Experience the rich, vibrant, varied night culture of one of Asia’s busiest metropolises

Metro Manila is the National Capital Region of the Philippines and is comprised of many different areas/suburbs. Covering over 600 square kilometres, with a population well over 12 million, it is a thriving bustling metropolis.

This area sits as the cultural, governmental, economic and educational capital of the Philippines and as such has a rich and varied culture. It is unsurprising, therefore, that its nightlife should be so pumping, with an international reputation for all-night parties and, perhaps, licentious entertainments.

But what really goes on after dark in Manila? Below we explore some of the most popular areas to go out in at night, and although there is a lot of variety one thing is clear: if you’re exploring this city’s vibrant nightlife you won’t be disappointed. Manila is busy, thriving and varied – don’t go to bed after dark, go out! Whether you’re on a tight budget or have a lot of cash to blow through, there is something for you; a flourishing gay scene, girlie bars, high end casinos, live music venues, thumping clubs and so much more.

Ermita and Malate

Come to Ermita and Malate for a thumping night out, this is the area to be in if you’re looking to party until sun up (most places don’t even open until past 10pm), and a top tip to remember is that Friday is the night to be out. Stuff goes on on a Saturday but Friday is when it’s really happening. There is a real mixture of establishments to be found here, in fact there is such a diversity that no matter what you’re looking for (provided what you’re looking for is a big old party) you’re sure to find it here.

There are the obligatory Manila girlie bars, of course, but also a flourishing gay club scene, and student bars (cheap drinks and decent live cover bands abounding), and, to top it off, a selection of good – and good value – restaurants and authentic pubs. It’s no wonder then that this area is so popular with the youth of Manila!

Makati

Makati is the place to go for a slightly more high-end sub-section of Manila nightlife; dress a little bit smarter and party with the middle classes (or even those bankers and office workers who’ve just spilled out of the adjacent towering skyscrapers). Although Makati has its seedy side, with a selection of girlie bars around Burgos Street, there are also genuine pubs to be found here, offering bar snacks and cheap beers. There are a lot of restaurants too, offering an array of different foods, and many stay open until the wee hours for those looking for a late night meal.

Quezon City

Quezon City is a bit more down to earth, and perhaps more authentic, than Makati: this is the place where the young and the students party, thanks to the nearby location of several universities. This is also the place to come for live music; there are tons of underground cafes and off the beaten track clubs, where upcoming bands start out playing to smaller crowds. These sweaty, dark, places are open all hours, and offer a really unique experience to their guests. The music played is an eclectic mix of genres that covers everything from reggae to pop to grunge to indigenous stylings, and some interesting fusions of several styles too!

Quezon City does also have more mainstream nightlife in the form of franchised bars and hangouts. To truly make the most of this area, ideally you want a local who is a regular to these spots to point you in the right direction, as this area is quite hard to navigate. There is simply so much going on, it’s hard to know where to begin!

Where to eat

Want to fill up before a big night on the town? Metro Manila has plenty of options, from high-end restaurants with internationally acclaimed chefs, to street foods offered from a cart parked on a dusty corner, to westernised gastropubs and everything in between.

Manila has a growing gastropub scene, with many top notch establishments serving craft beers and good pub grub. Particularly around the areas of Mandaluyong and Makati you can find these Western-Asian hybrid spots. Visit the Tipsy Pig Gastropub, Big Bad Wolf, Locale Gastrobar or Tipple and Slaw, to name but a few of many, for good, filling food such as burgers, sandwiches, fries etc. Meals here are ideal as a stomach lining before a heavy night of drinking. Plus to top it off here you can find a really perfect pint of beer, particularly if you’re looking for European lager, there is generally a lot of choice on offer.

If you’re in Manila, you really must try some authentic local street food at some point, these delicacies are the real deal, and something you will not find anywhere else in the world. Some of the most popular and unmissable treats in the Filipino gastric repertoire are fish balls (like meatballs but made from fish, fried and served with various dipping sauces), kwek kwek (quails’ eggs deep fried in an orange batter) and turon (sliced banana and jackfruit, wrapped in a spring-roll wrapper, sugar coated and then fried) for those with more of a sweet tooth.


Some must-go places

Below are a few specific recommendations of things you won’t want to miss out on if you’re frequenting this Asian metropolis after dark!

  • If you’re in Quezon City, you simply must go to Club Dredd; this nightclub started life as a place for Filipino rock bands to take to the stage, something crucially different from the many existing pop-centred nightclubs in Manila. Little did the original patrons know that many of the bands that first performed here would go on to become pioneers of the Filipino rock scene, some even garnering international repute. Today the club remains true to its roots, and is well worth a visit for a different night out. Check out their Facebook page for more details; https://www.facebook.com/clubdreddofficial/
  • Fancy a cocktail that is undeniably an exquisite taste sensation? Then you must head to the Absinthe Bar in Makati. This restaurant/bar has a stunning array of cocktails that will leave you lost for words. Visit their Facebook page for more details; https://www.facebook.com/abvbar/
  • The Library, Manila, will offer you a night out that you will be sure to remember. This is, first and foremost, a performance venue that focuses on showcasing local talent: offering a wide variety of nights, with everything from broadway to opera performances, but also comedy. Watch some live-stand up that will have you falling off your seat. If you are in the area we cannot recommend this venue highly enough, check out their website for more details; http://thelibrary.com.ph/index.php
  • Resorts World is a massive shopping complex, complete with its own nightlife that centres around casinos but also includes a range of restaurants and bars. A busy and bustling area, although it can feel a bit sterile, there is plenty of fun to be had here: grab a drink, or dinner, and play a few hands of Black Jack. Visit their website for more details; http://www.rwmanila.com/

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Lily Guy-Vogel
Lily, originally from London, and a former Medieval Literature student, has had the travel bug ever since she can remember, and has travelled extensively, never wishing to stay in one place for too long! She has written for a stream of publications and blogs on her way, often bringing a comedic edge to her work. She loves adventure and exploring new places, and is determined to set foot in every continent before choosing a home.