Posted by: James Shannon | January 28, 2013

First Forays Into The Philippines: Visiting Manila’s Intramuros District

DSCN0673Edward and Niklas, members of the latest merry band of travellers that I’ve linked up with, lead the way as we head out to explore the Filipino capital of Manila. The destination on this day … the historic core of Manila, Intramuros…!

After a long day flying from Cambodia to Malaysia, and then back up to Manila after a long eight hour layover in Kuala Lumpur, I had finally arrived in the Philippines, my latest new country, #9 in my lifetime. After waking late in the morning about a whisker’s length from the top of the clock, I quickly made friends with some rather talkative and friendly chaps. Niklas, a Swede, and Edward, a Briton, were not only my companions on this day of sightseeing, but most of my adventures in Manila were shared with these affable gentlemen.

At the conclusion of a brief debate of where we should head first, it was decided that we should seek out the heart of former Spanish colonialism in the Philippines, Manila’s Intramuros District. With that matter settled, we hit the steamy pavement of Malate (the neighbourhood where our hostel was located) and set out to find the Iberian sector of town…

DSCN0676On the way to Intramuros, we passed through one of Manila’s most revered green spaces. Jose Rizal Park, formerly Luneta Park, was renamed to honour the memory of the pacifistic political leader that inspired the Filipino uprising against Spanish rule near the end of the 19th century…

DSCN0686Spectacular fountains in Jose Rizal Park, while luxury condos loom in the background.

Once we passed through the park, a short jaunt down the hill and we were at the front gate of Intramuros…

DSCN0750In some sectors of Intramuros, only the tropical heat reminded us that we were in the Philippines, and not Spain

DSCN0748The district contained some amazing churches (the Philippines, along with Timor Leste, are the only majority Christian nations in SE Asia) … stay tuned for future blog posts where we explore the ornate interiors of these UNESCO worthy structures!

DSCN0736The bombed out remains of a structure in Intramuros, beautified by rampant tropical greenery … this area of Manila escaped damage in every war since the 1500’s, until the closing days of WWII, when it finally got razed by American forces trying to take the country back from the Japanese.

DSCN0713Edward: “I wonder if the bloody thing still works?” 😛

DSCN0703Off the back wall of the main fortifications of Intramuros, they have developed a golf course for your duffing pleasure … if you’re not partaking however, do be careful in case a hacker shanks one a little too far to the right! 😛

DSCN0718Just another example of the beautiful gardening possible in the tropical zones of the world; in case done quite tastefully by the Filipinos … is there anything they are not awesome at?!

DSCN0741Our tour of Intramuros is over, so it’s time for photos! Pictured against Manila Bay, we have Niklas, Edward, and the security guard we chatted up for a few minutes or so…

DSCN0743Niklas and I pleased as punch at a day in Manila well spent!

With a day of eventful tramping through historical buildings and forts complete, we made our way back to Where 2 Next Hostel in Malate, but not before stocking up on booze at the massive grocery store in Robinson’s Mall (huge $@$#$$ing place, got lost in there more than once!) for an apres tour drink or five … Manila, what did you have in store for us next?

As it turns out, plenty! Much more Manila in the days to come, so don’t go anywhere 🙂

What about you, fellow traveller? Ever been to Manila?



  1. Where to next? 🙂

    • I’m not actively on the road right now, but there are a few more posts from Manila, and then, off to Mindoro and Puerto Galera!

  2. Hope you enjoyed walking around Intramuros in this cool-for-Manila weather. I’m Filipino writing a post about Intramuros soon, from when I took a Portuguese friend to this historic site. I’ve realized some strange things about my country, seeing it through the eyes of foreigners…

    That aside, I hope you give more time to traveling our archipelago in your future adventures! Tip: make friends with local travelers, and travel with them if you can. You’ll save a lot by doing this, as Filipinos can chat up and butter up their fellows like no foreign tourist can.

    • Thanks for the tip and your wonderful comment! I’m back in Canada at the moment, but plenty more posts on the Phils (was there back in April 2012) are coming, so stick around 🙂

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