48 Hours in Manila

There’s plenty to fit into 48 hours in the vibrant Filipino capital of Manila. From soaking up the city’s rich culture and heritage, to strolling through the world’s oldest Chinatown and feasting on fine local food, Manila has it all. The perfect way to cap two days? A helicopter tour.

The vibrant capital city of Manila is where old and new collide. Famed for its diverse culture and history, while embracing a new modern world, the capital is a heady mix of Spanish colonial architecture and striking contemporary skyscrapers. With plenty to pack into 48 hours, here’s how to explore some of the city’s top attractions.

Day 1: Morning

Take a step back in time and explore Manila’s walled city, Intramuros. The most common way is by foot, strolling along the cobblestone streets at your own pace. Alternatively, ride a kalesa – horse-drawn cart – to explore the historic area that sits at the heart of old Manila. The walled city houses the famed citadel Fort Santiago, Manila Cathedral, St Agustin Church and various colonial houses.

Day 1: Afternoon

After lunch at one of the delightful eateries that dot the area, spend the afternoon museum-hopping. The National Museum of Fine Art is home to a range of artifacts and historic artworks. Close by sits the informative National Museum of Natural History and National Museum of Anthropology. Sprawling Rizal Park is within walking distance and spans 58 acres, making it one of Asia’s largest urban parks.

Day 1: Evening

Shopaholics will be in their element in Manila, with the city sprinkled with malls. Head to SM Mall of Asia and browse the shops before heading to the Sunset View Deck to watch the sun sink into Manila Bay. The area is also home to a delightful collection of food stalls serving a variety of local dishes. Sampling Manila’s seafood dampa is a must. This involves buying fresh seafood and handing it over to the small kitchens that populate the area to have it cooked up as you like.

Day 2: Morning

Awaken the senses and spend the morning exploring lively Chinatown. Binondo holds the title of the world’s oldest Chinatown and is home to a colorful network of shopping streets. Save some space after breakfast, because this bustling trading hub is where locals flock to buy authentic Chinese food and ingredients. The area is peppered with food vendors, small eateries, and restaurants.

Day 2: Afternoon

Round out your time in Manila and hire a helicopter. There are several tours that offer a range of unparalleled bird’s eye views of various landmarks in the vast city. There is also the option to enjoy a sunset helicopter tour over Manila Bay, or charter a helicopter and set your own itinerary to ensure you leave Manila on the ultimate high.