Filipino culture guide for Manila Philippines

There is a breathtaking array of culture in Manila which visitors to the Philippine capital can engross themselves in. From world class museums depicting the various stages of immigration and colonisation, to Asia's oldest university, towering cathedrals and, of course, the ancient walled city of Intramuros.

The Philippines is a fascinating amalgam of many contrasting European and Asian cultures, making for some curious and utterly unique customs and festivals. Manileros love nothing better than letting their hair down and tourists are more than welcome to join in proceedings. This gives the best possible view of Manila culture which art galleries can't teach.

Museums & galleries

Manila is home to some extraordinary museums which aim to show visitors about the history and culture of the Philippines, plus diverse art galleries showcase modern and traditional works...more

Handicrafts

There is no better way to round off your trip to Manila than purchasing a few choice souvenirs to serve as a permanent reminder of your wonderful trip stay in the metropolis...more

Art, music & dance

Filipinos are extremely creative people and are understandably proud of their literary and artistic legacy with religious paintings, sculptures and political statements prominent...more

Festivals

With such a diverse range of faiths present in the city there are many different celebrations and festivals taking place all year round which offer a window to the city's deeper culture...more

Etiquette

Filipinos in Manila are generally extremely tolerant people and are not likely to take offence at the unwitting indiscretions of tourists, but we have a few tips for polite conduct...more

Religion

The Philippines is a Catholic nation and countless churches and cathedrals bejewel Manila. However, immigrants from all over the world also practice Islam, Buddhism and Taoism...more

Manila culture – Spanish jewel of the Orient

Manila's long history as a valuable port city has been instrumental in its prosperity throughout the ages, with Spanish, British, Japanese and American troops all occupying the land at different times in search of riches.

The centre of Manila culture is undoubtedly Intramuros, the walled city built by the Spanish to repel the advancing Royal Navy. The cobbled streets are alive with history and visitors should take the obligatory horse and carraige (kalesa) tour of the district. Choose your driver carefully, however, as while most are knowledgeable and gregarious, a few remain permanently drunk throughout the day and are hardly the most inspiring hosts.

But Manila culture spreads farther than just this ancient enclave, and tourists who make the trip one neighbourhood north of Intramuros will find one of the world's largest Chinatowns thriving at Binondo. Wander around Divisoria Market and soak in the heady Oriental atmosphere before visiting some Taoist temples, resplendent in their red and gold finery.

And with so many museums and galleries to explore, there is really no limit to the time one can take exploring culture in Manila.

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