Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.

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Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

Let's be honest, Manila is not one of our 'top of minds' Southeast Asian destinations. But this city has been nothing short of simply: mindblowingly crazy. There are so many things going on all at once. Every corner of the city demands your attention, and it grips your senses hard! The system is not the friendliest for tourists, but the Filipinos here are wonderfully gracious hosts to travelers on the road. This is why Manila is mesmerizing. There are not many guides to touring Manila city or all-day itineraries. I could not find something that could instantly help me with my travel planning in my pre-journey preparation, and so I hope this helps you as a travel resource.




All the conventional touristy visits and all stopovers marked on this map for your convenience.


Where to stay

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

Hostels are a great way to meet people, especially locals that can point you the right way in a place as disorganized as Manila. If you're thinking to travel the road less traveled, this would be a perfect way to kickstart your journey. Plus! If you're traveling solo or want to explore the city with more people, hostels are a bustling place of like-minded people. The one that we stayed at is Our Melting Pot. I can't tell you if it's the best but it is quite awesome because of three reasons:

1. Great hosts at Our Melting Pot
They organize free city tours, including the touristy routes: museum tours, Intramuros tours, and even 'slum tours'. It is either nerve wracking to do the last one on your own, or highly likely to be dangerous. They even remember nearly all the guests by name and ensure that you feel totally at home.

2. Lots of shower cubicles
Not all hostels have enough shower cubicles and having to wait for one while you're feeling all grimy after a long day... is not the worst thing. But if you can avoid it, why not, right. Hot or cold showers, checked. And strong water pressure, checked.

3. Generous breakfasts
One characteristic that stood out about Filipinos is that they are serious about their food. For breakfast, they have rotating menus, with bananas, sandwiches and cereals as a mainstay. They have about six bottles of different fruit jams and sandwiches spreads. In a hostel - that's considered pretty damn good.

4. 24-hour reception
If your plane lands in the middle of the night, you would want somewhere with 24-hour reception so you know there's someone waiting for you.

5. Right smack at Makati
Otherwise also known as the most modern and developed part of Manila, with Century City Mall within 10 minutes of walking, with restaurants and bars all around. The unfortunate part is that we had to wake up at ungodly hours in the morning every day for hiking activities so... more on that soon!

6. Prices (inclusive of breakfast)
A private single room is SGD27/night (PHP950), while a mixed 4-people dorm is SGD17/night (PHP625).

7. Completely smoke-free and alcohol-free
Something that ought not to be taken for granted!

8. Mini-mart downstairs - perfect for stocking up before your day trip out to.. wherever

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

The downside to living in this hostel is that you might have to accommodate a stranger in your room. This results in quite a wild card. It could be your next best friend or just a quirky old lady who insists that my sister five years older than me is my twin (true story). It gets a bit noisy at night if your room is near the main area, but other than that, the hosts have been amazingly accommodating.

Our Melting Pot
4th Floor Mavenue Building
7844 Makati Avenue cor Guerrero Street
Makati, Manila, Philippines 1200

I will just leave this link here quietly:



1. Experiencing the 'hipster' breakfast style, bBegin the day with Early Bird Breakfast Club.
7am - 8.30am

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

Initiation to Manila at a cafe dressed in lovely-Stepford-wife-pink? Certainly instagrammable, hundred percent delicious. The Early Bird Breakfast Club opens at 7 in the morning, which means you can start bright and early and make your day count. The newspaper menu follows its breakfast theme - titled Breakfast of Champions, it is indeed hard to counter that statement.

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

I got myself a magnificent plate of Bacon & Pineapple Scotch Eggs (SGD9/ PHP315), with soft-boiled eggs encased with lightly fried sausage meat, served with hash potatoes, strips of bacon, grilled tomatoes and a side of bacon and pineapple chutney. Everything was so rich in flavour, sweet and savoury all around that - it was just the beginning to Filipino cuisine in which everything is intensely flavoured (in my opinion). We also got the Puto Bumbong Pancakes which is apparently a hipster spin on a traditional culinary snack puto bumbong of steamed glutinous rice! These were topped with toasted coconut flakes and had a really dense texture. Early Breakfast Club is located on The Fort Strip at Bonifacio Global City. Definitely worth checking out!

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

Unit C, Ground Floor
Fort Pointe 2 Bldg.
The Fort Complex, 28th Street
Bonifacio Global City, 1634 Taguig, Philippines


Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!


2. See the 'astronaut graffiti wall' at Icon Plaza

8.30am - 9am


Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

Take a moment to look at how gigantic this graffiti is! We were all instantly wowed and ended up staring at it for a good ten minutes despite standing in the sun. Thanks to the Internet, I found out that this wall mural was made by Cyrcle, a duo from Los Angeles, California. This graffiti art is called Between the Lines a part of their exhibition titled Nothing Exists. (Info source from leftoverjinx)

3. Understanding Manila's history at..
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial
9am - 11am

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial (entrance is free!) is definitely the most well-maintained cemetery ever. Five minutes walking into this space, we were greeted by a mesmerizing, modern sight, a sea of white crosses. It is unbelievably serene, yet there is this hollowing sadness about how many precious lives were lost during the world war.


Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

This place contains the largest number of graves of our military dead of World War II. A staggering total of 17,201, most of whom lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines.

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

Twenty-five mosaic maps detail the achievements of the American armed forces in the Pacific, China, India and Burma. It is quite a lot of information and details to read, but it is very interesting to read even if you are not a history buff! For Singaporeans, our history lessons on WWII don't include this part of the world in detail, so it is quite eye-opening to understand more about what happened here, especially how the forces moved and organized themselves across a spangle of these islands.

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

A chapel in the form of a white masonry building enriched with sculpture and mosaic, stands near the center of the cemetery. The names of those since recovered and identified are carved into the white walls, in somewhat alphabetical order... it is hard to believe every single name is a life lost.

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

Near the entrance, the visitor centre has a few experienced staff stationed there that can answer all your questions about the history of this part of the world.

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

4. Get stuck in Manila traffic
11am - 12pm

This is probably the quintessential Manila experience, one that you will have to go through whether you like it or not because that's how the city is like. The best part is that you can always hop onto a cab and grab a midday snooze while it happens! Under 400 PHP (SGD12) for a ride from Manila American Cemetery and Memorial to Intramuros area.

5. Getting touch with traditional Filipino cuisine at White Knight Restaurant
12pm - 1.30pm

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

White Knight Restaurant is located on the first floor of a hotel of the same name, one of the many restaurants around Intramuros. White Knight is overlooked by the major tourist review sites because it is subsumed under the hotel, and after the experience there, I would think it's really quite good and deserve to be ranked as one of the tops as well. The other big names include Babara's and Ristorante Delle Mitre (all found on the map above).

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

We found ourselves trying one of the most representative Filipino dishes - Pork Adobo here, with a luscious rich peppery broth of vinegar and soy sauce doused over tender pieces of marinated pork. It is definitely too salty to be eaten on its own, but one of the most satisfying meals I've ever had when paired with fragrant piping hot white rice. I haven't had enough adobos to be an expert on it, but this one already left a very positive impression for me as my first try! Their Inihaw na Pusit (grilled squid) is pretty good as well, cooked in a traditional way as well with onions, soy sauce with a side of Thai chilli for the dip. The squid has very little rubbery texture and it is certainly very yummy! What is a Filipino meal without ending it with some sweet Halo-Halo? Everyone presents this differently, and here at White Knight it is a scoop of chocolate ice-cream in a sinful cup of condensed milk, jackfruit, sweet potatoes, yam, and slices of coconut flesh.

What to order: Pork Adobo, Inihaw na Pusit, Halo-Halo

White Knight Hotel (Intramuros)
General Luna Street Corner, Urdaneta Street
Intramuros, Manila, Metro Manila, Philippines

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

This historic core in the capital of Philippines, Intramuros is something you cannot miss if you are in Manila. From the city's foundation in 1571 to the end of Spanish rule in 1898, Intramuros was essentially Manila itself. Stone walls and fortifications were built in a pentagonal shape to protect the citizens from invasion. Within which, there is a dense grid-like system of streets and main square where government buildings are stationed. The best way to explore Intramuros area is on foot, with lovely sights along the way. There will be people asking you if you need tours for a fee, avoid them and explore around yourself - it's more fun that way. 

6. Understanding religion in Manila..
Visiting the Manila Cathedral
1.30pm - 2pm

Built in 1571, Manila Cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Phillippines and the oldest in Manila. Its architectural structure has classic Romanesque influences and is reminiscent of European cathedrals. The cathedral is also home to the largest pipe organ in Southeast Asia. There are helpful touchscreen displays for you to learn more about the place too.

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!


The interior is breathtaking and the stained glass windows within the cathedral are also endlessly fascinating. It is definitely worth a visit. People love holding weddings at this amazing cathedral so you might not have access depending on your luck! No entry fee is collected but a voluntary donation will be appreciated.

Manila Cathedral
Sto. Tomas, Intramuros
Manila, 1002 Metro Manila, Philippines

7. Intramuros, Plaza Moriones (literally: 'within the walls')
2pm - 3pm

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

Fort Santiago was the military headquarters of the Spanish colonial government and this entire place is akin to an outdoors museum with a wealth of historical knowledge with a beautiful garden. For the curious travellers, this is a huge playground for you to explore and run around! And definitely a lot of good photo ops against the exquisite stone walls.

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

8. Rizal Shrine Museum
3pm - 4pm

The Rizal Shrine Museum is humble reproduction of the original two-storeyed colonial Spanish style house in Calamba, Laguna where José Rizal was born in 1861 and where he grew up. Rizal is regarded as one of the greatest national heroes of the Philippines and thus, the Rizal Shrine is built to remember the lifework of José Rizal. Much to my ignorance, I never knew who Rizal was previously, but this shrine really educates its visitors in the most efficient manner with models and timelines. Considered a genius beyond his years at that time, Rizal could speak several languages and was very eloquent. He wrote El Filibusterismo and Noli Me Tangere, which paved the way for a Filipino uprising against Spain.


Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!


9. Lookout point to Pasig River
4pm - 5pm

Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!
Guide to touring Manila city, all-day itinerary!

Walk all the way to the end of Fort Santiago and you will be greeted with the stunning view of Pasig River, all to yourself. The whole place was so quiet and deserted, it is so different from the rest of Manila indeed.

10. Experience the rush hour.
5pm - 5.30pm

Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.
Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.

The late afternoon sun casting over Intramuros and the whirl of the evening peak hour was pouring into the streets. Not very friendly for tourists trying to navigate their way on these new streets... nevertheless, an incredible experience. There was a street night market of some sort along the way where you can stop by for some shopping if you want.

Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.

From the moment we exited the walls, it began to feel 'dangerous' - perhaps from the cacophony from the traffic, the hasty pedestrians rushing to get to their destinations... and therefore I took a lot less photos than I wished to avoid attracting the wrong attention!


11. Get to Central Terminal - experience the Manila metro
5.30pm - 6pm

Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.

We were trying to get back to Makati district where our hostel is, but if we were to grab a cab, it will certainly be caught in a jam. Not cool. Besides, I was totally gaming to try out the public transport after a whole day of walking and cabbing, so yes, happy to head right to Central Terminal.

Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.
Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.
Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.

Passengers using the metro system in Manila will have to buy a plastic magnetic single-journey card from the machines. It was a mad rush for the train, but it wasn't crazy crowded. We had a lot of help from the locals who told us where to alight for Makati: Gil Puyat.

Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.

12. Jeepney back to Makati Avenue 
6 - 7pm

Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.
Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.

Jeepneys are colourful, music-blasting jeeps that is part of the backbone of Manila public transportation. They offer a perplexing selection of destinations especially for the traveller who can hardly differentiate Buendia from Guadalupe. Destinations are written on narrow boards stuck under the windows. How it works is that jeepneys can stop and start wherever 'safe' by Manila standards, you just got to be quick. Know where your destination is and see if any jeepney goes through that route, and if it does, hop on! Ask the driver how much it is to your destination and you can either pass it to the commuter next to you (normal practice) or you can squat-walk your way through the bouncing vehicle (the roof is very low, even for me) to the front. It is usually 7 PHP - get your coins ready. Here you get to be part of the Manila traffic again.

13. Wind down with Arrozeria at Century City Mall
7 - 8.30pm

Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.
Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.
Guide to the complete Manila City experience in one day.

Thankfully we met a 21-year old girl on the jeepney who led us the way to Century City Mall, which we would otherwise likely to have missed. This mall is an empty upscale mall in the middle of Makati. There, we indulged in a seafood paella at Arrozeria. Arrozeria is a Spanish restaurant which has relocated to Bonifacio High Street instead. There are plenty of options at Century City Mall and even along Makati Avenue itself. We decided on Century City Mall because we needed restocking on our supplies for the next day's activities to Mount Batulao.

And... that's it! We made our way back to the hostel and discussed the transportation options to Mount Batulao with the hosts at Our Melting Pot before winding down for the night. Phew, what a long day! Of course, there are plenty of other things to see in Manila even just on the average tourist list. But realistically, with the amount of traffic, this is probably the luckiest way to experience Manila in many facets, to see and feel Manila's heartbeat!


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I share interesting episodes in life revolving around food, lifestyle, travel and inspirational ideas. If you would like to stay in touch, follow me on my Instagram on @amie.hu and Facebook page!

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