Budget-Friendly Places to Visit in Manila When You’re Feeling Blue

Written by Belle Hernandez

Life can take you down in many ways, but if there is one thing we should be keen on, it’s accepting our blues. Feeling down and unfulfilled is part of life; it’s an emotion that demands to be felt. One of the simplest ways to embrace your blues is galavanting around and exploring new places, and it doesn’t hurt if these places are budget-friendly. To help you out, we’ve rounded up several places you can visit when you just want a breather. 

Arroceros Forest Park

Arroceros Forest Park
Image by Adrian Biblanias via Wikicommons

Arroceros Forest Park is an urban development in Manila, located at the heart of Antonio Villegas Street, formerly known as Calle Arroceros, in the central district of Ermita. The riverside park was developed years ago in 1993 and boasted colorful green landscapes in its 2.2-hectare forest. Should you decide to visit the riverside park, you’d enjoy the breeze and sound of trees brushing against each other. Arroceros forest park is home to over 8,000 ornamental plants and 61 trees. 

Manila’s Last Lung 

Arroceros Forest Park is also popularized by the title “Manila’s Last Lung,” as it is the only nature park in the city. Currently, there are ongoing petitions and advocacies in rehabilitating and preserving the riverside nature park; countless environmental groups are making keen efforts to ensure that the Arroceros Forest Park will not turn into a dried-up land mass. 

History Stroll

In case you decide to visit the Arroceros Forest Park, you can stroll around the winding paved pathways of the park and reminisce about your fondest or not-so-fond memories. Even if you cry, it’s okay; you’d be comforted by the songs that birds sing at the park. And speaking of reminiscing old memories, the area that the Arroceros Forest Park is located in used to be part of a Chinese trading settlement back in the Spanish colonial period. 

Good News about Environmental Preservation

During the pandemic, former Manila City Mayor Isko Moreno signed a city ordinance (City Ordinance No. 8607), known as the “Arroceros Forest Park Ordinance;” which has made the riverside park a permanent forest park from its former designation as ordinary city property. The “Arroceros Forest Park Ordinance” states that no trees, dumping of waste, or excavation shall occur within the area. 


If you want to visit the riverside park, it is located just north of the Manila City Hall, at the center of Manila, adjacent to the walled city – Intramuros. It is also near countless public transportation lines, such as the LRT Line 1 Central Terminal Station. If you are taking other means of public transportation, you may take the Pasig River Ferry at the Lawton Station or a bus from the Lawton Bus Terminal.


Image by Papakape via Instagram

If you’re looking to spend some time alone or with people you care about, you can visit Papakape, located at 5641 Ampare Street, Makati. They’re open every breakfast from 7 am to 11 am and Merienda from 4 pm to 8 pm. From 11 am to 4 pm every day, they take breaks as they need their beauty rest as much as you do, so make sure to visit them during the hours when their doors are open. 

And hey, support your local businesses! Papakape is a food and beverage establishment created by local coffee lovers and enthusiasts. You can get a cup of coffee for only P60 and enjoy their other freshly brewed and artisan-crafted beverages at budget-friendly prices. If you’d like to bring along your furry friends, you can do so at Papakape, as your local coffee establishment is pet-friendly every day of the week. 


Papakape has a cool and green ambiance as it is surrounded by different varieties of leafy greens like Philodendrons, Alocasias, Caladiums, Cacti, Pothos, and Syngonium. In case you’re also a “Plantita” or “Plantito,” you’d love Papakape because the place is a combination of artisan coffee, fresh air, and plants. 

Baluarte de San Diego Gardens

Image by Trip.com

Baluarte de San Diego is a popular historic landmark in the city of Manila. The bulwark is known to be a watch tower built back in the year 1586 to 1587. However, due to wars and natural disasters, the tower had to experience countless repairs and restoration efforts. If we turn back our history books to the pages where we combatted the British forces, the Baluare de San Diego will be described as ruins, a tower that has fallen to its feet. Outside battling international invaders, the tower also reached destruction during the battle of Manila in 1945. And finally, in 1992, the bulwark’s most recent restoration was accomplished, with its walls standing tall to this date. 


Baluarte de San Diego is open every day, which means you can go on a historical stroll for a minimal entrance fee any day of the week. For only P75 for a regular rate or P50 for senior citizens and students, you can already visit the historical landmark. One of the best seasons to visit Baluarte de San Diego is from December, when the weather is relatively cool and calm, to May, when the breeze feels like a hug during the day. If you’re looking to flag a day for your next galavanting activity, you can visit the bulwark from 8 am to 5 pm daily. If you’re already up for the travel, you can head down to Sta. Lucia Street, at Intramuros, Manila. 

Overall Ambiance

Baluarte de San Diego’s scenic gardens and structures are a perfect place to relax, take slow deep breaths, and perhaps spend time with friends and family. Its serene garden is a common selection for couples who celebrate special occasions such as weddings, birthdays, and corporate events. Catch marvelous Spanish architecture by admiring the valiant walls and well-preserved art pieces at the bulwark too. And if you’re into photography, this one is a gold mine! For only a minimal admissions fee, you can capture breathtaking images that you can treasure for a lifetime. 


Image by Prominent via Instagram

How about a break from work or a peaceful working session at a cafe? The perfect place to visit is Prominent Manila, located at 49 Scout Alcaraz, Sta. Mesa Heights, Quezon City. Work on your projects, study your transcribed notes, or perhaps the online business you’ve been tirelessly spending days and nights conceptualizing. On a side note, you can get your work done easily as an online seller by working with professionals in the eCommerce industry. But hey, going back to cafe talk, Prominent is a local multi-roaster business that serves scrumptious dishes like Vegan bowls, steak sandwiches, Matcha latte, and hand-tossed pizza. You can never go wrong with filling your stomach with good food and excellent beverages!

Ambiance and Price

Prominent cafes lean more towards the professional side of ambiance. Its interiors of cement-finish counters and white walls spike up that feel for productivity and self-fulfillment. Prominent is also equipped with free wifi, which means you can work, eat, and relax all together while smelling the enticing aroma of freshly roasted coffee. Among its many food selections and beverage options, you can start off with a cold brew coffee for only P180 or tea if you’d like for only P140.

La Cathedral Cafe

Image by La Cathedral Cafe via Instagram

You can find this Filipino-inspired restaurant-cafe at 636 Cabildo Street, Intramuros Manila, a two-minute walk from the Manila Cathedral. If you’re the type of person who likes watching sunsets and dining under the stars, La Cathedral Cafe is the place for you! In this romantic prospect, you’ll witness a stunning view of the Metro. Decorated with capiz lanterns, Filipino paintings, and tones of plant varieties, La Cathedral Cafe is your ideal place for an afternoon merienda or early dinner. 

The Food

You can order a plate of finger food for a starting price of P255 or get a cup of a grande-sized cappuccino for only P135. And if you want to get that extra feel of Christmas in your evening dining, you can order a Chocolate beverage for only P150. Discover all sorts of casual eats at La Cathedral Cafe when you visit! They’re open from 8 am to 9 pm every day and accept walk-in diners anytime from their opening hours at 8 am to 3 pm. 

Kale Manila

Image by Kale Manila via Instagram

Celebrate small wins at Kale Manila, another cafe favorite located at 527 Melting Pot Building, Omega Avenue, Novaliches Quezon City. Yes, celebrate relaxing, resting, meditating, celebrate waking up in the morning, and celebrate how you can just exist! The good news is, they’re open daily, so grab your bag and everything else you need and head down to their cafe branch at Q.C! 

Food, Ambiance, and Price

Kale Manila specializes in making sanwichses, salad, pasta, and gourmet coffee. This minimalistic cafe boasts of its hush and zen-like interiors, that food-goers who’d like to work or read a book would love! Photographs and illustrations are also displayed in a portion of the cafe, a welcoming embrace for artists and artists at heart. You can get yourself a plate of Sirloin Fillet Steak for only P320, while some of their other dishes go lower in price, including hand-crafted gourmet beverages. 

Blocleaf Cafe

Image by Bloleaf Cafe via Instagram

Blocleaf is your friendly neighborhood cafe located at the heart of Malate, Manila in 1850 M.H. Del Pilar Street. This proud and rainbow-friendly cafe is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 9 pm. This is a good place to take your mind off everything that stresses you out, and just listen to some jazz. The also showcases different plant varieties and music albums which visitors can browse over. Blocleaf Cafe is a pet-friendly place that serves treats not just for humans, but for our furry best friends too. Make your cup of coffee or tea extra special by visiting Blocleaf cafe! 

Food and Price

They offer different types of pastries at Blocleaf, one of the must-try recommendations include their freshly bakes cookies, you can also choose the matcha-flavored option! Other than pastries, the cafe also offers bunt cheesecake and meals like makisoba, cheesy gochujang, and other tummy-filling dishes! Get a cup of lemongrass tea or coldbrew for only P185. 


You’ll find that it’s truly possible to recharge your mind, body, and soul almost anywhere, even in the middle of a city. You just have to get out there amidst the humdrum of traffic and aimless pedestrians, tune out distractions and focus on yourself. So wherever you are, go out and do so – today! The idea of making sure to rest is difficult because our minds fight us on it every step of the way. Advertising tells us we can afford to buy more things, social media tells us we can afford to spend more time on it, and our elders tell us to work and hustle because a better life awaits. But it gets tiring, no matter how hard we try to avoid getting tired. We are not machines, and even man-made machines break down. And that’s okay. Remember: rest is beautiful and worth it! 

Photo by Koma Tang on Pexels.com

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