New Delhi: The Philippines, home to lovely beaches and picturesque mountain vistas, has a lot more to offer to the visitors. The cities of the Philippines offer fun and unique activities that can be toured in a single day, with a cosmopolitan vibe.
Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, is alive with sights and sounds of urban life at its busiest. It is also a contrast of the old and the new, with a mix of skyscrapers and heritage houses, and cars share the road with colorful jeepneys and horse-drawn calesas.
One tourist stop in Manila should be the Walled City of Intramuros, built by the Spanish colonizers 500 years ago. Its stone ramparts are still intact, along with the other defenses such as its moats and cannons that protected the fort from both natural disasters and invaders. Visit the Casa Manila Museum to get a feel of life during the Spanish era and take a walking tour to the centuries-old churches Manila Cathedral and San Agutin Church to appreciate their architecture. Fort Santiago holds historic significance as the prison where the Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal was held before his execution in Bagumbayan.
Other structures to check out nearby are the Manila Central Post Office, a neoclassical building that has been declared as an Important Cultural Property by the National Museum, the Cultural Center of the Philippines which is home to world-class performances by Filipino artists. Immerse yourself in art at the National Museum of the Philippines that houses the country’s largest and perhaps most iconic painting, the Spoliarium by Juan Luna, the National Museum of Natural History that showcases Philippine flora and fauna, and the National Museum of Anthropology, which houses artifacts from the ancient Filipino cultures.
Travelers can also take a boat ride along the rehabilitated Pasig River that takes its passengers through 12 stations with photo opportunities of the different bridges and roads along the way. For more water fun, a cruise on the Manila Bay to catch its beautiful sunset reflecting off the water should be on the itinerary.
Souvenir shopping is fun in Manila, with several must-visit sites for handcrafted and unique items. The Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan is known for its stalls that sell a sundry of South Sea Pearl jewellery. For other native items, one can shop around at the Balikbayan Handicraft Center and Go Lokal Store in Makati City for textiles, food items, and other products made by artisans in the provinces and those looking for Filipino-style home furnishings can browse through the stalls of Tiendesitas in Pasig City.
There are also other cities that visitors can explore. Ilocos, officially named Ilocos Region and administratively designated Region I, forms the northwest part of the island of Luzon in the Philippines. It is known for its old towns, historical sites, beaches, and nature attractions.
Similarly, Baguio, best known as the “Summer Capital of the Philippines” with its cool climate, makes it a spot to escape the chaotic scenes in Manila. The city is also home to tropical pine forests, lending the city the nickname “City of Pines”. Bohol is famous for its Chocolate Hills; its tarsiers, which may be the world’s smallest primate; its heritage sites and old stone churches. Cebu is the main center of Christianity in the Philippines. It is often called the “Queen City of the South”.