Discovering Manila's Top 5 Tourist Hotspots

by Pushpitha Wijesinghe

Although the Philippines is known as an Asian paradise laden with sandy beaches and its fair share of intriguing attractions, Manila is an often forgotten metropolis in the tourist landscape of the country. Brimming with touristic possibilities and a host of curious and engaging attractions, more and more visitors are discovering that the capital city they first land in upon entering the nation is just as captivating as the pastoral landscapes of the nation's more frequented countryside and beach shores.

One of Manila's best kept secrets is of course the historic district known as Intramuros. Situated along the banks of Pasig River the district is notably the most ancient and most historic region of Manila dating back to the Spanish occupation of the Philippines. Lined with exquisite Spanish structures that were constructed in the period the area also contains several fortified towers, defensive structures and bulwarks of the colonial age. With names such as Baluarte de San Gabriel, Puerta Real, and Baluarte de San Diego the buildings hark back to a bygone era when the ancient edifices of Intramuros Palacio de Gobernador, Manila Cathedral and the statue of Queen Isabella II, Casa Manila were also constructed.

Fort Santiago is another must-see attraction in the capital as it is the revered site that witnessed the imprisonment and eventual execution of Jose Rizal. Metallic footsteps from Rizal's prison cell to Luneta are also placed within the venue in memory of the heavy steps the national hero took on the morning of his demise. Other highlights at the fort include prisons, dungeons, ruins and a museum dedicated to Rizal. Used as a fortress by the Japanese, Spanish and subsequently the Americans, this historic site is one of the city's most popular tourist hotspots.

Situated next to the fort lies Rizal Park which secures a prime location in the heart of Manila overlooking scenic Marina Bay. A host of recreation facilities such as a chess plaza, Japanese garden, Chinese garden, a massive stadium, food stalls, a light and sound theatre and a playground are also available at the venue. An amphitheatre and several fountains are also located within the sprawling parkland which also houses the national museum of Philippines and the Rizal monument.

Another point of interest in Manila is holy Quiapo Church at Plaza Miranda which is the home of the Black Nazarene. This holy figure is paraded through the streets each year in a religious festival that sees the faithful flock in an emotional scene to escort the Nazarene in the procession.

Finally shoppers who wish to clock in some hours of retail therapy in Manila can head down to the Ortigas Center where a majority of the city's finest malls are concentrated although die-hard local market fans can venture down Quiapo, Divisoria and Baclaran for an authentic Philippine thoroughfare experience.

Those in search of a Manila luxury hotel close to the airport should look no further than the stylish Makati Shangri-La, Manila. Ideally located within the city's financial, entertainment and retail hub this elegant rest is also one of the most centrally located Makati hotels in the Philippine capital.

About the Author

Pushpitha Wijesinghe is an experienced independent freelance writer. He specializes in providing a wide variety of content and articles related to the travel hospitality industry.