Time travel in Manila is as simple as a saunter down the cobbled streets of Intramuros, the walled colonial-era enclave at the heart of town. Many buildings in this historic district were toppled during a World War II battle with the Japanese army, but faithful reconstruction and preservation efforts have made for a vivid glimpse of the city’s long history, back to the 16th century. Start your explorations the soaring Spanish Baroque San Agustin Church, Manila’s oldest building, completed in 1604. Then roam the halls of the lavish, antiques-filled Casa Manila museum: former first lady Imelda Marcos had this reproduction of a stone-and-wood mansion built to showcase Spanish Colonial architecture, design, and the lifestyle of the illustrado (the Spanish-educated high society). Make like the illustrado and retire to the Casa Manila patio for the local tradition of merienda (afternoon snack), with a thick hot chocolate and ensaymada, a buttery brioche filled with creamy cheese and dusted with sugar. Cap off the day with a sundowner at the Sky Deck View Bar at the Bay Leaf Intramuros hotel. The drinks are rather straightforward, but no matter, you’re here for the expansive vistas—gazing from high above Intramuros’s stone perimeter and out toward the gleaming Manila skyline.
The drive from Conrad Manila to Intramuros should take about 10 minutes during non-peak hours, and up to 40 during rush hour. SAN AGUSTIN CHURCH: General Luna Street, Manila; +632-527-4060CASA MANILA: Plaza San Luis Complex, Real Street at General Luna Street, Intramuros, Manila;+632-527-4084 SKY DECK VIEW BAR: Top floor, The Bayleaf Intramuros, Muralla Street at Victoria Street, Intramuros, Manila; +632-318-5000; thebayleaf.com.ph