Five Free Things to Do in Manila

I would like to thank Travelling King for publishing this article. Not only is this site a great place to follow the Travelling Kings own adventures, there are also great tips on food and lifestyle and much more. For those who are still a little hesitant about visiting Manila after reading this, you should definitely check out this article about the safety of travelling in the Philippines!

Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, often gets a reputation for being a bit of a dense and dirty industrial jungle—but that doesn’t tell the full story of this interesting and developing city.

Although you might just head to Manila as a stopover on your way to visit the rest of the Philippines, this city is a hidden gem you should not miss. Explore the culture and the colorful heritage of the city, and take advantage of some of its plethora of free activities, such as these:

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Explore the historic side of Manila’s heritage in the Intramuros district of the city. This is the oldest district in the city. Here, you can see the old Spanish settlement and its buildings. Make sure you see the Manila Cathedral—the current structure is fairly recent, dating to the latter half of the 20th century, but this is one of the most important churches in the Philippines.

You can also visit the interior of the 17th-century San Agustín Church, although the church museum requires an admission fee. Of course, it’s free to wander around and look at the edifices of all the other buildings, such as the Palacio del Gobernador.


Manila has a long history of Chinese immigration, and so it’s only fitting that the city should have one of the largest Chinatowns in the world. The Chinatown district, known as Binondo, was first established in the 16th century as part of a plan to convert Manila’s Chinese immigrants to Catholicism.

Wander through the streets and explore the interesting juxtaposition of Buddhist temples, Spanish churches, and art deco buildings.

Shopping Malls

Shopping malls might seem like a strange thing to add to your travel itinerary, but Manila is home to some of the largest malls in the world, and it’s worth checking them out. Try the Mall of Asia, the tenth-largest mall in the world.

Obviously this won’t be a free activity if you find something you like—which you’re likely to!—but it’s free to stroll around. Many of the malls also offer free Wi Fi, making Manila’s malls a great place to connect to home, work, or watch your favorite movies while traveling.

Remember to always use a VPN when using public WiFi or when traveling. Not only will it ensure the safety of your personal information, it will also help you bypass geoblocking and give you access to sites, such as Netflix, worldwide.


Art Museums

If you’re interested in art, the National Museum of the Philippines offers free admittance every Sunday, or you can check out the Cultural Center of the Philippines for free on Tuesdays through Sundays.

These are great places for you to explore and learn more about the culture and history of the Philippines.

As you no doubt are coming to understand, Manila and the rest of the Philippines has a very multifaceted history, and this is reflected in its art. The National Museum also has a selection of archaeological artifacts on display.

Free Movies and Music

If you’re interested in Filipino culture, another great way to get some insight into it is through the country’s movies and music. Check out the University of the Philippines’ Film Institute for frequent free showings of classic and lesser-known movies.

Foreign film festivals are also often held in Manila with free showings. For music, head to Paco Park for free classical concerts every Friday night.

Rather than merely a stopover, Manila is a fascinating city full of complex combinations of culture. Explore the living history of the place and the changes that are currently in process as Manila moves from its traditional and religious past to a modern future. Feel the creative vibe and enjoy the fun feeling of this lively place.


  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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