It’s been a long time since I looked at any pictures from my tour around Intramuros. Something I’ll definitely consider taking my kids to next time I’m in Manila with them. I’ve traveled solo in places like Mexico and Hong Kong, but even then I’m still advised not to travel alone around Manila. I grew up around lots of horror stories. One such story about a friend of a friend of a family friend in Manila for vacation who had his hand sticking out the window in traffic and an unknown motorcyclist cutting his wrist off for his watch as he drove by. Or the fact when going to haggle around the divisoria (ms?) in the Binondo (China Town) to be as low key as possible and don’t speak at all or they will realize I’m not a local. The reality is very real, but should I continue to let that stop me from exploring the depths of Manila on my own? Well, saving more on those thoughts for another day.
You’re here because of Intramuros. With its beautiful old architecture. Spanish charm and rich history – it’s a must for any first timer in Manila. If you haven’t already, first read…
Tips On Visiting:
1. Wear church appropriate clothing if you plan on exploring the church. I made this mistake wearing a tight skirt and cropped-ish top (just see up there). Although no one approached me about it, I have read stories of those getting turned away because of this. So don’t wear skin-bearing clothing, the Philippines is still very conservative although that limit is pushed with every visit (things are catching up quick).
2. Go very early to beat the crowds, traffic, and more importantly that hot Manila sun. I’m pretty sure it’s scientifically known that the Sun is closer to the Earth being its close to the equator. And you can for sure feel it. Umbrellas also useful because of this, as well as random rain showers depending what time of the year you’re visiting.
3. Take that ride on a traditional kalesa! Who cares how touristy it is?! It’s such a great way to explore Intramuros at a leisurely pace. A kalesa (also spelled calesa or refereed to as a caritela) is a horse-drawn carriage. It was a popular mode of transportation in the 18th century often carrying wealthy citizens or transporting goods.
4. Bring extra cash, some places require an entrance fee. Exploring the other places surrounding Intramuros costs just a little extra. I was unaware of this when I went but luckily we – by we I mean my mom – brought enough pesos for the separate fee. I’m not sure of the current prices but save a little extra to enter Fort Santiago (a must!) and Baluarte de San Diego. Museums cost extra too like, Casa Manila and Bahay Tsinoy.
5. Learn all about Jose Rizal. Located inside Fort Santiago is the Rizal Shrine. He considered the Philippines greatest hero and his life was just so interesting. More info and pictures in Part II.
6. After the museum tour, take in the view at the top overlooking the Binondo across the Pasig River. This is located in behind the Jose Rizal museum from the 2nd floor.
7. Sign up for a tour with Carlos Celdran! He’s become increasingly popular. Giving the most entertaining, informative group tours around Intramuros and Fort Santiago. Unfortunately, he was taking a small hiatus during my Manila stay but check for dates and prices here! I watched part of his tour on YouTube and he’s so funny! Humor + history ♥
8. For those eating on a budget there’s a Chowking and Jollibee in the vicinity. Also it is so important to stay hydrated! There are random street vendors selling cold bottled water which actually came to my rescue early in the tour.
9. Check out this Map of Intramuros to help with your planning.
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