Explore Manila: Essential Things to Do for First-Time Travelers

Welcome to Metro Manila, a vibrant tapestry of history, modernity, and entertainment in the heart of the Philippines. If you are preparing for your first trip to the Philippines capital, get ready for a myriad of experiences. You’ll find in this article the best activities that will make your first visit to this dynamic city diverse and memorable.

Feel the Thrill of Luxury Casinos

Feel the pulse of Manila’s entertainment scene by immersing yourself in the luxurious casinos that dot the cityscape. The luxury of Solaire Resort & Casino or City of Dreams Manila invites you to a world reminiscent of Las Vegas. Beyond the glitzy facade, explore many gaming options, from the spin of roulette wheels to the captivating world of slot machines.

Engage in classic table games like poker, blackjack, and baccarat, soaking in an atmosphere of excitement and opulence. If you prefer an online gaming experience, you can find the best poker sites in the Philippines recommended in this guide and enjoy the gameplay from the comfort of your accommodation.

Manila Cathedral, Intramuros

Travel Back in Time in Intramuros

Step into the pages of history as you wander through Intramuros, the oldest district of Manila, dating back to the Spanish colonial era in the 1500s. Enclosed by stone walls that once protected high-society residents, Intramuros stands as a living testament to Manila’s colonial past.

Stroll along the three-mile-long walls, offering panoramic views of the city and a sense of stepping back in time. Discover the significance of landmarks like Fort Santiago, a citadel steeped in centuries of history. Marvel at the architectural beauty of the San Agustin Church, a UNESCO world heritage site.

The cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, and colonial-era structures transport you to an era where Manila’s rich cultural heritage comes alive.

Visit Modern Museums

Manila’s modern museums offer a unique lens through which to view art and culture. The Dessert Museum tantalizes the senses, allowing visitors to view and taste delectable exhibits. Indulge your sweet tooth in an interactive experience that combines art and dessert. Lakbay Museo offers a cultural journey, exploring the diverse tribes of the Philippines through immersive exhibits and interactive displays.

Meanwhile, the Mind Museum, one of the world’s largest 3D animated arts museums, provides a captivating experience for families with kids, combining education with entertainment. These modern museums represent a fusion of tradition and contemporary creativity and offer a diverse and enriching cultural encounter.

Visit Manila Ocean Park

For a family-friendly escapade, Manila Ocean Park beckons with its state-of-the-art aquatic wonders. Housing over 14,000 animal species, including mesmerizing displays of jellyfish and playful penguins, the park promises an educational experience for visitors of all ages.

Immerse yourself in underwater exhibits showcasing marine life in their natural habitats. Encounter sharks and rays up close, or dive into the unique swimming experience with marine creatures. The more adventurous can embrace their inner mermaid in a one-of-a-kind swim. Manila Ocean Park ensures a day filled with wonder and excitement, making it a must-visit destination for families exploring Manila’s diverse attractions.

Street food in Manila

Savor Culinary Delights in Manila’s Food Scene

No visit to Manila is complete without delving into its vibrant culinary scene. From street food stalls offering local delicacies to high-end restaurants serving international cuisines, Manila caters to every palate.

Embark on a gastronomic adventure by trying popular Filipino dishes like adobo, sinigang, and lechon. Explore the bustling streets of Binondo, the world’s oldest Chinatown, for a culinary journey through diverse flavors.

Consider joining a food tour to navigate the bustling markets and discover hidden culinary gems that showcase Manila’s gastronomic diversity. The city’s food scene mirrors its cultural melting pot, offering a delightful journey for your taste buds.

Take a Bambike Ride

Embrace an eco-friendly exploration of Manila by embarking on a Bambike ride. These hand-crafted bamboo bicycles offer a sustainable mode of transportation and an immersive way to traverse the city. Explore the charming streets of Intramuros City on a Bambike, guided by locals who share insights into the city’s history and culture.

Themed tours cater to diverse interests, whether it’s the artistic side of Manila, its historical significance, or the vibrant city life. Riding a Bambike allows you to appreciate Manila’s pedestrian-friendly environment while contributing to sustainable tourism and supporting local communities involved in producing these unique bamboo bicycles.


These recommendations provide a glimpse into the myriad experiences awaiting first-time travelers in Manila. The city’s dynamic spirit ensures there’s always more to explore, whether you seek history, adventure, or cultural enrichment. So, add Manila to your travel bucket list, and let this captivating city unfold its layers of excitement, history, and fun during your visit!

Enjoy it? Tell a friend
About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

Leave a Comment