Conquer Old Manila in Style with White Knight Tours’ Electric Chariot Tours of Historic Intramuros

When in Manila and wanting to see a bit of the old Manila, there are a bunch of walking tours you can try.  There’s Old Manila Walks, the famous Carlos Celdran-led Walk This Way, and even the free FSCC Postal Heritage Tours, all promising strolls around the Philippine capital, complete with interesting historical tidbits and definite photo opportunities.


White Knight Tours is one of these agencies, offering packages for strolls around the famous Walled City, Intramuros.  These thirty and sixty minute rambles around what can arguably be called one of, if not the, most historic part of Manila feature an itinerary not uncommon for a walking tour–San Agustin Church, the Plaza San Luis Complex, etcetera–except you don’t walk.

A White Knight Tours tour guide on his Electric Chariot.


You ride.  On an electric chariot.

Electric Chariot or E-Chariot Tours sounds like you’d be getting on a sort of robotic kalesa, which is sort of what I thought when I heard the name.  I envisioned something that looked a lot like an electronic jeepney taking me around Intramuros–fun, but not necessarily out of the ordinary.  But when “Frankie Torres, party of four”–me, my mother, my best friend (and acting photographer), and a family friend–arrived at the Plaza San Luis Complex where Hotel Intramuros was located, we were not met with the sight of a giant electric car, but these:

Behold, the Electric Chariot.  Also, my mother, in full White Knight Tours chariot-riding gear.

For those who haven’t seen these things zooming around on TV before, this is what your scooter wants to be when it grows up: a Segway.  Well, these aren’t official Segways: the design has been copied by several manufacturers.  Technically they are called “two-wheeled, self-balancing, battery-electric vehicles,” but as that is too long, White Knight Tours has dubbed them electric chariots, owing to the fact that you do sort of feel like a gladiator entering a coliseum (or, if you are me, like Katniss Everdeen during the opening tribute parade) when you ride them.  This unique mode of transportation seems practically built for touring, as it retains the same closeness to the sites as you would have if you were walking, while allowing you to zoom around and cover more ground than you would if you were using your legs to get you places.


My friend Esther learning how to ride an Electric Chariot.

Of course, being the girl who (and I’ll out myself here) cannot even ride a bicycle, the prospect of having to learn how to balance on one of these things terrified me to no end.  In true Hermione Granger fashion, I read up a bit on how to ride an electric chariot (the information is available on their webpage), but I was unsure if I had any of Hermione’s skill in applying book knowledge.  Apparently, I did.  Not to brag but I was the fastest of the four of us to learn how to drive the electric chariot, literally driving circles around my companions while they shakily navigated.  The attendant was even surprised when I said that I had never ridden an E-chariot before (though as so surprised after I kept hitting the gutter).

Okay, yes, I am bragging.  Humor me, I can’t even ride a bike.

Our “White Knight” on his noble steed: Many E-Chariot Tours are conducted by guides with degrees in Philippine History

After all of us managed to get our bearings, the tour began in earnest.  We were given the thirty minute Boutique Tour, and as the first fifteen minutes were spent learning how to use the chariots, we had fifteen minutes to see the sights.  Our first stop was a tour inside the Plaza San Luis Complex, which houses, among other things, Casa Manila and the Teatrillo event venue.  The complex is named after one of the four barrios of old Manila, and is a reconstruction of the original houses of privileged ilustrado, complete with carriage-sized gate, horse garage (used as a modern storage space), and pretty, cobblestoned pavilions with central fountains, looking very much like the set for some period film.

 A cobblestoned courtyard and fountain in the Plaza San Luis Complex.



The tour continued at the San Agustin Church, which is the oldest stone church still standing in the Philippines.  Built in the “earthquake baroque” style, the San Agustin Church is both a popular tourist destination and wedding venue.  In fact, a wedding was ongoing when we toured, which prevented us from getting a closer look at the inside.  However, the guide explained the presence of some very non-Catholic imagery in front of the church: guardian lion-dogs!  These stone statues, flanking the church doors, stand as examples of how the Chinese integrated themselves into Filipino-Spanish culture.

A gate guardian at the San Agustin Church.  Think a Chinese version of the gargoyles of Notre Dame.

Pressed for time, we continued on to the Augustinian convent behind the San Agustin Church, and its neighbor, the ECJ Building.  Formerly, the two were joined by an elevated walkway, back when the ECJ Building acted as the home for provincial priests when they were visiting Intramuros.

The portion of the wall where the elevated walkway used to exist between the Augustinian Convent and the ECJ Building.

Our final stop on the short Boutique Tour was the old site of the Ateneo de Municipal, which was nostalgic for one of our group, my mom’s friend Dr. Ramos, who had attended the school back in its Intramuros days, and was in fact the record-breaking oldest person to ever ride the electric chariot.

Some of the old Spanish buildings have been converted into government offices.  I snapped this one en route to the old site of The Ateneo.  Unfortunately, the old Ateneo building no longer stands, but it might have looked a lot like this.

Fun for all ages!: Dr. Aurelio Ramos becomes the record-breaking oldest person to ever ride an Electric Chariot.  Incidentally, he was also a student of the Ateneo de Municipal when it was in Intramuros.

It was a quick tour, but very enjoyable.  We all turned heads as we zoomed down the street on our chariots, and had a few laughs when I, the supposed “expert rider,” “parked” myself in a gutter in my attempt to photograph the sights while in motion.  All in all, a fun afternoon, and definitely a great way to get non-history buffs excited about a historical tour.

Chariot racing back to the White Knight Tours‘ homebase.

So When In Manila and looking for a fun and educational way to spend a lazy afternoon, try and check out White Knight E-Chariot Tours of Intramuros!  Experienced the “Old Manila” in a new and exciting way.  You definitely won’t regret it!

White Knight E-Chariot Tours are located in the Plaza San Luis Complex, next to Barbara‘s.  The group offers Boutique (30 min) and Grand (60 min) tours, for 500php and 1000php per person, with up to four persons per group.  You can book online at or dial 526-6539.  Check out their Facebook page for more information.

Conquer Old Manila in Style with White Knight Tours’ Electric Chariot Tours of Historic Intramuros


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