Bills tend to pile up really fast when you are on vacation. But if you are smart and creative, you can still have plenty of fun and won’t have to pay a single cent. If you are ever around Manila and wondering what fun activities you can do for fun, here is a list of the Top 12 Free Things to Do in Manila.
The Intramuros the first things to do in Manila is the remains of a walled city built by the Spaniards when they occupied the Philippines in the 17th century. This place lets you travel back to the times of the Galleon trade and have a closer look at Philippines history up close. The Intramuros is an important time capsule of Manila, showing dungeons from the Japanese occupation and the damage that followed the wars. You can see Fort Santiago, San Agustin church, the city walls, and many other historic buildings here. It’s free to visit the Intramuros, but you will pay the price to do the tour on a horse-drawn carriage.
Locally known as Luneta Park, it is a historical urban park and a significant landmark in the heart of Manila. The monument of Rizal—the Philippines’ most famous monument, is here, and this is a great time to learn about the national hero Dr. Jose Rizal. You will see the spot he was executed and see the tallest flagpole in the Philippines. You can take pictures beside the gigantic statue of Lapu-Lapu and see a replica of the Philippine archipelago on a giant raised-relief map. Besides art from famous Filipino sculptors, this is also where you find Philippine’s center stone—from where all distances in the Philippines are measured.
While the Japanese left a horrific history in the Philippines, the Chinese, who were also involved in the galleon trade, integrated with the locals well.
A fact that shows from the streets of Binondo-Manila’s Chinatown. The Temple of the God of War, Carriedo fountain, and Arch of Goodwill are some of the sights. You can also shop affordably and explore the eccentric food hops in the numerous eateries with amazing Chinese foods. A trip here is peering back to pre-Hispanic times to one of the oldest Chinese communities in the world.
San Agustin church is one of the most well-preserved buildings in the Intramuros that still does the same function.
Originally built in 1571, it underwent reconstruction in 1587 because of pirate attacks and fire. Since it was reconstructed, it has withstood wars and earthquakes. This gorgeous baroque church features a Renaissance façade, trompe l’oeil ceilings, and a collection of art dating back to the Spanish occupation. The art alone is enough reason to visit San Agustin church if architecture doesn’t move you.
At the height of the Spanish occupation in Manila, Quiapo Church and her ornate exterior and interior were set up. It even has a life-size sculpture of Jesus with the cross made and imported from Mexico. It is called the Black Nazarene, and for a brief time, it was known as the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene. It has had a tumultuous past, including fires and earthquakes. Despite that, it is still a gorgeous church, and its location in Plaza Miranda means that many entertainment events and political rallies are held close by.
Divisoria market is the best place to go for value shopping.
It offers everything under one roof—albeit without the roof in some places. Still, you will find everything from footwear to jewelry to electronics and food at Divisoria market. It is in the heart of the city and has several malls and food stores where you can enjoy Filipino and Chinese delicacies.
From Tuesdays through to Sundays, you can visit the Cultural Center of the Philippines for free. It preserves the Philippines’ history and culture, and you can expect to see the works of local and regional artists and artisans. You will also find various broadcast arts, films among other literary and visual arts to see. Sometimes it hosts international showcases to add to its broad list of things it curates.
Manila Bay is busy, but what it doesn’t have in tranquility is more than made up for with sheer beauty. It is one of the best places to catch the dusk blue hour Sunset. If you don’t think much about views, you can visit the Mall of Asia—one of the largest in the Philippines in Pasay City on Manila Bay. Behind the mall is a whole host of restaurants at the Esplanade where you can catch a beautiful view of the Bay.
UP Film Institute has one of the most beautiful grounds for campuses in the Philippines, and that alone is reason enough why you should visit it. However, it’s the free Indie Film showings that will keep you coming back. If you join their mailing list, you will get free invites to events and film showings at the UPFI Film Center so it is one of the free Things to Do in Manila.
The University of Santo Tomas is Asia’s oldest university, founded in 1611, and a visit here will help you understand the Philippines’ education history. It has old buildings with Spanish colonial charm, and the idyllic lush grounds and tranquil nature are a tribute to all the great brains that have gone through it. It has a museum with a huge collection of stuffed animals and artifacts from the region, and the university halls are decorated with a great collection of paintings.
Like Manila Bay, Roxas Boulevard is a picturesque promenade of Manila bay.
Coconut trees split the driving lanes, something that has become a poster for most Philippines travel sites. The promenade is famous for its yacht clubs, restaurants, and hotels and just provides a taste of modern upscale Manila.
Yes, The National Museum of the Philippines has some free days where you can come in and see most of their collections so it is one of the free Things to Do in Manila. It curates some of the most significant artifacts, arts, and items of Philippines history; hence a visit here is unmissable if the opportunity comes.
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