Whether you’re in Manila for weeks or even just for a few hours, one of the places that you shouldn’t miss is Intramuros. I really think that the Walled City should be a required stop for tourists coming here to the Philippines. It is a place where one could learn about the culture and history of the Philippines and its people.
Here are some 7 travel tips that you should take note when visiting Intramuros.
1. Dress comfortably and appropriately.
The Philippines is a tropical country. And one should take note of this when visiting the Walled City. Wear something comfortable. But be careful about wearing shorts if you wish to visit the churches in Intramuros. Take note of the church dress code. A simple shirt and pants would be fine.
Put on some sunscreen and bring a cap, a hat or an umbrella if you’re not used to sunny weather. Don’t forget to bring a bottle of water too.
Intramuros is also best explored on foot. Be prepared to walk a lot. So ditch the heels or leather shoes. Wear a comfortable pair of walking shoes. Remember, some streets of Intramuros are paved with cobblestones and are uneven.
2. Eyes on your valuables too.
There are many beautiful and interesting sights in Intramuros. But please don’t forget to keep an eye on your valuables too. Visiting Intramuros is relatively safe except for some isolated cases of theft and pickpocketing. Guard your valuables and avoid wearing too much jewelry. Exercise extra caution when touring the place alone and at night.
3. Get a map.
Avoid getting lost. Download an Intramuros map into your phone or print one. Google Maps is pretty reliable too. You may also visit the Intramuros Visitors Center for some free maps or leaflets. Once you have a map, plan your itinerary.
4. Be updated.
Intramuros is a historic district in Manila that is continually being restored by the government. Due to reconstruction works, some sites, attractions or exhibits may be temporarily closed to tourists. Some portions of the Walled City may be closed for special events or during holidays. It is best that you keep yourself updated on such circumstances by following the Intramuros Administration on Twitter or Facebook.
Make TripAdvisor your travel companion too!
5. Know the free things you can do.
If you’re a backpacker or a tourist with a shoestring budget, I am sure that you’ll be interested to know the free things that you can do in Intramuros. Take note of these tips and you’ll surely have a memorable trip to the historic district.
6. Know the language.
English is widely spoken in the Philippines. Signs are in English too. But speaking the Filipino (Tagalog), the national language, when dealing with locals has its perks too. Speaking the language of the locals can make your trip more memorable and more meaningful. The locals really appreciate it when foreigners try to speak their language. So learn a few Filipino (Tagalog) phrases like “Kumusta? (How are you?)” before your trip.
7. Don’t fall into the trap(s)!
Intramuros is one of the places in the country that is frequented by tourists. And those who want to take advantage of this are the area too. But don’t be discouraged! There are ways to avoid or ward them off.
Possible Trap #1 – Kalesas and pedicabs are everywhere in Intramuros. The drivers would also offer you guided tours of Old Manila. While a lot of them are accredited and are trained by the government, some are up to no good. In my opinion, riding a kalesa or a pedicab is good for souvenir photos only. Be careful about availing of their services. Some can be really pesky!
There are standard rates for these guided tours but some of them tend to overcharge tourists while others threaten tourists who refuse to pay the exorbitant fee. To avoid surprises: Be clear and upfront about how long you wish the tour would last and how much you are willing to pay. Be mindful about the time too.
If you really want a souvenir photo with the kalesa or pedicab, ask the driver politely and just give him a small tip afterwards.
Possible Trap # 2 – Beggars, especially kids, roam around the streets of Intramuros too. And there are also some informal settlers within the walled city. They may ask you for money or food. If you give out some, more beggars may pester and follow you until you give them more. Apparently, some of the beggars aren’t aware of the proverb, “Beggars can’t be choosers.” So it’s really best to avoid them.
Questions or suggestions?
Do you have other travel or safety tips for tourists? Or maybe you have some questions? Let me know what you think by posting a comment below.