Just a hop, skip, and a jump away from Manila center is Makati, one of 16 metropolitan cities that make up the district of Manila. Makati is the financial hub of Manila with lots of banks, business, and bosses. This city has a western urban feel to it with all of the 1st world amenities you would find back home.
With banks, businesses, and bosses come international workers and a need to entertain them! You’ll find everything from fine dining to exquisite art, and high-class shopping to out-of-the-box fitness.
With that being said, you can also find a range of prices to fit a tight budget for accommodation, food, and flea markets. You can also class it up and stay at ritzy hotels with world-renowned chefs.
For being a big city so close to the capitol, Makati is regarded as a pretty safe, clean, and friendly city where you can feel free to roam around, bouncing from one park to another with plenty of food and shopping in between.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Makati:
1. Ayala Museum
Get acquainted with Filipino culture by visiting the well-respected Ayala Museum in Makati. Start out with some thought-provoking exhibits designed by contemporary Filipino artists on the first floor. As you work your way through the building, you’ll encounter fascinating displays showcasing Filipino history, culture, tribes, and customs.
If you want to soak up every detail, take the audio tour that guides you through the museum, explaining perspectives and discussing the artists. The audio tour is comprehensive and can take up to 5 hours- but you can skip ahead to filter out what you want and don’t want to hear.
The Ayala Museum also hosts concerts, international exhibitions, and photography workshops!
2. Market Market
Get a little air conditioning in your life while you peruse the floors of Market Market shopping center.
Market Market has everything you could want in a mall. There are high-end shops, Asian brands and western brands in addition to an outdoor flower market and a dancing fountain for fancy flair.
The food court is also a gem! You can get real fish and chips with tartar sauce, Asian-style chicken and rice, and of course, ice cream for days.
While your food coma settles in, head up to the cinema to veg out.
3. Rufo’s Famous Tapa for Breakfast
America has pancakes, England as blood sausage, Taiwan has dan bing and the Philippines have tapsilog. This savory breakfast treat features sticky cured beef along with fried garlic rice to soak up the sauce and an egg sunny side up. The best place to find tapsilog, you ask? Rufo’s Famous Tapa!
This quaint diner setting sticks to what it knows: classic Filipino dishes. If you happen to come after breakfast, there is a whole menu dedicated to homecooked-style Filipino meals that you must try when visiting.
After a night of partying, this stuff is gold! If you are too lazy to get out of bed, you can find Rufo’s on FoodPanda!
4. Mystery Manila
Challenge yourself and your team by solving a mystery while the clock is ticking.
Here’s how it works: You will be locked in a room where the only way out is to use your brain and creativity to solve the mystery puzzle. You’ve got 1-hour to successfully unlock the exit or you leave in a cloud of shame.
Currently, the themed rooms are Rebecca’s Room and Sinister Sensorium, where you are immersed in a theme and scenario that requires teamwork, ingenuity, and strategy. Break record time and make it into the chalkboard hall of fame.
5. Guadalupe Ruins
You wouldn’t expect to find 17th century ruins amongst skyscrapers and traffic lights, but that is exactly what you get in Makati. The Guadalupe Ruins are a collection of 400-year-old churches. They are some of the oldest ruins in the country which have seen international conflict, economic rise and fall, changes in leadership and so on. Yet, they still stand. Well, stand and crumble.
Experts aren’t exactly sure, but the ruins are presumed to have been constructed in 1629. This church was not only used as a place of worship but also as a fortress by the Spanish conquistadors. Today, the Guadalupe Ruins offers an eerie look back in time.
6. Jethro Shooting Range
You’ve got a rare opportunity here to practice your shot at a school founded by the World Speed Shooting Champion. The only non-American to make it to this level, Jethro T. Dionisio’s passion led him to open a shooting range for the Filipino people to let off a little steam.
Try out the indoor shooting range with the guidance of a trained firearms experts and release your inner Jethro. They’ve also got a gun shop for those of you not traveling with a carry on…
7. Greenbelt Chapel
This house of worship looks more like a spaceship than a church. From the outside, the Greenbelt Chapel appears to be some modern work of art with a cement dome placed in the middle of a park set next to a small pond of water and tree-like sculpture of a cross.
When you enter, it feels like you are being beamed up to the afterworld with small sparkly lights leading up to a bright yellow stained-glass window in the top of the dome.
Come for Sunday mass or pop in any time during the weekdays to experience enlightenment or something.
8. Elorde Boxing Gym
There’s not better time to learn how to defend yourself than the present. On your visit to Makati, take a boxing class where you’ll get one-on-one instruction from a pro that can teach you how to really throw a punch.
Elorde Boxing Gym offers Boxing, Muay Thai, MMA, and sparring lessons for guests who just want to pop in. There is also the option to use their gym for a little extra cost.
Don’t be shy. There are both men and women of all ages and experience levels who come here to train.
9. Gaming Soft
When we were younger, all we wanted to do was play videos games and board games with our friends. Now that we’re adults, we have the power to make that call all day every day!
Come to Gaming Soft, a modern arcade for adults. The brick walls with colorfully painted art and cozy couches where you can sit with a controller in your hand create the perfect environment to just let life melt away.
Play console games like Guitar Hero, computer games like League of Legends, or join in on some board games with locals.
By the way, they’ve got great coffee here!
10. Leon Gallery
Auctions, exhibitions, galleries-this is the real deal.
Leon Gallery is considered to be the leading gallery for Filipino art and culture with both old master paintings and modern works of art housed here. Staffed by scholars who are passionate and dedicated to the history and preservation of art in the Philippines, you can be sure that any visit here will be informational, educational, and fulfilling.
There is also a renowned antique collection at Leon Gallery for viewing and purchasing. If there was anything you saw and loved, odds are they auction this piece online.
11. SM Makati
This mall can be a saving grace for westerners looking for western sizes in clothing or shoes. Those needing to stock up on familiar toiletries that you can’t seem to find in traditional Filipino markets also will find what they need. SM Makati has an H&M, Forever 21, and other popular western stores.
SM is a popular mall chain throughout the country so it’s no surprise that you can find one in Makati. Located right next to Forbes Park, SM Makati is in a central area which beckons shoppers and wanderings into its doors, especially on the weekends.
12. Salcedo Saturday Market
Unlike many outdoor markets in the Philippines that sell common dishes like chicken on a stick or fried dough- you can actually find gourmet food, artisan creations, and Filipino delicacies at Salcedo Saturday Market.
For artisan, try hand dipped juice popsicles or homemade jams. For gourmet, go with some cream cheese with garlic and oven baked crostini for dipping or lobster rolls. For delicacies, you can find pigeon stew and whole lechon.
Of course, if you are in the mood for meat on a stick- they’ve got those grilling over hot flames.
13. Z Hostel Rooftop
Anyone who has spent enough time in Makati has certainly heard of the famous rooftop parties and laidback gatherings at Z Hostel.
Happy Hour is from 5-8pm when the place starts to fill up with Filipinos and travelers who love a good social atmosphere with an even better view. You can see every angle of the Manila skyline glittering in the night while music plays in the background and laughter echoes all around you. This is a great place to meet new people and make connections.
Z Rooftop Hostel welcomes anyone and everyone no matter if you’re staying there, down the street, or just passing through.
14. Legazpi Active Park
The Legazpi Active Park is where you’ll find the runners, joggers, and fitness heads that need some nice flat paths. In between small grassy meadows and tall shady trees are the perfect trails for exercise.
The most popular running time is in the evening just after work so the trails can get a bit crowded. Come in the morning or late afternoon and you’re more likely to get the space you require.
This spot is safe enough to run alone, even when it starts to gets dark as there are park lights to illuminate the area.
15. A Venue Mall
More than just a typical mall, A Venue Mall in Makati features bars, restaurants and live music that makes it easy and enjoyable to spend a few hours of your day or evening here. If you’re looking for nightlife that isn’t in the Red-light district, try this place.
When the music starts playing and the sun goes down, the area outside of A Venue Mall fills up with tables full of friends ready to drink and relax. There are Filipino food stalls where you can grab some grilled meat, rice dishes, or bento boxes and cold beer to let loose. Food and drinks are relatively cheap, too.
16. P Burgos Street
Come checkout the Red-light district in Makati. The nightlife on P Burgos Street is wild, lively, and entertaining to say the least. There are tons of bars and lady clubs where you can have a few drinks and do some stellar people-watching. There are also plenty of restaurants and food stalls to get a bite to eat.
P Burgos street is home to plenty of cheap hostels so you’ll be in the company of foreigners, too. Keep your wits about you, though. If you are approached on the streets by beggars, children, massage girls or ladyboys- watch your pockets.
17. Beyond Yoga
Between cramped busses and long flights, make sure that you’re taking care of your body on the go! Stop by Beyond Yoga where you can take a refreshing yoga class offered in many different styles such as Vinyasa Yoga, Power Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, Kids Yoga, and more.
Beyond Yoga also offers a unique form of body therapy massage simply called ‘Yoga Therapy’. This practice incorporates techniques from Thai massage, foot reflexology and more to release your inner vibrations and loosen up your muscles and joints. Call ahead to make an appointment.
18. Puyat Sports
Bowling, billiards, and beer- what more could you want? At Puyat Sports in Makati, you can let loose with your friends under the neon lights of the bowling alley or in the billiards hall featuring at least a dozen tables.
Puyat Sports offers reasonable price packages where you can take advantage of unlimited games of bowling and billiards for a couple hours at a time. This is perfect when you have a few hours to kill before a flight or a bus.
Located on the 3rd Level Makati Cinema Square, you’ll also have a wide selection of restaurants and shops to keep you entertained.
19. Belle and Dragon Bar
Signature cocktails with names like ‘Zero Tolerance’, ‘Date Night’, and ‘Lannister Money’- you can tell that Belle and Dragon Bar has quite the feisty attitude. If cocktails aren’t you’re thing, they’ve got a nice selection of bottled beer and wine for you to sip.
The food is some of the best in the city in terms of Western cuisine. Come for breakfast where you can order Mix Berry Pancakes with whipped cream or a Ranch Skillet with chorizo. Grab a burger at lunch made with USDA Black Angus and served with Cheddar Cheese. Dinner has got a mouthwatering selection of small plates such as Masala Mac & Cheese and Pork Schnitzel.
It’s a bit pricey compared to Filipino spots, but Western digs usually are.
20. Yuchengco Museum
Yuchengco Museum is the perfect art center to visit when you don’t have all day to spare but you want to immerse yourself in a quick Filipino culture bath.
Set aside 1-2 hours to roam the floors where you can surround yourself with classic paintings by renowned Filipino artists, as well as modern works of art that are fresh and edgy.
The top floor is a collection of Yuchengco family artifacts. The Yuchengco family is a prominent Filipino family who has a lot of money to collect amazing pieces from around the world. A bit pretentious? Maybe. Cool collection? Absolutely.
21. Guadalupe Church
The Guadalupe Church has seen it all in Makati. It was founded in 1601 by Senora Guadalupe who passed away before it’s completion. Then the church was overtaken during the Chinese uprising in 1635. 4 earthquakes between 1649 and 1863 compromised the churches’ structure and so it was rebuilt in the late 1800s when it became an orphanage. All this and more make Guadalupe Church a one-stop history shop in Makati.
Once you know all of this history, the ghost-like appearance of the exterior of the church makes it even more mysterious.
22. Habitual Coffee
Of course there is a trendy coffee scene complete with hipster baristas in a chic setting in Makati! It wouldn’t be a metropolitan without it.
These baristas are serious about their coffee craft. One sip will prove that they know how to brew a mean cup of joe. Try a ‘Nitro’ cold brew for a serious kick of caffeine or a ‘Yin and Yang’ coffee/tea concoction.
Quite connected with their community, you can expect fun exhibitions and events that Habitual Coffee likes to participate in such as creative flea markets, Aeropress Championships and more.
23. Kanin Club
They call their cuisine “Asian Fusion Filipino”. Kanin Club serves up some unexpected dishes that you will rarely find in other restaurants such as the must-try Aligue Fried Rice made with the fat of a crab.
You can find elevated Filipino dishes made with elegance and plated with grace. The Crispy Dinuguan with crispy pork is quite famous in this area and online. Some visitors come here specifically to eat that dish.
Other favorites include Ensaladang Mangga with Salted Egg, which is actually green mango salad with salted egg, and Crispy Tadyang which is crunchy beef spare ribs with three dipping sauces.
Don’t skip this place!
24. Float Manilla
Manilla locals are waking up to the extreme benefits of Sensory Deprivation Tanks. Long term effects include a centered peace of mind and inner reflection.
Here’s how it works: you enter a human-sized egg chamber that is pitch black. You are then floating in a shallow bath of saltwater designed to keep your buoyant. As the door closes, all senses are dulled: hearing, sight, smell, even your sense of physical self. The lack of stimulation causes your body to release toxins and let go of stress. Some people have vivid dreams and others go into a deep meditative state.
It’s not as scary as it sounds! You’re going to love it.
25. Jaime C Velasquez Park
We all love a park with towering trees, benches, and birds chirping in the mid-afternoon air. Who doesn’t? But what’s even better than a green city oasis is a green city oasis with an outdoor food market!
On Saturdays, Jaime C Velasquez Park has tons of food carts and stalls where you can grab a bite of Filipino treats or snacks from abroad such as teriyaki chicken with calamansi limes, mango smoothies, New Zealand baked mussels, and grilled tuna belly. There vibes are upbeat and cheerful as you mingle with a mixture of locals and foreigners alike.