Turn Back Time in Manila

Welcome to the heart of the Philippines—Manila. Really, it is impossible to describe all the treasures that this country holds without speaking of its metropolis. The hub of the country’s trade and commerce, Manila is always abuzz with activities—filled with people whose stories are as rich as the tales of this thousand-year old city.

Yes beyond the congested streets of the metro, still lies jewels of the past that are left to be discovered—tourist spots that still have travelers coming back to Manila. Whether you’ve booked yourself for a local tour or simply doing a self-guided tour in Manila, you can be sure that the travel is worth taking.

Join us as we take you on a word tour to the top 3 places you have yet to explore in this City of Dreams.

1. Intramuros

Before Philippines became a sovereign state, it was first under the kingdom of Spain. This segment in the country’s history goes back almost half a millennia ago, and its remains live on in one of the country’s oldest towns—Intramuros.

Your city tour in Manila should include this historic site of Intramuros. A 64-hectare citadel, this fortress lives up to the meaning of its name, Intramuros, which literally means ‘within its walls’.

A stroll through this town is like a stroll down memory lane. As you walk along, you’ll come across historical markers—a grim reminder of

Everything in the place is like taking a leap back to the old Manila, before its streets have been jam packed with jeepneys and private cars, back to when life in the country’s capital seemed to go slower than the way it is at present. Why, even modern shops and cafes in the area have retained the antique Spanish heritage for which Intramuros is well-known for!

When you get there, take your time walking down its cobbled streets. Have your photos taken with guards clad to the attire of the old Spanish guardia civil. Ride back in time aboard a calesa—what Filipinos call the horse-driven carriage that was once the country’s main mode of transport. And for an authentic ancient Filipino experience, stop over Ilustrado for a taste of their buttery ensaymada (savory brioche) and a steaming mug of Spanish hot chocolate to complete the experience.

2. Museums

Museums are a must on your Manila package tour! Everything about culture and the arts could be found in the top museums you should head to when in Manila.

To jumpstart your museum hopping, go to the National Museum of the Philippines. That shouldn’t be difficult to locate especially if you’re coming from Intramuros.  There you’ll find the most comprehensive collection of masterpieces and artifacts that weave together the loom that makes up the story of the Filipino people.

But the national museum is not the only must-see museum in the area. Hop on a ride to the Museo ng Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (The Money Museum) and get a glimpse of the history of trading and commerce. From the present currencies to the oldest paper bills and coins as well as gold artifacts used for trading, you can be sure a visit to this museum will leave you with more fun facts to share when you get back home.

And here’s one more museum that you shouldn’t miss! The Marikina Shoe Museum is sure to be every shoe-holic’s delight! Feast on the sight of 749 pairs of shoes that former First Lady Imelda Marcos own. Apparently, her love for shoes has yet to be rivaled, and if you do some math while checking out the seemingly endless pairs of shoes on display, you might be overwhelmed with the extravagance of it all.

But there’s more to the Shoe Museum than just the former First Lady’s shoe collections. Other ‘celebrity’ shoes are also on display, but we’ll leave it to you to find out whose shoe collections those are. Who knows, maybe that visit will inspire you to also come up with your own uh, shoe museum!

3. Binondo

Ah, Binondo—every foodie’s paradise! If you’re up for a gastronomic adventure, Binondo’s the best place you should head to. Food shops line up the busy streets of what is considered to be the world’s oldest Chinatown. It’s all too easy to get lost in the maze of restaurants and cafes, so we’ll leave you with a downtown insider’s advice on the best restaurants you should try out when you’re there for some serious food trip.

Right on Carvajal Street is the little snack joint Quick-Snack. It can be easy to overlook (because again this is in a street market), but there Sate Mi Gisado and Tenderloin Steak with Onions are really worth a try. And because it’s Chinatown after all, try authentic Chinese cuisine at Lan Zhou La Mien, literally ‘The House of Pulled Noodles’, and try their Spareribs Lamien and Beef Lamien out. And don’t forget to try the famous Chicken/Asado Mami (Noodle Soup) of Masuki, right along Benavidez Street.

The Teochew (Chiuchow) dishes of Kim Hiong Food Garden are also worth the taste. And have a taste of pork siopao (pork bun) fried to perfection at Shanghai Fried Siopao on the busy Ongpin Street. Now this one you’d have to try—and believe us, this food stall is easy to miss—for its affordability and unforgettable taste. Real good, we tell you! In fact, we’re fighting our food cravings right now as we write to you about all these delicious foods.

And oh, have we mentioned the dumplings to really die for on E.T. Yuchengco Street? Dong Bei Dumplings is the most popular dumpling house in downtown Binondo, and one you shouldn’t miss. And if it’s your first time to try a dumpling, then we assure you that you won’t regret sampling the dish in that place.

Those were just a few restaurants that you should go to when in Manila. There’s really so much more that you need to discover. So make sure that your stomach’s empty when you go to this part of Manila. Never mind that you’re on a diet. Think of all your food tours as part of your Manila adventure. You certainly don’t want to miss out on the feast that are yours for the taking, do you?

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