I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas while also enjoying the holidays to the fullest. And just because the holiday vibes are still around, it doesn’t mean that the $10 series ceases to exist.
In fact, this week we’re going to cover a city that is quite famous for its condensed traffic: Manila. The capital city of the Philippines was also appointed as one of the venues during the recent SEA Games 2019 in the country. Yep, after we’ve covered Angeles City last year, finally we could have the capital city in the series!
I’ve been to the city for a short layover during my flying time back in 2013, and I had a great time there despite the traffic jam. So today, I’m excited that we have Jing from Finding Jing to share with us how far you could get in Manila for $10! 🙂
Must-Visit Spots in Intramuros, Manila
The Philippines is one of the cheapest countries to travel to in the world. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t get great value for money here. A little less than $10 USD can already take you to a 240-kilometer bus journey from Manila to the mountainous region of Northern Luzon. But let’s not go too far off yet and start with Philippine’s center of economy, Manila.
Particularly, let me take you inside Intramuros, Manila’s Walled City. Discover how you can spend a day in Intramuros with a $10 USD or an equivalent of 520 – 530 (1 US $ = 52 – 53 PHP) Philippine pesos (PHP) in your wallet.
Walking inside the walls of Intramuros can easily transport you back to the Spanish colonial era. The cobblestone streets, the old colonial structures, horse-drawn carriages, cannons looking out behind the thick stone walls. All these comprise the city within the fortress walls. Here are highlights of historic places that you can visit for USD 10 on your walking tour.
Fort Santiago (Entrance Fee: PHP 75 or around $1.45 USD)
The history of Fort Santiago is not a happy one, especially for Filipinos. Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippine National Hero, was detained at the fort until his execution by firing squad. A lot of Filipinos also died in their dungeons after the Japanese captured Manila.
Today, the fortress celebrates the life of Jose Rizal. When inside Fort Santiago, don’t forget to visit the Media Naranja at the northeast end for a view of the Manila skyline and Pasig River.
Manila Cathedral (Free)
Manila Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church which became the first-ever cathedral in the Philippines.
Today’s structure is a result of evolution from several renovations after being rebuilt and rehabilitated due to damages brought about by earthquakes and the war.
In the present time, the picturesque interior and exterior had made Manila Cathedral one of the dream wedding venues in Manila.
San Agustin Church and Museum (Entrance Fee: PHP 200 or around $3.8 USD)
Just like the Manila Cathedral, the San Agustin Church is a witness to Manila’s difficult times and its liberation. San Agustin Church is one of the baroque churches in the Philippines collectively declared as UNESCO World Heritage site.
The most notable feature of this church is its ceiling adorned with a trompe l’oeil painting by Italian artists Cesare Alberoni and Giovanni Dibella. The painting will trick you into thinking that the ceiling is carved as a three-dimensional space.
Being a public place of worship, people are of course free to enter the San Agustin Church. Beside the Church is the San Agustin Museum, which is definitely a must-visit at PHP 200 per head. The museum is a repository of religious artifacts and historical artworks. The hallways may look eerie with large painted portraits and religious statues. I would say, the museum is still worth the experience.
Casa Manila and Plaza San Luis (Entrance Fee: PHP 75 or around $1.45 USD)
Adjacent to the San Agustin Church is the Casa Manila. A visit to Casa Manila will give you a peek into the grand lifestyle of affluent Filipino merchants during the time of the Spaniards. Marvel at the antique furniture, artworks, architecture and charming courtyard reminiscent of Spanish influence.
Baluarte de San Diego (Entrance Fee: PHP 100 or around $2 USD)
A remarkable place to see at the Baluarte de San Diego is the bastion composed of three concentric circles built of stone. The bastion is said to have been used in the past as a foundry. Spiral stone stairs highlighted with bright green moss will lead you up to the bastion.
Baluarte de San Andres (Free)
If you still have the energy, you can head to Baluarte de San Andres and go people watching. Locals love to hang out here to have a leisurely sit by the thick stone walls. Late afternoon up to sunset is a good time to visit.
Around this bastion, one can have a view of the imposing Manila City Hall and other high rise buildings, as well as views of colonial buildings such as that of Manila Bulletin and the Department of Labor and Employment.
Take a Break and Eat Filipino Street Food
Even if you’re done with the must-visit sites in Intramuros, you will find that you still have change left to try out some of the popular street food snacks in the Philippines. You can find food stalls in carts as you stroll around Intramuros. Here are some samples of street food that you can grab:
- Kwek – kwek (4 pcs for PHP 15 or around ¢30) – boiled quail eggs coated in orange-colored batter
- Fried fish balls (PHP 2 per ball or PHP 10 or around ¢20 per 5 balls)
- Ice cream (PHP 20 per small cone or around ¢40) – locally termed as dirty ice cream, sold by vendors in ice cream carts. Don’t get turned off right away because the term got its name from having the ice cream sold outdoors along the streets.
- Banana cue or Turon (PHP 15 or around ¢30 per piece) – Banana cue is fried banana that is coated with caramelized sugar and skewered on a bamboo stick. Turon is almost similar to banana cue but the banana is wrapped in a lumpia wrapper before coating with sugar.
There you have it! Take a historic walk through Intramuros and discover Manila’s colonial past for an equivalent of $10 USD or even less!
Contributor: Jing Calonge from Finding Jing
Jing Calonge is an environmental consultant from the Philippines who also loves travel and photography. She considers traveling as the best way to discover not just the world, but to learn of oneself. Jing hopes to steer traveler’s awareness on the need for environmental protection and responsible tourism. She recognizes that traveling green isn’t easy, but by developing the right mindset, it can easily be done.
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