The Most Fascinating Day Tours in Manila (That You Haven't Tried)
The Philippines’ top tourist destinations have always been beaches (Palawan, if you recall, was recently included in CNN Travel's Top 10 Islands) and we don't dispute this. If we had to choose between a stuffy urban dwelling and the breezy ocean, the latter is a clear winner. But it's also unfair to ignore the country’s capital. What Manila lacks in white sand and pristine waters, it makes up for with deep and rich history.
Tour operators, heritage advocates, and other interest groups are always finding ways to highlight its culture with unique day tour packages that explore the hidden facets of the city. Here are just some of the new and cool tours that promote Manila not just as a place to pick up your mail but as an actual destination.
1| Electric Chariot Tours
Walking tours and bike tours in the walled city of Intramuros have been the rage for the past few years, but for those who don’t want to work up a sweat, there are always electric chariots.
This tour, using White Knight e-Chariots, goes around Old Manila’s best attractions, from cultural and historical sites to modern-day establishments. Tour participants can visit as many as 15 stops, including the Manila Cathedral, Plazuela de Santa Isabel, Fort Santiago, Baluarte de San Diego, Bagumbayan Light & Sound Museum, San Agustin Church, Bahay Tsinoy (Chinese Museum), and more. Choose between 30-minute to one-hour packages depending on the schedule that suits you.
Available on Klook
2| Ascent Helicopter Tours
Beat the traffic and rediscover Manila from above. Ascent is a ride-sharing app that takes passengers to and from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Pasay City and Mandaluyong City, Makati City, Bonifacio Global City, Quezon City, Clark in Pampanga, or Tagaytay City in Cavite. Apart from bringing passengers from point A to B, the company also offers tours. Starting from a private hangar, passengers can tour around Manila, Makati, or Bonifacio Global City.
3| Food Tours
One of the best ways to get to know a locale is through its cuisine! Several groups offer gastronomic journeys through the busy streets of Manila.
Manila For A Day, with its Colors of Manila experience, not only educates you on the religious and commercial history of the
Several Airbnb ambassadors have also begun offering street food guides. Miguel Martin, for example, highlights Poblacion, accompanying his guests through a food and pub crawl in one of the city's most gentrified hubs. Traveling Spoon also promotes Filipino food. Using a sort of Airbnb model but for dining, homes open up their dining table to foodies interested in Filipino home cooking. One of the hosts is Greg Dorris, who owns a heritage house and also performs tours around Manila.
4| Art Tours
Manila may not be the first city you think of when it comes to art, but as the country’s capital, it is brimming with culture.
One of the newest and interesting tours is the Cinephile Tour. Movie fans are brought to independent movie houses such as Manila Cinematheque Center, Black Maria Cinema, CO/OP, and Cinema ‘76. During the tour, participants will also be given a chance to visit the museum and buy souvenirs at Manila Cinematheque and watch a movie at Cinema '76.
Another place to explore art is Bonifacio Global City. Cruising on a bike is the most effective way to explore its growing collection of frescoes, murals, and installations. Bambikes is usually associated with Intramuros, and after its success in the walled city, there are now groups offering a Bambike art tour of BGC.
Several interest-based groups also organize their own day tours, such as postage tours and sketch tours. There are also several photo walks and, because everyone now wants to make their photos Insta-worthy, some are even dedicated Instagram tours.
5| Off the Beaten Path
Some tour companies are not shy about showing off Manila in all its grimy glory. One of these is Smokey Tours, which offers a slum tour, a cemetery tour, and a market tour. Its flagship Smokey Mountain day trip was replaced with the
Another tour company that promotes the real side of Manila is the Bukas Quiapo Tours. What makes this tour extra special is the community's involvement. Experience Manila from the perspective of local tour guides, establishments, and businesses who all share the tour fee. Part of the proceeds of the tour is also donated to the restoration and maintenance of heritage sites, including San Sebastian Basilica.