Walkable cities are still a thing of the future, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy Manila on foot. Manila is one of the oldest cities in the country, which means there are several sites and landmarks that deserve our attention.
Founded by Spanish invaders in 1591, Manila has seen some of the most brutal and beautiful events in our nation’s history. While most tourists favor more tropical destinations, Manila still offers some of the richest experiences when it comes to our cultural heritage and history.
If you ever want to play tourist for a day and discover the historical side of the capital, here are some walking tour companies that offer experiences worth your while.
Wander Manila is a walking company that specializes in private and customized tours in the historical Intramuros district. They currently have three curated tours: ¡Hola Intramuros!, One Night in Intramuros, and the Chinoy Heritage Tour.
The Hola Intramuros tour takes you around the Intramuros area during the daytime. The One Night in Intramuros tour is during the evening and shows you the darker side of the area’s history. The Chinoy Heritage Tour takes place across the Binondo, San Nicolas, and Escolta areas—which are some of the places that have a high concentration of Chinese immigrants.
These tours come with your very own tour guide and costs P1,000 per head with a minimum of 3 guests per tour.
WanderManila also has custom tours available where you can pick your destinations. These custom tours start at P1,500 per head with a minimum of three guests per tour. The final cost can be higher depending on the inclusions.
You can book your tours through the WanderManila Facebook page
Walking Tour – Lakbay Lakaran sa Quiapo
Lakbay Lakaran sa Quiapo takes you on a firsthand adventure through what is considered to be “old downtown Manila.” The tour incorporates a sightseeing journey, a pilgrimage, and a fiesta all into one experience. Having started some time in the late ’80s, Lakbay Lakaran sa Quiapo is also thought to be one of the oldest walking tours.
Each tour takes you across the Quiapo district and its historical landmarks, like the San Sebastian Church and Bahay Nakpil-Bautista.
The tour costs P700 per person, with a minimum of three people in each group. It starts at 1:30 p.m. and runs for 3 to 4 hours, depending on the group’s pace.
You can book your tours through the Walking Tour – Lakbay Lakaran sa Quiapo Facebook page
Old Manila Walks
Old Manila Walks is one of the biggest walking tour companies that operate in the city. It offers five different tours: Intramuros (P1,500+), Binondo (P1,750+), San Miguel and Malacañang Palace (P1,750), Chinese Cemetery (P1,300), and a halo-halo tour combo you can customize (P2,850).
The rates go up by P150 to P300 on weekends, except for the San Miguel and Malacañang tour, which is only available on weekdays. The Binondo tour is also a food tour with a tasting menu, which is already covered by the initial payment. The Intramuros tour can also be extended or done at night, which costs P1,800.
The mix-and-match tour allows you to combine two walking tours in one. The combos available are Intramuros with either the Chinese Cemetery, Malacañang, or Rizal Park.
There are scheduled tours you can book through the website, but if you don’t see the tour or dates you want, you can schedule it through their booking form.
Bambike Eco Tours
This tour is especially crafted for bike enthusiasts who also want to get a little history and culture in, along with some exercise. Though not strictly a “walking” tour, the Bambike Eco Tour still allows you to explore Manila with your own two feet—albeit on a bike.
Bambikes offers three types of guided tours around Intramuros: the Intramuros Experience (P1,699 per person), the Intramuros Express Tour (P999 per person), and the Intramuros Sunset Tour (P1,799 per person).
The Intramuros Experience takes you through eight different sites in two and a half hours, while the express version takes you to six different sites in an hour and a half. The sunset tour is a two-hour tour that happens in the late afternoon and ends with a complimentary drink at The Bayleaf Intramuros—just in time to see the gorgeous Manila Bay sunset.
All the tours come with your very own choice of Bambike, a serving of local ice cream (a.k.a. dirty ice cream), and a cool towel to freshen you up after your journey.
For people who want to take the tour but don’t know how to ride a bike, don’t worry. Bambikes also offers bikes with sidecars and a trained operator for P600 for a regular bike and sidecar, or P1,000 for a bamboo bike and sidecar. Both options are big enough to fit two people.
You can book your tours through the Bambike website