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Guide to Manila for Families

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As the capital of the "Pearl of the Orient Seas," Manila is a cultural hot-spot that offers a unique experience to both local and visiting families. A product of the influences of its Spanish, American, and Japanese colonizers, the city has an enigmatic personality, yet it remains vibrant with the warmth of its people. Allow me to share with you some top tips and great attractions to help you create lasting, beautiful memories on a family trip to Manila.

Good for
  • Family
  • History Buff
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Thrifty Traveler

13 Places

21 City Tips

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Map

13 Places

Manila Ocean Park

Aquariums

Star City

Theme Parks

The Mind Museum

Specialty Museums

Ayala Triangle Gardens

Gardens

Rizal Park

National Parks, Parks

Ace Water Spa

Spas

Intramuros

Historic Walking Areas, Neighborhoods

National Museum

Specialty Museums

Manila Bay

Bodies of Water

SM Mall of Asia

Gift & Specialty Shops

La Mesa Eco Park

Parks

Greenbelt Mall

Shopping Malls

Music 21 Plaza - Makati

Other Fun & Games

Jaycee P's City Tips

  • When traveling with kids or seniors, it is highly recommended to take a cab or rent a private car.
  • Cabs can easily be found around the metropolis, but it's best to hail them at your hotel lobby or at taxi stands outside the malls, where guards or other people see you boarding.
  • When taking a cab, insist on using the meter.
  • Trains are the fastest mode of transport in Manila. There are four lines plying different routes, and their operating hours vary.
  • The first train cars are exclusive to female passengers, senior citizens, persons with disabilities, adults with young children, and pregnant women plus their companion/s.
  • Because trains are cheap and fast, they get crowded. Avoid them during rush hours (6-9am and 4-8pm), especially on weekdays.
  • Most buses are air-conditioned unless they display the sign "Ordinary Fare".
  • On Jeepneys, tickets aren't provided and nobody collects fares. To pass your fare towards the driver, say "bayad po." To signal the driver to stop so you can alight, say "para po."
  • Tricycles and pedicabs (also called "padjak") are common in small villages. Before boarding them, it's wise to ask the driver how much your total fare will cost.
  • Always have local currency (Philippine peso) and have them in lower denominations (Php10, 20, 50) to avoid getting scammed by drivers who say they cannot provide change.
  • Say "Opo" for yes or "Hindi po" to decline politely. The word "po" is commonly added in sentences to be courteous (E.g. "how much po," "where is the taxi stand po").
  • When going around the metropolis, jeans and light-colored cotton shirts are a good choice of dress. Wear less jewelry or none at all; a simple watch should do.
  • Don't bring too many items or bags with you, unless you are renting a private car. Always carry your bags in front, and put your purses and wallets in your front pockets.
  • Most locals are very accommodating when you take photos of them; however, it's nice to ask first.
  • Traffic is usually heavy (especially during rush hours). It gets heavier on the eve of a long weekend and on "payday Fridays" — those closest to the 15th and 30th of the month.
  • The Philippines is a tropical country so it's usually very humid. It's best to carry bottled water with you, and have spare shirts packed for the kids.
  • Almost all Filipinos can understand and converse in English, so it's not a problem to ask for directions. In fact, most street signs and instructions are in English.
  • Price tags are usually non-negotiable and have taxes included, unless stated otherwise.
  • When fine dining, consider tipping no less than 10% of your total bill — or higher if it doesn't already include a service charge.
  • Cab drivers usually don't give change to the last centavos, and they expect to get tipped. You may simply round-up your fare to the nearest 10s, or add Php20-50.
  • On buses, "conductors" will approach you to collect fares and give tickets. Keep your tickets for inspection.
  • Save
    Manila Ocean Park
    Aquariums
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    In the Philippines, marine life is best explored by snorkeling or diving. But if you and your loved ones don't have time to check out the beaches around the country, Manila Ocean Park is a decent alternative, especially for kids. At this amusement park, you can interact with penguins, enjoy memorable encounters with sharks and rays, and even let your daughter try out her mermaid fantasy by swimming while wearing a fish tail.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Luxury Traveler
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • After a long tiring day, relax your feet by trying the "Fish Spa" where tiny, friendly fish nibble the dead skin cells off your feet!
    • Check the website's "Promo" section to score some discounted tickets, which you can purchase directly or via their partner groupons.
    • Manila Ocean Park's Hotel H2O has some underwater-themed Aqua Rooms with aquarium walls that could complete your "under the sea" experience.
    • It can get hot while watching the sea lion shows, so visit that area early in the day, or bring an umbrella to shelter your brood from the sun.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #12 of 139 things to do in Manila
    • Too crowded 08/17/2017
    • Under the sea 08/17/2017
    • Manila Ocean Park
    Phone:
    632 5677777
    Other:
  • Save
    Star City
    Theme Parks
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    Prepare yourself for an adrenaline rush at Star City: The amusement park that gives you every possible excuse to scream your heart out! Rides and attractions vary, meaning there are some child-friendly ones, and some more extreme that could be enjoyed by older kids and parents.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Outside food and drinks are not allowed, but snacks are sold at stalls inside the park. Some fast food joints also surround the park vicinity.
    • If the type of food on offer inside the park doesn't appeal to you, walk to Harbour Square, which is just a block away.
    • Star City is located next to the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex, so you also the have option to catch a play at CCP or see an indie film after your visit.
    • It can get very crowded, especially on weekends and during the Christmas holiday season.
    • Ticket prices vary, so you can pay just to enter the vicinity, to try three rides, or ride all you like. There are also some attractions that require separate payments.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 34 things to do in Pasay
    • Not so amusing 08/17/2017
    • Needs renovation 08/12/2017
    • Star City
    Address:
    Sotto cor Jalandoni Sts. CCP Complex, Roxas Blvd.
    Pasay, Luzon 1300
    Philippines
    Phone:
    632 832-3249
    Other:
  • Save
    The Mind Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    The Mind Museum allows the whole family to learn while having fun. The first world-class science museum in the Philippines houses around 250 interactive exhibits to feed both your curious mind and your senses. It's a great place to start introducing or explaining complicated concepts to kids, from atoms and frequencies to Earth and astronomy. And should you run out of possible explanations, the museum's 'Mind Movers' (staff) are happy to assist you.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Look out for Mind Museum's monthly science parties and quiz nights.
    • If learning and playing makes you hungry, you'll find restaurants opposite the building. On Fridays and Saturdays, head to the nearby Midnight Mercato, which opens at 6pm.
    • The Mind Museum is open from Tuesday through Sunday.
    • You can purchase an all-day pass or the slightly cheaper ticket with a three-hour time limit.
    • Kids two feet and under can enter for free.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 31 things to do in Taguig City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fun and informative 08/16/2017
    • Kids would enjoy 08/13/2017
    • The Mind Museum
    Address:
    3rd Ave
    Bonifacio Global City
    Taguig City, Luzon 1634
    Philippines
    Phone:
    +63 63 909 6463
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    9:00 am - 6:00 pm
  • Save
    Ayala Triangle Gardens
    Gardens
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    If you want to spend a day outdoors, head over to the Ayala Triangle Gardens in Makati's Central Business District. Here you'll find space to run, cycle, or play frisbee with family and friends. Roll out the picnic mat and relax with some food and drinks, or for a more formal meal, head to one of the fine dining restaurants in the area. Free events and exhibits are also held in the area from time to time.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • On Saturdays, walk to the Salcedo Weekend Market for lunch. (It's also near the Ayala malls and luxury hotels like The Peninsula Manila and Makati Shangri La.)
    • On evenings from late November through December, the garden hosts a free Light & Sound show, every 30 minutes from 6-9pm.
    • If you plan to watch the Light & Sound show, make a reservation in advance as securing seats can be difficult.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 69 things to do in Makati
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Perfect spot for run! 08/14/2017
    • Good for running 08/13/2017
    • Ayala Triangle Gardens
    Address:
    Ayala Avenue & Paseo De Roxas Street
    Makati, Luzon
    Philippines
    Other:
  • Save
    Rizal Park
    National Parks, Parks
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    Rizal Park is one of Manila's most iconic attractions. Also called Luneta Park, this is the site where the country's national hero, Dr. Jose P. Rizal, was executed — the event that inspired the revolt against the Kingdom of Spain, later called the '1896 Philippine Revolution.' Today a monument marks the execution site, with a 24-hour honor guard watching over it. The place is frequented by families and couples who want to spend quality time together and enjoy a picnic on its grounds. You'll also find a tableaux of Rizal's life here, plus the grandstand where every Philippine President takes their oath of office.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Gather the family near the fountains before 7pm to watch the light show that runs until 10pm. It's free.
    • Rizal Park is near other tourist attractions, such as Intramuros, National Museum of the Philippines, Manila Ocean Park, Chinese Gardens, Orchidarium, and Manila Bay.
    • The Park is close to Manila Bay, so it's a good spot to see how the sky changes its hues during sunset.
    • An electric train goes around the park, as well as some horse-drawn carriages — ask about the total cost in pesos before hiring one.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 139 things to do in Manila
    • Greatest spot for those who seek for culture. Big 'no no' for those who seek amusement. 08/18/2017
    • National plaza and park 08/14/2017
    • Rizal Park
    Phone:
    632 302 7079
    Other:
  • Save
    Ace Water Spa
    Spas
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    Relieve stress while having family fun at Ace Water Spa. This indoor facility features hydrotherapy massage through its pools and aquatic jets, and a one-time payment allows you to enjoy the place for up to four hours. There is also a designated kids' area, with water games and a lazy river.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Bring your own towel. There are towel racks near the pool area.
    • It's best to go on a weekday, as the place is less crowded.
    • Ace Water Spa has some treats in its coffee lounge, but if you want to find more food choices, Ace's Pasig branch is near the Kapitolyo food street.
    • Wearing proper swimwear is strictly enforced.
    • Taking photos inside the vicinity is prohibited.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 27 Spas & Wellness in Quezon City
    • loved the place 08/13/2017
    • Relaxing, but lots of kids 07/17/2017
    • Ace Water Spa
    Address:
    399 Del Monte Avenue
    Quezon City, Luzon
    Philippines
    Phone:
    +63 2 367 8040
    Other:
  • Save
    Intramuros
    Historic Walking Areas, Neighborhoods
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    When the Spanish colonized the Philippines in the 16th century, they built the walled city of Intramuros, which served as the center of political, religious, and military power. Although the place was heavily damaged during World War II, reconstruction efforts began in the 1950s, and today it is a fascinating district for exploring, including sights like the Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church and Museum, Fort Santiago, and Bahay Tsinoy, among others.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Join Carlos Celdran's "Walk This Way" tour of Intramuros on a weekday. It's a fun and lively way to learn about Manila's history.
    • If you choose to visit or walk around by yourself, do it early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the midday heat.
    • Should you hire a horse-drawn carriage or pedicab (bikes with side cars), first find out how much the rate is in pesos, and if it's for the whole group or per person.
    • Bambike Ecotours offer a fun way to learn about the old walled city while cycling on bamboo bikes. Packaged or hourly rates are available.
    • If you want to catch the sunset, proceed to Bayleaf Hotel's Sky Deck, where you can also dine with your family.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 139 things to do in Manila
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Historic place 08/17/2017
    • So many buildings worth visiting in Intramuros 08/14/2017
    • Intramuros
    Address:
    Bonifacio Dr & Padre Burgos St
    Manila, Luzon 1002
    Philippines
    Phone:
    6325272961
    Other:
  • Save
    National Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    Consisting of three historic buildings near Rizal Park — the National Art Gallery, Museum of the Filipino People, and Planetarium — National Museum houses the largest collection of indigenous arts and artifacts in the Philippines. The exhibits depict the culture, heritage, and history of the Filipino people; examining how similar it is with neighboring countries, as well as how distinct it is from them.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Entrance is free on Sundays and throughout the month of October.
    • Food, drinks, and DSRLs are not allowed inside, but you may leave them at the entrance counters. Point and shoot cameras are allowed however.
    • Look out for "Spoliarium" by Juan Luna in the main art gallery, and the Manunggul burial jars in the Kaban ng Lahi room.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 139 things to do in Manila
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Interesting to see! 08/17/2017
    • Best in Manila and free 08/14/2017
    • National Museum
    Address:
    Rizal Park at Padre Burgos St.
    Manila, Luzon 2004
    Philippines
    Phone:
    632 527 12 15
    Hours:
    Tue - Sun
    10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    Manila Bay
    Bodies of Water
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    It's always fun to top off the day watching the sun set, and Manila Bay's sunsets are famous — in addition to it being home to a number of other activities. You can cycle or stroll along its waterfront, take a cruise on the water, or simply relax at one of the many restaurants in the area.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Enjoy the sunset while having a buffet dinner aboard a Sun Cruise. (Though the sunset may be more enjoyable than the food.)
    • A good spot to watch the sunset is at Sofitel Hotel. It's not too crowded, and there are some benches and hammocks where you can rest while waiting for the golden hour.
    Plan to stay:/
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #13 of 139 things to do in Manila
    • Really missing the Reason anyone thinks this is a Place to go. 08/16/2017
    • Good view but foul smell 08/14/2017
    • Manila Bay
    Address:
    Roxas Blvd
    Manila, Luzon
    Philippines
    Phone:
    01090181809
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    12:00 am - 11:59 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    SM Mall of Asia
    Gift & Specialty Shops
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    SM Mall of Asia, also known as MOA, offers an array of activities for the whole family. In addition to myriad shops, the largest mall in Asia features an ice skating rink, bowling alley, science center, and more.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Trendsetter
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • The MOA Arena is right next door, which hosts concerts and sports events. The SMX Convention Center, where special fairs are held, is also nearby.
    • A great place to catch a 3D movie is at the IMAX theater here.
    • There are free electric vehicles inside and outside the mall to help senior citizens and disabled guests get around.
    • The mall offers a free shuttle service to and from most of the hotels in Manila.
    • Outside the mall is an amusement park, where you'll find the MOA Eye and other thrilling rides for kids.
    • SM Mall's bayside location means you can simply step outside to watch Manila's iconic sunset.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 5 Shopping in Pasay
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Biggest mall in the Philippines 08/16/2017
    • big mall 08/16/2017
    • SM Mall of Asia
    Address:
    J.W. Diokno Boulevard, Mall of Asia Complex
    Pasay, Luzon 1300
    Philippines
    Phone:
    632 556 0680
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    10:00 am - 10:00 pm
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 am - 11:00 pm
    Other:
  • Save
    La Mesa Eco Park
    Parks
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    La Mesa Eco Park is a great spot for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the metropolis. It's an ecological nature reserve next to the La Mesa Dam, where you can cycle, swim, and enjoy a family picnic in a true forest setting.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • It's best to bring your own food as eating options are limited.
    • This place gets packed on holidays and long weekends, so try to visit off-peak.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 77 things to do in Quezon City
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fresh breeze 08/18/2017
    • Fresh air. 08/14/2017
    • La Mesa Eco Park
    Address:
    La Mesa Dam Compound
    Greater Lagro
    Quezon City, Luzon 1118
    Philippines
    Phone:
    +63 2 430 5207
    Other:
  • Save
    Greenbelt Mall
    Shopping Malls
    See more photos
    Jaycee P Says:

    For some easy shopping and dining, proceed to the Greenbelt Malls in Makati. It's near the Central Business District, and covered walks easily lead you to the malls. The place is also home to a few theaters where you can watch movies with the kids.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Luxury Traveler
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Trendsetter
    Tips
    • Some fine dining restaurants are located at Greenbelts 3 and 5. Greenbelt 5 also features higher-end brands.
    • Cinemas at Greenbelt 3 are bigger than those in Greenbelt 1. It may take around 15 minutes to walk from one to the other, so check your show time and cinema number in advance.
    Plan to stay:/
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 69 things to do in Makati
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Mall to Stroll 08/18/2017
    • The nostalgia is gone; shopping is overrated these days. 08/16/2017
    • Greenbelt Mall
    Address:
    Greenbelt Dr
    Makati, Luzon
    Philippines
    Phone:
    (632)757-4853
    Other:
  • Save
    Music 21 Plaza - Makati
    Other Fun & Games
    Jaycee P Says:

    Filipinos love music, so it's common to see karaoke ('videoke' to the locals) bars and booths in Manila. Belting out your favorite songs or dancing to one that you've been secretly singing in the shower makes a fun way to bond with family and friends, but if the family is too shy to perform in front of strangers, the private rooms at Music 21 Plaza are the place for you. With five branches in Metro Manila, it's not difficult to find one.

    Good for
    • Trendsetter
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Like a Local
    Tips
    • Most recommended package: 3 hours to sing and dance while you eat.
    • Rates are cheaper in the morning and early afternoon.
    Plan to stay:/
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #8 of 14 Fun & Games in Makati
    • PANICKED for a while 04/06/2017
    • Sing til you drop 12/19/2016
    • Music 21 Plaza - Makati
    Address:
    106 Jupiter Street Bel-Air 2
    Makati, Luzon
    Philippines
    Phone:
    +63 2 896 4261
    Other:
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