Intramuros: Where To Go And What To Do In Old Manila
We have been working in Manila ever since we graduated from college. Even so, we never really got the chance to explore what is known to be the home to the city’s historical landmarks built during the Spanish era. Guilty as charged, we didn’t find time to do so… not UNTIL NOW!
Intramuros is the Latin word that means “inside the walls” thus, calling it the “Walled City” located in the city of Manila, the capital of the Philippines. This was built in the late 16th century to protect the city from foreign invasions. This is a great place to revisit Manila’s rich history and see centuries-old establishments.
If you are looking for an Intramuros day trip itinerary, we got you covered. I’ll be sharing with you how we explored this place and how much we spent.
How to go to Intramuros?
Take the LRT-1 going to Central Terminal Station. From here you have 3 Options:
- Walk five minutes to Manila City Hall. From here, a pedestrian underpass takes you across Padre de Burgos Street. Immediately upon exiting the underpass, you’ll see Victoria Street, which curves right through the walls. (Pros: cheaper way – Cons: can really be hot during day time and it will take you 10-15 minutes)
- Hail a Taxi – Outside the station, you can take a taxi. It should not cost you more than Php 200. Before going inside a taxi make sure you make it clear to the driver that you want the metered price otherwise there’s a possibility they will overcharge you especially if you are a foreigner.
- Take a Grab – Download the GRAB APP then book your ride to Intramuros. We tried booking a grab from Central Terminal Station going to San Agustin Church in Intramuros and the price is Php 178.
- Pedicabs – This is the option we took. They are bicycles with side compartments or motorized rickshaws. Similar to Thailand’s Tuk-tuk. Each trip costs about 50 Philippine pesos. (negotiable).
How to tour around Intramuros?
Information on the internet can be overwhelming. Before going, we really don’t know where to start. We didn’t have a final itinerary when we got there. I asked the pedicab driver to drop us off at San Agustin Church because I thought that was the best way to start. Here are the available options by the way.
- Ride from one historical monument to another on the Electric Chariot with your knowledgeable tour guide. The Budget Tour (30 minutes) costs Php 300 and the Grand Intramuros Tour (1 hour) costs Php 900.
|BOOK via KLOOK ➡ White Knight Electric Chariot Intramuros Day Tour
2. Hop on a bamboo bike – Bambike. A guided tour costs Php 999. You can also rent a bike on-site for Php 200 per hour. They are located in Casa Manila just in front of San Agustin Church.
|BOOK via KLOOK ➡ Intramuros Bambike Tour
3. Calesa is a great way to experience touring in a horse-drawn carriage. Calesa accommodates 1 to 3 passengers on a 30-minute guided tour of Intramuros. The cost is Php 1,000. If you will take this option, you need to go to Manila Cathedral first. That is where you can find rental Calesa.
4 Pedicabs offers guided tours as well. It costs Php 350 for 30 minutes tour, for locals it’s Php 150 per 30 minutes. They have this laminated white paper where they have pictures of the historical places they will tour you. If you will take this option you can find them outside Manila Cathedral, San Agustin Church, or Fort Santiago.
12:30PM – San Agustin Church
We explore Intramuros’ DIY style. When we got out of Central LRT station, the original plan was to walk going to Intramuros but it was 12 noon that time. The sun is up and it’s so humid that’s why we tried to check how much will it cost us to book a grab – and it costs Php 178. We tried to look for a taxi but there were others who were in line waiting. Finally, we decided to take a pedicab. At first, they were charging us more than the price if we took a grab so we declined. They are very persistent and a little scary honestly. But when we said we would just take a grab one of them lowered it to Php 50.
San Agustin Church is the oldest stone church in the country. This church survived wars and natural calamities before it was hailed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has a museum inside with its precious collection of Spanish artifacts, statues, church ornaments, and paintings. They are open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.
|BOOK via KLOOK ➡ Old Manila – Heritage Full Day Tour
01:00 PM – Casa Manila
Just in front of San Agustin Church is the Casa Manila or “Manila House”. It is a living museum that features the lifestyle of an affluent Filipino family during the late Spanish colonial period.
The first thing we noticed is the Bambike rental headquarters outside Casa Manila.
|BOOK via KLOOK ➡ Intramuros Bambike Tour
On the other side of it is Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant.
As we walked inside, we saw souvenir shops, a cafe, and another restaurant. There is a passage on the left side that leads us to this fountain. The entrance fee to Casa Manila Museum is PHP 75. They are open from Tuesday to Sunday only. Operating Hours are from 09:00 am – 06:00 pm.
01:30 PM – Baluarte de San Diego
From Casa Manila, we took a pedicab going to Baluarte de San Diego. The fare is Php 50 each. Then, we paid the entrance fee which costs Php 75 each.
The Baluarte de San Diego also known as Nuestra Señora de Guia (Our Guidance Lady) is one of the oldest forts inside Intramuros. This spade-shaped bulwark which used to be a circular watch tower was built in the late 16th century primarily to defend against the invasion of this area.
Today, the fort has become a popular tourist spot. They built a garden around the fort that features shaded walkways, fountains, old cannons, and structures from the preceding century.
02:00 PM – Fort Santiago
We took another pedicab outside Baluarte de San Diego going to Fort Santiago. The fare is Php 50 each. Then, we paid the entrance fee which costs Php 75 each.
I honestly thought Fort Santiago and Intramuros were the same. But they are not. Fort Santiago is the oldest Spanish bastion in the Philippines situated inside the walled city of Intramuros. It became the headquarters for the armies of several foreign powers in Philippine history, including the Spanish, the British, the Americans, and the Japanese. This is also where Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines National Hero was detained here for 56 days. Then made his final walk from Fort Santiago to Bagumbayan.
It is interesting to see how it used to be and how much they were able to preserve up to this day.
There’s so much history in this place. There are also dungeons here – the Fort Santiago dungeons where the US Army discovered 600 decomposing corpses inside. During World War II, the Japanese used dungeons as a prison and torture chambers for high-value prisoners. During the Battle of Manila, in their haste to destroy Intramuros, the Japanese sealed off the dungeon, leaving the hundreds trapped inside to suffocate.
We crawled into this narrow passageway. This tiny entrance leads us into the inner chambers of Fort Santiago Dungeon. I remember asking the guard if there was someone inside already because I don’t want to go there with just me and my sister. What a relief to see a group of students inside.
Right beside the entrance to the dungeon, we noticed a white cross marking the mass grave of the 600 victims pulled out from the dungeon.
There are also a lot of areas to chill and have a picnic. There are shops inside and a cafe but my favorite is the area in front of the river.
03:00 PM – Manila Cathedral
From Fort Santiago, we walked for 3 minutes going to Manila Cathedral. In front of it is Plaza Roma.
03:15 PM – Late lunch/Snack at La Cathedral Cafe
Finally, to finish our Intramuros day trip we dine at La Cathedral Cafe. It’s time to reward ourselves after a long walk. We ordered Kare-Karea, Korean Barbeque, Carbonara, and two frappes.
This restaurant is known for its proximity to Manila Cathedral giving its customers a nice view while they dine in. Their foods are a bit pricey. If you are on a budget, just order a frappe it costs less than Php 200.
Intramuros Day Tour Expenses:
|MRT Magallanes Station to Taft Station – Php 13
|LRT Edsa Station to Central Station – Php 25
|Pedicab from Central Station to San Agustin Church – Php 50
|Pedicab from San Agustin Church to Baluerte de San Diego – Php 50 (optional, you can walk)
|Entrance Fee to Baluerte de San Diego – Php 75
|Pedicab from Baluerte de San Diego to Fort Santiago – Php 50
|Entrance Fee to Fort Santiago – Php 75
|Pedicab from Manila Cathedral to UN LRT Station – Php 50
|LRT UN Station to EDSA Station – Php 20
|MRT Taft Station to Magallaness – Php 13
|TOTAL – Php 421 excluding Food
|La Cathedral Cafe bill – Php 1477 We ordered Kare-Karea, Korean Barbeque, Carbonara, and two frappes.
|– end –
So there you have it! It’s time to plan your Intramuros trip soon!
WHAT TO BRING IN INTRAMUROS?
Prepare for your trip with our must-have travel essentials.
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