Unlike other big, touristy, and more famous Asian cities such as Singapore, Kuala Lampur, Bangokok, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, the capital of Manila is still trying to find itself on the global tourist world map.
This was my third visit to Manila (2004, 2012, 2016) the first time before getting married, the second time with our daughter, and this time with all 3 kids. In all honesty, I have never really liked Manila because of the pollution, poverty, traffic jams, and lack of strong tourist infrastructure. We went mainly with the purpose of visiting Anne’s family in Makati.
However, this time, since we had almost 3 weeks in Manila (and 1 week island hopping), I decided to do some sightseeing with the kids. A few times, Anne and I went together and other times, I took the kids alone so Anne could focus on planning for her parent’s 50th Golden Wedding Anniversary!
Here’s some of our favourite family-friendly sightseeing attractions in Manila for kids:
1) MANILA OCEAN PARK
This is an amazing aquarium with lots of shows and activities! We spent almost 8 hours at Manila Ocean Park including seeing the Birds of Prey Show, the Sea Otter Show, the Light Show, and feeding the Penguins (additional charge).I recommend getting the All-Inclusive Ticket so you can see everything!
Here is a short video we made at the Evening Light Show with the Dancing Water Fountains:
This attraction is in several cities around the world however it was our first visit to Kidzania. We only had 2 hours and it definitely felt rushed so in hindsight, we should have planned for 4-6 hours to do many more attractions such as becoming a firefighter, hospital worker, tour guide, and more! When you finish an activity, you get paid and you can use the Kidzania Dollars to buy things around Kidzania.
3) KID’S MUSEUM
Also known as Museo Pambata (“Kid’s Museum”), I was a little disappointed by this museum. There were 2 levels but the attractions felt outdated and there weren’t enough interactive activities. I think they should update this museum with more tech and engaging aspects. The highlight was the picture above (Rianne dressed as a Filipino Farmer) as well as the traditional Filipino Town! I would skip this museum and focus on the other attractions on this list!
4) RIZAL PARK
Rizal Park has a train, kid’s playground, Chinese garden, Philippines relief map, and much more. Make sure you go on a day where it’s not too hot or bring an umbrella to cover against the scorching heat. I recommend first doing the circular train around the park to orient yourself and then checking out the Chinese Garden and Kid’s Playground (both have a small admission fee while the park itself is free).
5) THE MIND MUSEUM
Amazing interactive museum with lots to see and do including 2 different theatre shows. The kids liked the dinosaur show better as Ryan fell asleep during the slow-paced astronomy show. Rianne loved the robot that moved around by itself! You have to pay extra for the 2 exhibits outside the Mind Museum. If you get hungry, I recommend the Jollibee which is right outside!
In addition, there are lots of malls you can take the kids to including Mall of Asia, SM MegaMall, Eastwood City, and Venice Grand Canal Mall.
There is also StarCity (an amusement park near Manila Bay), DreamPlay by Dreamworks inside City of Dreams and the Waterfall Restaurant at Villa Escudero Resort (about one hour from Manila).
Here is a quick video of the beautiful Waterfall Restaurant:
Manila has lots to offer families so I recommend a few days either at the start or end of your trip to the Philippines!