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Last updated : Nov 2009
 
Manila Sightseeing
Manila Sightseeing Guide - TravelPuppy.com
Overview

The capital follows the curve of Manila Bay approximately from north to south. It is the largest city in Southeast Asia with approximately 10 million people. Its relentless bustle and notorious nightlife are both exciting and draining, but if it's action you're looking prepare yourself for non-stop action.

Malate and Ermita are the main tourist destinations and far more salubrious. The greenbelt of Rizal Park and the old walled Spanish town of Intramuros just to the north. Across the Pasig River are Quiapo, a number of colourful markets, and Binondo, with Chinatown. The major shopping and commercial centre is Makati along with the large shopping malls of Greenhills to its north. Quezon City to the north and Pasay City to the south, also have tourist attractions.

Tourist Information

Philippine Tourism Authority (DOT)
5th Floor, DOT Building, TM Kalaw Street, Teodoro Valencia Circle
Telephone: (02)524 2502. Fax: (02) 525 6490.
Email: deptour@info.com.ph
Web site: www.tourism.gov.ph
Opening Hours: 7.00 am to 6.00 pm daily.

Passes
Manila does not have a systematic programme of visitor passes.

Chinese Cemetery

Founded in the 1850s by Lim Ong and Tan Quien Sien (Don Carlos Palanca), the Chinese Cemetery was designated as the resting-place for the Chinese citizens who were denied burial in Catholic cemeteries. Manila’s Chinese Cemetery hosts complete sets of grave goods. These are tombs outfitted with air conditioning, plumbing, flushing toilets, chandeliers and all other modern conveniences for the well to do corpse. To honour the dead and the status of their survivors, entire streets are laid out. The poor are laid to rest in the terraces to the left of the Buddhist Temple. Guided tours for the more Baroque excesses are available.

South Gate on Aurora Avenue, Blumentritt
Transport: Jeepney Monumento.
Opening Hours: 7.30 am to 7.00 pm daily.
Admission: Free.

Cockfighting

The word "cockpit" has nothing to do with a jet airplane. Cockpits are part of the local scene though not all travellers enjoy this bloodthirsty spectacle. Cockfighting fills the same place in the national psyche as bullfighting does for the former Spanish rulers. Prize gamecocks are pampered and groomed, then sent into battle with blades on their feet. Betting for each round can be hectic. Poorer Filipinos in the provinces stage fights between cheap native birds. Major cockpit venues include the Libertad cockpit, with fights every day except Thursday.

Dolores Street, Pasay City
Transport: Metrorail or jeepney to Libertad station, then Evangelista-Libertad jeepney.
Opening Hours: Friday to Wednesday; local newspapers lists fight times
Admission: P30.

Fort Santiago

Dating back 1571, Fort Santiago is one of the oldest and most impressive colonial buildings in the country. The entrance is on the northwestern trip to Intramuros. It looks out on the sea with its canons trained to ward off pirates and invaders. The most renowned prisoner held here was national hero, José Rizal, who spent his last days here before his death at the hands of the Spanish in 1896. Freedom fighters died here during the Japanese occupation. In some cell blocks American POWs were left to be drowned by the rising tide. This was one of the rumoured resting places for the legendary wartime treasure of Yamashita’s Gold and the victims’ last resting place has been disturbed by treasure searchers. The fort suffered major damage when the Japanese used it as their last attack against the Americans. It is now a park, with its own resident theatre company that performs traditional and modern plays. At its centre is the Rizal Shrine, containing relics of the hero including one of his vertebrae, the 1st draft of his novel Noli Me Tangere or Touch Me Not (1887) and the original of his death poem.

Entrance is at the end of General Luna Street, Intramuros
Telephone: (02) 527 2889
Transport: Jeepney to Bonifacio Drive, Metrorail Central.
Opening Hours: 8.00 am to 6.00 pm daily (fort); Tuesday to Sunday 8.00 am to 12 noon and 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm (museum).
Admission: P40; concessions available.

Intramuros

Founded in 1571 by the Spanish, Intramuros is located on the southern banks of the Pasig River. Sections of the encircling wall, which was begun in 1590, remain, including a number of gates. A poorly defensible site, Intramuros was the site for most major conflicts and invasions to befall the pre-independence Philippines. It culminated with the devastating Battle for Manila between the Japanese and Americans in 1945 in which 100,000 locals died. Renovations are taking place and many attractive historic buildings still remain. A walk beneath their ramparts gives a colonial experience hard to match in modern Asia.

Intramuros
Telephone: (02) 527 4084. Fax: 527 3084.
Transport: Jeepney to Bonifacio Drive, Metrorail Central.
Opening Hours: 24 hours daily.
Admission: Free.

Malacañang Palace and Museum

This palace was the former summer residence of the Spanish Governor General and is now the seat of government and the official residence of the head of state. Collections of each successive president of the Philippines are on display in the museum, including at one time, Imelda Marcos’ famous shoe collection, though they have now been removed.

Gate Six, JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Telephone: (02) 733 3721.
Transport: Jeepney San Miguel/Malacañang from Ilalim ng Tulay Market in Quiapo.
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday 9.00 am to 3.00 pm.
Admission: P200 (Monday to Wednesday); P40 (Thursday and Friday).

Manila Bay Sunset Cruise

Cloud effects over the capital’s natural harbour occur as a result of the high humidity. This in turn creates wonderful sunsets over the Manila Bay. Some skeptics say that the light show allows spectators to turn their backs on the squalor and chaos of the city itself. Ideal places to watch the sunset include Rizal Park, Roxas Boulevard or the cultural complex around San Isidro. The SV Carina, that sails around Manila Bay from Rizal Park is also a good way to see the sunset. The cruise lasts between 45-60 minutes.

SV Carina
Departures from Rizal Park
Sailing time: An hour before sunset.
Admission: P160.

National Museum of the Philippines

Established in 1901, the National Museum of the Philippines boasts the official national baseline collections in the sciences and humanities, in relation to the environment and history of the country. Its collections are separated into 2 main parts: the National Museum itself, sheltered in the main building (formerly known as the Old Congress Building of the Philippines), features the arts, natural sciences and other support divisions; and the National Museum of the Filipino People, located in the former Finance Building, boasts the preserved timbers and treasures of the San Diego, a Spanish galleon that sunk in off the Philippine waters after a collision in 1600. It also has numerous archaeological exhibits of the Philippines’ prehistory, as well as the skull of ‘Tabon Man’, the oldest human retains in the archipelago.

The museum has 5 divisions, namely: Art, Botany, Zoology, Geology, Geology and Anthropology.

Padre Burgos Street, Rizal Park
Telephone: (02) 527 1215 Fax: (02) 527 0306.
Email: nmuseum@i-next.net
Transport: Jeepney to Taft Avenue; jeepney from Quiapo to TM Kalaw Street via Taft Avenue.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday 9.00 am to 5.00 pm.
Admission: Free (National Museum); P100, concessions available (Museum of the Filipino People).

Rizal Park

Rizal Park, which is also known as Luneta, is one of the largest parks in South East Asia. With over 58 hectares, it is named after Dr. Jose Rizal, the great anti-colonial fighter and thinker. He is memorialised in the Diorama of the Martyrdom of Dr. José Rizal, and his remains were interred in the Rizal Monument in 1912. The many gardens include a recreation of the entire Philippines archipelago in the eastern ponds. There are also a Chinese Garden, a Japanese Garden, an Orchidarium, a chess plaza and an area for roller-skaters. The Museum of the Pilipino People is also located here (see below). In the morning, residents assemble to practise tai chi, stick-fighting and other varied forms of martial arts. Free Concert are held on most Sundays in an open-air auditorium and there are also impressive dinosaurs at the Children's Amusement Park.

Taft Avenue to Manila Bay
Transport: Jeepney to Taft Avenue; jeepney from Quiapo to TM Kalaw Street via Taft Avenue.
Opening Hours: 7.00 am to 7.00 pm daily (ornamental gardens).
Admission: Free.

San Agustin Church and Museum

Built in the centre of Intramuros, San Agustin was the mother church. It was the first Spanish stone church to be built in the country and was completed in 1606. The interior murals post date earthquakes in 1863 and 1889, which brought down one of its towers. The adjoining Augustinian monastery is home to the San Agustin Museum. It contains colonial religious art, altarpieces and screens salvaged whole from other churches in 1945.

General Luna Street, Intramuros
Telephone: (02) 527 4061
Transport: Jeepney to Bonifacio Drive, Metrorail Central.
Opening Hours: 9.00 am to 12 noon and 1.00 pm to 5.00 pm daily.
Admission: P45; concessions available.