Explore Manila in One Day

When I was in Korea, I met a lot of travelers planning to visit the Philippines. Most of the time, I recommend the places outside Manila, like Boracay, Cebu, Bohol, and Palawan. In the past months, I’ve been to Albay, Bataan, Laguna, and Batangas. Exploring the nearby provinces made me appreciate the natural resources of the Philippines. To be honest, I haven’t explored Manila until now. This time, I was educated about the history of the Philippines.

Here’s my itinerary:

1. Rizal Park

It’s named after Dr. Jose Rizal, the national hero of the Philippines. He was an ophthalmologist, sculptor, painter, educator, farmer, historian, playwright and journalist. In addition, He used his pen to criticize the Spaniards. He was shot in charges of treason in Luneta Field which is now part of the Park.

Explore Manila in One Day (1).jpeg
Sunglasses from NCat Philippines

2. The National Museum Complex

It has three main buildings: The National Museum of Anthropology, the National Art Gallery, and the National Museum of Natural History.

3. Intramuros

Intramuros means “within the walls”. It is the ancient heart and soul of the great Metropolis of Manila. It witnessed the most important events in the Philippine History. The administration of Intramuros insures that 16th to 19th century Philippine-Spanish architecture remains the general architectural style of the walled area. Intramuros is open to the public and is home to various museums, religious buildings, educational institutions, and government offices.

Explore Manila
Explore Manila in One Day

4. Intramuros: Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago became infamous for its dungeons. It was a symbol of terror for centuries. This is where Dr. Jose Rizal and other revolutionaries were imprisoned during the Philippine Revolution in 1896. It was used as detention and torture chamber where thousands were massacred by the Japanese. Now, it is designate as a national shrine for Dr. Jose Rizal and the victims of war. (Entrance Fee: 75/ $2)

Explore Manila
Explore Manila in One Day

5. Intramuros: Manila Cathedral

Manila Cathedral is officially called Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Concepcion. It was established in 1571 by a secular priest, Fray Juan de Vivero. He was sent  to promote  Christianity as the spiritual and religious administration in newly colonized Philippines. The cathedral underwent different calamities. It was destroyed by fire, earthquakes, and by the second world war. The present cathedral was constructed in 1950’s retaining the features of the past. It is where Pope John Paul II and Pope Francis held a mass when they visited the Philippines.

Explore Manila

6. San Agustin Church

San Agustin Church is recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is patterned after some of the magnificent temples built by the Augustinians in Mexico. It used to have two towers but an earthquake in 1880 damaged the left tower. In addition, it was looted by British forces who occupied Manila in 1762. The monastery became a concentration camp during the Japanese occupation. Now, it houses the San Agustin church and museum which highlights the Augustinian mission in the Philippines and displays the treasures of the church. (Entrance Fee: PhP200/ $4)

Explore Manila

I’d like to thank Explore Manila, an independent group of freelance tour and history enthusiasts, for guiding me in my Manila Tour. I really learned a lot about history and culture of the Philippines because of the information they shared during the trip.

Besides the very educational and informative talk, they also gave me a free handbook which contains the history about the places in Intramuros like Fort Santiago, the seven churches, and even the nearby places outside Intramuros.

Visit their Facebook Page – Explore Manila – Historical Tour

Check out their tour packages:



  1. lagi ako nag mamanila pero never ako nakapunta ng intramuros and san agustun church. these places are perfect for photo ops sa mga bloggers and balik tanaw sa history. hehe

  2. Dalawa pa lang sa list mo yung napuntahan ko kahit taga-Manila lang ako. Hahaha. Sundin ko tong guide mo pag naisipan ko ulit mag-gala dito.

  3. I’ve been to manila for countless times already but I haven’t got a chance to explore around. Thanks for this article Karla, now I have ideas where to go the next time I travel to manila.

  4. I try to bring my boys around as much as I can when we are in the country. The tour company is good for visitors and it’s nice of you to avail that. I will be bringing them to a Carlos Celdran Tour this summer for a more in-depth and funny experience:-)

  5. I haven’t been to the Philippines yet, but this will definitely come in handy~ especially if i only have a short stopover in Manila. It seems like a cool city with lots of history! Thanks for the tips 🙂

  6. As a fellow teacher who travels, I so appreciate your blog. I’m also highly considering a trip to the Philippines so this post is perfect. Hopefully I’ll have something equally insightful to post on my site once I’m back!

  7. Thank you for such an informative post on Manila! It sounds like you really learned a lot on your guided tour. Great pictures as well, thank you for sharing your experience with us.

  8. I visited Intra Muros and Rizal park on a tour while in Manila a few years ago. On a random note, I really like your skirt. I bought a similar silk skirt in Canada, but it was made in India.

  9. Sweet. I hope to have the chance to visit Manila and see some of those places, I’m very interested in different cultures and history so some of these places certainly pique my interest.
    Look forward to seeing more.

  10. Wow! Manila looks such an interesting place to visit. My parents are visiting Manila in September, I am going to forward it to them so that identify the best itinerary from the tour options.

  11. I was in Philippines last year and went to Cebu only 🙁 now I feel like I missed something really worth visiting. sorry to say but I heard from lots of people that Manila isnt safe so better not to go so I just avoided it.. 🙁 thanks for the blog post abt the beautiful city of Manila.. btw Karla, what do you do in Korea? always wanted to ask you actually 🙂

  12. My daughters have become world travelers. Recently they spent a month exploring parts of South East Asia. Their next adventure planned includes the Philippines. I will share your post with them.

  13. Sounds like your guides were great at filling you in on everything. Having a guide that knows the ins and outs and can explain everything really makes what you see come to life I think.

  14. This is a very helpful/Pin-worthy post for travelers to Manila. The prices of the travel group are very reasonable and nothing beats having a knowledgeable guide that knows ins and outs of the city that you’re in. I think this is a great idea for people connecting through Manila, otherwise it doesn’t strike me as a city to spend much time in.

  15. Manila seems an interesting place to visit , I had heard about its cathedrals and churches which have some beautiful architecture. Museum sounds a great option to explore.

  16. The architecture in Manila is beautiful. I loved seeing all of your pictures. I’d love to travel to Manila with my daughters one day. – Elle Em

  17. I watched Dolce Amore and they loved exploring Manila; I can recall Bohol in a way. Anyway, the Cathedral and Augustin Church would be places I’d want to explore in Manila simply because the have this amazing ancient architecture.

  18. What a great day!! Sounds like such a net area to explore. Your tour guide sounds like they really know what they are doing.

  19. This is a really interesting article to read. It’s great you had such a helpful tour guide to show you all the history and culture that Manila has to offer.

  20. We really enjoyed your article ! What we enjoyed a lot is how you used your pictures with the sign bubble !

  21. Looks like you had a great time. It is a lot more engaging when you have someone there to teach you all about the history of what it is you are looking at.

    1. I totally agree with you. It’s a different experience to see paintings and learn about the people who made them. My tour guide is also an artist himself. He’s really passionate with history and culture.

  22. Hi Karla, another very interesting article. I enjoyed reading it – Manila has some very beautiful buildings s.a. the Manila Cathedral and San Agustin Church. The architecture of the buildings of the National Museum Complex is just awesome… I wanted to reblog your post to my website but I don’t see the Reblog button…

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