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Old Manila Walks - Day Tours

#7 of 100 Tours in Manila
Manila, Philippines
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Old Manila Walks - Day Tours
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Emerson G wrote a review Mar 2020
Batangas City, Philippines6 contributions2 helpful votes
I’ve visited Binondo multiple times over the years, but never really knew what to look for and where to eat. Joining Old Manila Walks’ pioneering Binondo food tour (wittily called the Binondo Food Wok) provided the missing pieces of the puzzle that is Binondo and put all my previous experiences into context. Booking slots and paying online was easy and hassle-free. Tour wasn’t cancelled even if the turnout was lower than usual (probably due to the COVID-19 scare). On the day of the tour itself, Ivan met our group (my mother, my brother, and myself) promptly at 0855H as per the joining instructions. The tour proceeded as scheduled despite several no-shows, and it practically became a private tour for us from then on. Ivan, the tour guide, storyteller and self-described “heritage nerd” who brought the Binondo food tour phenomenon to the mainstream through Old Manila Walks, is entertaining, engaging and fun to be with, fully in command of his craft and with a ready answer to questions about everything under the Binondo sun. This included non-food questions like why the word “intsik” is offensive and why there are a lot of volunteer firefighters in Binondo, little things I’ve always been curious with all these years. He also made my mother and brother comfortable with him, which is an achievement considering they are very shy people by nature. :) The food tour is structured as appetizer-snacks-mains-dessert; we went to four different eateries/restaurants with this arrangement, a mix of decades-old Binondo institutions and hole-in-the-wall eateries you will likely miss if you DIY a Binondo food crawl. I’m told the restaurants change every time, so theoretically one can join several Binondo Food Wok tours and discover some new gem each time. A normal tour takes 2.5-3 hrs, but it only took 2 hours for our small group of three people. The food, as expected, was awesome! As a local, these were dishes I’ve been eating in other restaurants for years, dishes of Hokkien or Cantonese origin with a Malay/Polynesian twist; the fact that we were in Binondo meant that these dishes were prepared differently here than elsewhere, or were probably invented here hundreds of years ago and thus was how they were originally meant to taste like! The advantage of having a local guy like Ivan around is that he explains to you how each dish is made, how it probably came into existence hundreds of years ago, and how it has evolved since then. On a much more basic level, he also teaches you how to eat each dish like a local guy. :) The food tour is so leisurely-paced, my 66-year old mother was able to easily follow us around. The heat will not be an issue since there’s plenty of shade around Binondo’s buildings and alleyways. Sidewalks are practically nonexistent on this part of Manila, though, so be prepared to walk on uneven surfaces and share the street with parked vehicles, fire engines, speeding motorcycles, and workmen unloading all sorts of merchandise. Do not judge a book by its cover; some restaurants may look simple or dated, but the quality of the food is the main reason they are included in the tour itinerary. Lastly, like any food tour, it is best to do the Binondo Food Wok on an empty stomach. We skipped breakfast for the 9am meetup, and we ended up not eating lunch at all! Ate too much good food! :)
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Date of experience: March 2020
1 Helpful vote
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Belle J wrote a review Feb 2020
Philippines10 contributions
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A great culinary adventure through the historic Chinatown. 3 hours walking tour 5 food stops 14 sweet and savory dishes A must try walking tour even for locals!
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Date of experience: February 2020
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Destination433018 wrote a review Feb 2020
1 contribution1 helpful vote
Hooray for people like Ivan who can mix Food and History in a few hours! Made our reunion both memorable and fun! The walk was short enough for seniors like us ! 😊
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Date of experience: February 2020
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Sebastian Q wrote a review Jan 2020
Antipolo City, Philippines23 contributions23 helpful votes
We were 8 in our sub group and 31 in total. There was a 10 man Swiss contingent and Filipino balikbayans, a couple celebrating a birthday and us locals. Ivan is a pro and in the 3 hr walk plus eat tour we learned so many new things and ate alot! There were 4 meals and a snack. The walk itself was just a block in Binondo Manila but it was pleasant and the areas were relatively clean and orderly. It was a very enjoyable morning and the tour is highly recommended! Will only post the food, a view and a reference guide for data privacy reasons...
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Date of experience: January 2020
2 Helpful votes
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Maria Monet C wrote a review Jan 2020
Emeryville, California32 contributions4 helpful votes
Binondo Walking Tour yesterday was informative and fun. Anson introduced us to the history, art and stories behind the rooms, walls, bridge sculptures, store fronts, transitions, etc. I would highly recommend this tour. My brother and I have been through Binondo, Intramuros, and Escolta for years; I do appreciate the old city even more.
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Date of experience: January 2020
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