Spend a couple of days in Manila to soak up the history of this bustling city. Listen to the echoes of the past as you walk through the 14th century walls of the Intramuros, sit on a pew in the World Heritage San Agustin Church or gape at opulence of the 19th century upper class in Casa Manila. Then step back into the present with a visit to the more cosmopolitan part of Manila that is Makati. It’s the best place to enjoy a spot of shopping, some good food and a relaxing massage.
The main attraction in Intramuros is Fort Santiago, built to guard the entrance of the Pasig River in order to defend Manila. The site features a restored 18th century Spanish barracks and is a must for historians. Fort Santiago was also the place where national icon Dr Jose Rizal was held prior to his execution in in 1896 and features bronze footsteps marking his final steps.
San Agustin Church
This was one of the few buildings to survive the “Battle of Manila” relatively unscathed and is the oldest stone church in the Philippines. It church itself features amazing architecture and a smooth ceiling painted to look three dimensional which will leave you intrigued. The Monastery and the San Agustin museum are both must see as well as the main hall.
Located across the road from the San Agustin Church, Casa Manila is home to a three storey Spanish Colonial mansion which recreates a typical luxurious household from this era. It provides a great insight into the links between East and West that has contributed to creating the Philippines we know and love today.
The business hub of Manila is home to many of the best shopping centres including Greenbelt, Glorietta and Market! Market! among many others which feature many local brands as well as some of the best internationally recognised labels.
SM Mall of Asia
If Makati doesn’t satisfy your shopping urges then head over to the ever-growing SM Mall of Asia widely regarded as one of the top ten largest shopping centres in the world and is the 3rd largest in the Philippines. Also inside the centre is a full-sized ice skating rink if you need to take a break from the shops or heat of Manila.
A couple of hours south of Manila is Tagaytay Ridge where you can visit the Palace in the Sky and enjoy panoramic views of Taal Volcano which is famous for featuring an island within an island. As well as the Palace in the Sky you can also visit Sky Ranch or Zipline Tagaytay for more adventurous views of Taal Lake.
Head a few hours north of Manila and you’ll find Mt Pinatubo which is a full day trip with an early start if you are interested in climbing the volcano or you can enjoy a relaxing day at the Puning Hot Springs located on the other side of the mountain.