There is a lot to do and see in the capital city of the Philippines, and many travelers don't have a great deal of time to take it all in. If you've only got a few days, there are a few destinations inside the city that you'll want to be careful not to miss. Plan ahead and set yourself a structured agenda to avoid leaving Manila without sampling the best that it has to offer.
Day 1: Enter the Intramuros
There are virtually dozens of fascinating and enjoyable places to visit and things to do within the walls of the famous historic heart of Manila known as Intramuros, or the Walled City. The name is an apt descriptor, as the district is literally encircled in fortifications, sections of which date back to the 16th century. You could spend weeks here and still not take in everything there is to see and do, but if you're short on time, make sure to at least check out the San Agustin Church and Museum (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), and Fort Santiago (potentially a day's worth of exploration all on its own).
Day 2: Embrace an elephant and work up an appetite
A lot of controversy has surrounded the living conditions provided for Mali, the only elephant in the entirety of the Philippines, but one thing’s for sure, a little company couldn’t hurt. Head to Manila Zoo (known formally as the Manila Zoological & Botanical Garden) and pay Mali a visit. The zoo is actually a really charming assemblage of over 800 animals from a wide variety of species, and with an admission price of just 10 PHP, you can't beat it. Afterward, venture to Bonifacio High Street in Metro Manila and treat yourself to some of the best cuisine that the country has to offer.
Day 3: Get out of the city
Once you sampled a bit of Manila, head out of town for a day to put the city in context. There are countless opportunities for travel near to Manila, but some of your best options include the volcanic splendor of destinations like Mount Pinatubo, and Tagaytay City, the beautiful beaches near Pundaquit, and the magnificent Pagsanjan Falls, all of which are just a few hours away.