Weekend must-try: Tour Manila via LRT-1

Gael Hilotin, Contributor
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

Manila is often skipped by tourists because of its negative reputation.  Despite its blemished beauty, Manila boasts of impressive centuries-old churches, historical buildings, parks and delicious food.

Touring Manila is made easier by the availability of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) or the Yellow Line. You can utilize LRT1 to reach certain tourist attractions.

•    Vito Cruz - This is the most convenient stop if you’re heading to Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and Aliw Theater. Look for the orange multi-cabs bound to CCP Complex.  Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard is the best spot to watch the city’s legendary sunset. Vito Cruz is also the closest station to De La Salle University.

•    Quirino Avenue – Say it’s a family day and you’re taking the kids to Manila Zoo, alight at the nearest station - Quirino Avenue.

•    Pedro Gil Station – Bar hopping in Malate?  Get off at Pedro Gil station. Also visit the premier university – University of the Philippines Manila campus.

•    United Nation (UN) Avenue – The gateway to Manila’s top tourist spot - Rizal Park (Luneta).  Within the park there are many attractions like the One Stop Jose Rizal Heritage Trail, the relief map, the huge Sultan Kudarat statue, the Japanese Garden, the Chinese Garden, the relief map of the Philippines, and the dancing fountains. Also check out the playground beside the park and look for the KM0 marker across Rizal’s monument. Don’t leave without visiting the National Museum too. Paco Park can also be reached by foot or pedicab from UN Avenue.

•    Central Terminal (Lawton) – the Manila City Hall with its towering wall clock can be reached by foot from Central Terminal station. Across it are the beautiful golf course and the walled city of Intramuros. Don’t miss Fort Santiago, the seat of the Archdiocese of Manila and San Agustin Church - the UNESCO World Heritage. Also must-see is the old forgotten Metropolitan Theater. Cross to Liwasang Bonifacio just fronting this old structure.  The vicinity is also home to major educational institutions such as Mapua, PLM, Lyceum and Letran.  You can also ride a jeep that passes by the impressive San Sebastian church.

Related story: See the National Museum: Free admission this October

•    Carriedo Station – Explore the heart of the colorful Quiapo and marvel at the diverse culture - Muslims, Christians and Chinese thriving here.  Check out the bustling streets turned into flea-markets but be sure to guard your belongings. Try the cuisines in Binondo and do a Do-It-Yourself walking tour with your friends. Look for the old commercial hub of Escolta, the Church of Santa Cruz and Avenida Rizal. Visit the Black Nazarene inside the Quiapo Church and the Golden Mosque concealed in the busy district.

•    Doroteo Jose – Whether you’re heading to Divisoria or transferring toe the Purple Line or LRT 2, or to the University Belt (Mendiola) to visit the gothic church of San Sebastian and check out the astounding ceiling of San Beda church, this is the station for you to disembark (see Central Station).

•    Blumentritt Station – Want to see the old PNR (Philippine National Railways) that goes all the way to Bicol? Then get off at this station, if you still have the time and energy to explore places in Alabang, then hop inside the train but make sure you guard your belongings.

•    Tayuman Station – The gateway to the oldest university in Asia – University of Sto. Thomas, marvel at the impressive façade of its buildings and drop by at the UST Museum.

•    R.Papa Station – If you’re interested in dark tourism, then this station would be beneficial to you. This is where you stop if you want to go on tom hopping – visit the North Cemetery, Chinese Cemetery and the oldest cemetery in Manila - La Loma Cemetery. Also visit the lechon district of La Loma which prides itself as the lechon capital of the country.

•    Monumento Station – Want to see the monument of Andres Bonifacio created by the National Artist Guillermo Tolentino? This is where you need to get off if.  Don’t leave without exploring Malabon’s heritage houses as well as its art galleries.

Gael Hilotin is the author of The Pinay Solo Backpacker.