The capital city and port of entry for most travelers. Manila can be a challenging place to love, but it provides a historical and cultural overview to the country. With a population of 12 million people, Metro Manila comprises a sprawling expanse of districts that include Makati; the central business district with its tall, glass towers and swanky shopping malls; Intramuros, the old walled city with cobblestone streets facing Manila Bay; Ortigas, a shopping center surrounded by affluent suburban communities; and Quezon City, a partly rural, partly seedy section that is also the seat of government.

Manila is a heady mix of the new and old. Young professionals from all reaches of the archipelago move here to find work, while old families with roots dating back to Spanish colonial times still hold fort over all manners of commerce and society. Though it can be overwhelming with its crowds, Manila is a vibrant place that is ultimately a great introduction to the country's colonial past, preserved in its walled city and museums, and the bright future Filipinos are fervently working towards.


A handpicked selection of experiences endorsed by our experts. If you can’t see what you’re looking for, let us know, as our extensive network of local contacts can open many doors.

Bars & Nightclubs

Manila is party central and often plays host to international bands, DJs and musicians. The city also has a robust local music scene, and you're never far from a bar or music venue with a live band or karaoke. Bars abound all over the metropolis, as Filipinos love to imbibe their national drink, San Miguel Beer.

Coconut Palace

Commissioned in 1981 by eccentric First Lady Imelda Marcos for $37 million, the octagonal structure is built entirely of local hardwoods and coconut shells, and was intended to honor Pope John Paul II’s visit to the Philippines, a country where over 80% of the population is Roman Catholic.


Visit Intramuros, the walled city, where Manila was founded by the Spanish in the 16th century. In this area of cobblestone paths plied by horse-drawn carriages, you will find Manila's main cathedral, with its 4,500-pipe organ, and the St. Augustine Church, the oldest church in the Philippines and home to an antiquities museum.

Local Cuisine

Philippines cuisine is a curious mix of Spanish, Chinese and American influence. Traditional Filipino food is typically very savory (and often fatty!) and can be enjoyed in a wide range of restaurants, from fine dining establishments to streetside cafes. Local chefs, many of them trained abroad, have returned to revive Philippine cuisine with an international twist.

Manila Bay

Catch the sunset at Manila Bay, whether on a private yacht cruising the bay, or from the Roxas Boulevard Boardwalk, where you’ll find couples sitting on stone benches, soaking in the view.

Pig Roast

Celebrate your stay with a traditional Filipino dinner at the home of one of the Philippines' most prominent families, who will throw a fabulous fiesta and pig roast in your honor.


Stop by Quiapo, a lively residential district known for its seemingly endless outdoor shopping bazaars, and the busy Quiapo Church, site of the annual Black Nazarene Festival: every January 9, this antiquated sculpture of a dark-skinned Christ is paraded through the streets of the city before throngs of the faithful.

Shopping & Markets

There's a shopping mall on every corner, or so it seems in this shopping-crazed culture. High-end, international retailers mix with local designers in Manila's megamalls, but for more local offerings, look to markets selling Filipiniana, or Filipino-made goods.

Philippines Regions

Explore in-depth information, experiences and highlights by navigating to specific regions using the links below.

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