How to Spend 3 Days in Manila, Philippines

by | Last updated Mar 14, 2024 | Asia Live Work and Play, City Guides

Go on a kalesa ride during your 3 days in Manila


Welcome to Manila, the bustling capital city of the Philippines! With its rich history, vibrant culture, and modern amenities, Manila offers visitors a wide range of experiences to discover during a 3 day visit. Whether you’re interested in exploring historical sites, indulging in local cuisine, or immersing yourself in the city’s dynamic atmosphere, this how to spend 3 days in Manila itinerary will help you make the most of your time.

In this post, I’ll cover the best places to go Manila has to offer during your 3 day Manila holiday. Plus, suggest Manila accommodation options and places to eat. Are you ready to discover Manila?


Useful Manila Information


Stay in contact while in the Philippines with an e-Sim. You can purchase yours here.


Best Time To Visit Manila


When planning your trip to Manila, and wondering when is the best time to visit Manila, well, the best time to visit Manila is during the drier months of January to April for the best weather conditions. During this period, you’ll avoid the heavy rains of the wet season, making it ideal for exploring the city’s rich culture and history. To beat the tropical heat, plan outdoor activities during the cooler early mornings or late afternoons.

However, if you find yourself in Manila during the wet season, which ranges from June to November, don’t worry. Embrace the rain by exploring the city’s culinary scene and looking for cozy cafés and restaurants. 

If you’re traveling during the off-seasons of May and December, take advantage of the less hectic streets to discover hidden gems and immerse yourself in the authentic local experience.

TIP: Include on your Manila packing list lightweight clothing, sunscreen, and an umbrella or raincoat, regardless of the season! The weather in Manila is really quite unpredictable (yet always hot).


About Manila


  • Manila is the capital city of the Philippines officially known as the Republic of the Philippines. There are some 7,000 islands making up the archipelago of the Philippines.
  • It is a bustling metropolis located on the eastern shore of Manila Bay.
  • Manila is known for its rich history and diverse cultural heritage, which has been influenced by Spanish, American, and Asian cultures.
  • The city is home to notable attractions like Intramuros, a walled city dating back to the Spanish colonial period, and Rizal Park, which honors the national hero, Jose Rizal. These are some of the best places to go in Manila.
  • Manila offers a vibrant culinary scene, with an array of street food stalls, bustling markets, and upscale restaurants serving Filipino and international cuisine.
  • Aside from its urban landscape, Manila is surrounded by natural beauty, including scenic bay views, parks, and nearby attractions such as Tagaytay and Batangas, offering stunning landscapes and outdoor adventures. 


Arriving in Manila


Arriving in Manila offers various transportation options, depending on your point of departure. You can arrive by land transport from neighbouring countries such as Japan in the northeast and Indonesia in the south. Or by air through one of the city’s main gateways, Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).

Once you’ve completed all arrival formalities at NAIA, your next step is to make your way to Manila, where you’ll be spending your time. To ensure a smooth arrival and departure process, it’s advisable to have local currency (Philippine Peso) on hand for purchasing transportation tickets and other essentials. 

Airport shuttles offer affordable transfers to popular destinations, ensuring a hassle-free journey from the airport to your accommodation.


Book your airport shuttle from the airport into Manila here.


Getting Around Manila 


Getting around Manila is easy as there are a variety of transportation options, catering to every traveler’s preference and budget. While taxis provide convenience, you should discuss the fare before riding to avoid surprises. 

For those looking for authenticity and an insight into Manila’s colorful street life, travelling in Manila on public transportation such as buses and jeepneys are the way to go. These colorful modes of transportation not only offer an immersive experience but also allow you to interact with locals and explore the city’s bustling neighborhoods.

If convenience and transparency are your priorities to get to places to see in Manila, there are ride-hailing applications such as Joyride, MoveIt, Angkas and Grab are readily available. With just a few taps on your smartphone, you can easily book a ride to your desired destination, avoiding the hassle of negotiating fares or waiting for public transportation.

For a truly unique experience during your three days in Manila, consider taking a kalesa ride. While these traditional horse-drawn carriages may be rare and a bit pricey nowadays, they offer a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore Manila’s historic streets in style.


What to Wear in Manila 


When preparing your wardrobe for this 3 day Manila itinerary, keep in mind the city’s tropical climate and laid-back culture. Opt for lightweight, breathable fabrics like cotton and linen to stay cool in the heat, and pack casual attire such as shorts, t-shirts, and sundresses for daytime explorations. 

TIP: Dress modestly out of respect for local customs, especially when visiting religious sites. 

Bring a small rain jacket or umbrella with you in case of unexpected rain. To get around Manila’s busy streets, bring sturdy walking shoes or sandals with strong support. Remember to protect yourself from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. 

For night in Manila on evenings out, consider bringing along slightly dressier attire. And if you plan to hit the beach or pool, don’t leave your swimwear behind. Lastly, always carry a refillable water bottle to stay hydrated while exploring the city (it gets really hot out here).


Where to Stay in Manila – Manila Accommodation Options


When it comes to finding accommodation in Manila, the city offers a variety of options to suit every traveler’s preferences and budget. Here are some notable places to consider:


Shangri-La Manila

One of the best hotels in Manila to stay is at the Shangri-La Manila. Located in the heart of Makati this hotel provides luxury rooms and world-class services. With its elegant rooms, fine dining restaurants, and rejuvenating spa treatments, this historic hotel offers a relaxing place in the heart of the city.

Get rates and availability to book your stay at Shangri-La Manila here.


City of Dreams Manila

Located in Entertainment City, City of Dreams Manila is a premier integrated resort and casino complex. With spacious accommodations, outstanding dining options, and spectacular entertainment venues, this destination offers a luxurious escape for travelers seeking both relaxation and excitement.

Get rates and availability to book your stay at City of Dreams Manila here.


Aruga by Rockwell

Located in the upscale Rockwell Center in Makati, Aruga by Rockwell offers stylish serviced apartments with modern amenities. Perfect for long-term stays or families visiting Manila with kids. These spacious accommodations provide a comfortable home away from home in the heart of the city. And offers a budget friendly travelling place to cook to save on meals out.

Get rates and availability to book your stay at Aruga by Rockwell here.


Makati Diamond Residences

Situated in the vibrant business and commercial district of Makati, Makati Diamond Residences offers upscale serviced apartments with personalized service and top-notch facilities. With its convenient location and sophisticated ambiance, this hotel is ideal for both business and leisure travelers.

Get rates and availability to book your stay at Makati Diamond Residences here.


Z Hostel

For budget-conscious travelers and backpackers, Z Hostel offers affordable yet stylish accommodations in the lively neighborhood of Poblacion, Makati. Featuring dormitory-style rooms and vibrant communal spaces, this hip hostel provides a social atmosphere and easy access to Manila’s nightlife scene.

Get rates and availability to book your stay at Z Hostel here.

For more accommodation options in Manila, explore, which offers an extensive selection of hostels and hotels in the city. 


How to Spend 3 Days in Manila 


Are you ready for a Manila 3 Day Holiday? Here’s how to spend your time:


Day 1: Explore Historical and Cultural Sites


Sign about Intramanus - the old part of Manila and the first place most people visit during 3 days in Manila.

Welcome to the old part of Manila – usually the first place to visit on a 3 day visit in Manila




This is not only the best place to visit in Manila but a must see in Manila. So start your Manila 3 day itinerary by immersing yourself in Manila’s rich history in Intramuros, the historic walled city. 

You may want to treat yourself to a traditional Filipino breakfast at Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant before you start exploring, which is located in Intramuros. Enjoy Filipino specialties like tapsilog (marinated beef with garlic rice and fried egg) in the charming ambiance of this historic establishment. Or you can explore then treat yourself!

Explore the well-preserved Spanish colonial buildings and stroll around the cobblestone streets. Discover hidden courtyards, ancient churches, and centuries-old fortifications as you dive into the heart of Manila’s history.  You can explore independently or go on an organised walking tour of Intramuros which you can book here.


Fort Santiago


Continue your historical journey at Fort Santiago, one of the best places to see in Manila. It is a 16th-century fortification located within Intramuros, the historic walled city of Manila. 

As you step into its ancient walls, you are transported back in time to an era of Spanish colonial rule. Fort Santiago stands as a symbol of resilience, having witnessed centuries of conquests, revolutions, and transitions, shaping the course of Filipino identity. Explore the fortress’s rich history, from its construction by Spanish conquistadors to its role as a military stronghold and prison during the colonial period. 

Walk along the weathered ramparts, which once served as the first line of defense against foreign invaders. 

Enter the dimly lit dungeons, where echoes of the past remain through the stone walls, bearing witness to the struggles and sacrifices of those who came before.


Rizal Park


Next, visit the historical and cultural richness of Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, a significant landmark in Manila. Pay your respects to the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal, at the iconic Rizal Monument, a towering memorial to his enduring legacy. 

Continue your exploration at the Rizal Shrine, a solemn sanctuary dedicated to the life and sacrifice of Jose Rizal. This beloved memorial serves as a poignant reminder of Rizal’s words and aspirations, which ignited the flames of revolution and paved the way for Philippine independence. It stands as a testament to his courage, intellect, and unwavering commitment to the principles of liberty, justice, and patriotism.


National Museum


Continue your cultural exploration at the National Museum of the Philippines, located nearby. Explore the country’s rich heritage and artistic legacy as you wander through its galleries and exhibits. Admire a diverse collection of artifacts, artworks, and archaeological treasures that offer insights into Philippine history, culture, and identity.


Sunset at Manila Baywalk


After your first day of exploring Manila, head to the Manila Baywalk to witness a breathtaking sunset over the bay. Enjoy a leisurely walk along the waterfront promenade and take in the stunning views before ending your night in Manila with a seafood feast at Dampa Seafood Paluto Restaurant, where you can select fresh seafood and have it cooked to your preference. What a great way to end your first day of your three days in Manila.


Day 2: Discover Modern Manila


Greenbelt Park overlooking Manila.

End your 2nd day in Manila with a sunset 


Bonifacio Global City (BGC)


Start day 2 of your 3 day Manila itinerary in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), a bustling commercial and lifestyle district. Explore the vibrant outdoor retail strip of High Street, lined with shops, boutiques, and cafes. Grab breakfast at Toby’s Estate for freshly brewed coffee and delicious pastries, or indulge in a hearty brunch at Wildflour Café + Bakery.


The Mind Museum 


Spend the afternoon at The Mind Museum, an interactive science museum in BGC. Explore the engaging exhibits and activities that showcase science, technology, and the natural world. After working up an appetite, enjoy lunch at one of BGC’s various dining spots, offering a variety of cuisines to suit every palate.


Greenbelt Park


In the evening, head to Greenbelt Park in Makati and enjoy dinner at one of its al fresco dining options. Choose from a range of restaurants serving international cuisine, from Japanese sushi to Italian pasta. After dinner, take a leisurely stroll through the park’s lush greenery and savour a relaxing evening under the stars.

Maybe you would prefer to end day 2 in Manila on a street food tour. See lots of street food vendors and have dinner and drinks – book your street food tour here.


Day 3: Experience Local Life and Cuisine


Manila Markets for a visit.

Start day 3 of your 3 days in Manila at Quiapo Market – a must visit when in Manila. 


Quiapo Market and Quiapo Church


Explore the vibrant streets of Quiapo Market, one of Manila’s oldest and most iconic markets, where you can find a wide range of products, from fresh produce to religious items. Dive into the hustle and bustle of the marketplace, browsing through stalls and bargaining for unique finds and souvenirs. 

Afterward, visit one of the best places to go in Manila – Quiapo Church. This historic landmark holds deep religious significance for Filipinos. Admire the church’s magnificent architecture and pay your respects to the respected Black Nazarene statue. Take a moment for quiet reflection or attend a mass to experience the spiritual essence of this sacred place.

For lunch, sample traditional Filipino street food at nearby stalls and eateries, such as balut (fertilized duck embryo) and kwek-kwek (deep-fried quail eggs coated in orange batter). Don’t be afraid to try new flavors and textures for a true taste of Filipino cuisine!


Roxas Boulevard and Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex


In the afternoon, take a scenic drive along Roxas Boulevard, Manila’s waterfront promenade. Enjoy views of Manila Bay and the iconic sunset as you make your way to the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) Complex. 

Explore the complex’s venues, including the CCP Main Theater, which hosts various cultural performances and events, and the Tanghalang Pambansa, the National Theater of the Philippines, located within the CCP Complex. Home to the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, this esteemed venue showcases classical music concerts and other performing arts presentations. Take the opportunity to appreciate the talent and creativity of Filipino artists while soaking in the inspiring atmosphere of this cultural hub.


Explore Manila’s Nightlife


In the evening, experience Manila’s vibrant nightlife scene by visiting one of its popular entertainment districts, such as Malate or Poblacion in Makati. Enjoy live music at a local bar, dance the night away at a club, or unwind with a cocktail at a rooftop lounge. Whatever your preference, Manila offers a diverse array of nightlife options to suit every taste. What a great way to end your three days in Manila itinerary.


Are You Ready to Discover Manila in 3 days?


By now you will know what to expect to see, do, eat and stay when in Manila. I really hope you enjoy your 3 days in Manila as much as I did. Have you been to Manila? I’d love to hear.


3 Days in Manila itinerary PIN.

Thanks for sharing!

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Sharyn McCullum – Travel Writer / Blogger, Remote On-line Worker, sometime Digital Nomad and Travel, Live and Work Abroad Expert. Is a chocoholic, coffee connoisseur and lover of ’80s music. Been travelling all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. Lived in London 4 years on a working holiday. Has holidayed in Hawaii over 15 times and currently calls Melbourne, Australia home. Is inspiring others to live work play travel around the world with this blog. Read more about Sharyn here.


  1. Christy S.

    As someone who only visited the Philippines as a kid, when my mom flew us back for weddings and funerals, I want to re-visit as an adult. Your guide is comprehensive and informative. I’ll save it for when the time comes for my brothers and I to take a trip back to our “motherland” to enjoy all that the Philippines has to offer as I’m sure it’s changed so much since the 90s.

  2. Val

    I loved the Philippines and Manila was definitely a city I’d love to spend more time. Loved reading this post and traveling down memory lane!


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