Metro Manila is a megacity that would require more than a day or two to truly explore and appreciate. However, if you happen to find yourself in the city on a long layover or stopover, there are destinations near the airport that you can visit to give you a preview of what Manila has to offer.
Visitors from many countries won’t need visas to enter the Philippines. As long as you have the ticket to your next destination, you won’t have any problems getting through immigration. If you’re on a long layover or a 2-day stopover, you might want to check into some cheap hotels near NAIA so you can drop off your bags and freshen up.
Gaming and Entertainment Resorts
The area around the airport is actually home to some the country’s biggest entertainment and gaming resorts. In fact, some of them rival the casinos in Macau in terms of size and variety of entertainment. If you have more than 6 hours to spare and you’re into casinos, you’re going to enjoy a visit to some of these nearby resorts.
Resorts World Manila (10 Minutes from the Airport)
This all-in-one entertainment and gaming resort comes packed with high-tech cinemas, theaters, restaurants, and shops, so you have a variety of entertainment options to spend time on. What’s more, you can actually take a shuttle from the airport (NAIA Terminal 3) to the resort for next-to-nothing to keep your costs down.
City of Dreams Manila (13 Minutes from the Airport)
Consisting of 6 hotels, this mega-complex boasts innovative entertainment activities that are very family-friendly. They also have a selection of fine restaurants from well-known international names.
Historical Spots and Landmarks
With more than 16 hours of layover, you have just enough time to visit Manila’s most historical landmarks. Fortunately, these old historical places are mere walking distance to each other so you can visit more than one spot in a long layover.
Intramuros (30 Minutes from the Airport)
Translated as “within the walls,” Intramuros was the old walled city of Manila established by the Spanish empire in the 1500s. It was restored in the 1970s to give visitors a glimpse of urban life during the Spanish colonial period. Today, organized tours like the Bambike Ecotour or Old Manila Walks are available for interested visitors. Most of the tours are only 2 to 3 hours long, so they are perfect for tourists on layovers.
Rizal Park (30 Minutes from the Airport)
At 58 hectares, Rizal Park, also known as Luneta Park, is one of the biggest urban parks in all of Asia. At the heart of this park is the Rizal Monument, which is the resting place of the country’s national hero, Jose Rizal. If you have the time, you can take a stroll down Luneta’s different gardens like the Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden, Orchidarium, and the Noli Me Tangere Garden.
National Museum (30 Minutes from the Airport)
A visit to the National Museum is a free and excellent way to learn about the history, culture, and art of the Philippines. The museum features collections of the country’s archeological treasures, fine art, and rare artifacts. Within the museum complex are 3 more museums—National Museum of Anthropology, National Planetarium, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Unfortunately, you may not have enough time to visit them all though, so plan your trip accordingly.
The Philippines is home to some of the world’s largest shopping malls, and you have to see it to believe it. Having a long layover is a good enough excuse to escape the airport and see these world-class malls for yourself.
SM Mall of Asia (17 Minutes from the Airport)
One of the biggest malls in the world is the Mall of Asia (MoA) with over 400,000 square meters of retail space and more than 600 shops. Aside from the typical stores, however, the mall has a full-sized amusement park by the bay with over 17 rides, including a gigantic 55-meter high Ferris wheel. It’s safe to say, you won’t ever get bored exploring this mall with its indoor ice skating rink, museum, and science center.
Glorietta and Greenbelt Malls (30 Minutes from the Airport)
Situated on prime real estate within the country’s economic center are the Glorietta and Greenbelt malls. These mall complexes are built with separate buildings that are interconnected by elevated walkways and small parks. Featuring high-end local and international designers, these malls are one of the most luxurious and elegant malls in the country.
Manila has so many things to offer the weary traveller, so you don’t have to dread those long hours of layovers. Instead, take this as an opportunity to have fun and to discover new things about this exciting archipelago in the Pacific.