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31 Best Things to do in Metro Manila Edit

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Lorrianne Aryenz Valdecantos  • Contributor
Opinions expressed by Explora.ph Contributors are their own.

Manila has and always been a hotpot for culture, people, and history. From the tragic events that led to the ruction of the city to the milestones,it achieved to be where the city is today. There is no denying that Manila is rich and blessed with hundreds of sights to see. Here are 31 of them.

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The National Museum of the Philippines

1. Walk around Rizal Park

Built in 1902, Rizal Park was designed by American architect and urban planner Daniel Burnham. It was chosen to be the seat of the American Government during the American Occupation. Its surrounding open spaces and gardens used to be a venue for the members of the elite class to socialize and host formal events. 


In 1913, Luneta was renamed Rizal Park, after the Philippines' National Hero and intellectual giant Dr. Jose Rizal. Rizal Park is now being revitalized as the largest urban park in Asia, with its historical monuments, gated ornamental gardens, family activities, and recurring free shows and events. 


The park has thirty (30) attractions and recreation areas, some of which have a minimal admission fee.

Open: Daily, 5am - 9pm


Address: Roxas Blvd Ermita, Barangay 666, Zone 72, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: Free, with paid recreation areas

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Rizal Shrine 

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Lapu-Lapu Shrine

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Chinese Garden

2. Visit the National Museum

Located in Manila City, the National Museum summarizes three facets of Filipino heritage: in culture, in art, and in natural history. Thus, the museum is divided into three sections: the National Art Gallery, the Museum of the Filipino People, and the Museum of Natural History


The National Art Gallery has 10 thematic galleries, housing masterpieces that shaped Philippine art. Two of its most priceless possessions are Juan Luna’s mural of the “Spoliarium” and the controversial “The Parisian Life”. The Museum of the Filipino People displays the living culture of the Filipino race through its indigenous tools, native musical instruments, archaeological artifacts, and historical wrecks. The Museum of Natural History exhibits the botanical, zoological, and geological diversity of the Philippines.

Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 10am - 5pm


Address: Taft Ave., Ermita, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: Free


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National Museum of Fine Arts

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Spoliarium by Juan Luna 

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Sculpture exhibit 

Dive deeper in the Philippine history at National Museum

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The National Museum Tour I Book here

3. Pray at Manila Cathedral

Dubbed as the Mother of all Churches and Cathedrals in the Philippines, Manila Metropolitan Cathedral-Basilica (simply called as Manila Cathedral) is a Neo-Romanesque structure located in the heart of the walled city of Intramuros. The church has served as a venue for papal masses in the country and has long been the seat of the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Manila.


Originally, the church was made out of bamboo and nipa in 1571. After over eight restorations over the past five centuries (most recently in 2012), the Manila Cathedral has transformed into the majestic architecture it is today. Inside are artworks mostly made by Italian artists such as the life-sized bronze statue of Immaculate Concepcion (the patron saint of the parish), made by the renowned sculptor Maestro Enzo Assenza, the largest pipe organ in the country is found inside, composing of 4,500 pipes, and it also houses eight chapels.


It is also the first cathedral in the Philippines and the only church in the country that was elevated in the rank of a Basilica through the Pope’s initiative or motu proprio. It was His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, that raised the dignity of the Cathedral into a Basilica just months after his visit to the Philippines in 1981.

Open: Open daily from 7:30 AM


Address: Cabildo St. corner Beaterio St, Intramuros, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: Free

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Facade of Manila Cathedral

4. Scout the last days of Rizal at Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago was the governmental seat of power in Intramuros during the Spanish period. Hence, the most important details of history are etched in its structures—its dungeons, death chambers, prison cells, and Spanish offices. The highlight of the Fort Santiago, however, is the intellectual giant and martyr, Dr. Jose Rizal, whose novels and public execution sparked a revolution and ended the 333 years of the Spanish regime. 


Rizal belonged to the Ilustrado, a group of freethinking Filipinos who studied in Europe and were exposed to Western ideas. Seeing the Philippines in the clutch of Spain in the late 1800s, Rizal wrote and self-published two definitive novels, the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, exposing the corruption of Spain over the native Filipinos. 


More than learning about Intramuros, the Fort Santiago, and Dr. Jose Rizal, visiting this place is a journey towards unlocking the gifts of freedom.

Open: Daily, 8am - 6pm


Address: Plaza Luis Complex, cor. A. Soriano Jr. Ave. and Gen. Luna St., Intramuros, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P75

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Fort Santiago Gates

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Jose Rizal Statue

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Kalesa Ride 

5. Visit the thriving bonsai garden at Baluarte de San Diego

Baluarte de San Diego in Intramuros used to be a drowning chamber during the Spanish Period. It was built and designed by the Jesuit priest Antonio Sedeno in the late 1580s. Today, the baluarte is a bonsai garden that caters to tourists and social gatherings. Its main feature is the circular dungeon called Fort Nuestra Señora de Guia. 


Centuries ago, Baluarte de San Diego used to have a view of Manila Bay, and once served as a watchtower for incoming ships. It was intruded by the British Forces in 1762 and was later restored and fortified by the Spaniards. The baluarte was once again abandoned after it was damaged in the 1862 earthquake. It was completely destroyed in the Battle of Manila in 1945 and was restored from 1979 to 1992 for historical preservation.

Open: N/A


Address: Sta. Lucia St, Intramuros, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P75

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Baluarte de San Diego

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Bonsai Garden

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Garden

6. Relive the old glory days at Casa Manila

Casa Manila Museum portrays the lifestyle of the educated and moneyed class during the 17th and 18th centuries. While the people who had once lived in such a house are gone, there remain the things they have left behind- the products of their extravagance and the relics of their family values, customs, traditions, and beliefs. 


Casa Manila Museum, like the other houses that make up the Plaza San Luiz complex, has commercial establishments on the ground floor, and residential areas among its upper floors. The house evokes Filipino-Spanish opulence, from its ornate high ceilings and baroque walls to its Castilian flooring, Victorian wood furniture, and tropical slats and ventilations.

Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 9pm - 6pm


Address: Plaza San Luis Complex, General Luna cor. Real Street, Intramuros, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P75

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Kitchen and well

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Bedroom

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Pathways leading to the Casa

7. Visit the oldest stone church, San Agustin

The Philippines' oldest stone church, San Agustin Church bore witness to the 400-year-old Spanish rule in the country. It has weathered many bombings and earthquakes, and through its countless renovations, incorporated other influences including Filipino and Chinese designs. Octagons, gold-gilded linings, and pineapples decorating the priests’ pulpit all point to its Chinese influences. Italian artisans, on the other hand, incorporated Trompe de l'oeil, or illusions, on its ceiling. 


Two of the salient points of the church are its bamboo organ and a hidden mausoleum, which houses the remains of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi. San Agustin Museum exhibits ecclesiastical relics and artworks, including wooden and ivory statues, Dominican paintings and sculptures, renditions of the galleon ships, and other architectural emblems of Spanish Catholicism. Since 1993, the 400-year-old San Agustin Church was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Open: Daily, 9am - 12nn, 1pm - 5pm


Address: Gen. Luna St., Intramuros, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P100

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Columbarium inside the church

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Museum

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Tomb of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi

8. Learn about ancient Filipino-Chinese relationship at Bahay Tsinoy

The Bahay Tsinoy is a testament to the painful struggle of the Chinese Filipinos in the Philippines. Like the struggles of the overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in strange lands, the overseas Chinese workers (OCWs) here have turned toward each other and helped each other out to survive. 


The museum chronicles this struggle in life-like wax figures in the realistic setting of the Parian, now Chinatown, in Binondo. Other than the detailed recreation of the Chinese trade, the museum has other interesting galleries, including the Bahay na Bato, the typical Chinese settlement in Manila; the Ching Ban Lee Ceramics Gallery, the Martyrs Hall, Batang Tiaong, and the gallery featuring prominent Chinese Filipinos who aided in nation-building and in the revolt against the Spaniards. 


The museum also has a library containing Chinese Filipino literature, history books, and others.

Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 1pm - 5pm


Address: 32 Anda cor. Cabildo Streets, Intramuros, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P100

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Museum 

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Wax figures 

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Artifacts

Check out our tours and activities in Intramuros

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Intramuros Walking Tour I Book here

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White knight Electric Chariot Intramuros Day Tour I Book here

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Intramuros Bambike Tour I Book here

9. Relive Manila's prime years at Escolta Museum

Escolta Museum is a time machine to the old and elegant Manila. The museum has three small sections. The center section, or the entranceway, displays old photographs of Manila. 


The left-wing displays vintage collections of sophisticated colored bottles from 1910 to 1960, and vintage print advertisements featuring ads on films, carnivals, appliances, and Filipiniana music. 


Meanwhile, the right-wing displays old newspapers, journals, and reviews from the late 18th century to the early 19th century. These materials are printed in either Old Tagalog, Spanish, or English.

Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 9am - 12nn, 1pm - 5pm


Address: 2/F Calvo Bldg., 266 Escolta St., Binondo, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P100

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Escolta Museum Building

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Inside Escolta Museum

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Escolta Museum 

10. Visit Sta. Cruz Church

The Jesuit missionaries built the Sta. Cruz Church in 1608. It was strategically located in the outskirts of Chinatown near Binondo to cater to the Chinese converts in Manila. The initial structure of Sta. Cruz Church had been partially damaged by two earthquakes and was completely devastated by the Battle of Manila in 1945 during the Japanese occupation. 


The current structure of the church was erected in 1957 and bears the characteristics of Spanish Baroque architecture. Nestled on top of the facade of the church is the image of Nuestra Señora del Pilar, the church's patroness. The side chapel has an image of La Pieta, a sculpture of the dead body of Jesus Christ being cradled by His mother, Mary. 


Another interesting feature of the church is the wooden cross found at the center of the crypt that contains carvings depicting the Way of the Cross.

Open: Open Every Day


Address: Carriedo St, Binondo, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: Free

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Sta. Cruz Church facade

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Image of the Virgin Mary

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Inside the church

11. Shop till you drop at Divisoria

Boutique owners, bulk-order suppliers, sidewalk peddlers, and itinerant vendors. They've all found a home in the dizzying streets of Divisoria, Metro Manila's biggest and most comprehensive shopping mecca. 


Every street in the area caters to a specific need: bridal gowns, school supplies, textiles, Halloween costumes, cutlery--you name it, Divisoria's most probably got it. Prices are famously dirt-cheap because vendors sell items in bulk or wholesale. 


Those who don't want to dive in the frenzied atmosphere and maze-like set-up of the outdoor markets can shop more conveniently in the air-conditioned buildings of Tutuban Center Mall, Divisoria Mall, 168 Mall, and Meisic Mall. 


A trip to Divisoria, like going to war, warrants preparation and caution: leave expensive belongings at home, keep your wallet secure, learn to haggle, hydrate, and wear comfortable footwear. 

Open: Open Every Day for 24 hours. Most stores are open between 7am - 7pm.


Address: Recto, Juan Luna, Santo Cristo and Comercio streets , City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: Pay as you shop

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Tutuban Center 

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Along Recto Avenue

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Inside a Shopping Mall

Know your way around Divisoria like a pro: The Most Updated Ultimate Divisoria Shopping Guide 2019

12. Visit San Lorenzo Ruiz' Basilica

Binondo Church, or the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz, is one of the many baroque Spanish churches that peppered the country during the 16th century. It was named after the first Filipino saint, San Lorenzo Ruiz, who was himself a sacristan in the church during his younger days. 


Since its establishment in 1596, Binondo Church was struck by an earthquake in 1863 and was bombed twice by Englishmen in 1762 and by Americans during World War II. It was renovated several times, most recently in 2004, when the church was restored through the assistance of the Doña Salustiana Dee Foundation. 


While its architecture is Spanish, the octagonal shape of its tower was influenced by the Chinese during one of the church's renovations. Holy Mass here alternates between Tagalog and English. 

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Inside Binondo Church 

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Facade of the Binondo Church

Open: Open Every Day


Address: Plaza San Lorenzo Ruiz, Quintin Paredes Street (previously Rosario Street) cor. Ongpin Street, Binondo, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: Free

Go on a little Binondo Food Trip: Restaurants in Binondo and their Specialties

Get to know Binondo more with our specially curated tours 

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Chinatown Museum I Book here

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Binondo Food Tour I Book here

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Binondo Overnight Package Tour I Book here

13. Touch the Black Nazarene at Quiapo Church

Quiapo Church is home to the biggest procession in the Philippines, that of the Black Nazarene. The Black Nazarene is a dark wooden sculpture of Jesus Christ carrying the cross and is believed to be miraculous by many Filipino Catholics. While the church itself is more than 400 years old, Quiapo Church looks modern since its renovation and expansion in 1984. 


The church's other features are the wood carvings on the walls depicting the Way of the Cross. This was designed by the award-winning sculptor Eduardo Castrillo in 1992. The church was originally built of bamboo and nipa palm in 1586 by Franciscan Missionaries. It was destroyed thrice: it was burnt down in 1639, was damaged by an earthquake in 1863, and was burnt down again in 1928.

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Facade of Quiapo Church 

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Inside Quiapo Church

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Dome features

14. Marvel at the San Sebastian Church

San Sebastian Church is the only neo-Gothic church in Asia made entirely of prefabricated steel. The steel structure was crafted in Belgium and was transported in eight different shipments to the Philippines. 


In 1891, the church was assembled and completed, its steel frame filled with mixed sand, gravel, and cement. Inside, the church is elaborate with stained glass windows depicting the passion of the Christ. 


The church's pointed arches and washed out paintings of nuns, angels, and saints evoke feelings of terror and fright. Quirky to its design, however, is its altar, which is made of seashells.

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Facade of San Sebastian Church

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Inside San Sebastian Church

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Iron Dome features

15. Visit our brothers at Manila Golden Mosque and Cultural Center

Also known as Masjid Al-Dahab, the Manila Golden Mosque and Cultural Center is the largest mosque in Metro Manila. Its name comes from its gold-painted dome, topped with a crescent moon, a symbol of the Islamic faith. 


The mosque is faithful to Islamic architecture—its elaborate mosaics, pointed arches, and multi-columned interior design. Unlike the typical Christian church, it doesn't have benches and pews. Instead, it only has spaces to capture the simplicity of worship: by either standing, prostrating, kneeling, bowing, or sitting. Non-Muslim visitors who wish to enter the mosque are advised to adapt to Islamic customs of worship. 


You'll find a washroom at the left of the mosque, where you'd have to wash your face, neck, hands, arms, and feet. Afterwhich you may enter the mosque, leaving your shoes outside.

Open: Daily, 4:30am - 7:30pm


Address: Globo de Oro St. cor. Gunao St. Brgy. 384, Zone 39, Quiapo, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: Free

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Facade of the Golden Mosque

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Intricate tiles and decoration of the Mosque

16. Peek into the famed revolutionaries' house

Bahay Nakpil-Bautista is a heritage house that nurtured revolutionary minds in the early 19th century. The heritage house was built and designed in 1914 by Arcadio Arellano, a pioneering Filipino architect at that time. 


Combining both wood and stone materials in a design called Bahay na Bato, the house structure follows a traditional urban style in the 19th century. Meanwhile, the intricate designs inside were inspired by the geometric floral patterns of the art nouveau movement called Vienna Secession


Its rooms serve as galleries, housing memorabilia of the heroes and revolutionaries that once lived there. Its notable galleries are the Juan Nakpil Gallery, dedicated to the National Artist in Architecture; the Ariston Bautista Gallery, named after the doctor who owned the house; and the Oriang Gallery, after the wife of the revolutionary leader Andres Bonifacio.

Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 9am - 5pm


Address: 432 A. Bautista St. (formerly Barbosa St.), Quiapo, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P80

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Livingroom area

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Study area

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Notebook

Get more Quiapo travel inspo here: 8 Things to do in Quiapo

Get close and intimate with Quiapo with our Walking Tour

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Quiapo Market Tour I Book here

17. Immerse at the true essence of Bayanihan at Hospicio de San Jose

Hospicio de San Jose is a home for the homeless, and a home for visitors who'd like to travel for a cause. Hospicio sits on Isla de Convalencia, a lone islet in the middle of Pasig River. 


It comprises a spacious compound with buildings each housing a different age bracket: for infants, children, teenagers, disabled persons, and the elderly. A separate building is reserved for travelers who'd like to volunteer in this tiny community. For about P700/day, travelers get to have a room of their own on this islet. 


They may choose the time of their volunteer work, be it in the morning or afternoon, and use the rest of the time exploring the big city. Hospicio de San Jose was founded in 1782 and built on the islet in 1810. It has earned the distinction of being the oldest charitable institution in the Philippines.

Open: Daily, 8am - 5pm


Address: Ayala Bridge, Quiapo, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: Free, reservation required

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Outside Hospicio

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Church

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Entrace to Hospicio 

18. Dine like fine people in Casa Roces

Located in front of the Malacañang Palace, Casa Roces is an ancestral home turned into a full-service restaurant serving Filipino-Spanish cuisine. Built in the 1930s, the two-story restaurant has a quaint vintage feel, with the hum of a fancy cafe, and the comforts of a grandmother’s house. 


The ground floor features an outdoor wooden deck, a dessert bar, and a memorabilia and accessories shop. At night, patrons are served liquor, wine, beer, and cocktails. Further at the back is a gallery displaying Joaquin “Chino” Roces’ memorabilia and his life as a dedicated publisher of The Manila Times. 


The second floor houses an art and heirloom gallery, and private dining rooms named after the family’s newspaper chains--La Vanguardia, The Manila Times, Liwayway, The Tribune, and Daily Mirror. 

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Outside Casa Roces

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Paintings

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Cafe inside Casa Roces

19. Peek into the world of our leaders

What the White House is to Americans, the Malacañang Palace is to the Filipinos. The Malacañang Palace houses the Presidential Museum and Library in San Miguel, Manila. Previously called the Malacañang Museum, the Presidential Museum and Library is an impressive walkthrough of the stunning building itself and the memorabilia of the greatest leaders in Philippine governance. 


Built in 1920, the museum building, called the Kalayaan Hall, is an elegant and elaborate palace, designed after Renaissance-revivalist architecture. It is the oldest and most historic structure in the Malacañang complex and bore witness to major historical events, including landmark speeches, reforms, and revolutionary movements. 


The museum’s nine galleries, each named after a past president, hold numerous memorabilia, including the print and souvenir materials from their presidential campaigns, their clothing, accessories, as well as publications, documents, and little things that suggest the personality quirks and differences beneath each tough character.

Open: For Reservation, Monday - Friday, 9am - 12nn, 1pm - 3pm


Address: Jose P. Laurel Sr., San Miguel, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P50

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Outside the Museum

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Library

20. Visit the oldest museum in the country

The oldest museum in the Philippines, UST Museum owns the first collection of artifacts in the country, dating to as far back as 1682. A jack of all trades, it houses a bit of everything: botanical, zoological, religious, ethnological, cultural, and artistic. 


Originally called "Gabinete de Fisica" in the late 16th century, the UST Museum used to be a museum specializing in natural history only. Today, not only does the museum features artifacts endemic to the Philippines, but it has also expanded to accommodate religious images, visual arts and paintings, ethnography, and memorabilia, to name a few.


Two of the museum's intriguing items include the Sculpture of the Crucified Christ, which was carved from an elephant tusk, and the museum's most priceless exhibit "The Portrait of a Young Balinese Girl" by Italian sensualist artist Romualdo Locatelli.

Open: Tuesday - Saturday, 8:30am - 4:30pm


Address: University of Santo Tomas, España Boulevard, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P50

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University of Santo Tomas

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Museum

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Species of bats

21. Feel like a kid again in Museong Pambata

Museo Pambata (Museum for Children) in Manila is a two-story learning playground for children—and adults who wish to be a child once again. The ground floor is home to four thematic rooms. The Old Manila Room features a kiddie version of a Spanish Galleon Ship, the Binondo Church, and the Bahay na Bato. 


The Kalikasan Room introduces the children to the environment. The Children in the Global Village Room showcases various toys from all over the world. Similarly, the second floor bears four thematic rooms as well. The How Our Body Works Room is a crash course to the various human organs. 


The Marketplace is a hallway of stores and establishments. The Career Options Room is where kids could spark their imagination and draw about their dream careers. The I Love My Planet Earth Room displays exhibits on climate change and other environmental issues.

Open: Tuesday to Saturday, 8am - 5pm; Sunday, 1pm - 5pm


Address: Roxas Boulevard cor. South Drive, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P250

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Outside Museo Pambata

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Heroes installation

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Miniature Galleon Ship

22. Travel in time with the Philippine banknotes

BSP Money Museum isn’t just about money; it’s about shared memories preserved in the artform of barter exchange, coins, and banknotes. BSP Money Museum showcases the evolution of currency alongside the Philippine economy and history. 


The exhibits are arranged chronologically from the Pre-Hispanic Period, Spanish Period, and Revolutionary Period, up to the American Regime, Japanese Occupation, and the present Republic. The highlights of the museum include fashionable barter shells, gold pebbles (piloncitos), gold barter rings, vintage circus-designed paper money, envelop-sized banknotes, and the silver dos Mundos. 


The last is considered to be one of the most beautiful and rarest coins in the world. Founded in 1999, the Money Museum is owned and operated by the Central Bank of the Philippines, or Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas.

Open: Monday - Friday, 9am - 4pm  


Address: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, A. Mabini St. cor. P. Ocampo St., City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: Free

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Money museum

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Php 100,000 specimen

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Old bank notes

23. Indulge on Contemporary art at MET

The Metropolitan Museum of Manila, also known as the MET, is a modern museum that portrays its paintings, sculptures, installations, and film in contemporary and minimalist design. The changing exhibits on the ground floor highlights artworks from promising Filipino and international artists. 


Aside from paintings, travelers will also find displays of photography, sculpture, and other forms of visual and interactive pieces of art. The permanent exhibits on the second floor are arranged chronologically, serving as a live walkthrough of the history of the Philippines through the visual arts. 


The floor features artworks from 1915 to the present by established Filipino artists, including 14 National Artists. Housed in a high-security chamber of steel barriers, the MET's basement features its more exotic pieces of art and artifacts, which include its pre-colonial gold collection, ivory pieces, and stylized pottery and burial vessels.

Open: Monday - Saturday, 10am - 5:30pm


Address: Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Boulevard, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P100

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Contemporary art

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Insect themed installation

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Paintings

24. Celebrate art at GSIS Museum of Art

GSIS Museum of Art, or GSIS Museo ng Sining, is famous for its two notable masterpieces, which are Fernando Amorsolo’s “History of Music” (1931) and Juan Luna’s “The Parisian Life” (1892). The two artists are iconic giants in the Philippine art industry. Besides these two paintings and other works from established painters, the museum has a diverse collection of visual art from the colonial period up to the present. 


A majority of the artworks come from budding artists and winners of the annual GSIS Art Competition. Other than paintings and murals, the museum displays sculptures, installations, religious art, and even antiques, cultural decorative items, and some pieces of furniture. 


Established in 1996, GSIS Museum of Art was created to develop an appreciation of Philippine visual arts. Apart from the free viewing of artworks, the museum also hosts art activities, workshops, performances, special tours, and film viewing, mostly for free.

Open: Tuesday - Saturday, 8am - 4:30pm


Address: GSIS Main Office, Financial Center (CCP Complex-D.Macapagal Avenue), Pasay City, Metro Manila


Fee: Free

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To the museum

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Paintings

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A painting

25. Get your artistic fix at CCP Complex

CCP Complex is an 88-hectare playground for sports, culture, and art junkies. Dominating the complex is the National Theater building or the Tanghalang Pambansa. Designed by National Artist Leandro Locsin, the National Theater hosts activities across various fields of art, such as architecture, film, theater, visual arts, dance, music, literature, and new media. 


The National Theater is home to two permanent galleries, the Juan Luna Gallery and the Diwa Gallery. The galleries showcase the Philippines' traditional visual arts, and Southeast Asia's indigenous weapons, ornaments, sacred objects, and handmade musical instruments. 


Also housed in this building, the CCP Library and Archive (free admission, ID required) is a delightful treasure chest of books, audio, and video, on music, theater, film, literature, drama, ballet, scriptwriting, language, and humanities-related studies. Established in 1966, CCP Complex was built with the vision, “a Filipino national culture evolving with and for the people”.

Open: Tuesday - Friday, 7am - 8:30pm


Address: Roxas Boulevard, Magdalena Jalandoni, Malate, Pasay City, Metro Manila


Fee: P50

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Staircases 

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Musical Instruments 

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Native folks

Read the full guide to CCP: CCP: Home of Arts and Culture

26. Be with the fishes at Manila Ocean Park

Manila Ocean Park is a nosedive into the Philippine waters: fascinating marine wildlife, but as complexly presented as in the sea. The main attraction is the Oceanarium, which features sharks, stingrays, crocodiles, and other bizarre creatures endemic to the Philippines and Southeast Asia. 


The Oceanarium’s charm lies in its 25 meters (82 feet) underwater tunnel, where travelers can walk through, gaze up, and gawk at the underbellies of marine giants. Other attractions include the Jellies Exhibit, Sea Lions Show and Habitat, Trails to Antarctica, Aquanaut Voyage, Shark Encounter, Fish Spa, Glass Bottom Boat Ride, Swimming and Fun, Funtasea Games and Rides, Birds of Prey, Musical Fountain Show, and the Back of the House.

Open: Monday - Friday, 10am - 9pm; Saturday - Sunday, 9am - 9pm


Address: Behind Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: P400 minimum

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Entrance to Ocean Park

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Oceanarium 

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Fish tunnels

27. Be a bookworm at Solidaridad Bookshop

Established in 1964 by F. Sionil Jose, the National Artist for Literature, Solidaridad Bookshop is the first air-conditioned bookstore in the Philippines. Back in the '60s, the bookstore used to be a cultural complex with an art gallery and originally sold books from the US and UK. 


Today, Solidaridad remains a small yet potent bookstore. It sells various books in humanities, from the classics and the contemporary, the literary and the philosophical, to the economic and the political, all the way from the East to the West. The excellent collection of titles is moderated by the National Artist himself. 


Since 1964, Solidaridad Bookshop has withstood the test of time when all the establishments surrounding it have come and gone. Once called the “best little bookstore in Asia”, Solidaridad is one quick stop to grab a book for a long bus ride in the Philippines.

Open: Monday - Saturday, 9pm - 6pm


Address: 531 Padre Faura St., Ermita, City of Manila, Metro Manila


Fee: Pay as you buy

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Entrance to the shop

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Window displays

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Inside the shop

Open: Tuesday - Sunday, 9am - 6pm


Address: Makati Avenue corner De La Rosa Street, Greenbelt Park, Brgy. Poblacion, Makati City, Metro Manila


Fee: Php400

Check out these quirky and fun museums in Pasay! 

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The Dessert Museum I Book here

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Lakbay Museo I Book here

28. Witness the fancier side of the Philippine History

Ayala Museum in Makati City is an ambitious take on viewing the country’s rich history from a refreshing perspective. Two of the museum’s most prominent galleries are the Diorama Experience and the Gold of Ancestors.


The Diorama Experience highlights 60 events that shaped Philippine history. The scenes are recreated in miniature wooden figures, stage-designed in glass boxes like a cultural barbie house. Located on the fourth floor, meanwhile, the Gold of Ancestors showcases ancient Filipinos’ incredible craftsmanship on the most malleable and most coveted metal on earth, gold. This gallery displays an astonishing 1,059 gold items pre-dating the Spanish period. 


Besides these two prominent galleries, Ayala Museum has an extensive collection of Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics, as well as rare fashionable garments from the 18th and 19th century Philippines. On the third floor, you’ll find the Masters Galleries, which feature pioneering Filipino artists such as Fernando Amorsolo and Fernando Zobel.

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Ships

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Massive collection of China

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Painting

29. Thrift shop at Bangkal

Like stepping into your grandmother’s attic, walking into Barangay Bangkal in Makati City offers unique vintage treasures you can’t find anywhere else. Comprising a whole barangay, Bangkal mostly sells secondhand furniture and antique, from beds, cabinets, and dining tables, to vinyl record players, typewriters, Instamatic cameras, and rotary phones. 


Residential apartments in Bangkal are turned into makeshift thrift stores, where big items are displayed outside, and small items inside. Each store offers a variety of interesting junk from the past. Some smell exactly like your grandmother’s attic, some smell like a moldy library, while some, the collective smell of used, old shoes. 


Aside from furniture and outmoded technology, other stores specialize in selling secondhand clothing, bags, books, toys, paintings, old music and movie records, and a host of other interesting things.

Open: Monday - Saturday, 7am - 7pm


Address: Evangelista Street, Brgy. Bangkal, Makati City, Metro Manila


Fee: Pay as you buy

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Antiques on display

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Makeshift stores

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more antique displays

Read the full article on Makati: Exploring our Wall Street: A 1-Day Makati Itinerary

Understand the business district more! 

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Manila Pub Crawl I Book here

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Philippine Traditional Hilot I Book here

30. Be with nature at La Mesa Ecopark

La Mesa Ecopark is a wild jungle carved into a forested recreation park in 2004. Inside, the park features towering trees, botanical gardens, camping grounds, educational facilities, and several sport activities. 


La Mesa Ecopark is open for walking, running, biking, birdwatching, and family picnics, with only a P50 entrance fee per day. For those who are willing to shell out more than the entrance fee, there are many activities to choose from, such as horseback riding (P50), fishing (P30), paintball (P350), swimming (P80), biking (P60), butterfly trailing (P60), and tree walking (P500/group). 


La Mesa Ecopark is owned and managed by Bantay Kalikasan, a project of the ABS-CBN Foundation, Inc. The 33-hectare park is just the tip of the iceberg that makes up the 2,700-hectare La Mesa Nature Reserve, which protects La Mesa Dam, Metro Manila’s chief water reservoir.

Open: Daily, 8am - 5pm


Address: Novaliches, Quezon City, Metro Manila


Fee: P50

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The iconic stairs

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Pool

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Entry

See the full list of La Mesa Ecopark attractions: La Mesa Ecopark Attractions

31. Chillax at La Mesa Nature Reserve

La Mesa Nature Reserve is called the lungs of Metro Manila because it absorbs around 3% of the total carbon emission of the metropolis. The reserve is home to La Mesa Dam, Metro Manila’s main source of drinking water. 


La Mesa Nature Reserve offers activities such as trekking, trail running, mountain biking (bring your own bike), birdwatching (bring your own binoculars), tree walking (an educational walking tour of Philippine trees), and tree planting (P250/seedling, inclusive of entrance). The entrance fee is P200/head, with 5 to 15 participants per group. 


Walking is still the best and cheapest way to explore the La Mesa Nature Reserve. Travelers may get a tour guide for free; just book in advance. The guide will show you the various plant and animal species in the area, and their medicinal or useful benefits. With luck, you will be able to spot rare fauna such as the serpent eagle and the civet cat, which are also found here.

Open: Requires reservation (02) 938-2540


Address: Novaliches, Quezon City, Metro Manila


Fee: P200

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Reserve

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Entryway

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Tour guide 


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