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Tondo is a large, culturally diverse district of Manila. Being near to Binondo, many Filipino-Chinese roam around this area, and also have different kinds of businesses situated in this area. Food tripping in this area would be a great idea due to the abundant number of Chinese food stalls and restaurants lying in this area.

The average traveller can be easily taken away by the constant bustle and haggle in Divisoria, Manila's major bargain market. Tondo is more of the shopping center for bargain hunters; a walk or a pedicab ride will allow you to see the true face of the district. Another way of experiencing Tondo is touring slums, rather not for the faint of heart with the district's reputation for gangs and grit, but a local guide will help you get around and meet locals.



Slums, poverty and gangs is the first impression of Tondo by many people, and that's why this part of Manila is perhaps off-the-beaten-path, except for the Divisoria market popular with bargain hunters. The lack of historical sites of tourist importance also adds to the problem, but trying to dig down a bit can lead you to hidden spots.

Tondo has a population of over 655,000 people (as of 2020) in 9 km2 (3.5 sq mi) of land, making this district the densest in Manila; it is also reputed as one of the world's most densely populated neighborhoods. The population density is well reflected by the scarcity of high-density housing for poorer residents. The income gap is also well illustrated: most locals live on simple houses or low-density apartments, while mid-class people inhabit the towering condominiums that represent the district's ongoing gentrification.

Tondo's ethnic composition and culture are diverse, and waves of immigration creates the district's distinctive cultural blend. Southeastern Tondo and Divisoria is a northern extension of Binondo, so find many Filipino Chinese businesses and schools around. Anywhere, you will find Visayans, Ilocanos, Kapampangan, and other native ethnic groups. Muslim Filipinos are rather a tiny minority.

"I work a lot in the slums of Tondo, Manila, and the life there is poor and very sad. And I've always taught to myself to look for the beauty of it and look in the beauty of the faces of the children and to be grateful." — Catriona Gray (Miss Universe 2018)



Tondo was the center of the namesake kingdom, the Kingdom of Tondo, one of the pre-Hispanic polities found in historical finds. The old polities fell to the Spanish colonizers, and Tondo became a Spanish overseas province, until its dissolution, where Tondo's northern halves became part of Bulacan and Rizal. Tondo became a center for Filipino revolutionaries, and is home to Andres Bonifacio who led the Philippine Revolution from 1896 and 1897, where he was executed by order of his archrival, Emilio Aguinaldo. American colonization followed the Revolution, but Tondo is almost reduced to ruins during the Japanese occupation.

The beginning of Tondo's reputation as a giant slum and a crime-ridden district of Manila is rooted on postwar rebuilding. As people from the poorer provinces migrated to Manila for better jobs, the district is lacking adequate housing and services for the increasing migrant population, and as a result, many resorted to squatting and crime, and gangs like those led by Asiong Salonga (aka "Hari ng Tondo" or the "Manila Kingpin") are formed. Funds from the World Bank used to improve living conditions has caused skyrocketing land prices, so Manila's government decided to legalize the slums in the 1970s. Since then, while high-rise condominiums and giant multistory shopping malls are leading the district's gentrification, Tondo still has its reputation for poverty and gang activity, and many of the original slums still exist.

Get in

Map of Manila/Tondo and San Nicolas

By train


The Philippine National Railways' main terminal and headquarters, 1 Tutuban-PNR Station, Mayhaligue Street corner Dagupan Street, +639175827192, . Tutuban station (Q7857053) on Wikidata Tutuban station on Wikipedia is at the Tutuban area. Most visitors from southern Metro Manila will come by train, and the station leads into Divisoria. The original train station is found where the Tutuban mall complex stands.

Trains from Bicol Region arrive at Tutuban-PNR Station, but service is suspended indefinitely as of 2017. Metro Commuter Line trains to and from Muntinlupa, Malabon and Calamba trains begin service at 5AM and ends at 8PM, but trains can get stuffy on morning, noon, and evening rush hours. Pickpockets also lurk on the trains, so wear backpacks at the front and avoid placing valuables on rear pockets.

The nearest LRT stations are LRT Line 2 (LRT-2) Recto station, and LRT Line 1 (LRT-1) Blumentritt station. An LRT-2 extension to Divisoria is proposed, but for now, going to Tondo through the LRT will involve a transfer to a jeepney bound for Divisoria.

By jeepney


Jeepneys, both classic and modern, connect Tondo with the rest of Manila, as well as other cities in Metro Manila. Routes converge around Divisoria, near Tondo's historic center.

Within Manila:

  • Divisoria-Quiapo: Connects the commercial center of Quiapo via Recto Avenue. Fare: ₱9 regardless of boarding point. Route used to be served by electric tricycles between 2016 and 2019.

Outside Manila:

  • Gasak-Divisoria: Route starts at Malabon, passing through Navotas and northern parts of Tondo like Balut, Vitas, and Gagalangin. Route operated by modern, air-conditioned jeepneys as of 2020. Fare: ₱28.

Get around


Primary ways of getting around Tondo and San Nicolas is by jeepney, tricycle or pedicab, or on foot. Bus service is limited to Road 10, which separates the districts from the Port of Manila. You can walk, but this is not advisable if you're alone.

Car travel is not advisable. Parking is mostly available only around Tutuban Mall; on-street parking is nearly nowhere to find, and there's the risk from smash-and-grab thieves and delinquent youths. Streets are more often than not narrow, and the otherwise wide Road 10 do get congested with trucks coming in and out of the port.


  • Birthplace of Andres Bonifacio.
  • 1 Katipunan founding site, 72 C.M. Recto Avenue. Kataastaasan Kagalanggalang na Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan historical marker (Q55710363) on Wikidata
  • 2 Plaza La Liga Filipina, Ilaya Street cor. Raja Matanda Street. Open 24 hours. A small park at the now-demolished house where the La Liga Filipina, a Filipino revolutionary organization led by Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, and Apolinario Mabini, were established. Free.
  • 3 Plaza Moriones, Moriones Street. A linear park placed on the median of Moriones Street, it is dedicated to the Spanish Governor-General Domingo Moriones y Muralla, who designed Manila's sewerage system. It also has a role in Philippine politics, being the location of the first Philippine Labor Day celebrations, and it is designated a "freedom park" where protesters are free to assemble peacefully. Also in the park is a monument to Honorio Lopez, a revolutionary from Tondo. Plaza Moriones (Q14159655) on Wikidata Plaza Moriones on Wikipedia
  • 4 Seng Guan Temple, Nara Street (near Divisoria and Tutuban Mall). 6AM-10PM. Serving as the center of worship for the Buddhists, is the Mahayana styled Seng Guan Buddhist Temple. This three-floor temple crowned with beautiful golden stupas is also known as “Temple of Thousand Buddhas”. The second floor of the temple is famous for the carved murals that depict different scenes from Buddha’s life and the three silk-mache gold Buddhas. It also has special rooms for chanting sutras and prayers. There is also a congregation hall (generally closed to public) with a 10-foot Buddha statue. Seng Guan Temple on Wikipedia
  • 5 St. Stephen's Parish Church, Masangkay Street. Anglican church.
  • 6 San Jose de Trozo Parish Church - Santa Cruz, Manila City (Archdiocese of Manila), Masangkay Street. It has improved a lot through out the years. The Church’s patron saint is St. Joseph because the people of the area used to be lumberjacks. Historical the area was called Trozo, because of the lumbers found in the place. As of 2022, the parish priest is Fr Peterson Tieng, LRMS. He gives passionate homilies and formation talks. They are also the ones responsible for the sick call for the Metropolitan Hospital, just visit their office to make a sick call request.
  • 7 United Evangelical Church of the Philippines, Benavidez Street, +63 2 8251 1621. United Church of Christ in the Philippines on Wikipedia
  • 8 Tondo Church (Santo Niño de Tondo Church), 600 Lorenzo Chacon Street. One of the most visited churches in the Philippines, it dates back to 1572, and houses an image of the Infant Jesus that was brought from Acapulco in Mexico. Tondo Church (Q7420533) on Wikidata Tondo Church on Wikipedia
  • 9 Philippine Kiu Siao Grand Taoist Temple, 1481, Severino Reyes Street. 9AM–5PM. Taoist temple.
  • 10 Old Tutuban Train Station, Tutuban Centermall. 9AM-8PM price=. The old Tutuban Train station building still survives to this day and this heritage structure now serves as a mall in the midst of Tondo, Manila. This is the main hub for the Manila-Dagupan train line which was inaugurated in 1892 during the Spanish colonial period. A historical marker is now placed at the exterior of the building indicating its importance in Philippine transportation history.



Slum tours

One of the slums of Tondo

Tondo is one of the few places to offer tours of its sprawling slums. The Smokey Mountain tenement which was a landfill that now houses apartments serving as residences for some of Manila's urban poor. The slum tourism industry is not formally organized; just ask a local to serve as your guide to get around, meet locals and see the everyday life in houses, schools, shops, and local food stops. Touring alone is inadvisable, as you are just exposed to the constant threat of street thugs finding their next victim.

Santo Niño de Tondo Festival


Tondo holds a feast dedicated to the Santo Niño (Holy Child) every third week of January. Festivities are centered on Tondo Church, which hosts an image of the Santo Niño. The peak of the festivities happen on the Lakbayaw Dance Festival, where local dance schools compete in the rattling sound of drums and brass music. The festivities draws people around Manila, and some non-locals and a few foreigners as well.


  • 1 Tutuban Center Mall, Bonifacio Drive (from Bambang LRT-1 Station, take a tricycle and ask driver to drop you off at Tutuban Mall). 9AM-9PM. This mall has gained reputation for being a budget-friendly mall. Just across the mall is the Philippines' own Grand Central Station; the Philippine National Railway Main Station which also has the same name that of the mall. Tutuban Center on Wikipedia
  • 2 Tutuban Night Market, Tutuban Center Mall complex (beside of Tutuban Center Mall). Tutuban Center on Wikipedia
  • 3 168 Shopping Mall, Soler Street corner Recto Avenue, +63 906 096 1324. 9AM–7PM. Bustling indoor mall with vendors selling casual clothing & home goods, plus lots of food options.
  • 4 999 Shopping Mall, #1018 Soler Street, +63 948 559 5258. 9AM–7PM. with branch in 10th Avenue, Caloocan City (South).
  • 5 Dragon8 Shopping Mall, #747 Recto Avenue corner Dagupan Street, +63 917 471 0214. 9AM–9PM.
  • 6 Deca Mall, Velasquez Street. 8AM–8PM. with SM Hypermarket (supermarket).
  • 7 Divisoria Market, Claro M. Recto Avenue. Open 24 hours. The country's premier, if not the biggest, combined wholesale and retail center, as well as the largest spillover ambulant and flea market, is here. Free.




  • 1 Mang Nato's Tap Silogan, Juan Luna St, 181 Zone 16.
  • 2 Doc Wings Tondo, #1177 Asuncion Street. Noon-midnight. Unlimited chicken wings.
  • 3 Andok's, Zone 15, 173 Juan Luna St.
  • 4 Plato Rustico, #1502 Nicolas Zamora Street. 3PM–2AM. LGBTQ+ friendly.
  • 5 Ugbo Street Food Shops and Takeaways, Ugbo Street. The long and narrow stretch in Velasquez, Tondo, Manila, now fondly called Ugbo Street Food, has grown famous for its numerous kiosks that serve inexpensive snacks and desserts until the wee hours of the night. If you’re looking for an affordable place to enjoy delicious snacks and hang out with friends, check out this thriving community in Manila.
  • 6 Hideout House of Unlimeated, Tuazon Street corner Camba Street. 5PM–4AM. Great place to chill with rooftop view. You gotta try their Kaldereta and Cholesterol Sampler! They're the bomb! Lechon paksiw is delicious, too. Nachos is flooded with cheese!


  • 7 Ha Yuan, Masangkay Street, +63 2 8254 7942. 7AM–6PM. Famous for its Maki Noodles and fresh Lumpia. ₱100 and above (Sep 2011).
  • 8 ErSao (二嫂), Abad Santos corner Padre Algue Streets. 10AM–9PM. Serves Taiwanese food.
  • 9 Lan Zhou La Mian, Ground Floor, Broadview Tower, Masangkay Street, +63 2 8559 9466. 8:30AM–9PM. One of the popular chines noodle restaurant in Manila.
  • 10 Romantic Baboy - Masangkay Street Branch, #1288 Masangkay Street (in Market Eighty Eight Minimart), +63 2 8529 4218. 11AM–10PM. Eat all you can meat for the price of Php 549 is actually good deal.
  • 11 Taipei No.2 Station, #1237 -C1 Padre Algue Street, +63 2 8243 7566. 10AM–8PM. Dishes of Taiwanese cuisine can be ordered at this restaurant.
  • 12 Mexitondo, 2nd Floor Alvarez Building, #1010 F. Yuseco Street (in Momma J Sizzling House, beside JLM Bakery and Pitmasters Live), +63 966 352 7904. 5AM–11PM. A taste of Mexico straight outta Tondo.
  • 13 Wai Ying Dimsums 168 Branch, 168 Shopping Mall, FS-G2 3rd floor phase 1 Foodcourt, Sta Elena Street. 10AM–6:30PM. One of Manila's favorite Chinese restaurants.




  • 1 Chachago Masangkay - Orchard Residences, Orchard Residences, Masangkay Street, +63 2 8461 5143. 11AM–10PM. Bubble tea store.
  • 2 TeaSpoon Cafe-Juan Luna Branch, 5B & 6A, Juan Luna Street. 11AM–10PM. Pastries, rice meals, hamburgers, veggie salads, frappes, etc. are available.
  • 3 The Coffee Bar MNL, 1849 Dagupan St, Corner Tayuman St, Tondo, Manila, 1012 Metro Manila. 1PM–2AM. The drink, food, and ambience, It's relaxing, the servers are chill, everything taste great. ₱200-400.
  • 4 Collectors Den Cafe, #861 Arqueros Street. 3PM–midnight. Good coffee and nice interior. If you're up for a fresh place and a big fan of toy collections as well then is a must to visit. Also a good place to chill with friends and families. ₱200-400.





There are many non-government organizations working to improve living conditions in the slums, and volunteer work is a viable work option if you plan to stay in Tondo for the long term.


  • 1 Meaco Royal Hotel -Tayuman, #1160-1164 Tayuman Street corner Antonio Rivera Street, +63 2 825 14870. Check-in: noon, check-out: noon.
  • 2 ZEN Rooms V Plaza, #3003 Juan Luna Street, +63 530 8100. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. This straightforward hotel on a bustling street is a 13-minute walk from Solis train station, and 6 km from both Fort Santiago and Rizal Park.

Stay safe


Tondo has a sketchy reputation for violent crime; locals may tell you that Tondo is the gang capital of the Philippines. While the old days of the Hari ng Tondo (King of Tondo) are long gone, criminal rings continue to jostle for dominance in many residential areas with police raids and street brawls (rambol), and local politicians, mostly barangay officials, have fell victim in the crossfire. Never get into a narrow alley without knowing where to go, and watch out for those street vagabonds that may impulsively approach you, and at worse, beat you; that's where kursonada comes to play. It is also easy to get lost into gang turf; find the nearest police or barangay tanod (watcher) outpost to find your way out.

The Divisoria area can be dangerous for the unwary traveller. Women travellers must be more cautious; jewelry like earrings are frequent magnets for thieves, and some homeless children are involved in these crimes. Crowded pasilyos (corridors) inside the malls can be havens for pickpockets and gropers.



Go next


Binondo is just next door, if you are tired of wandering and window shopping in Divisoria.

Routes through Tondo
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