Traditionally, Manila has always been a location that is simply passed through either on the way to another country or as a brief stopping point. As a result, many of the beautiful locations were going unnoticed and the stunning scenery was left for the locals to enjoy. However, recent figures released by the Philippines Department of Tourism show that this trend is changing; instead of passing through, people are deciding to make the capital of the Philippines the sole purpose of their trip. In truth, this is fantastic news because the city really does have a lot to offer.

Firstly, when it comes to history Manila boasts a number of interesting locations; Fort Santiago is one of the main landmarks in the area and it isn’t hard to see why. Currently, it is home to a promenade, local theatres, and a park but when you start to look back it has stories to tell. After being erected for the Spanish colonial government in 1593, it was damaged in World War II and has changed hands throughout history.

Secondly, the Pasig River, which has been called the ‘Cradle of Civilization’, actually splits Manila in half. As a result, both sides of the river offer their own folklore but the shoreline also supports a notable historical structure–the Malacanang Palace. The over 250 year-old Palace provides the perfect photo backdrop from the north bank of the Pasig River.  It also continues to serve as the official residence and workplace for the President of Philippines.

Rizal Park.  Photo:  FiloD

Another beautiful attraction and, perhaps, Manila’s most popular is Rizal Park—one of the largest urban park’s in Asia.  Rizal Park was named in honor of the Philippine national hero, Dr Jose Rizal, who was executed just before the turn of the twentieth century for supporting independence for the Philippines.  Rizal was executed by Spain for rebellion after an anti-colonial revolution broke out that he was accused of sparking.  A monument with his remains stands as the focal point in the park.

Manila’s cultural offerings include the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum, and the National Library.  For families, the Museo Pambata near Rizal Park is specifically designed as an interactive museum for children and is the first of its kind in the Philippines.  Manila’s Chinese community is the largest ethnic group in the city and the vibrant Binondo district “Chinatown” is the oldest Chinatown in the world.

Finally, before leaving Manila a visit to Manila Bay would provide some much needed relaxation. Many locals, and even visitors, say that the sunset at the bay is one of the most beautiful in the world and this can really finish a trip perfectly.