Few visitors to Manila are disappointed by the buoyant, gregarious nature of its bars and clubs. This is a city that rarely sleeps and one that offers a full range of fun, from the offbeat watering holes and gay bars of Malate to the chic wine bars of Makati. Manila also has a thriving live music scene, with dozens of bars hosting very popular and accomplished local bands almost every night. Clubs are especially prone to open, close and change names with frequency, so check before you head out – wph2nite.com is a good place to get the latest information.
Ermita and Malate
Ermita and Malate nightlife is a somewhat confusing mixture of budget restaurants, genuine pubs and a once again flourishing girlie bar scene, with as many Asian (mostly Korean) male patrons as Westerners. Adding to the melee at the intersection of J. Nakpil and Maria Orosa streets is the centre of Manila’s gay club scene. If none of that appeals the Roxas Boulevard end of Remedios Street is full of cheap-and-cheerful places popular with students for their cover bands and drinks. Don’t make the mistake of arriving early because most places don’t even warm up until after 10pm and are still thumping when the sun comes up, with crowds in summer spilling out onto the streets. Friday, as always, is the big night, with many places closed on Sunday.
Makati nightlife has traditionally revolved around office workers spilling out of the nearby banks and skyscrapers, but these days much of middle-class Manila party’s in the bars and clubs here, with plenty of expats and travellers thrown in – it’s generally smarter, safer and more fashionable than Malate. The area around Burgos Street is a bit seedier, though the girlie bar scene here is being driven more by Korean and Japanese KTV-style joints these days, and there are several genuine pubs in between offering cheap beers and snacks.
Quezon City’s entertainment district is focused on Tomas Morato and Timog avenues, which intersect at the roundabout in front of Century Imperial Palace Suites hotel. The area has a growing reputation for quality live music, while for more mainstream nightlife there are plenty of chic bars and franchised hangouts at the southern end of Tomas Morato Avenue, near the junction with Don A. Roces Avenue.
Live music venues
Quezon City in particular has a reputation for live music, especially from up-and-coming bands formed by students from the nearby University of the Philippines who offer an eclectic range of music – from pure Western pop to grunge, reggae and indigenous styles. Many of the venues in the area are dark, sweaty places that open late and don’t close until the last guest leaves. In Makati and Malate too, you’re never far from a club with a live band, especially at weekends. Again, the music covers a range of genres.