Stay at a great hotel near the Manila Intl. Airport that will keep you close to all of the fun and attractions as well.
Rizal ParkDistance from Manila International Airport: 14.1km
A substantial open green area that showcases Manila at play, 58-hectare (143 acres) Rizal Park is one of the largest parks in South East Asia. It is also known as Luneta, after the area it replaced. Its local significance can be gauged by the fact that it is named after Dr José Rizal, the great Philippine anti-colonial fighter and thinker. He is memorialised in the Diorama of the Martyrdom of Dr José Rizal, which becomes a son et lumière exhibit after sunset, and his remains were interred in the Rizal Monument in 1912. The many ornamental gardens include a re-creation of the entire Philippines archipelago in the eastern ponds, and there is also a Japanese Garden, a Chinese Garden, an Orchidarium, a chess plaza and a skating rink.
Taft Avenue to Manila Bay
Museum of the Filipino PeopleDistance from Manila International Airport: 13.3km
Once the Department of Finance Building of the American colonial administration, this museum is now the crowning glory of the National Museum system. Its exhaustive assemblage of treasures commences with the skull of the oldest known native Filipina, Tabon Man, a female skeleton dating back to 24,000BC, and includes many other pre-colonial archaeological and ethnological relics. There is also a reconstructed wreck site and recovered artefacts of the San Diego, a Spanish galleon that went down off the Luzon coast while fighting the Dutch in 1600. A full visit will take at least two hours.
Former Finance Building, Rizal Park
IntramurosDistance from Manila International Airport: 14.7km
The original city, founded in 1571 by the Spanish, Intramuros is located on the southern bank of the Pasig River. Substantial sections of the encircling wall, which was begun in 1590, remain, including a number of decorated gates. In fact a poorly defensible site, Intramuros was the locus for most major conflicts and invasions to befall the pre-independence Philippines, culminating in the devastating Battle for Manila between the Japanese and Americans in 1945, in which over 100,000 locals died.
Tel: (02) 527 3138. Fax: 527 3084.
Fort SantiagoDistance from Manila International Airport: 15.5km
One of the oldest and most dramatic colonial buildings in the Philippines, Fort Santiago was built to guard the entrance to the Pasig River and dates back in its oldest sections to 1571. Its most famous prisoner was the national hero José Rizal, who spent his last days here before his death at the hands of the Spanish in 1896. More recent memories of tyranny include the legacy of wartime Japanese occupation, when Philippine freedom fighters suffered and died here. In another cell block, American POWs were left to be drowned by the rising tide: this was one of the rumoured resting places for the legendary wartime trove of Yamashita’s Gold, and the victims’ last resting place has been much disturbed by treasure seekers.
Entrance at end of General Luna Street, Intramuros
Tel: (02) 527 2961.
San Agustin Church and MuseumDistance from Manila International Airport: 15.2km
One of the few buildings in Intramuros to survive the carnage of the Japanese invasion substantially intact, and Manila’s oldest stone church, San Agustin Church was completed in 1606. Its present interior murals post-date earthquakes in 1863 and 1889, which brought down one of its towers. The adjoining Augustinian monastery houses the San Agustin Museum, which contains much colonial religious art, including altarpieces and screens salvaged whole from other houses of worship in 1945.
General Luna Street, Intramuros
Malacañang Palace and MuseumDistance from Manila International Airport: 14.7km
Locally renowned as a historic building, the palace was formerly the summer residence of the Spanish Governor General and is now the seat of government and the official residence of the head of state. Its museum houses mementoes of each successive president of the Philippines. Imelda Marcos’ famous shoe collection was once part of the holdings but they have now been removed to leave entirely worthy exhibits.
Gate 6, JP Laurel Street, San Miguel
Chinese CemeteryDistance from Manila International Airport: 18.2km
Founded in the 1850s, the Chinese Cemetery was designated as the resting-place for the Chinese citizens denied burial in Catholic cemeteries. A memorial garden considerably more opulent and bizarre than most of its ilk elsewhere in Asia, Manila’s Chinese Cemetery houses very complete sets of grave goods: tombs outfitted with air-conditioning, plumbing, flush toilets, chandeliers, and all other modern conveniences for the well-off corpse. Entire streets are laid out to honour the dead and the status of their surviving relatives. Guided tours around some of the more Baroque excesses are available courtesy of the guards.
South Gate on Aurora Avenue, Blumentritt