An Insider’s guide to Manila on a budget

An Insider’s guide to Manila on a budget

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Here at ZEN Rooms, we just can’t agree with the saying that nothing in life comes free. A smart traveler knows that every single destination hides at least one or two freebies; Manila happens to hide more.  Free events are usually packed with locals, many of whom want to share their culture and city with you. So, for all you aspiring Cultural wonderers, here are some of the best ways to experience Manilla without the use of your wallet.

The National Museum of the Philippines

It was once said that a culture is defined by its art. The National Museum showcases some of the best artwork available in the Philippines. Archaeology, arts, zoology, botany and much more can be found here – if you look hard enough.

Sundays and the month of May, 10AM5PM, Padre Burgos Drive.

Intramuros Pasyal Sundays


As a way to boost tourism in the city, they came up with this Sunday afternoon open-air carnival.  It’s a chance to explore the people’s culture in a fun, festive environment. Make sure to try Kalesa rides and say Kamusta (koo-moo-stah) – hello – to a few locals.

All-day, Intramuros, Check schedules for select Sundays

Manila’s Markets

The markets of Manila are sometimes as varied as the people. From food to daily necessities and trinkets, almost anything can be bought at one of Manila’s varied markerplaces. One of the best markets to visit is the Legazpi Market inside Legazpi village, although the AANI Weekend Market comes in at a close second.


A culture’s nightlife can show you a side hidden during daylight hours. Explore the city at night and you will a lively and diverse culture. The district of Ermita is where most things will be happening, but Malate is also well known for it.

Remedios Circle in Malate district and the district of Ermita.

Alliance Française de Manille’s Cine Club

Depending on when you’re in Manila, the cine club offers you the chance to catch some of the best Filipino indie films there are. It’s a great look at a more niche part of Filipino culture and it’s completely free!

Wednesday, 8:30PM, 209 Nicanor Garcia Street.

Paco Park Presents

From the Department of Tourism and the National Parks Development Committee, comes this incredible, free concert. Check it out for a look at Filipino music culture and the chance to listen to some great music you won’t find anywhere else.

Friday, 6PM, San Marcelino Street

Jivamukti Yoga

It’s a Sunday morning and you want to get yourself ready for the day. Why not give yoga a try at the Legazpi Active Park? Just show up with your mind ready to relax and the instructor Nancy Sly will help you with the rest.

Sunday, 9:30 – 11AM, Legazpi Active Park

Free Rowing Lessons

For any marine enthusiasts out there, the Manila boat club offers free rowing lessons in one of the club’s many different types of boats. Simply get in touch with the Marina Captain and organize a time.

You organize the time, 2442, Havana Street

The Reading Club 2000

Ok, so you can find a book to read almost anywhere in any city. The difference here is that the Reading Club 2000, setup by Hernando Guanlao, is essentially a private home turned into a public library. The club offers a unique chance to meet and talk to locals; providing you with a unique perspective of Manila.

1454 Balagtas St.

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