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Manila

Known for Shopping, Cathedral and Church

The capital of the Philippines is a fast-paced and hectic city filled with cultural and historic gems, from old ruins to national museums and lively promenades.

How do you get to Manila?

Manila is continually expanding outwards and upwards. Scores of skyscrapers and business centers are rising up across the city and Filipinos from rural areas pour into the capital everyday looking for opportunities. This is one of the largest cities on the planet.

Manila can be overwhelming at first glance. The sprawling metropolis is a collection of 16 towns with no discernible center. The streets are busy, crowded and loud, but it’s this energy and chaos that gives the city its charm.

To really get to know Manila you need to understand its past. The city has been bombed, devastated by fires and earthquakes and occupied by the Spanish, British, Japanese and Americans.

Start your trip in Intramuros, the oldest part of Manila. It’s surrounded by fortifications and moats that were built by the Spanish in the 16th century. Most of the fortifications were destroyed by bombs during World War II. What was left has been rebuilt and restored. Walk around and on the walls and visit some of its key defensive structures such as the Baluarte de San Diego and the Baluarte de San Andres.

Go to the defensive centerpiece the Fort of Santiago, a large citadel and park, then visit Manila Cathedral. The present structure dates from the mid-20th century. Close to Intramuros is Rizal Park, a green expanse with ornamental gardens, lawns and monuments.

Pay a visit to the National Museum of the Filipino People to learn about the history and culture of the Philippines, and visit Casa Manila Museum, a reproduction of a Spanish colonial house.

Manila captivates with some of its modern charms. Take a ferry along the Pasig River and enjoy the nightlife of the Baywalk, a seaside promenade.

Like many Asian cities traffic is a huge problem. Fortunately, taxis are plentiful, cheap and air-conditioned. A good way to get around is on the light rail and metro. The main forms of public transport are the jeepneys, small brightly colored buses. If you travel by road it may take you longer to get to your destination than you planned. Allow plenty of time and do as the Filipinos do, just go with the flow.

Things to do in Manila

Relax in one of the largest urban parks in Asia, home to gardens, orchids, tropical plant species and a monument to a Filipino hero.

This is a lively seaside promenade where you can wine, dine, watch live music and join the locals for a daily fitness class.

Drift around the tranquil waters of a sheltered bay and watch a colorful sunset from the shores of Manila city.

This richly decorated Roman Catholic Basilica has made it through the centuries despite being destroyed by fires, bombs and earthquakes.

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Take a journey through Manila and explore its rich history, fascinating architecture and ancient buildings. Discover the Philippines' financial capital in bustling Makati City, the historic American Cemetery & Memorial, and the ancient walled-city of Intramuros—a remnant of Manila's colonial past.

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Explore the stunning Mount Pinatubo and witness panoramic views from the summit on this full-day tour. Combine your trekking adventure with a guided hike and tour on a 4x4 vehicle through the striking volcanic landscape and marvel at the scenic natural surroundings.

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Relax in the natural hot springs at Hidden Valley Springs—home to a series of natural pools in the heart of the rainforest. Let the worries of life float away while you swim and lounge in the beautiful pools fed by small waterfalls and gorges, and enjoy lunch and delicious snacks.

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Hike up one of the Philippines' second-most-active volcano on this full-day tour. Take a scenic boat ride on Taal Lake, ride on a horseback across spectacular black lava flows and look down on the stunning vista from the summit of Taal Volcano.

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Explore the scenic beauty and wonders of Hidden Valley Springs Resort, known for its volcanic terrain, splendid mountainous scenery, and natural landscapes. Enjoy a soothing bath in natural hot springs, which provides a serene setting for relaxation and rejuvenation.

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Discover Subic Bay and the exotic Zoobic Safari on this full-day tour. Explore the once largest American naval facility in the Pacific region, marvel at the survival skills demonstration by the indigenous Aetas tribe, and get up close with tigers in Zoobic Safari.

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