Think you’ve seen and done it all around the Metro? Think again! The Pasig River Ferry service may have been opened in 2007 (and reopened in 2014), but it remains to be a secondary and oft-forgotten means to get around the city. With this Manila day trip itinerary, however, not only will you evade traffic, but you’ll also get to discover another side to the city itself.
Operating from Mondays to Saturdays from 6:00AM to 4:15PM, the Pasig River Ferry includes the stations of Plaza Mexico, Escolta, PUP, and Sta. Ana in Manila; Guadalupe in Makati; and San Joaquin and Pinagbuhatan in Pasig. For rates and more details, check out MMDA’s guide to riding the ferry.
Start with brunch in Poblacion, Makati
Apart from being home to Rockwell Center, Barangay Poblacion also has a bustling food scene. If you’re around really early, you can check out Panero’s Café, a small joint that starts offering comfort breakfast food at 6am. Spots like Bucky’s, Bean & Yolk, Fig, and OTO are also perfect for breakfasts. After a happy meal, you can take a short jeepney ride to the Guadalupe ferry station and get on your merry way.
Discover national heritage sites like the Lichauco House and Sta. Ana Church in Sta. Ana
Hop off the Sta. Ana ferry station for a cultural adventure right in the heart of Manila. Start with the Parish of Our Lady of the Abandoned, also known as the Sta. Ana Church, which was established in the 1500’s. It was originally made of nipa and bamboo until the present stone structure was built in 1720. The church is home to many notable architectural structures, from frescoes to murals, as well as the 300-year-old statue of its patron saint, which has been in Manila since 1717. After the church tour, visit the Lichauco House heritage site and other local Spanish mansions for a glimpse of Manila’s golden age. Check in with the Sta. Ana Heritage Tourism Association for available tours and itineraries.
Check out the art scene at Escolta
Get your art on after alighting at the Escolta ferry station. This once-forgotten street of Manila is well on its way to a revival with new art hubs and cafes sprouting everywhere. Check out the Calvo Museum, the First United Building Community Museum, and PAN/// for various exhibits featuring vintage items, historical pieces, and brand new artworks alike. You can also get caught up in 98B’s Saturday X Future Market if you visit on a Saturday, where quirky pieces and rare finds are up for grabs. Don’t forget to look up as you stroll down the street to fully appreciate Escolta’s historic buildings.
Have a quick bite at Polland Hopia
Before hopping back on board the ferry, grab a quick bite at an Escolta institution. Polland Hopia has been around since the 60’s and is still holding its ground. It’s famous for its many varieties of the sweet Chinese delicacy. But if hopia isn’t your thing, Polland now also offers siopao, lumpia, and cuapao, among others. Apart from the tasty treats, what’s so great about the café is the street view, where you get a real feel of Escolta’s nostalgic vibe.
Take a stroll at historic Plaza Mexico and Intramuros
The Pasig River Ferry’s last stop is the Intramuros Ferry Station at Plaza Mexico. Here you can see the historic square featuring a monument commemorating the 4th centenary of the Mexico-Philippines Maritime Expedition as well as the historic Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade. From here you can take a leisurely stroll through the ancient streets of Intramuros. Pass by Fort Santiago for a look at the life of our national hero, or just gaze at the beautifully preserved colonial architecture of the walled city.
Cap off your day with dinner at the Bayleaf Hotel’s roof deck
After a full day, sit back and relax at the Bayleaf Hotel’s Sky Deck View Bar. It’s a rooftop lounge with stellar 360-degree views of the city. If you arrive by sundown, prepare for first row seats to the Manila sunset. At night, you can enjoy the gleaming city lights of Manila, Makati, and Bonifacio Global City under starlight. Sky Deck View Bar also offers an extensive menu and drinks list, perfect for reenergizing after a long day of exploring.