Touristy in the City

Thursday, May 11, 2017

More often than not, we, travelers, are always raring to go out and explore other places that we take for granted the city that we live in. Take for example my friends in Baguio. A lot of them actually haven't been to the popular tourist spots there because they have the mentality that because they live there, they would put off visiting those places for another time.

If you live in Manila and you haven't been to the local tourist spots, then it is always a great idea to check them out. While I have already been to all the attractions in Manila, I recently went on a tour there with my sister just because. Here are the places that we visited.

Up first is the Manila Zoo. It is 5.5 hectare zoo and botanical garden located in Malate, Manila. It opened in the year 1959 and as of 2015, it is home to about 90 species of animals. From my observation, the number of animals were less compared to the last time I was there. Also, it would appear that their habitats were not well-maintained. A lot of the animals looked as if they were in conditions less than ideal. It was a sad sight to see.

Up next is the Luneta National Park, also known as Rizal Park or just Luneta, which is an important site in Philippine history. It was the execution of Jose Rizal in December 30, 1896 that sparked the Philippine Revolution. The park's focal point is the monument enshrining his remains. 

Located adjacent Rizal Park is the walled city of Intramuros, which is the oldest district of Manila. This district also played an important role in Philippine history during the Spanish colonial era. The walls were constructed by the Spanish government as a defensive structure against foreign invasions. Presently, it is now a well-maintained tourist attraction. If you've been on my blog before, you know how I love old places. Which is why Vigan and Intramuros are two of my fave tourist attractions here in the Philippines. Personally, I like how they maintained the facade of the buildings here while they house known establishments, such as banks, coffee shops, and fast-food restaurants. 

Intramuros houses several structures, one of which is Fort Santiago. It is a citadel or defense fortress also built during the Spanish colonial era. This is also where Jose Rizal was imprisoned before his execution. Now, there is a museum that displays memorabilia of Jose Rizal and other artifacts from the said era.

The Manila Cathedral, formally known as the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, is another structure located in Intramuros. Built in 1571, it is a Roman Catholic basilica dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Just in front of the Manila Cathedral is the Plaza de Roma, one of the major public squares in Intramuros. It is considered as the center of the walled city.

The tour was good for an entire day. To be honest, it was fun and pretty educational but it can get pretty tiring because it was really hot that day. I like learning about Philippine history and everything about it fascinates me.

Travel Notes:

How to get there:
  • To get to Manila Zoo, go to any LRT station and ride the train going to Quirino Station. From there, I'd recommend getting a cab or an Uber. Just tell the driver to drop you off at Manila Zoo. 
  • To get to Luneta Park, just take the LRT and alight at UN Station. From there, you can go on a walking tour that will get you to Luneta Park and the rest of Intramuros. If you are not familiar with the area, you can ask for which directions to walk.
  • Or you can do what we did, just to be practical. We commuted from our house to Manila Zoo, riding two jeepneys along the way, and then took an Uber from Manila Zoo to Luneta Park, where we started our walking tour of Manila.
Expenses:
  • Manila Zoo - Php60 entrance fee for Manila residents (bring ID), Php100 for non-residents
  • Rizal Park - FREE
  • Intramuros - FREE
  • Fort Santiago - Php75 entrance fee
  • Manila Cathedral - FREE
  • Plaza de Roma - FREE
  • total transportation expenses - less than Php200 including our jeepney rides, Uber ride, and FX ride on the way home
Additionally, you can also go on a kalesa tour of Intramuros. Kalesas are horse-drawn carriages, used as a mode of transportation in the Philippines during the Spanish colonial era. They were the same as the one I've ridden in Vigan. Kalesa tours are quite costly; Php350 for three passengers for a 30-minute tour. While we didn't go on a kalesa ride that day, I felt compelled to include this information in this post just in case my readers would be interested to know. Also, I've read about foreign tourists being ripped off by kutseros (kalesa driver), so it would be best if you really know how much the rides normally cost. 

That's about it for my Manila tour. I hope you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for more of my travel adventures. :)
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