Manila has so much to offer in terms of tourist attractions, but for a more immersive travel experience, check out the local museums and go on cultural-historical themed tours.
Delve into the culture and history of the Philippines by adding these Manila museums and specialised cultural tours to your travel itinerary.
Ayala Museum is the place to go if you want to learn about the Philippines’ rich history and the cultures of its Southeast Asian neighbours.
Here you will find a huge collection of historic artefacts, including over a thousand gold objects that represent the country’s culturally-rich period before its colonisation in the 16th century. Another unique attraction in the museum is the Philippine Diorama experience - a series of 60 handcrafted dioramas that showcase important moments in the country’s history.
The Ayala Museum also hosts a range of art, history and music programmes, as well as lectures and temporary exhibitions sourced from all over the world.
National Museum of the Filipino People
No museum tour in Manila would be complete without a visit to the National Museum of the Filipino People, an impressive neoclassical edifice housing a vast collection of artefacts.
One section showcases items retrieved from shipwrecks, most notably the San Diego, a Spanish galleon that sank after a battle with the Dutch in 1600.
A section on the third floor holds a fascinating display of archaeological treasures from different sites in the Philippines, including ancient burial jars.
Money Museum of the Central Bank of the Philippines
The Money Museum offers a unique perspective on the history of the Philippines as it traces the development of the Philippine currency through the years, from pre-Spanish times to the present.
Inside, you’ll find interesting artefacts including the most primitive means of commercial exchange, such as barter shells, alongside a huge assortment of coins and banknotes.
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Manila’s Metropolitan Museum features the works of up-and-coming artists and established art icons alike. Its eye-opening showcase of the Philippines’ most exciting contemporary artists, in addition to a valuable collection of precolonial ceramics and jewellery, makes the Metropolitan Museum a must-visit for art buffs and historians.
Walking Tour of Intramuros
If you’re looking for a day out that incorporates a glimpse into the Philippines’ rich history, then wander around the historic walled city of Intramuros.
Intramuros, the oldest district in Manila, was originally built by the Spanish conquistadors who colonised the Philippines in the 16th century. The walled city retains a lot of its original architecture despite sustaining heavy damage during World War II.
Taxis and waterbuses offer the quickest means to reach this cultural hub. Be sure to opt for a guided tour to get the most out of your visit.
For an active sightseeing fix laced with a dose of social and environmental awareness, pedal your way around the historic walled city of Intramuros on an eco-friendly bamboo bike with Bambike Ecotours. The guided tour will bring you to major historical and cultural sites inside Intramuros on bikes handmade by Gawad Kalinga, a community development organisation for the poor.
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