Try these 10 offbeat experiences when you are in Manila

Most travellers first experience of the Philippines is Manila and it's hard to top the excitement you'll have in the city. (Image by gloverbh222 from Pixabay)

Manila is more than just a gateway to the Philippines’ stunning beaches and islands. It is a vibrant and diverse city that offers a rich cultural heritage, a lively arts scene and a plethora of culinary delights. Whether you are looking for history, adventure, or relaxation, Manila has something for you. Here are 10 under-the-radar experiences that you can have in this bustling metropolis.

Go back in time at the old city of Intramuros

Intramuros, or the Walled City, is the oldest district of Manila and the former seat of the Spanish colonial government. Here, you can explore the cobbled streets lined with restored Spanish houses, churches and museums that showcase the city’s rich history. You can also visit Fort Santiago, the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), San Agustin Museum and Casa Manila. You can either walk around on your own or join a guided tour by bike, kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) or bamboo bike.

Sip coffee and admire art at Coffee ArTea

Coffee ArTea is a cozy and artsy cafe in Poblacion, Makati’s hippest neighbourhood. Here, you can enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while browsing through the art gallery that features works by local artists. You can also try their signature drink, the Lokal Cacao Bicerin, which is inspired by an Italian dessert coffee topped with homemade local cacao sauce and cold muscovado cream. If you are feeling hungry, you can also order some of their delicious pastries and sandwiches.

Climb up a limestone in El Nido

El Nido is not just about island-hopping and seeing the breathtaking small and big lagoons at its heart. In the town is a giant limestone that can be trekked up to its summit. However, the climb up there is not an easy feat. You will need to wear gloves and shoes with good grip as you scramble over sharp rocks and steep slopes. But once you reach the top, you will be rewarded with a stunning panoramic view of El Nido’s bay and islands.

Watch a movie under the stars at Cinema ’76 Cafe

Cinema ’76 Cafe is a unique concept that combines a café and an outdoor cinema. Here, you can watch indie films, documentaries, and classics on a big screen while sitting on bean bags or wooden benches. You can also order some snacks and drinks from the cafe to complete your movie night experience. Cinema ’76 Cafe is located in San Juan City, near Greenhills Shopping Center.

Relax on a hammock at Kape Cinco

Kape Cinco is a charming coffee shop in Marikina City that will make you feel like you are on a summer vacation in the province. Here, you can lounge on a hammock while sipping your coffee and enjoying the fresh air. You can also order some breakfast dishes or cakes to go with your drink. Kape Cinco is open from Tuesday to Sunday.

Shop for vintage finds at Cubao Expo

Cubao Expo, or Cubao X, is a former shoe factory turned into a hub for artists, musicians, and collectors. Here, you can find vintage shops that sell everything from clothes, accessories, books, records, cameras, and furniture. You can also find art galleries, restaurants, and bars that cater to different tastes and moods. Cubao Expo is located in Quezon City, near Araneta Center.

Ride a bamboo bike around BGC

BGC, or Bonifacio Global City, is one of the most modern and upscale areas of Manila. It is home to many skyscrapers, malls, restaurants and parks, but if you want to see a different side of BGC, you can join a bamboo bike tour that will take you around the hidden gems and cultural spots of the city. You will get to ride a bamboo bike that is handmade by local craftsmen and learn about the history and stories behind BGC’s landmarks.

Experience Chinatown at Binondo

Binondo is the oldest Chinatown in the world and one of the most colourful and lively places in Manila. Here, you can experience the Chinese culture, history, and cuisine that have influenced the Filipino identity. You can visit the Binondo Church, the Chinese Cemetery, the Lucky Chinatown Mall and the Eng Bee Tin store that sells the famous hopia (bean-filled pastry). You can also join a food tour that will take you to the best eateries in Binondo, where you can sample dishes like dim sum, noodles, dumplings and more.

Swim with whale sharks in Donsol

Donsol is a small town in Sorsogon province that is known as the whale shark capital of the world. Here, you can have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with these gentle giants in their natural habitat. Unlike other places where whale sharks are fed by humans, Donsol offers an eco-friendly and ethical way of interacting with these creatures. You will need to join a boat tour that will take you to the spots where whale sharks are sighted. You will then be able to snorkel with them for a few minutes at a time.

ENS Editors

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