14 Top Rated Tourist Attractions in Manila

Jul 22, 2021

All eyes may be on the megacities of Asia, but the Philippines is a fascinating and seductive destination in its own right. Home to one of the world's most colorful and culturally rich cuisines, this irrepressibly upbeat nation offers the tantalizing taste of life in its southeast corner.

Filipinos love to eat, and with amazing seafood, tantalizing vegetables and tropical fruits, as well as a melting pot of western influences and traditions, visitors will have their palate completely satiated. Food aside, the Philippines is a country with a lot more to see and do. A number of great attractions and stunning scenery are found along this enticing Southeast Asian isle.

From the enticing beaches to the thundering cataracts, the smoldering volcanoes to the tropical rainforests, the Philippines' top attractions put you in touch with everything nature has to offer, while also providing the perfect opportunity to relax and unwind. Explore the country's top attractions with our list of the top places to visit in the Philippines.

Malate Church

Photo of Malate, Manila
Malate, Manila: en.wikipedia.org

Malate Church (Malatek sa Malate) is one of Manila's most attractive Catholic churches and the largest in the archipelago. This charming, circa-1800 church stands on reclaimed land overlooking the bay of Manila. Although it is situated on a busy thoroughfare, the church can still be viewed from the bay, as it is separated from the road by a leafy, vegetation-covered, wall. The site is mostly peaceful and quiet at any time of the day or night, and the early 20th-century neighborhood of Binondo has lots of character, with quiet streets lined with small shop houses, bars and restaurants.

Fort Santiago

Photo of Fort Santiago
Fort Santiago: en.wikipedia.org

Built in 1645 by the Spanish, Fort Santiago was named after King Philip IV of Spain. It was later used as a stockade by the Americans during the Spanish-American War. The Fort Santiago is now maintained by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and is a popular tourist spot. One of the highlight is the tower which can be climbed and provides a spectacular view of the city. The views from the top also include the two arms of Manila Bay and the "Mangyong limestone quarry". On the west side of the fort is the Centennial Park, a popular recreation place and the largest amusement park in the city.

Manila Bay

Photo of Manila
Manila: en.wikipedia.org

At one time Manila Bay was called the "Duke's" because it was originally the anchorage of the Spanish ship "The Duke of Medina Sidonia." Today it's the biggest bay in the Philippines, or perhaps the world. The bay itself is quite long and narrow, but in its centre is Manila Bay which spans about 20 miles and is dotted with small islands, such as Quirino, Canlubang, and even tiny Mahogany. If you're visiting Manila on a business trip, expect heavy traffic at the airport and in the city, plus shortages of hotel rooms in March.

Rizal Park

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Rizal Park: en.wikipedia.org

Situated in the heart of Metro Manila, the Rizal Park is a large public park that was given the name for Dr. Jos├ę Rizal, one of the leading figures in the struggle for independence from Spain. His memorial is located in the park, where thousands of people, including Filipinos and tourists alike, visit every day to honor the Rizal revolution. The park also has a zoo, a number of museums, and many statues, including the monument of the "hanging judge," who was one of the earlier Filipino revolutionaries.

Quirino Grandstand

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Quirino Grandstand: en.wikipedia.org

Quirino Grandstand is a great place to enjoy the outdoor sporting events of the Philippines. It was built in the early 1930s and located in Quirino City in the province of Laguna. During the time of its building, it was used for the National Circus Festival. The ballroom, sitting areas, and the entrance can be rented out for any type of event, and the outside seating areas and promenade make for a beautiful venue.

Intramuros

Photo of Intramuros
Intramuros: en.wikipedia.org

Some of the best preserved colonial town in the world, Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is steeped in history. Indeed, it was once the center of power of the empire of the first Philippine king, who united the disparate regions of the archipelago in the 16th century. Independence was declared in 1603, and the restored city boasts some of the best museums, churches, museums, and historical centers in the country. Architecturally, Intramuros is one of the best preserved buildings in the Philippines, with many of its buildings more than 500 years old. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.

Banaue Rice Terraces

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Banaue Rice Terraces: en.wikipedia.org

Built almost 2,000 years ago by the Ifugao people, Banaue's rice terraces and valley, over 700 meters long and as wide as six football fields, remain the best-preserved in the world. (Ifugao, a highly-forested highland tribe, came from Ifugao, a highland province in the northern Luzon region.) The terraces are bordered by bamboo and banyan trees, sacred religious shrines, and over 100 small caves. Archaeologists believe that they were built as an access way for the people to avoid tropical storms and provide a source of food in times of famine. Banaue is only one of many well-preserved rice terraces in the Philippines, many of which have recently been restored and converted into tourist attractions.

Malaca├▒ang Palace

Photo of Malaca├▒ang Palace
Malaca├▒ang Palace: en.wikipedia.org

The Palace of Malaca├▒ang is the official residence of the President of the Philippines. Built by American architect James F. Healey (1839-1897), the Italianate palace was designed with an unusual feature, a full-length porte-coch├Ęre. This was meant to keep people outside when the president was being received by his foreign visitors. A richly decorated building, today it is home to the Presidential Suite and offices of the President. Constructed during the Spanish colonial period, the palace also has four bastions, an observation tower, and museum. Visitors can tour the palace grounds on a guided tour.

Taguig

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Taguig: en.wikipedia.org

Taguig is justifiably considered the center of modern Manila, with an exciting new cityscape made up of tall office towers, modern hotels and glitzy shopping malls. Almost everything of interest lies in this compact and grid-patterned center. Taguig's numerous malls include the IT Park Mall, the SM Mall of Asia and the Ayala Center. But the city's biggest pull is historic Taft Avenue, with its old Spanish-era architecture and walled-in compounds that now house embassies and consulates. Rides in the metro are fast and reliable; local taxis cost around P200. The nearest airport is Ninoy Aquino, 18 km (11 miles) away.

Makati

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Makati: en.wikipedia.org

Makati, the fast-growing financial and business district of Metro Manila, is home to four of Manila's most distinctive hotels: Mandarin Oriental, Belmond Eagle Court, Hyatt Regency Manila, and Shangri-La Hotel. The landmark Grand Hyatt Manila Hotel and Spring Hotels Cauya 2 and Cauya 1 are also here. At this time of writing, the market is relatively unknown. However, if you're in the area for just a couple of days, you'll have plenty of chances to explore Makati on foot. There are cafes and restaurants in abundance, which offer some of the city's best views. The architecturally interesting Triangle Tower is a great vantage point for a great view of Manila.

Mandaluyong

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Mandaluyong: en.wikipedia.org

The city of Manila is home to many high-rise buildings, extravagant malls, and a bustling downtown business area. Mandaluyong, however, is an anomaly. It's a quiet, residential suburb nestled between a newly constructed business district and the highly congested residential center of Makati City. Nevertheless, this quiet enclave is home to a number of historical sites and remnants of the country's precolonial past, most notably the pre-Hispanic walled city of Intramuros, the castle of Marikina, and the enchanting 17th-century Parian Church.

Pasay

Passay is a quiet city located inside the SM Megamall in the capital of the Philippines. Passay is the shopping destination for the entire Philippine interior for everything related to nature and travel, particularly for necessities for outdoor life. The town's top-notch eating places and food court restaurants, where many of the locals gather on weekend nights, keep things lively. Lying on the shores of Manila Bay, Pasay, a quiet backwater until the mid-1980s, transformed itself into a booming, globally connected city.

Mindanao

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Mindanao: en.wikipedia.org

Mindanao is the second largest island in the Philippines. Bordering the Sulu Sea, the island of Mindanao is the central region of the group. It is also known as the "Christian's Jewel" because of its numerous churches, monasteries and ancestral homes. With its medieval and colonial architecture, Mindanao is a tourist magnet for local and foreign tourists alike. People visit the island to see its ancient religious and cultural heritage. Visitors can explore the bustling city of Zamboanga and its beaches in the east. The many churches and monasteries built by the Spanish can be explored in the west where there are many beaches, particularly in Simuay.

Visayas

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Visayas: en.wikipedia.org

Manila's newest delights are Pateros and Taguig, a part of a planning area known as the Gateway of the South, that comprises the cities of Pasay, Makati, Paranaque, Muntinlupa, and Taguig. Spanning both sides of Metro Manila's River, Manila Bay is connected to Lake Maricaban, a small lake known for its cobalt blue water and beautiful white sand beach. Visayan resorts, such as those around Marilao, Dasmari├▒as, and Bauan, all offer wonderful beaches, water sports, and activities.