOOK NOW: BGC Bambike Tour

  • Duration: 1.5-hour bike tour
  • Places to see: American Memorial Cemetery, World War II mosaics, BGC Murals, etc.
  • Notes: Participants must know how to bike, the Bambike (bamboo bike) is handcrafted by local craftsmen and is made with durable, all-bamboo and abaca materials, children from 0-9 are not allowed to join
  • Price: PHP 1,200

i'm hotel makati bar nightlife

Preparing for your Manila city tour

  • How to commute around Manila. The fastest way around the city is via the train stations of the MRT and the LRT. Land transportation are air-conditioned buses, vans, and jeepney. For convenience or safety, you can ride metered taxi cabs or use ride-sharing apps like Grab.

  • Manila Food. Being a global city, Manila offers a wide array of local and international dishes, particularly Japanese, Italian, and Chinese cuisine and American fast food. Meanwhile, most local dishes are comprised of meat such as chicken, pork, and beef. Some recommended dishes to try are the Filipino adobo and sinigang. Check out more Manila Food Tours linked below.

  • Best time for a Manila city tour. Summertime during the months of March to May is the best time to have a weather-proof trip. Take note of local holidays, such as Chinese New Year celebrations, Holy Week, Christmas, as well as many local fiestas and festivals.

  • Things to bring. Some must-haves for Manila city tour are bottled water, face towel, and an umbrella in case it rains. An online map on your smartphone helps too in navigating during the Manila city tour.

  • What to wear. It’s best to dress comfortably or like the locals. Wear flip-flops, sandals, or rubber shoes for footwear, and breezy shirts coupled with shorts or jeans. For bike tours, choose activewear. Avoid wearing jewelry or flaunting expensive gadgets.

 

More tours to take from Manila

 

If you have any questions about Manila city tours, send me a message on Facebook. I answer everything!

 

 

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