Manila By District Manila is divided into districts which are all original towns except one, the Port Area District. Each district is distinguished through its history, culture and cuisine.

Tondo — The densest, poorest population which is crime ridden and is the most undeveloped part of Manila. Includes part of Divisoria.

Binondo — The world's oldest Chinatown thriving before the arrival of the Spaniards in 1571 and the city's original centre for business, finance, and wholesale, as well as retail trade ranging from jewellery to aromatic essences. It's famous for its authentic Chinese, mostly Hong Kong cuisine and quaint interesting Chinese shop-houses. Its church is a fascinating fusion of Spanish Baroque & Chinese styles as shown in its pagoda bell tower. San Nicolas — shares Divisoria Market (see Tondo) with other co-district is the hub for the adventurous shoppers that may venture for cheap and wholesale bargains. San Nicolas was barely touched by WWII and has a number of 19th-century ancestral houses , which symbolizes the wealthy lives of the people who used to live there. Santa Cruz — is on the edge of Chinatown , which is the district of usual frenzied mix of commercial and residential premises. It's where Escolta starts - the main artery that used to be Manila's old Wall Street and 5th Avenue during the early American Colonial period to the 1960's. Carriedo St. is where a stalls selling locally-made clothes, export overruns, and household items. It is also home to a cultural curio and the second oldest cemetery in the city - the Chinese Cemetery , where the Chinese community's burials were relegated due to restrictions by the colonial Spanish administration. It features palatial mausoleums with hotel-like suites, some with jacuzzis.

Quiapo — Home to Plaza Miranda and Quiapo Church where the Black Nazarene , an enduring Catholic icon brought from Mexico in the early 1600s, is kept. It is also a place famous for flowers, herbal remedies, love potions, fortune tellers, religious items, as well as electronic goods (Raon St.) to native handicrafts and tourist curios sold at Quinta Market and under an overhead bridge. Old and delightful Art-Nouveau elite houses are now converted to tumbledown slum enclaves sharing space with B-rated movie houses past their grandeur and glory days. The premier and oldest mosque in the city serves as a centrepiece for Manila's small rendition of Arab & Muslim Town, a concept set up by Imelda Marcos to imbibe some sense of cosmopolitanism in the city. Sampaloc — the word for tamarind , this University Belt district, an easily identifiable nerve centre of the country's major institutions of learning and a hotbed of diploma mills, is where the University of Santo Tomas , Asia's oldest university (founded in 1611), famous not more for its notoriously morally bankrupt and corrupt Dominican Friars during the Spanish colonial days as the inspiration portrayed by the National Hero Jose Rizal in his fiction novels, nor for its movers and shakers alumni, but also for being converted into the biggest concentration camp of international civilians held by the Japanese during WWII. Also, it’s where the Dangwa Flower Market is located . It is also the student dorm central of the Philippines where most Filipinos nationwide claim temporary board and lodging - in the myriad of apartment houses and ever rising condo-dorms (some as high as forty plus stories) lining a warren of narrow streets - while enrolled in the more than a dozen universities, colleges, and review centres within it, along with service shops such as bookstores, copier & printing (including fake diplomas, identification cards, and certification papers a white collar jobseeker needs) shops, thesis and reports mills, and computer rental shops, as well as entertainment joints catering to a student clientele such as internet and video games, bootleg DVD & software shops, billiard halls, and student-budget safe houses. The imposing San Sebastian Church , inside the campus of a university, is the first and only iron pre-fabricated church in the Philippines manufactured in Belgium in the mid 1800s.

San Miguel — still part of the University Belt hosting some spill over colleges and universities outside of Sampaloc district, it’s where the Malacañang Palace is located, the official executive seat and residence of the sitting Philippine President as well as museum. It is also the birthplace of the famous and namesake San Miguel Beer .

Santa Mesa — from the Spanish term holy table , this working class district is not so holy anymore as it hosts most of the city's short time love hotels and motels and erroneously marks the first shot of the Filipino-American War which was actually in Sampaloc.

Port Area — the country's chief seaport consisting of North and South Ports, where warehouses are arrayed elbow to elbow along docking and refuelling stations for all ships, ferries, and cruise liners, and where one can witness the dramatic sunset of Manila Bay.

Intramuros — taken from the Spanish, intra & muros , literally "within the walls". Intramuros is the historic walled city with interesting architecture and was originally the seat of Government during Spanish rule. It was built on a site that belonged to three chieftains Rajah Sulayman, Lakan Dula and Rajah Matanda and was the seat of power of a large Malayan-Islamic settlement named "Maynilad" It is a fortress city used to be surrounded by a moat now transformed into a putting green, and it is where the old Spanish Fort Santiago was headquartered. The fort, converted into a museum, a very historical piece of landmark where almost all the who's who of Philippine colonial resistance - Spanish, American, & Japanese were incarcerated. It used to house a dozen or so churches and congregation mother houses that during clear skies, the skyline was picturesquely lined with cupolas and spires and the morning air was deafening with peeling bells coming from belfries; the finest assembly of colonial architecture, just reduced to ashes with the exception of San Agustín Church during the last World War. A great plan was under way in the late 70's by Imelda Marcos to reconstruct the old city but since everything else associated with her means opulence and extravagance, it fizzled off. The Manila Cathedral styled as Philippine version of Romanesque-Byzantine Revival, prominently stands within the walls of this district. There is a patch of land east of the walled city informally called Extramuros , the new Civic Centre designated by the Americans where the Classical Revival style Post Office Building majestically visible, built on an imposing spot that should have been used for a more important stately building such as the Classic Senate House sited on a spot where it can only be viewed obliquely and less grandly on a passing glance, and by now demoted as the National Art Gallery , The Art-Deco stylish Metropolitan Theatre , and the City Hall with its Big Ben style clock tower are situated nearby.

Ermita — one of the two Tourist Districts (another is the Malate district ) south of Intramuros , used to be the one and only Red Light District , bars, pubs, cafes, bistros, night clubs, and massage parlours, share equal billing (and rent) with most of the city's overseas job recruitment firms, a cosy set up for mostly Middle Eastern employers to unwind after a day's round of interviewing applicants on a business with pleasure trip. It has a lively and diverse nightlife; also offers numerous coin, art and antique, and souvenir shops. Ermita is also where the American Embassy is located, together with Rizal Park , where the National Hero-Martyr José Rizal was executed by firing squad by the Spaniards, now immortalised by his statue-and-obelisk-on-a-pedestal memorial; and also Manila's mini rendition of New York's Central Park, the only biggest lung of the city used as promenade with a dual role as a national mall. The Manila Ocean Park is also located in this park complex, as well as the Chinese , Japanese , Filipino , and Artist's Gardens , the Orchidarium , the Open-Air Auditorium hosting the weekly Concert-at-the-Park and foreign film screenings, the Planetarium , and the Classical Revival style National Museum renamed Museum of the Filipino People building as well as the pathetic looking 1950's style National Library . Nearby is the grand Manila Hotel , one of the finest hotels in the Far East. And much a few hundred yards away, is the Supreme Court building back to back with the equally Greek/Roman Classical styled campus of the Manila branch of the premier state university, the University of the Philippines which location is the very first campus of the University built around 1900 before it was transferred to Quezon City after World War II.

Malate — just south of Ermita , an equally very colourful hotel district, used to be famous for its mansions where the city's cream of the crop resides and its elite girls convent schools as well as the De La Salle University , which started as an elite boys school now transformed into a learning centre of choice for the country's Chinese elite class. Malate is now more known as the centre of bohemian night life in the city and the whole metropolis. Also, the site of the fiercest atrocity done by the Japanese to any civilians at the closing of World War II where whole neighbourhoods were forced to assemble in the nearby Rizal Memorial Sports Coliseum to be dealt with mass orgy of rape and massacre. The district has a quaint and handsome Philippine-Baroque style church. The Manila Zoo , Asia's oldest zoo. The Cultural Centre of the Philippines Complex or CCP Complex for short, a flat extended open space reclaimed from the bay Other similar structures in the vicinity designed by him are the Philippine International Convention Centre , the National Design Centre , a supporting institution for the growth of industrial design arts, the Folk Arts Theatre , built specifically to host the 1974 Miss Universe Pageant, and the sharp and still spiffy Philippine Plaza Hotel. Most are now in their not-so-pristinely-intended condition. The two other important landmarks in the complex not designed by him is the said to be haunted Manila Film Centre , the venue for the first and only Manila International Film Festival which premiered the film "Gandhi" in 1982, now the repository National Film Archives , and the architecturally intriguing, humble and yet tasteful Coconut Palace now as the Office of the Vice President of the Philippines . The last important structure here is the GSIS Building or the Government Service Insurance System, meant as the social security apparatus of government workers, now temporarily housing the National Senate , the senior legislative arm of the government. Although technically contiguous, these landmarks, except for the Cultural Centre, are not part of the district anymore and belong to the city of Pasay.

Pandacan — district home to many of the country's literary and musical geniuses, originally named after the pandan plant species.

Paco — a working class district that started out as Little Tokyo during the Spanish era, lies the city's historic but ruined and abandoned Paco Train Station where overhead, Japanese and American planes combated in a dogfight showdown after the Pearl Harbour attacks and the run-up to the invasion of Manila by the Japanese. It's also the location of the circular cemetery now simply called Paco Park , the first burial site of the national hero - Jose Rizal, after he was executed by the Spanish, now used as venue for weddings, receptions and chamber music symphony concerts.   It is also the Burial site of Filipino priests Fr Jose Burgos , Fr   Mariano Gomez and Fr Jacinto Zamora , who were executed by the Spanish authorities in 1872 for their alleged role in the 1872 Cavite mutiny . Paco Market , another of the city's major wet-dry public market, has one of the most frenzied, colourful, and interesting market scenes in the city with its boisterous ambulant vendors, busy Chinese owned stalls, and hawker market food. The district specializes in furniture and hardware items.

Santa Ana — known as Sapa in ancient times, this district is the old capital of Namayan Kingdom which is the precursor of modern Metro Manila and used to be a quiet upmarket residential neighbourhood comparable to Chelsea district in London during the American colonial era, but now a blighted working class district with its defunct Santa Ana Hippodrome (located in next door Makati City which used to be suburbia), once, one of the finest horse racetracks in Asia, now bought by Ayala Corporation and is now being converted and developed as another of their signature mixed commercial-residential development projects. A small museum by the colonial church of Our Lady of the Abandoned or simply Santa Ana Church , shows remnants of a pre-Spanish settlement. The structure in the middle of the Pedro Gil Street in front of The National Shrine of Our Lady of the Abandoned was formerly the site of the Manila Tranvia Terminus. .

San Andres Bukid — was previously part of Santa Ana . It is also home to San Andrés Market - another major public market, famous for its fruit and vegetable stalls. San Andres Bukid was carved from the pre- World War II district of Singalong as well as parts of Malate , and Paco districts. Singalong, which although largely absorbed into San Andres is commemorated by a namesake street that runs parallel to Quirino Avenue , was in what is now the western section of San Andres. Elderly residents of Singalong believe that the area's name was derived from a Tagalog word for a cup fashioned from bamboo .