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Experience the Best of Manila on a Budget: A Guide to Cheap Thrills

Experience the Best of Manila on a Budget: A Guide to Cheap Thrills


Are you planning a trip to Manila on a budget? Trust me, I’ve been there. As a fellow budget-conscious traveler, I understand the struggle of wanting to experience a new city without spending a fortune. But fear not, my fellow frugal adventurers! I’ve scoured Metro Manila and found the best budget-friendly activities and attractions for you to enjoy. From hidden gems to popular landmarks, here are ten ways to experience the best of Manila without breaking the bank.

I mean, who wants to spend all their money on entrance fees and fancy meals when there are so many other ways to have fun in this vibrant city? Not me! So let’s get started on our budget-friendly adventure, shall we?

Explore Intramuros

Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite like exploring the historic walled city of Intramuros. And the best part? You can do it on a budget! One of the coolest ways to tour the area is by riding bamboo bikes with Bambikes Ecotours. Not only are these bikes environmentally-friendly, but they’re also super fun to ride. Plus, you’ll get a great workout in the process. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes – trust me, I learned this the hard way.

man in blue shirt standing on brown concrete stairs during daytime

As you pedal through the cobblestone streets, be sure to take in all the historic sights that Intramuros has to offer. You won’t want to miss Bahay Tsinoy, San Agustin Museum, Rizal Shrine, and Fort Santiago. These iconic landmarks offer a glimpse into Manila’s rich cultural history, and they’re all budget-friendly to boot. Trust me, your Instagram feed will thank you.

After all that sightseeing, you’ll probably work up an appetite. But fear not – J’s Sizzling House has got you covered. This no-frills eatery serves up delicious sizzling plates at prices that won’t break the bank. Plus, the portions are huge, so you’ll definitely get your money’s worth. Just be sure to bring your appetite – and maybe some antacids, if you’re anything like me.

So there you have it, folks. Exploring Intramuros on a budget is totally doable – and totally worth it. Just remember to bring your sense of adventure (and maybe some extra sunscreen, if you’re as fair-skinned as I am). Happy exploring!

Read next: When is the Best Time to Visit Manila, Philippines?

Visit Rizal Park

Listen up, budget-savvy travelers, because I’ve got a hot tip for you: Rizal Park (also known as Luneta Park) is a must-visit spot in Manila that won’t break the bank. Located near Intramuros, this park has something for everyone. History buffs will appreciate the significance of the location, where Dr. Jose Rizal was executed. And even if you’re not a history buff, you’ll still be blown away by the sheer beauty and size of the park.

Photo of Rizal Park in Philippines

As you wander through the park, be sure to check out some of the main attractions. The Rizal Monument is a must-see, as is the National Library of the Philippines and the National Museum of Natural History. And if you’re a fan of Japanese and Chinese gardens, you’ll definitely want to take a stroll through the ones at Rizal Park. I mean, who doesn’t love a good koi pond?

But perhaps the coolest feature of the park is the Relief Map of the Philippines, which you can walk across on a bridge. This map is incredibly detailed and offers a unique perspective on the geography of the Philippines. Just be sure to pace yourself – this park is huge! You might want to bring a comfortable pair of shoes and a water bottle to stay hydrated.

And if you’re lucky, you might even spot a celebrity or two at Rizal Park. Carmelo Anthony was seen here last month, enjoying the sights and sounds of Manila. Who knows – maybe you’ll run into him, too!

So there you have it, folks. Rizal Park is a budget-friendly destination that you won’t want to miss. Just be sure to bring your sense of adventure (and maybe a camera, too). Happy exploring!

Discover Quiapo

Are you ready for an adventure? Because Quiapo is waiting for you! Known as the “Old Downtown of Manila,” Quiapo is a neighborhood that’s rich in history, culture, and cheap street food – what more could you want?

As you wander through Quiapo, be sure to check out some of the main attractions. The Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene is a must-see, as is the Basilica of San Sebastian. And if you’re looking for a little bit of local flavor, head to Plaza Miranda or the Arch of Muslim Town. You’ll get a real sense of the community and what makes Quiapo so special.

But let’s talk about the real star of the show: the street food. Quiapo Market is a foodie’s paradise, with everything from isaw (grilled chicken intestines) to fish balls to sotanghon (a noodle soup with vegetables and meat). But if you’re not feeling quite so adventurous, don’t worry – you can always go for the classic fishda or hotdog on a stick. In fact, I’m pretty sure anything you can think of is served -on-a-stick in Quiapo. It’s like a carnival, but with better food and way more history.

Ride the Pasig River Ferry

Now, if you want to experience a unique mode of transportation that won’t break the bank, I highly recommend taking the Pasig River Ferry. The Pasig River may not be the cleanest body of water, but it offers a different perspective of the city that you won’t see from the usual modes of transportation. Plus, with the announcement that the ferry will be free to ride in 2023, there’s no reason not to give it a try!

And if you have some extra time on your hands, ride the entire length of the river from Pasig City to Manila Bay. It’s a great way to experience the city’s history as the Pasig River played a significant role in Manila’s development. You can sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery as you make your way from one end of the river to the other. Make sure to bring your camera as there are plenty of photo opportunities along the way.

Go on a food tour

Oh, you know me. I can’t resist good food! And what better way to explore Metro Manila’s vibrant culinary scene than by going on a food tour? There are several tour companies that offer food tours, and I highly recommend going with a local guide. Trust me, they know all the best spots!

One tour company that I highly recommend is Explore Manila Tours. They offer a Manila Food Tour that takes you to some of the city’s most famous food destinations, such as Chinatown and Quiapo. You’ll get to try a variety of dishes, from street food favorites like fish balls and kwek-kwek to more upscale Filipino cuisine.

If you’re looking for the ultimate foodie experience, check out Yolo Travel Philippines‘ “Ultimate Manila Foodie Experience.” This tour takes you to some of the city’s lesser-known food destinations, where you can try unique dishes like bulalo ramen and “chocolate meat.”

I have to say, going on a food tour is one of my favorite ways to explore a new city. Not only do you get to try delicious food, but you also get to learn about the history and culture behind it. So why not indulge your taste buds and go on a food tour during your trip to Metro Manila? You won’t regret it!

Read next: Your Next Thrilling Destination: Amusement Parks in and around Manila

Enjoy the nightlife in Poblacion

Ah, Poblacion! The place to be if you’re looking for a good time in Metro Manila without breaking the bank. This neighborhood in Makati has a vibrant nightlife scene with lively bars and clubs. And let’s not forget about the delicious food!

One of my favorite ways to experience Poblacion is by going on a food crawl. There are so many great places to eat here, from hole-in-the-wall joints to fancy restaurants. And the best part? You can enjoy great food without spending a fortune.

But the fun doesn’t stop with just the food. Poblacion comes alive at night with music, dancing, and drinks flowing. Grab a beer or cocktail at one of the many bars and clubs and dance the night away with friends.

Read next: Your Ultimate Guide To The Best Nightlife Destinations In Manila

And if you’re looking for a place to crash after a long night out, check out Z Hotel. It offers affordable rates and a rooftop bar with a breathtaking view of the cityscape. Just imagine waking up to that view!

Manila on a budget doesn’t have to mean boring or dull. Poblacion is a perfect example of how you can have fun without breaking the bank. And the best way to experience it is with the locals as your guide. So don’t be shy, come on over and join the party!

Visit the Art in Island Museum

Art in Island Museum in Quezon City is one of the coolest museums I’ve ever been to! It’s not your typical museum where you just walk around and stare at paintings on the wall. No way! This place is all about immersing yourself in the art and becoming part of the exhibits.

As soon as you walk in, you’ll be greeted with a giant 3D artwork that looks like a real-life subway train. It’s so realistic that you’ll feel like you’re actually stepping inside a train car! And that’s just the beginning.

Every room in the museum has a different theme, and the artworks are a combination of media and different art forms, including paintings, sculptures, and installations. You can become part of the art by posing and taking photos with them. Trust me; you’ll have a blast! It’s a great place to let loose and have fun. Plus, the exhibits are Instagram and Tik Tok worthy, so you can show off your photos and impress your followers.

The entrance fee is around ₱850, which may seem a bit steep for a museum, but it’s definitely worth it for the experience you’ll get. And if you’re on a tight budget, you can always find discount vouchers online or go on weekdays for lower prices.

Hike to Mount Talamitam

Hiking… Some people love it, some people hate it, and I’m somewhere in the middle. But when it comes to hiking to Mount Talamitam, I’m all in.

The Wandering Juan

To start with, the cost of this hike package is quite reasonable at ₱2,200 – it includes all necessary elements for a day trip. It would be almost impossible to go on a hike without a guide, so the price charged is worth it. Trust me; you don’t want to miss out on the advice of an experienced guide!

Even if you’re a newbie to hiking, the difficulty level of this hike is suitable for everyone. The entire duration is one day, so make sure you bring enough food and water to sustain yourself throughout the entire journey.

The location is Nasugbu, Batangas, which is just a few hours’ drive from Manila. The drive itself is pretty scenic, so even if you’re not the biggest fan of hiking, you can at least enjoy the view on the way there.

Mount Talamitam stands at 630 MASL, so it’s not very tall compared to other peaks in the area. But the summit provides amazing panoramic views – the total elevation gain is only 459 meters, so it can be climbed with a steady pace.

The total trek distance is 7.5 KM, which might sound like a lot, but it’s really not that bad. Plus, the trail is pretty well-maintained, so you don’t have to worry about tripping over any rocks or roots.

Taking a trek up Mount Talamitam is highly recommended if you want an amazing outdoor escape without spending too much. The sights are breathtaking, the hike isn’t too hard and it’s really invigorating. So don’t hesitate and break out your hiking boots! Let’s go explore the great outdoors!

Experience the Chinese New Year festivities

Oh, Chinese New Year! It’s one of my favorite celebrations here in Metro Manila. The festive atmosphere is contagious, and the colorful parades and dragon dances are a sight to behold.

If you’re in town during Chinese New Year, don’t miss the chance to join in the festivities. The streets of Binondo, Manila’s Chinatown, come alive with lion and dragon dances, fireworks, and street food galore.

But beware, it can get quite crowded, so be sure to bring your patience along with your camera. Trust me, it’s worth it to elbow your way through the throngs of people to get a good view of the dragon dance.

And don’t forget to try some of the delicious Chinese dishes that are on offer during this time. From dumplings to sticky rice cakes, there’s no shortage of tasty treats to sample.

Pro tip: wear comfortable shoes and clothing, bring a bottle of water, and be ready to walk and stand for long periods of time.

Take a walking tour of Manila’s street art

Manila’s street art scene is something you don’t want to miss! It’s vibrant, colorful, and oh so Instagram-worthy. So, if you’re looking for something budget-friendly and artsy, join me on a walking tour of Manila’s street art!

Manila on a budget - street art

First, we’ll head to the streets of Bonifacio Global City, where we can see a mix of contemporary and traditional Filipino art. There are murals, graffiti, and street art installations, all telling a different story about the Filipino culture and its people. Plus, it’s all free, so we can save our budget for some street food later.

Next, we’ll make our way to the streets of Makati, where we can see more modern street art that’s been commissioned by the city government. It’s a great opportunity to see how street art is being recognized and celebrated in the city, and we can even take a selfie or two with some of the murals.

If we have more time, we can head to the streets of Manila, where we can see a mix of old and new street art. We’ll see murals and graffiti that have been around for years, some even dating back to the 1980s. It’s a great way to see how street art has evolved in the city over the years.

And, if you’re feeling adventurous, we can even try our hand at creating our own street art! There are plenty of places in Manila where you can legally do so, and it’s a fun way to express ourselves creatively.


These ten budget-friendly activities and attractions are just a taste of what Metro Manila has to offer. But don’t just take my word for it – go out and explore for yourself! Who knows what other hidden gems you might discover. And if you happen to find a new budget-friendly activity or attraction, feel free to send it my way. After all, I’m always on the lookout for new adventures that won’t break the bank.

So, fellow frugal travelers, I hope this guide has been helpful in planning your budget-friendly adventure to Metro Manila. Remember, just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t have fun and experience all that this amazing city has to offer. So go out there and explore to your heart’s content, without worrying about your wallet. After all, as they say, the best things in life are free. (Or at least, pretty darn cheap.)

Until next time, happy travels and happy saving! And remember, if all else fails, there’s always street food. And really, what’s better than that?

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