Manila has a distinct vibrancy and energy that is the product of ongoing economic expansion and a continuously growing population. It is one of the biggest urban areas in the world – a fusion of 16 different towns – and a place where hustle and bustle energy are the order of the day.
Manila's history is one of instability, from being invaded by the British, Japanese and Spanish, to being partially destroyed by fires, earthquakes and wartime bombing. As a result, it has a unique character with residents full of charming survival instinct and fascinating local stories – as well as a mishmash of architectural styles.
Some of the most ancient sites can be seen in the city’s oldest quarter – Intramuros – where the defences built by the Spanish in the 16th century felt the force of the bombs of World War Two, and have now been rebuilt. Here you will find the Baluarte de San Diego, one of the oldest stone fortifications in the city, as well as the Baluarte de San Andres – built to protect the old Puerta Real.
Learn more about the history of Manila’s walled city at Spanish-built Fort Santiago, and admire the resilience of the Filipino people and their enduring faith in the rebuilt Manila Cathedral.
There are numerous attractions in the vicinity of Intramuros, including the ornamental gardens of Rizal Park and the National Museum of the Filipino People where visitors can learn more about this compelling country and its culture, including ancient discoveries, trading history and traditional burial rites. Casa Manila Museum is a reproduction of a Spanish colonial house full of period furniture and overflowing with history.
Manila is a city that has survived and thrived by its vicinity to the Pacific Ocean, s there are plenty of water-focused activities to enjoy – from taking a ferry ride along the Pasig River to exploring the buzzing bars and nightlife of Baywalk.
Manila is a busy city, and the light rail and metro are usually the best transport options. Travel by road tends to take a little longer but there are plenty of inexpensive, air-conditioned taxis, so if you do get stuck in a jam then take lesson from the locals and just sit back and relax.