Manila: The Capital City of the Philippines

Manila skyline

Manila has been the capital city of the Philippines since the invasion of the Spaniards in 1565. It is the second largest city, behind Quezon City, in the Philippines, and it is situated on the eastern shore of the Manila Bay, a historical harbor in the country where the Battle of Manila Bay happened.

The city of Manila has a total population of 1,652,171 according to the 2010 census of the Philippine Statistics Authority and it is the second most populous city in the country. It is home to some of the most historical and cultural landmarks in the country, many of which were constructed during the invasion of Spaniards, Americans, and Japanese.

The invasion of foreign nations into the country paved way for different cultures to merge with one another, from common Filipino names (Jose, Juan) that came from the Spanish conquest to the integration of the English language as one of the country’s official languages, Filipinos are friendly people with a rich and historical background that transpired hundreds of years ago.

What to do in Manila

If you are a tourist planning to visit the Philippines, Manila is one of the best tourist spot in the Philippines. It is home to some of the most advanced and most wonderful attractions in the country.

Manila Ocean Park is the country’s first world-class theme park that features an integrated urban resort with marine life attractions and aqua-themed hotel. It is located behind the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park which is in Manila. Its main attraction is the Sharks and Ray Encounter, where you can dive into the main tank using an Aquanaut suit and swim with the marine life. Ticket prices range from 400PhP – 1,500PhP or you can visit their website at for other attractions and promos.

The 10th largest mall in the world in terms of gross leasable area is in Manila, the SM Mall of Asia, which is located in Pasay near Manila Bay. You can choose from its wide array of selections; clothing brands, restaurants, toy stores, cinemas, bowling alley, and even a skating rink. If you are planning to shop for supplies and gifts, SM Mall of Asia is just minutes away from Manila Bay.

The Rizal Monument in Roxas Boulevard is always a must-see tourist spot if you want to feel and appreciate the beauty of the Philippines. The monument was built for the country’s national hero, José Protacio Rizal Mercado y Alonso Realonda, as a tribute for his sacrifice and undying love for the country.

Manila is also home to some of the oldest museums and facilities in the Philippines. The National Museum of the Philippines is located in Padre Burgos Avenue near Rizal Park and it houses some of the most historical artifacts in the country such as the Spoliarium, the famous painting of Juan Luna.

The San Agustin Church in Intramuros is also a historical church constructed during the Spanish colonial period. It is a World Heritage site by UNESCO, under the collective title of Baroque Churches of the Philippines. The Mind Museum situated in Bonifacio Global City is museum unique to its own. Its attractions consist of the different theories and laws of the universe, explaining the wonderful and amazing world of science. Mind Museum’s ticket prices are affordable, ranging from 150PhP – 750PhP, or you can visit their website at for more details.

Where to sleep in Manila

An overnight stay or just an afternoon relaxation, from the usual 5-star hotels to capsule rooms, accommodations are never a problem when you are in Manila, as long as you have the budget for it.

5-star hotels are always the expensive choice but if you have the budget for it, Manila has a lot to offer. Manila Hotel is the oldest and most premiere hotel in the Philippines, and has hosted several prominent people such as Michael Jackson and the Beatles. Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila is a 5-star hotel near Intramuros and SM Mall of Asia, and it offers a wide array of facilities such as tennis court and outdoor pool.

EDSA Shangri-La Manila is the only 5-star deluxe convention hotel in Manila, located at Ortigas Centre in Mandaluyong City. It is one of the landmark buildings in Manila and it is frequently used for national and international events such as fashion shows and conferences.

If you are in a tight budget, there are other accommodations besides hotels. Victoria Court, a famous motel for lovers, is considered the most famous motel in the Philippines although its prices are a tad bit higher than other motels, their room quality is outstanding. Hotel Sogo, another famous hotel in the Philippines has branches in different parts of Manila. They offer high-quality rooms for a more affordable price.

Hostels and capsule rooms are affordable accommodations besides the usual hotels and motels. MNL Boutique Hostel in Manila offers more than the typical hostels; their unique design both exterior and interior is perfect for lovers and traveling couples alike, and they also offer beds with hotel-grade linen and thick mattresses. Their prices ranges from 500PhP-2000PhP.

Kabayan Hotel Is a unique hotel situated in Pasay. They offer capsule rooms that cost 850PhP per night. Their capsule rooms are large enough to fit in a bed and a table inside, and it is the best accommodation for people who want to save money and want to savor the experience.

Where to eat in Manila

Manila has a lot to of restaurants and fast food chains. From the famous McDonald’s to the isaw and betamax (street foods), Manila is a great place for hungry travelers and people alike.

Jollibee is a fast-food chain similar to McDonald’s. It is a Philippine multinational chain of fast food restaurants and it has a lot of branches in the country. Its bestseller is its crispy fried chicken and everyone must try this one!

Project Pie is also one of the must-visit restaurants when you are in the city as it offers custom made pizzas just the way you like it; your pizza your rules. Uncle Cheffy offers the best brick oven barbeque and panizza in the country and it has branches on different parts of Manila. Although both of these restaurants are expensive, they offer delicious and exciting foods. Max’s Restaurant offers freshly-cooked Filipino foods such as Pork Sinigang, Kare-Kare, and its famous Max’s Fried Chicken.

Manila will never be the same if it was not for the street foods offered by sidewalk vendors. Street food vendors that sell fishball, kikiam, and kwek-kwek are widespread in Manila. They also offer exotic foods like the adidas (chicken feet), betamax (pork blood), and the famous balut (duck egg). For the true Filipino experience, you must try the exotic food balut!

Advise and recommendations

Amidst its dark history and underdeveloped suburban areas, Manila is a city full of wondrous sights and historical backgrounds. Different tourists from different parts of the globe visits the city every year and some of them even migrated here. The mysteries surrounding Manila has always been part of its beauty and since then it became the capital of the Philippines.

Some may say Manila is one of the most dangerous places in the Philippines, but its beauty and extravagance outshines the danger and fear. You do not need fashionable clothes when you are in the city, any clothes will do as long as you are comfortable and confines to the law.

Use public transportation such as the jeepney, tricycles, pedicabs, and our famous train, the LRT. Avoid cabs and taxi if you want to fully experience the Filipino way. Filipinos are very hospitable and will likely answer your questions and inquiries regarding directions and any other matter.

If possible, afford motel rooms or even hostels; avoid expensive 5-star hotels. Eat street food such as the balut, walk along the Manila Bay and wait for the sunset, take photos, and most importantly, have fun. There is always a first time for everything, savor your first time in Manila, and experience the Filipino culture and historical background along with its way of life.

Manila is the heart of the Philippines and this is where you can experience the life and loss of the Philippines!