If you’re heading to the Philippines, then the city of Manila is a gem which is often overlooked as being merely a gateway to other places and particularly the islands of the Philippines. Manila however has plenty to offer visitors, and is a very interesting place to visit.
Intramuros is a fort built by the Spanish in the late 16th century. Its name means literally ‘inside the walls’ and its walls were twenty feet high and over a mile long, and it protected a mixture of rich mansions, churches and schools. Although it was destroyed in 1945 in the battle between America and Japan, much of it has today been rebuilt and it is now an interesting attraction to visit.
In the daytime, one of the best places to experience a bit of Manila is to visit Roxas Boulevard. This is the main promenade of Manila and definitely a must when in this city. Full of open air cafes and benches along the waterside, this is a great place to people watch, and many people come here from families enjoying some time together to couples seeking a romantic moment watching the sun set.
Manila is a city which comes alive in the evening. Known for loud music and colourful night scenes you can find a variety of bars where you can listen to a wide range of music. Two very popular places are the Hard Rock Café and Jazz Rythmns, but there are many other bars, theatres and other venues to choose from.
Originally named Luneta Park because of being shaped a bit like the crescent moon, Rizal Park in Manila is one of the largest parks in South East Asia and is spread over nearly 150 acres of land. There is plenty to see here too with a Japanese garden, a Chinese garden, free music concerts, a planetarium and roller skating rink as well as plenty of open space to walk around and enjoy.
Fort Santiago was another of the many places here that was destroyed during WWII and then later restored. It became a shrine of freedom in 1950, and is a very interesting place to learn more about the history of Manila, the Philippines and in particular the countries colonial history.
Manila Zoo and botanical park is one of the oldest zoos in Asia and was opened in 1959. It is home to over 800 animals including Mali who is a 24 year old Asian elephant who came here as an orphaned calf. You can also see Bengal tigers, crocodiles and many other animals here.
The City Marikina Shoe Museum is a one of a kind place to visit. Housed in a former rice mill that was built around 1860, it now traces the history of the shoe industry in Marikina which is the shoe making capital of the Philippines. Imelda Marcos’ infamous collection of 1,500 pairs of shoes is housed here too.