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Set on Manila Bay, Metro Manila, the capital of the Philippines is divided into no less than 16 cities, each with its own unique character. Vibrantly decorated but at times erratically maintained, the ubiquitous pick-up trucks link the districts and ferry locals from place to place.

The city is a delightful mix of the old and new - from ancient Spanish churches to gleaming high-rise structures, quaint street stalls and modern shopping malls, historical landmarks to sophisticated, lively bars and restaurants.

Remnants of Spanish colonial era are found right in the heart of Manila in the well-preserved 16th century walled city of Intramuros. Here, dungeons and old churches share space with art galleries, theatres and a nature park. At the edge of the city walls, Rizal Park is worth exploring in the early morning when groups of people can be seen silently practising tai chi or the traditional martial art of arnis de mano. Binondo,

Metro Manila's Chinatown, stretches along the northern bank of the Pasig River and is a vidi testament to the long history of Chinese settlement in the Philippines, with traditional tea houses and shops selling indigenous snacks, offerings and incense.

Modern buildings, ManilaMakati is the commercial head of the capital and offers a marked contrast, home to smart restaurants and opulent five star hotels and shopping malls such as Rockwell and Greenbelt, which with their quieter walkways amongst manicured gardens provide cooler havens away from the teeming streets of the city.

Far more traditional is Quiapo, its streets lined with herbalists, fortune tellers, traders and handicraft markets. Malate and Ermita districts are popular for their eclectic variety of restaurants, clubs, bars and cafes as well as boutiques and local art galleries.

Whichever district you explore, you will encounter friendly Filipinos - one of the city's most attractive assets, and light conversations are easily enjoyed as English is widely and fluently spoken. Often overlooked as a destination in its own right, it is worth allowing a few days to explore this dynamic, ever-changing city.

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Audley Travel specialist Alex

Start planning your tailor-made trip to Manila by contacting one of our Philippines specialists

Suggested itineraries featuring Manila

Our itineraries will give you suggestions for what is possible when you travel in Manila, and they showcase routes we know work particularly well. Treat them as inspiration, because your trip will be created uniquely by one of our specialists.

Map of Manila

Places & hotels on the map

    Places near Manila

    Accommodation choices for Manila

    We’ve selected a range of accommodation options for when you visit Manila. Our choices usually come recommended for their character, facilities and service or location. Our specialists always aim to suggest properties that match your preferences.

    • Makati Shangri-La Hotel, Manila

      Makati Shangri-La


      Located in the centre of the shopping and entertainment district of Makati, the commercial and business district of Manila, this fine property has five restaurants, a coffee shop, a music bar, health club, swimming pool.

    • Superior Deluxe, Manila Hotel, Manila

      Manila Hotel

      First Class

      The Manila hotel opened in 1912 and has retained its turn of the century charm. The rooms overlook either Manila Bay and Rizal Park or the ancient walls of Intramuros.

    • Dera Rawatsar

      The Bayleaf


      Situated within the stone walls of Intramuros the Bayleaf makes a great base for those wishing to explore this historic area with its churches, palaces, museums and courtyards.

    • The Henry hotel, Manila

      The Henry


      The Henry is an elegant property in the former residential compound of an affluent Chinese family, located in Pasay City, Manila, for convenient access to the vibrant city and its airport.

    • Poolside, The Peninsula Hotel, Manila

      The Peninsula Hotel

      First Class

      This classic hotel is situated in the heart of Makati City and exudes style and understated luxury. With great attention to detail evident throughout, the rooms feel personal for a hotel of this size, offering comfort in a light and airy space.

    Ideas for experiencing Manila

    Our specialists seek out authentic ways to get to know the places that could feature in your trip. These activities reflect some of the experiences they've most enjoyed while visiting Manila, and which use the best local guides.

    • Full day tour to Taal Lake & Taal Volcano
      View across the Taal Volcano crater and the surrounding lake, Luzon, Philippines

      Full day tour to Taal Lake & Taal Volcano

      Full day tour to Taal Lake & Taal Volcano

      Taal Volcano and Taal Lake lie approximately 70 kilometres south of Manila. Once you reach the shore of the lake you will board an outrigger boat for the 30 minute trip across the lake to Taal Volcano Island, from where you'll trek uphill through the hardened black lava to the crater rim.

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    • Half day tour of Intramuros
      Intramuros, Manila

      Half day tour of Intramuros

      Half day tour of Intramuros

      Intramuros, located along the southern bank of the Pasig River. The tour includes a wander through the cobbled streets, a visit to Casa Manila (a reproduction of a 19th century house) as well as the country's oldest stone church. There is also the option to ride in a horse-drawn carriage.

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    • Day trip to Corregidor
      One mile barracks, Corregidor

      Day trip to Corregidor

      Day trip to Corregidor

      This fascinating offshore island fortress, 40 kilometres west of Manila, is a treasure trove of information for history buffs.

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    • Manila City Tour
      Modern buildings, Manila

      Manila City Tour

      Manila City Tour

      Highlights of the tour include Rizal Park, named after the national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal and Intramuros (walled city) where you can see the remains of the Spanish conquistadores. You also go along the old cobbled streets to visit San Augustin Church, the oldest stone church in the country.

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    • Half day bamboo bike tour of Manila
      Bamboo bike, Intramuros

      Half day bamboo bike tour of Manila

      Half day bamboo bike tour of Manila

      This is a unique way of getting to know about old Manila's history. You will ride through the streets on bamboo bikes, hand-made by village folk who make up Gawad Kalinga - a non-profit organisation whose mission is to end poverty in the Philippines.

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