How to Spend 1 Day in Manila
From grimy Malate to historic Intramuros to Makati’s skyscrapers, Manila is a city like no other. A surging megacity full of honking jeepneys, brightly colored tricycles, and an all-around crazy energy, the Philippine Manila is a sensory overload that visitors either love or hate. Here’s how to ensure you love it, even if you have one day.
Morning: City Sightseeing
Spend your first morning in Manila getting a handle on how the city fits together. You’ll likely want to start with a tour of the city’s most historic quarter, Intramuros, and 16th-century Fort Santiago: choose between walking tours or a Philippines special, a bamboo bike tour. For a more comprehensive overview of the city, consider a jeepney tour or a city tour by car or bus. Expect to cover highlights like the American Cemetery and Makati, some of the city’s significant churches, more of the waterfront, and perhaps a hint of Chinatown.
Afternoon: Volcano Voyage
Gridlock means that most of the natural and historic charms around Manila remain out of reach if you have only one day in town. But you can still squeeze in a trip to the Taal Volcano, in a lake with its very own crater lake up top. Head to the pretty mountain town of Tagaytay to see this active volcano and to tour dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ Palace in the Sky. Alternatively, if the travel feels a bit much, then discover the Philippines’ delicious, hearty fare: take a food tour of Chinatown, try a church restaurant, or book a cooking class.
Night: Bay Beauty
No trip to a coastal city is truly complete without a harbor cruise. So why not treat yourself to a sunset cruise on Manila Bay, perhaps including a Filipino dinner and live entertainment? Alternatively, prepare yourself for the myriad cultures of the nation’s thousands of islands at a cultural show, where dancers display the Philippines’ rich folklore and fiesta traditions as you feast on classic Pinoy fare. Other options for this evening: discover how Spanish, Asian, and American influences meet in Filipino cuisine on a night market food tour; or simply spend a sophisticated evening sipping cocktails in a rooftop bar.