Trip Index (what we have published so far):
A highlight of any Manila visit is certainly Intramuros.
Yes, it is full of touts, but it has fresh air, a bit less of the insane traffic and a number of historic places to see.
Intramuros literally means ‘within the walls’ and was constructed by the Spanish colonial government in the 16th century. The highest walls are up to 22-feet high and they surround cathedrals and historic buildings. The old city was badly damaged in the second world war and it always seems a renovation is ‘work in progress’.
The area is also a full-scale shanty town behind the two major roads – you will be greeted by stray dogs, people ready to accept your donations and just very poor living conditions.
The best place in this district is the The Bayleaf Hotel Intramuros. To get there, you’ll need to walk through a number of dodgy streets behind the regular tourist track. It’s probably not really dangerous, but it’s not something I would like to do at night by myself. For one thing, there are too many stories of people getting bitten by a stray dog and having to spend a couple of days in the hospital. You will find a lot of those fellas in these back streets.
Once you arrive at the hotel, you enter another world and it gets even better when you climb up to the penthouse level and go up on the rooftop terrace. The terrace has magical views over Intramuros, the city skyline, the ocean and you can see fantastic sunsets. It’s even a great place to be on a cloudy day, with a nice breeze and a cold beer.
The views make up for all the sweating down below in the infuriating urban jungle of Manila. The Bayleaf is one of the best places to see the sunset in Manila!
I would not really recommend that you stay in Intramuros – the immediate neighborhood is not the best and there is really nothing else to see without getting into a taxi from there. Plus taxis can be hassle to get from Intramuros.