For many travelers, Manila is little more than a stopover on their way to travel through the rest of the Philippines. And while the other parts of the Philippines are undoubtedly beautiful, I urge you to take more time here. There are plenty of wonderful things in Manila you shouldn’t miss. As the capital city, the culture here is vibrant and diverse, perfect for those who genuinely like to immerse themselves in the experience and live like locals.
With stunning historic architecture and skyscrapers to rival even Hong Kong, you'd be foolish not to treat yourself to a couple of nights in this bustling metropolis. Here's the perfect first-time traveler's guide of what to see and do for the solo adventurer visiting Manila.
Stay at Manila World Resorts
Manila World Resorts is a safe place for a solo traveler to stay. While there are plenty of AirBnb options in the center of town—which is great if you're a confident solo traveler—in a big and unfamiliar city, sometimes the safety of a resort is very comforting. The other bonus is there's always something going on at this marvelous resort, so you'll never be bored. For those who enjoy gaming or just simply want to learn a little more, the casino here is a great place to hone your skills.
This state of the art building is home to major poker tours, including the highly anticipated Asian Poker Tour later this year. So get out of the midday sun and sit down by a table. You'll be surprised at how much fun you can have by learning to play games like poker. You never know, by the time the next tournament rolls around, you might be feeling confident enough to enter!
Once you're settled into your hotel and you've had a good night's sleep, a great way to familiarise yourself with the city is to take a tour of the Intramuros. This part of town is a 16th-century walled city, which was used during Spanish rule to defend their territory. Intramuros literally translates as 'Walled City' and as such you'll find all of the amenities you could hope for within these ancient walls. There are informative tours here, which will show you around many of the most famous landmarks, including Manila Cathedral, the San Agustin Church, Casa Manila and Fort Santiago to name but a few.
Of course, if you feel like exploring at your own pace, then its possible to walk around the walled city by yourself and get to know your surroundings this way. The Intramuros is also a great place for souvenir shopping as many stalls offer handmade trinkets that are a great reminder of your visit to the Philippines.
Eat at Mang Larry's
For many travelers, a chance to try the local cuisine is a huge part of the experience. Manila is lucky enough to be home to a vast array of food from many different cultures, so if you're craving something a little more familiar, then you won't have to look far. However, for now, we'll focus on just Philippine cuisine.
Tusok-tusok are a favorite snack in Manila, and few places do them as well as Mang Larry's. This little street food stall offers crispy grilled kebabs seasoned with salt and pepper and served with a sweet and spicy dip and a vinegar option. This taste sensation is unique to the Philippines and is very moreish indeed - you'll likely be staying for more than one!