Manila Road Trip: Discover Manila’s Best Kept Secrets

Felicia Dei
Felicia Dei
1 May 2021
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Uncover the capital’s hidden gems!

Manila’s most alluring and most intriguing places are hidden and unknown. These destinations are frequented by adventurous souls, the ones who don’t mind going off the beaten track. Many have yet to discover these obscure places but we’re telling you, it’s worth the trip! So put on your travel shoes and get ready to hunt down these 9 hidden gems in and around Manila!

1. Philippine Post Office

We are in the age where emails, Messenger, Viber and a whole lot of messaging apps exist and sending snail mails and postcards have become a thing of the past. However, the Philippine Post Office’s regal structure is timeless.
When you pass by the Quezon Bridge in Quiapo, Manila you’ll see this prominent building in the capital, and it will feel like something out of a period drama. If you’re a sucker for old architecture, this place is meant for you. The inside is just as beautiful as the outside with its towering ceiling and marble floors.
If you want to see more of Manila and all its glory from the past, slip back in time, and go on an Old Manila Full Day Tour!
Address: Philtrade Building, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay City, 1300 Metro Manila

2. Calvo Museum

Calvo Building
Photo by @marckerenlacson
If you are a history buff, visit one of Binondo’s hidden treasures: the Calvo Museum.
Here, you can find the home of Manila’s most fascinating memorabilia. Calvo Museum is loaded with well-stored artifacts where you can learn the traditional way of producing movie posters, see how people communicated in the past, discover old-school pieces of furniture, and you can get to experience riding one of the most classic elevators here. Don’t worry, it’s safe!
Address: Muelle Del Banco Nacional, Binondo, Manila, 1006 Metro Manila
Hours: Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm; Saturday, 9am-12pm

3. Barbara’s Heritage Restaurant

Barbara's Heritage Restaurant
They say to understand a culture, one has to taste the local cuisine. Take that experience to a whole new level at Barbara’s!
Be a senorita for a day and experience the Fiipino culture and food in one go! All you have to do is book a Dinner Buffet and Cultural Show at Barbara’s. They have delicious paella, tender roast beef, creamy linguine Alessandro, and the Pinoy fave ⁠— turon! At night, they have a special segment where they dance to the classic Tinikling, Kuratsa, Binasuan, and many more cultural dances.
Address: Plaza San Luis Complex, General Luna St, Intramuros, Manila
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11am-2pm, resuming 6pm-9pm; Friday-Sunday, 11am-2:30pm, resuming 6pm-9pm

4. Villa Escudero

Villa Escudero
If there’s one thing we shouldn’t hide, it’s our culture. So take a quick reroute away from the urban places of Manila and go straight to this waterfall restaurant!
This place is a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of the city! Villa Escudero is a former sugar plantation, now open for swimming, rafting, museum visits, and cultural show watching! The moment you hear your tummy rumbling, it’s time for you to ride the carabao cart on the way to a sumptuous buffet where the dining tables sit at the foot of a waterfall. Feel refreshed as you soak your feet in the cool water while eating all the mouthwatering Filipino food you can get!
Address: 1059 Estrada St, San Andres Bukid, Manila

5. Salcedo Community Market

Salcedo Community Market
Photo by: @kevzrodrigo on Instagram
Drawn together by the love of food— this dainty market serves food from different areas of the world. It has a total of 40 street food stalls, open every Saturday. Here you can find all things homemade and healthy, so if you’re a fan of homemade ginger ale, you know where to go!
If you plan to bring your kids, it will be just fine! Salcedo Community Market is also kid-friendly, as they have a wide playground where your kids can enjoy and have fun while waiting for their food.
Address: Jaime C. Velasquez Park, Salcedo Village, Makati, Kalakhang Maynila
Hours: Saturdays only, 7am-2pm

6. Hidden Valley Springs

Hidden Valley Spring
Finding a hidden place might be hard, so here’s a tip! Always take the scenic route, because it will always lead you to a place of relaxation and peace of mind.
Unwind and make memorable moments with your loved ones in the Hidden Valley Spring. It has clean water pools surrounded by abundant green vegetation, a perfect place for a breather for those who’s been having a bad week, or month! Plus, if you were to follow the bamboo bridge and climb across the rocks, you will see the shrouded majestic waterfalls waiting to be seen.
Address: Calauan, Laguna
Hours: For Booking

7. Puerta Real Gardens

Puerto Real Gardens
Most sanctuaries are hidden in the eyes of many because once touched and disturbed, peace will no longer be maintained. Hence, the reservation of this secluded place!
Found in the main entrance of Intramuros, outside the South wall, stands Puerta Real Gardens– the sanctuary from Manila’s madness. It’s a well-preserved massive garden where you can take a walk and feel the warmth of nature. It’s also open for weddings and state events if you’re into old-school venues.
Since you’re already in Intramuros, why not explore the rest of the place in a Bambike and witness more historical sites there?

8. Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens

Luljetta's Hanging Gardens 2
Antipolo has been progressing a lot as a city but even then, you can’t deny the fact that it continues to wow us with its hidden treasures.
Give yourself a break from the real world and have a look at Luljetta’s Hanging Gardens! Let the staff welcome you with a SuMaKa– a combination of sticky rice, mango, and cashew as soon as you arrive at the resort. Enjoy the peaceful and relaxing temperature-controlled infinity pool, and also their calming water therapy facilities. They also have cottages that you can rent to spend the night.
Address: Sitio, Loreland, Barangay Antipolo,1870 Rizal

9. A’Toda Madre

A'Toda Madre
Photo by: @katydeyy on Instagram
This last gem in the list might be considered as a modern speakeasy. Despite having so much to offer, this gem remains in silence and is only visited by true thrill spill seekers!
A’ Tado Madre is the 2nd tequila bar to open in the Philippines, it may be a small place but they offer a hundred different types of top-shelf tequila. They have a pretty diverse menu too. From romantic dates to business appointments, A’ Toda Mare can surely accommodate you. So if you’re up for a fun get-together, you must find this gem!
Address: Sunette Tower, Durban, Makati, Metro Manila
Hours: Sunday-Saturday, 5pm-2am

10. Binondo

More of a hidden gem if you’re a visitor to the capital, Divisoria is a commercial center in the heart of Binondo. It’s become common across the capital that if you need anything on a budget, it’s best to look in Divisoria. Small businesses that set up shop in stalls along the street and within the districts bigger shopping malls all have prices and bargains you can’t find anywhere else in the metro.
Address: 557 M. De Santos St, San Nicolas, Manila, 1010 Metro Manila
Hours: Sunday-Saturday, 7am-9pm

Discover the best that the rest of the Philippines has to offer!

Now that you’ve discovered Manila’s hidden gems, where else are you gonna find some of the country’s best kept secrets? Bohol? Cebu? Siquijor? With the promo code <TRIPNATIN> you can get PHP 150 OFF all Philippine products with a minimum spend of Php 2,000. While new users can use the promo code <LOCALTRIP>  for an extra 12% OFF all Philippine activities (max. Discount of PHP 600). Looking for more adventures? Why not check out our Birthday Road Trips To Celebrate Under P5,000.