10 Best Things to Do in Manila for Historic Forts and Modern Shopping Malls


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Manila, a city that beautifully intertwines its historical roots with the bustle of modern life, offers a rich tapestry of experiences for every visitor. From the imposing walls of ancient forts that tell tales of colonial times to the gleaming facades of expansive shopping malls offering contemporary comforts and entertainment, Manila is a place where the past and present coexist seamlessly. Whether you’re exploring the city’s storied landmarks or indulging in some retail therapy, Manila promises a vibrant mix of activities that capture its unique cultural flavor.

Visit Fort Santiago

Fort Santiago is a historic citadel first built by Spanish conquistador Miguel López de Legazpi and part of the larger district of Intramuros in Manila. This fortress is steeped in history, serving as a key defense structure against foreign invasions and also as a detention facility during the Spanish, American, and Japanese periods. Today, visitors can walk through its gates, explore the dungeons and museum, and learn about the Philippines’ tumultuous history.

Shop at SM Mall of Asia

SM Mall of Asia, one of the largest shopping malls in the Philippines, offers a vast array of shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Located by Manila Bay, this expansive complex features countless stores from global and local brands, a skating rink, a multiplex cinema, and a ferris wheel overlooking the waterfront, providing endless fun for families and shopaholics alike.

Explore Intramuros

Intramuros, known as the Walled City, is the historic core of Manila. This area was the seat of government during the Spanish colonial period and is now a must-visit for history enthusiasts. Within its massive walls, you can visit old churches, museums, and colonial houses on cobbled streets, all telling stories of its past residents and events.


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Discover the National Museum of the Philippines

The National Museum of the Philippines is a cultural treasure trove that houses the country’s most important artifacts, spanning fine arts, archaeology, ethnography, and natural history. Highlights include the famous Spoliarium by Juan Luna, ancient gold artifacts, and a detailed replica of the Manunggul Jar, symbolizing early Filipino craftsmanship and heritage.

Stroll through Rizal Park

Rizal Park, also known as Luneta, is one of Manila’s largest and most historic urban parks. Dedicated to the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal, the park features his monument and is a popular spot for picnics, concerts, and family outings. It’s a pleasant place to escape the city’s frenzy and enjoy the open green spaces and ornamental gardens.

Enjoy Shopping at Greenbelt Mall

Greenbelt Mall, set within the Ayala Center in Makati, is a stylish shopping and dining complex surrounded by a lushly landscaped tropical garden. This upscale mall blends luxury shopping with vibrant nightlife and fine dining, making it a popular hangout for both locals and tourists looking to indulge in a high-end shopping experience.

Tour San Agustin Church

San Agustin Church, located within Intramuros, is the oldest stone church in the Philippines. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this church boasts stunning Baroque architecture, intricate frescoes, and a beautifully preserved interior. The church also houses a museum that displays religious artifacts and art, illustrating the rich history of Catholicism in the Philippines.

Experience the Nightlife at Bonifacio Global City

Bonifacio Global City (BGC) is one of Manila’s most modern and dynamic districts, offering a vibrant nightlife scene with a variety of clubs, bars, and upscale restaurants. Whether you’re looking to dance the night away, enjoy a quiet drink, or dine alfresco, BGC’s cosmopolitan atmosphere provides an energetic and sophisticated night out.

Relax at Manila Ocean Park

Manila Ocean Park is an oceanarium that offers an exciting and educational experience for visitors of all ages. Located behind the Quirino Grandstand at Rizal Park, this park features marine life exhibits, interactive attractions, a sea lion show, and an ocean-themed hotel. It’s a great place for families looking to learn more about marine biodiversity and conservation.

Wander around Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown

Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown, is the oldest Chinatown in the world, established in 1594. This district is rich with history, culture, and, most importantly, food. Visitors can explore streets lined with shops selling Chinese goods, herbal stores, and countless eateries and dim sum restaurants offering authentic Chinese cuisine. A stroll through Binondo is like a step into another world, where every corner offers a taste of Chinese-Filipino heritage.


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