The City of Manila is the capital of the Philippines and one of its oldest cities.
It is a city abundant in culture and history, and with so much to see, where do you even start?
Whether you’re a foreigner who wants to get to know Manila, or a local tired of going to the same malls over and over again, here are three tours that provide their own unique perspectives on exploring Manila.
Bambike Ecotours Intramuros
If you think a kalesa ride around the streets of Manila sounds cliché, why not join a bike tour instead?
Bambike Ecotours Intramuros offers an educational and exciting tour around the old walled city by using bamboo bikes.
Bryan Benitez McClelland is the founder of this socio-ecological enterprise that started in 2010.
According to Bryan, “The bicycle is arguably the most efficient machine man has ever created. Bamboo is the greenest building material. Put those things together and you have Bambike, the greenest way to get around.”
Tour participants cover more ground as they pedal their way across various places of interest such as the Plaza San Luis Complex, Baluarte de San Diego Gardens, Fort Santiago, and Rizal Monument, among others.
The added perk of this tour is that you get to ride a handmade bamboo bike that is made by Gawad Kalinga villagers.
“Gawad Kalinga,” translated in English means to “give care”, is a Philippine-based movement that aims to end poverty by first restoring the dignity of the poor. Its mission is to end poverty for 5 million families by 2024. The Foundation currently works with over 2,000 communities.
“Making a Bambike is very labor intensive,” shared McClelland. “We hire Bambuilders from a Gawad Kalinga community to handcraft the bamboo bicycles, creating sustainable livelihoods for the people that need them the most.”
As you learn about Philippine history, you also support the livelihood of these people and the environment at the same time. If that won’t leave you in high spirits, I don’t know what will!
Bambike offers a standard “Intramuros Experience Tour” that takes about two-and-a-half hours, and an Express Tour that you can customize yourself.
Plaza San Luis Complex, Real St. corner General Luna St., Intramuros, Manila
+63 (2) 525-8289
Tours are available from Tuesday to Sunday, 9 AM to 6 PM
Old Manila Walks
Get your walking shoes ready and explore the city by foot with Old Manila Walks tours by Ivan Man Dy.
For the art enthusiast, visiting the Philippines’ largest Art Deco complex in FEU and its fantastic collection of art pieces should not be missed. There’s also a San Miguel-Malacañang Palace tour for the history geek. And for the foodie, there is the popular “BIG Binondo Food Wok” where hopping from one eatery to another and chomping on all sorts of Chinese specialties for over three hours is the main agenda.
Old Manila Walks has even branched out and now offers a walking tour of the island fortress called Corregidor. Just a little over an hour away from Manila Bay via a ferry ride, Corregidor Island, while small, is filled to the brim with rich history of the Philippines during World War II.
See war remnants and ruins in this first-ever World War II themed hiking trail—the famous Battery Hearn, Topside (Mile-Long) Barracks, Cine Corregidor, Pacific War Memorial and even the slightly eerie Corregidor Hospital.
Since 2005, Dy has been making all his tours an intelligent and interactive experience. After all, this former museum guide and cultural activist earned a master’s degree in Cultural Heritage Studies. With the amount of interesting things you’ll be learning, your aching feet will be the last thing on your mind.
+63 (2) 711-3823
+63 (918) 9-MANILA
Walk This Way
If you see a man sporting a black top hat while walking around Intramuros, the oldest district and historic core of the City of Manila, there’s a 98% chance that it’s Carlos Celdran, the brains behind Walk This Way, which offers tours around the Manila area.
One of his most popular tour is “If These Walls Could Talk”, a leisurely stroll around selected significant destinations like Fort Santiago and Plaza San Luis, where tour-goers are treated to an entertaining yet informative tour thanks to Celdran’s irreverent analysis of Philippine history and culture.
The classic tour, which lasts about three hours, rewards participants with a treat of halo-halo (an icy dessert with toppings like sweet beans, fruits and ice cream). It’s a nice way to cap off a three-hour walking tour!
+63 (2) 484-4945
+63 (920) 909-2021