Marvelous Manila! Heritage Buffs, Foodies & Marine Lovers Paradise

Marvelous Manila! Heritage Buffs, Foodies & Marine Lovers Paradise


by: Prime Sarmiento

Travellers often skip Manila to enjoy Boracay’s famed white sand beach or to dive the renowned Tubbataha reef. But the Philippine capital, with its rich history and cosmopolitan vibe,  has many things to offer especially to culture/heritage buffs, foodies, shopaholics  and party girls.

1. Take a walk in Intramuros,  The centuries-old “walled city” was built during the Spanish colonial era. This area is now home to country’s most beautiful churches (Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church) and museums (Casa Manila and Bahay Tsinoy). Don’t forget to go to Fort Santiago, perhaps the most historic place in Manila. This defense fortress was built for the Spanish conquistador, Miguel López de Legazpi at a site where the palace of Rajah Suleiman, the chieftain of pre-colonial Manila once stood.

2. Go on a food trip in Binondo, Manila’s famed Chinatown district – Dump your South Beach diet and indulge yourself in Filipino-Chinese carbo-based goodies including noodles, dumplings, spring roll, siopao, hopia and  tikoy (a.ka. Chinese New Year Cake). Buy a copy of Binondo Food Wok map if you want to locate the best food stalls and restaurants in the area.

3. Build you art collection and invest in contemporary Philippine art – Filipino visual artists are hot and the high quality of their work have been breaking records in regional auctions. Some galleries that you can visit to view (and perhaps purchase) contemporary Filipino art include Galerie Joaquin Finale Art Gallery and Silver Lens.

4. Go to Ocean Park  – The  Philippines is famous for its marine biodiversity, but if you’re no scuba diver, you  can still get that under the sea experience and marvel at the country’s diverse marine species by going to the city’s oceaanarium – the Manila Ocean Park.

5. Sign up for John Silva’s tour of the National Museum- Get a crash course on Philippine history, culture and arts. Highlight of the four hour tour is Silva’s mini lecture on the country’s most celebrated art piece.

6. Shop, shop, shop – Manila is home to Mall of Asia, one of the world’s  biggest shopping malls – where you can shop till you drop given its wide array of stores, products and brands.  But if you’re more interested to buy high quality and unique Filipino delicacies, furniture, accessories and gift packs, then head to and the eco-friendly shop, Echo Store.

7.  Bring your mat- Keep up with your regular yoga practice at several of the city’s shalas including Iyengar Yoga Center Manila  and Bikram Yoga Manila.  Iyengar Yoga Manila also invites some of the world’s  most experienced senior yoga teachers to teach here, so  be sure to attend one of these special sessions to deepen your practice.

8. Enjoy Manila’s night life – Booze the night away in bars, cafes and clubs that line Morato St. in Quezon City; Adriatico st. in Malate and Bonifacio High Street in Taguig.

9. Indulge in indie- Catch award winning Filipino indie films being shown at the University of the Philippine’s Film Institute.

10.  Tour the Manila Chinese Cemetery– The second oldest cemetery in Manila was built  for Chinese immigrants who were denied burial in Catholic cemeteries during the Spanish colonial period. This may sound ghoulish, but a trip to this cemetery is highly recommended for those interested in Philippine-Chinese architecture as  represented by temples and mausoleums that abound in this place.

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