An Insider’s Guide To The Party Scene In Manila
While all of these are great, don’t be too quick to cross Manila off your itinerary. It might not have the beaches, but it definitely makes up for it with some of the best party spots that’ll tick the boxes for you and your travel buddies, regardless of your taste in music, drink, or scene.
#1 Bank Bar
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If you’re a fan of speakeasies, you’ll love Bank Bar, a secret bar hidden behind a door in none other than a 7-Eleven. As you walk into the 7-Eleven veer left (you won’t miss it with two security guards next to the door). You’ll then need to pass through a storage room full of canned food, noodles and sauces before you come to a heavy black curtain, your gateway to the bar that lies beyond.
It’s a really fun place to start the night with a great DJ each night, fun atmosphere and delicious cocktails. My go to is the Nanashi, but at the same price as four or more meals, you might want to slip it slowly.
Tip: Most places in Manila are pretty relaxed with dress code, but this is the type of place that guys might want to pull out long pants or dress shorts if you have them.
G/F, RCBC Savings Bank Corporate Center, 26th and 25th Street, Taguig
#2 The Island
The Island is just as it sounds. With no door charge, and no dress code, you walk in through the entrance to a sensory overload. The outside of The Island is lined with mini bars and food stations, while the middle is complete with the pools and music blasting from more directions than you can count.
It can be a little overwhelming at first, but head straight to the bar at the back and grab a drink while you absorb your surroundings. Soon you’ll find be singing along with the people next to you and making new friends before you know it.
Palace at 9th Avenue, corner 36th Street, Uptown Bonifacio, The Fort
#3 Annex House
Do you like a house party just as much as going to a low-key bar? This will be your favourite stop. Unwind at an old two-storey house converted into one of the hippest places in town. Oozing character with makeshift bars, Annex House is popular for its own DIY cocktails (the mango rum is to die for!) and the dancefloor upstairs where you’ll find one of the local DJs.
Both staff and the clientele are extremely friendly as long as you respect them and the space. When I was there recently, someone I met told me that going out in Manila was like one big party with your friends, and if you’re new to the area, you come as strangers, but leave as friends. If you only have time to check out one bar on the list, make it this one.
Tip: Alfonso street is full of great bars with unique character or secret rooms (i.e The Ruins). If you have time pop your head into a few, but do be mindful of the beggars late at night.
5856 Alfonso Street Makati
If you’re looking for something away from the hustle and bustle, check out Antidote. The rooftop bar is the I’M hotel and boasts incredible views of the city, not only from your table, but also the toilet! Sitting next to a full-length window at the highest bar of its kind in Makati, you can take in the views even while you do your business. Be sure to check out the 8 metre-wide jellyfish aquarium that glows with coloured lights as well. Once you’ve finished taking it all in, don’t forget to snap some pictures (even of the toilet), otherwise people might not believe it.
Roofdeck, I’M Hotel, 7862 Makati Avenue corner Kalayaan Avenue Makati
#5 Filling Station
The last stop of the night is often ’50s-style diner Filling Station. Filipino and American classics, and more memorabilia than you can dream of are on the menu here. It may not be the best feed in town, but it’s worth it just to see the Cadillac inching out from a wall in the middle of the restaurant. Filling Station also comes complete with singing and dancing waitresses for your entertainment. A good spot for people watching too, we reckon!
5012 P. Burgos St. Makati
(Lead image: The Island / Facebook)