Manila, the beautiful capital of Philippines is on the eastern coastal line of Manila bay. This bustling metropolitan region is better known as the most densely populated city of the world. Manila has everything on its platter to gratify every tourist’s quest for a perfect holiday. Because of its beauty and diverse city life, this small metropolitan attracts thousands of tourists each year.
Its balmy coastal climate with long bay line and mouth-watering sea food are the added attractions which has made this place a hot holiday destination in Asia. The skyline of Manila is kissed by a large number of swanky tall towers at one end whereas the peace of turquoise blue sea creates a magical hue on the other end. The city showcases a beautiful amalgamation of cosmopolitan outlook and cultural diversity in the form of prominent historical landmarks and museums which deliberately showcase it cultural past. There are a number of popular tourist places in Manila, out of which the five must see places are Intramuros, Chinatown (Bibnondo), Coconut palace, Manila Ocean Park, Rizal Park.
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This reminds the era of Spanish colonization that took place in Manila around 1564. Intramuros is otherwise called as the “walled city” of Manila located close to Pasig River and Manila bay. This Spanish legacy was built under the supervision of a Spanish explorer named Miguel Lopez de Legaspi in 1571.This vast fortress was built around an area of 160 acres with 6 meter high walls all around it. Most part of this Spanish architecture is destroyed during the numerous attacks by Chinese, Dutch, Portuguese forces in a quest invade it. As majority of its famous structures were rumbled in several outrageous invasions including world war II, but still this legendary walled city has managed to retain most of its old Spanish charm till date. Exploring its streets and churches, old dungeons by an ornate horse carriage ride is quite phenomenal in itself.
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Nowadays this old fortress is transformed into a hub with a number of popular restaurants and souvenir shops to make the trip even more enchanting. Main attractions of Intramuros are the church of San Agustín, built in the sixteenth century and an old colonial Spanish home called Casa Manila, which illustrates an affluent Spanish colonial home of that era.
Bibnondo is the oldest Chinatown in the world outside China. This tinsel town is a very lively place in Philippines to experience authentic Chinese food, culture and history in a minimized version. Bibnondo was established during the Spanish era of colonization is a burning example of Filipino and Chinese relation. This congested city is a good place for shoppers who can get best bargain deals on anything starting from Chinese medicines to gold.
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Other than shopping, this is a very good place to gorge on authentic Chinese foods such as hopia, machang at its roadside food joints or at upscale restaurants. Some of the best places for shopping in this Chinatown are Escolta and Ongpin streets. Except shopping and eating there are numbers of historical places such as Binondo church which houses the miraculous crucifix “Cristo de Longos” and the famous Seng Guan Temple (Temple of ten thousand Buddhas) is worth visiting in Bibnondo.
This is an interesting place to watch out once in Manila. It is a flamboyant palatial mansion built during the Marcos era. This unique architectural splendor is called Tahanang Pilipino in local language. It is located next to the cultural center of Philippines (CCP).The specialty of this mansion is the building material, used to build it which is none other than coconut shells. About 70% of this palace, starting from the walls to roof, furniture to decorative is made of coconut shells and lumbers.
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This palace was originally built under the supervision of former first lady Imelda Marcos for Pope Johan Paul’s stay during his visit in 1981.This priceless piece of art work is standing on the back drop of Manila bay, is a perfect venue for romantic wedding in Philippines. As now this palace is all open for public viewing with an entry fee of 100PHP per person, one can witness how the intricately placed coconut shells can form such a master piece.
Manila ocean Park
This the first of its kind oceanarium in entire Philippines at the rear end of Quirino Grandstand Luneta, Manila. It features a 25meter long underwater acrylic tunnel with 220 degrees view of the sea. The entire journey through the channel showcases about 300 marine species in their natural habitat. Here one can feel the wilderness of sea amid various sea creatures and coral reefs. The entire oceanarium is divided into six sections which display various themes such as freshwater fish tanks, artificial corals, big and small marine fishes and creatures according to their depth of dwelling etc.
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Except this other added attractions of this ocean park are its 120 feet tall musical fountain(Aquatica), which show spectacular water and laser shows based on marine themes along with music and live performance. Beside this there is a marine themed mall with a number of popular eateries and outlets for cool eating and shopping experience. Live Sea lion performance is also one of the must watch things to do in this oceanarium.
This is the largest park in entire Philippines built in the memory of national hero Jose Rizal, who was shot dead by Spanish colonizers during Philippine revolution. This park is built over a sprawling area of 120 acres which is divided into three sections .It has a number of monuments, Chinese and Japanese gardens, Orchidarium and butterfly pavilion.
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This park also houses open air concert hall, an observatory, fountains, light and sound theatres and restaurants within its vast area. At the center of the park a huge monument of the national hero is standing beneath which his body was buried. This is one of the most popular picnic spots in entire Philippines boasting lot of lively recreational activities. This green corridor is a perfect place to explore the historical as well as entertaining side of Manila under one roof.