Intramuros After Dark / Intramuros tour at night / Manila tour
Guides and Itineraries,  Philippines

Intramuros After Dark: A Night Walking Tour of Old Manila

Share this:

There was a time when Intramuros was Manila. Manila then wasn’t the large metropolitan area what we know now but a walled city, covering a total of 64 hectares, and home to thousands of Spanish colonists and their Filipino servants. It served as the country’s capital and the seat of Spanish religious, political, and military power.

This lasted for 400 years — until the city was mostly destroyed by the Japanese military during the WW2.

Later in the 1980s, the Philippine government made a major restoration effort in Intramuros, rebuilding its historic buildings. Today, it is one of the most visited attractions in Manila. You can explore Intramuros on your own, but if you want a unique experience, you can join the tour Intramuros After Dark.

Intramuros After Dark is a 4-hour walking tour inside the Walled City, conducted by Butch Pedalino (also known as Julian ang Makabayan, or simply Kuya Butch). A great storyteller who loves history, Kuya Butch has been doing this Intramuros tour since 2017. Notably, he was also a friend of the late Carlos Celdran.

Kuya Butch’s tour isn’t just a talk about historical facts — there are also interesting tidbits and urban legends included. Here’s my experience joining the Intramuros After Dark.

Our Intramuros tour at night

I was invited on this tour by other bloggers and content creators. As stated above, this tour normally lasts 4 hours but we had a condensed itinerary that lasts 2-2.5 hours only.

Prior to the tour, we met up at the Destilaria Limtuaco Museum. This is the oldest distillery in the country, which produces various alcoholic drinks including shoktong — an old medicinal wine. We filled up with local snacks and desserts first, including siomai, sisig nachos, and local gelato flavors from Karabella Dairy which are infused by alcohol flavor from this very distillery.

Destilaria Limtuaco Museum
At Destilaria Limtuaco Museum.
Karabella Dairy gelato
Local gelato from Karabella Dairy.

Kuya Butch then introduced himself to us. He handed us small packets of salt for protection, with instructions on how to use it after the tour and to visit another area first before heading home (also called “pagpag”). Intramuros is notorious for its ghost stories.

We started the tour at Puerta del Parian (“puerta” meaning gate), which served as the main gateway to Intramuros. Beside it there used to be a moat, although now it is completely dry. We then walked around and saw the Manila Clock Tower, the largest clock tower in the country and a center of controversy when a condominium building was built near it, hence “photobombing” the iconic view.

Puerta del Parian in Intramuros
Puerta del Parian.
Kuya Butch in Intramuros After Dark tour
Kuya Butch talking about the old churches and hospitals in Intramuros.

From there we walked outside to the streets in Intramuros. Kuya Butch said that today this area suffers from illegal squatter settlements — an ongoing issue that persists due to political reasons.

We arrived at the Plaza San Luis Complex, which is home to the newly opened Café Intramuros. I love the architecture of this plaza — it is reminiscent of the old buildings in Vigan City. I haven’t really thought about photography when I joined this tour, and I somehow regretted not bringing an actual camera. Alas, I wasn’t able to take a picture with me because there were too many passing vehicles.

Kat in Intramuros mural
Intramuros street art.
Intramuros street at night
Cobbled street at night.
Plaza San Luis Complex in Intramuros
Plaza San Luis Complex.

We then entered Casa Manila located inside the complex. Casa Manila features the lifestyle of an affluent Filipino family during the late Spanish colonial period, with its signature courtyard and a fountain in the center, which was designed to cool the rooms facing it.

Kat in Casa Manila in Intramuros
Inside Casa Manila.

Afterwards, we crossed the street to see the San Agustin Church. Interestingly, this church is the only building in Intramuros that survived the heavy bombing during the Battle of Manila during the WW2 period. Currently, it is one of the four baroque churches in the Philippines to be declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s also a popular church for weddings, with a long walkway that is said to offer good luck.

Another interesting fact is that the saint carvings on its doors look Asian and there are fu dogs on the front of the building. Fu dogs are mythical animals in China that protect the inhabitants of the spaces they are guarding.

These — along with the piedra china (Chinese granite) on the sidewalks outside of the plaza — are just some of the influences left by the Chinese merchants in Intramuros (the original chinatown) before they resettled in Binondo.

San Agustin Church in Intramuros
San Agustin Church with its long walkway.
San Agustin Church door carvings
San Agustin Church door carvings.

Our next stop was Memorare Manila. This monument was constructed in honor of over 100,000 civilians who died during the Battle of Manila, many of which were victims of heinous crimes by the Japanese imperial forces and casualties of friendly fire from the American soldiers.

Did you know that Manila was one of the most ravaged capitals in the world during WW2? The other ones were Berlin in Germany and Warsaw in Poland.

Here we took a moment of silence as we lit candles for the souls of those who passed away.

We ended the tour at Manila Cathedral. Manila Cathedral is known as “The Mother of All Churches.” It has a unique facade with three access ways and bronze carvings of Mama Mary and other famous saints. Kuya Butch said that there is superstition that it’s unlucky to get married here because there is a partition between the main doors. It’s said that if you want your marriage to last, say your vows in San Agustin Church instead.

Intramuros After Dark with Butch Pedalino

Overall, the Intramuros tour at night was tiring because we had to do a lot of walking, but it was also enjoyable. I enjoyed not just the historical facts, but urban legends as well. Belief in the soul and afterlife is an integral part of the Filipino identity. I now understand why Intramuros at night is a popular tour during halloween.

Admittedly, a lot of times I was distracted because I wanted to take pictures of the old streets and buildings. I didn’t realize how lovely Intramuros would be at night. I think this tour will benefit not just history lovers, but photographers as well.

Intramuros After Dark group photo
Our tour group.

How to book your tour

You can book this Manila tour through Intramuros After Dark’s official page. There are open joiner tours on weekends (Saturday and Sunday). You can also request for a private tour on your date of choice, with a minimum of 10 participants.

  • Rate: As of 2023, the current rate for this tour is P1300 per person.
  • Schedule: Intramuros After Dark starts from 5PM to 9PM. Call time is typically at 4:45PM at The Plaza Roma Fountain.
  • Who can book the tour: This tour is ideal for those interested in history, corporate team-buildings, and foreign visitors looking for Manila tours. It’s also a great opportunity for photographers to capture the beautiful lights of Intramuros at night.

Here is the itinerary/list of places to visit:

  • Stories from Plaza Roma and The Fort Santiago
  • Intramuros: The Walled City of Old Manila
  • The Manila Cathedral and Plaza Roma
  • The Memorare Manila
  • The San Agustin Church
  • The Plaza San Luis Complex and the Piedra China
  • The Dancing Fountain at the Manila City Hall Grounds
  • The Hidden Garden and the Liwasang Bonifacio
  • The Old Original Chinatown of Manila
  • Stories from The Jones Bridge and the Old Calle Escolta

Travel Tips

Here are important travel tips before you go!

  • Wear comfortable clothing and footwear. You’ll be walking a lot!
  • Bring a reusable bottle of water and a fan if you have any. It is hot and humid especially during the summer months, even at night.
  • Eat before your tour so you have energy. There are various restaurants inside the walled city. You can also head to Binondo for a food trip, which is just close by.

Disclaimer: This tour was offered for free c/o Intramuros After Dark, Destilaria Limtuaco Museum, and Karabella Dairy. As always, thoughts and opinions are my own.

Are you interested in going on an Intramuros tour at night? If you have questions or comments, let us know in the comments section below.

What to read next:

If you’re interested in historical tours, read these as well:

Staying in Manila? Don’t forget to read these guides!

Venture outside of the city for fun and adventure:

Get discounts on your travels!

Klook logo

Enjoy discounts with KLOOK using our promo code: TARALETSANYWHERE

Share this:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.