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Manila Travel Guide, Philippines

Colorful Manila

Perhaps there is no city in the world as unique as Manila or Maynila as it is known to the locals.  The Philippine’s capital offers a distinct blend of sights and sounds that can leave any tourist curious and entertained.  Beneath its busy streets lies a deeply rooted culture that lingers to this day.  It’s always a refreshing journey to visit colorful Manila.

A City By the Bay

The city of Manila can be found at the mouth of the Pasig River which is located east of the scenic Manila Bay.  This river is what divides the city from the center.  Manila’s closest neighbors are Hong Kong, which is 950 kilometers southeast of this island city and Singapore, which 2,400 kilometers north of this country.  Manila owes its haphazard layout from the Spanish Era when small communities started to develop around its walls, which was why it was called Intramuros or the walled city during that time.  The city’s layout has since been organized by the noted American architect, Daniel Burnham.  


Manila is considered to have the highest population density of any city in the world.  It is also the second most populous city in the Philippines.  But despite all this, Manila remains to be a friendly city whose residents respect its rich history and culture.

The language of the people is Filipino or Tagalog but almost everyone can speak English, which is the language used in education and business.  On the other hand, the Filipino-Chinese residents in the city speak Hokkien Chinese.

Within the City’s Walls

Old Manila used to be encased in concrete walls hence the name Intramuros, which means within the walls.  It was designed that way by the Jesuits to protect the city from attacks of invading Chinese pirates and rebellions from locals.  The city was made into the capital of the Spanish colonies and was occupied by Spain for three hundred years.

The British took over the Philippines for two years during which the capital was moved to Pampanga.  By this time, Manila was considered a thriving seaport.  Through the Treaty of Paris, the Americans ceded the Philippines from the Spaniards and the country remained under American rule for forty years.  By the end of the Second World War, Manila was a ravaged city.  It was during this time that the Philippines gained its independence from the Americans and soon Manila declared itself an independent city in 1975.


Historic Wonders

Manila is home to a lot of beautiful historic sites due to the Spanish occupation of three hundred years.  Some noteworthy places to visit are Intramuros, San Agustin Church and Fort Santiago.  

Intramuros features the ruins of the walled city which were originally built in 1571.  Much of the city’s streets and landmarks can take you back to Spanish times.  

Not much farther away is the San Agustin Church, which is the oldest church in the Philippines.  This UNESCO world heritage site, features a beautiful baroque architecture and houses a museum that showcases Filipino, Spanish, Chinese and Mexican art treasures,

Also nearby there  is Fort Santiago which was built at the same time as Intramuros and is known to be the Shrine of Freedom in memory of the heroic Filipinos who were executed during the Spanish and Japanese occupations.

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Read our members' reviews about Manila

  • ultimatetravelShort vacation in Manila
    review by ultimatetravel posted more then 30 days ago
    It was never on plan that my husband and I are going to Manila. It was out of necessity. Since we are planning to get married at that time and we think we can process some papers here in Cebu at the Consul but however due to some circumstances out of our hands we never did. The consul was out of...
  • ultimatetravelMy Airplane Trip to Manila
    review by ultimatetravel posted more then 30 days ago
    We booked our flight going to Manila for a 2am flight. My husband who is really very keen on following rules, policies etc said we should be there 2 hours before our flight. So we rode a taxi going to the airport and arrived around 12 midnight. Wow I was really amazed, only a number of people are...
  • ultimatetravelExperiences of a Manila trip
    review by ultimatetravel posted more then 30 days ago
    Place Manila is the capital of Philippines. Such a very huge city. I never seen anything like it. It has a lot to offer to every person who comes and visit the place. The roads are huge It can fit around 3-4 cars, if I remember it rightly. There are even huge buildings with beautiful facade and...
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Manila City Ratings

  • Rating94%
    City Rank54
  • History & Culture: rated for 100%
  • Night Life & Entertainment: rated for 100%
  • Family & Fun: rated for 100%
  • Outdoors Activities: rated for 100%
  • Food: rated for 100%
  • Sightseeing: rated for 50%
  • Shopping: rated for 100%
  • Public Transportation: rated for 100%
  • Must visit this place: rated for 100%
Manila is one of the "must visit" tourist destinations in the world. This rank is based on what other travelers shared about their experiences in Manila
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