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History buffs will definitely fall in love with the charm of the “Old Downtown of Manila.” The district of Quiapo is a melting pot of beliefs, culture, and religion that it’s best to explore this rich district by foot.
Quiapo is located at the heart of the city of Manila. Bounded by the Estero de San Miguel and Pasig River to the south, Recto Avenue to the north, San Miguel to the east, and Rizal Avenue to the west, Quiapo is home to several well-known churches, mosques, and other cultural properties.
To arrive at the city of Manila, you can take a daily flight going to Manila International Airport (Ninoy Aquino International Airport). There are plenty of transportation options at the airport for you to travel by land to Quiapo.
From abroad, traveling by plane is the fastest way to get to Manila. There are ferry rides from certain ports in Visayas and Mindanao going to Manila, but may take around 2-3 days.
Traveling by bus to Manila is only available via certain bus routes in Luzon. The “Roll On - Roll Off” or RORO is a combination of land and sea travel that would allow any tourist to travel from certain points in Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao to Manila. From Manila, you can take a cab ride from Manila to Quiapo Church for less than Php200.
You’ll have the best time experiencing Quiapo by foot like a local. You can also ride a pedicab (bicycle attached to a closed sidecar) or a tricycle (motorcycle attached to a closed sidecar). You can also travel via jeepney or the Manila Light Rail Transit System for longer distances.
Quiapo Church, or the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene is a beautiful Roman Catholic basilica that houses the shrine of the dark-skinned Jesus Christ statue. It’s also one of the most prominent landmarks of Quiapo, so it would be an awesome candidate for your Instagram stories.
Plaza Miranda is also a historical landmark. It is the venue of choice for political gatherings, but is occupied by merchants, fortune tellers, and hawkers on a regular day.
Tucked between the streets of FR Hidalgo and Gonzalo Puyat streets is Ocampo Compound, a one-hectare sanctuary which is home to a treasure trove of relics, including the Ocampo pagoda.
Quiapo Church shouldn’t be the only church in your itinerary. Turn it into a church crawl by visiting other churches like the San Sebastian Church, and the Golden Mosque (Mosque del Globo del Oro).
You can also join a pilgrimage tour by Kapitbahayan sa Kalye Bautista, a group who can provide you access to majority of the historical houses in the district like Bahay Nakpil-bautista, Kasa Boix, and some of the ancestral mansions at Hidalgo Street.
The district of Quiapo is one big marketplace, so try exploring the district by foot. For example, try walking around Evangelista and Paterno streets for some good eyeglasses frames, Padre Gomez for a new camera or camera equipment, Quezon Bridge for native handicrafts, Gonzalo Puyat (Raon) for gadgets.
Drop by Ma Mon Luk at Quezon Boulevard for mami, which is noodles with hot soup and with different toppings for Php105, and a huge serving of delicious siopao for Php60. This food joint dates back to the early 1900s, so you can expect authenticity in the food they serve.
Quiapo is a hawker’s paradise, so you can expect a plethora of homemade food items being sold for cheap. Fresh or friend lumpia (spring rolls) starting at Php15 each?How about fried tofu in chili and soy sauce for Php15 just in front of a SM Carriedo?
You should also try some halal food while you’re at it. The Moud Restaurant near the Golden Mosque can easily transport you to Malaysia with their Chicken in Biryani or Kabsa Rice.
If you’re looking to enjoy the nightlife at Quiapo, try exploring the popular haunts near the schools, like the University Belt. Most of the restaurants in this area are catered to the young crowd and the young at heart. You can try the Nitrogen ice cream at Kiss the Ice, Recto Avenue, Cerealicious’ desserts at Mendiola Food Court, or cheesy potato balls at Potato Giant, Concepcion Aguila.
Hotel Sogo Avenida and Citystate Hotel Quiapo are among the few econo hotel chains available within the district. If you are looking for a more considerable hotel accommodation, there are several mid-luxury hotels in Binondo.
Be wary of pickpockets and robbers. Make sure that you bring only the important essentials, and have the rest stored with your hotel’s safe.
Because you’ll be doing a lot of walking, keep cool by wearing light clothes and shoes, and bring a water canister with you.
It’s best to travel with a group. Sign up for a tour group, or get a local trusted guide to tour you around the district.