2 Days in Manila: the Perfect Itinerary for First-Time Visitors

I’ve been to the Philippines more than 18 times since my teens. I’m usually in the provinces, but these are top tourist places in Manila I made sure not to miss when I visit.

Here’s a sample Manila itinerary for 2 days in Manila, but you can mix and adjust whether it’s 1 day in Manila or your first time in Manila.

πŸŽ₯ You can also watch my Manila vlog:

Top 8 things to do for first-timers in Manila + Makati, Philippines 2024 πŸ‡΅πŸ‡­

If you’re new to the Philippines, make sure to read my Philippines travel guide for essential Philippines travel tips.

Book before your Manila trip:

πŸ“² Local sim card or eSIM card from Airalo

🚊 Ride from the airport: prebook a ride | airport shuttle bus

🏨 Book discounted Manila hotels on Agoda (what I use)

🚲 Intramuros Bambike Tour (most popular)

πŸš™ Hire a private driver for a day (1k+ booked)

🎫 Browse through dozens of available Manila tours

2 Days in Manila: Itinerary Day 1

For your first day in Manila itinerary, dive right in the most popular tourist sites in Manila:

  • Chinatown
  • Intramuros
  • Rizal (Luneta) Park

All three locations are located near each other either by walking (in the heat), a short Grab taxi ride away, by the local jeepney public transportation, or by motor tricycle side car.

πŸ“Chinatown

Address: located in the Binondo district

A large gray and red Catholic church in Binondo Chinatown Manila

Manila’s Chinatown is the oldest Chinatown in the world and was established in 1594.

There’s beautiful old churches, shops, open markets, eateries. It is a bustling area in general so if you want somewhere a little more chill, head over to the next stop, Intramuros.

πŸ“Intramuros

Address: Bonifacio Dr & Padre Burgos St, Manila, Luzon 1002

A street of tall Spanish-style old buildings with large burgundy doors Intramuros Park, a must in your 2 days in Manila

The Intramuros, or the “Walled City in Manila,” was built in the late 1500’s when Spain invaded Philippines.

It was the center for the elites during occupation for more than 300 years. The area is large, with plazas, churches, museums, and monuments.

You can walk to Intramuros from Chinatown using one of the walkable bridges. It is a 30-minute walk in the heat, however! You can also take a motor tricycle, jeepney, or taxi.

Popular Intramuros tours:

1. Intramuros pass for access to different activities

2. Intramuros Bambike Tour (bamboo bike)

3. Casa Manila Museum Ticket in Intramuros

πŸ“Rizal (Luneta) Park

Address: Ermita, Manila, 1000 Metro Manila, Philippines

Head and shoulder-length statue of Lapu-Lapu on a stand at Rizal Luneta Park in Manila

A 20-30 minute walk away is Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park.

It was where Philippine’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, was executed, along with other revolutionaries who rebelled against the Spanish colonial government.

Now, it’s a beautiful, large urban park to stroll, with water fountain shows, gardens, and monuments to check out.

Don’t miss it, especially if you’re already at Intramuros.

🏨 Stay at the luxurious but affordable 4-star Rizal Park Hotel. It looks pretty incredible 🀯

Manila Itinerary Day 2

Out of the two days in Manila, I recommend your 2nd day to be a little more chill after your busy 1 day in Manila itinerary:

  • BGC (Bonifacio Global City)
  • Little Venice
  • SM Mall of Asia

πŸ“BGC (Bonifacio Global City)

Address: Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City (depends on where you’re visiting)

A resting area with wooden benches covered by green leafs at BGC Bonafacio Global City Pasig

Heading south, closer to Makati, is BGC, or Bonafacio Global City. This area is if you’re looking for an urban commercial hub to hang out at, with international restaurants and branded shopping.

It’s a nice, quieter place to chill outside bustling Manila. Otherwise, you can skip it, but it is interesting to see the stark contrast between different areas of Metro Manila.

BGC and Makati are the two areas most tourists stay. Look up a BGC hotel for your trip (mix of high-end + budget hotels).

πŸ“Little Venice

Address: McKinley Hill Dr, Taguig, 1630 Metro Manila, Philippines

An inside sky blue river with long canoes surrounded by beige Italian-style shops Little Venice Grand Canal Mall in Manila

If you’re already in BGC, head to the Little Venice of Manila, or the Venice Grand Canal Mall by Grab taxi.

If you’ve never been to Italy, or at least The Venetian in Vegas, I’d recommend checking it out for your Manila itinerary.

It’s a really beautiful indoor replica and a part of a mall. You can eat a restaurant, do some shopping while you’re there, or ride a gondola boat for $7 USD.

πŸ“SM Mall of Asia

Address: Seaside Blvd, 123, Pasay, 1300 Metro Manila

A large display of balloned green and red trees with a "Flower Wonderland" sign inside SM Mall of Asia Manila Pasay Philippines

Manila has some of the biggest malls in the world. Mall of Asia is probably the most popular one in the Philippines and one of the top tourist places in Manila (especially for locals outside of Manila).

Malls here are always busy, but if you’re going to add a mall to your stop, add Mall of Asia. It even has a seaside amusement park, ice skating rink, concert grounds, and more.

🎑 Cheaper online: Book an unlimited Mall of Asia Amusement Park Pass

More Unique Things to do Manila

Here’s additional places to visit in Manila. These are if you have more time outside of the 2 days in Manila, or want to swap out some of the sites in the Manila tour itinerary above:

  • Makati Parks & Markets
  • Cubao / Wish Bus

If you’re in Manila for more than a few days, I recommend booking one of the many day trips from Manila.

πŸ“Makati Parks & Markets

Address: Legazpi Sunday Market, Legazpi Village, Makati

Address: Salcedo Weekend Market, Salcedo Village, Makati

Line of vendors covered by white tents at Legazpi Sunday Market Makati

If you’re staying in Makati, hang out at one of the many parks and green spaces. On the weekend, catch a farmer’s market with local vendors and live performances.

Don’t go out of your way for these parks or markets, but if you’re nearby or staying in Makati, and want to check out a chill local event, add these markets to your list. You’ll get a feel of the local neighborhood community.

Makati is where I usually stay (safe + access to favorite restaurants). Lots of affordable and nice hotels in Makati.

πŸ“Cubao / Wish Bus

Address: Times Square Ave, Cubao, Quezon City, Metro Manila

A white and orange tour bus with a large digital display screen playing videos - Wish Bus Araneta City Park Manila Cubao

Last stop on the Manila itinerary is Cubao in Quezon City, one of the busiest areas in Manila. It’s an area full of malls, eateries, and stores. If you want to experience the business that is Manila, check out Cubao.

I added this specifically to check out the Wish Bus, which records live performances of local Filipino artists. Their Youtube channel has over 13 million subscribers. Look for any shows on the Wish 107.5 Bus website for a unique thing to do in Manila.

Is Manila Worth Visiting?

Large teal-colored Water Fountain surrounded by tall green trees at Rizal Luneta Park in Manila

While I do prefer the quieter provinces of the Philippines, I still recommend adding Manila to your list of places to visit in the Philippines.

You’ll likely be flying in or out of Manila’s international airport, so it’d be easier to allocate 1 or 2 days in Manila.

If you really want to see the different sides of the Philippines and Filipinos, visit Manila.

More popular tours in Manila:

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