Don't Miss in Manila
Intramuros: The old walled city of Intramuros, the heart of colonial Spanish Manila, is an easy and obvious excursion located a short cab ride or a reasonable walk from the cruise port. The crumbling walls mixed with well-preserved ruins provide a snapshot of Manila in times gone by, with the stone walls unchanged since they were built more than 400 years ago. It's filled with enough fascinating history to keep you occupied for a few hours.
It is home to Manila's number-one tourist attraction, Fort Santiago, as well as the Rizal Shrine -- a museum dedicated to national hero Jose Rizal. Then there's the church of San Agustin, a small visitor center and ample opportunities to play tourist with a ride in a horse and cart.
Makati: For a look at the Manila of the future, head to the financial district of Makati, where, among the gleaming high-rises, you can enjoy high tea at the iconic Peninsula Hotel before heading to the Ayala Museum to explore the extensive collection of pre-Hispanic gold or the diorama exhibition of Philippine history.
Taal Volcano: Just 90 minutes south of the city, the Taal Volcano in Tagaytay rewards those who make the hike to its caldera with some of the best views in the country. There, you can take a boat ride across the lake to Volcano Island, where you can trek or horse ride to the main crater. Although it's the smallest in the world, it's still an active volcano. (It's closely monitored for any activity.)
Corregidor Island: Take an hourlong ferry ride out to Corregidor Island in Manila Bay to discover Manila's WWII history. An important line of defense during the conflict, it was surrendered to Japan in 1942 before being recaptured in 1945 by the Allied forces, who then made it their headquarters. Now the island is a historical monument with a Pacific War Memorial and a number of murals that depict battle scenes from the nation's history.
But it's not just about the past. The island is also home to wildlife, forests and even a beach offering visitors the chance to get back to nature.
Pagsanjan Falls: More adventures can be had in the district of Laguna, 2.5 hours south of the capital, where you can hike to the nearly 300-foot-tall (91-meter) Pagsanjan Falls, or take a scenic one-hour boat ride up the Bumbungan and Balanac Rivers passing spectacular scenery and wildlife on the way. Take a dip in the plunge pool, dry off on a rock, and then take a bamboo raft behind the falls before tackling the rapid rush of the ride back down.