Community nightlife centers in the Malate area just south of downtown Manila. Malate’s waterfront bars might be Manila’s best people-watching, hottie-spotting places. Malate, like many community neighborhoods, has been gentrified recently so it is now lacking in the LGBTQ+ department, but the Ortigas area, east of downtown Manila, features new shopping malls, bars, and clubs that draw an open, youthful crowd with energy (and money!) to spare.
Manila’s nighttime novelties are many, and the capital city’s historical sites are just as compelling. Fort Santiago, built at the end of the 16th century and restored after World War II, is infamous for being the site of the revolutionary José Rizal’s 1896 execution. Filipinos regard Rizal as a national hero for his writing and advocacy, which helped inspire the Philippine Revolution. Today, you’ll find a museum dedicated to him on Fort Santiago’s grounds, themselves on the banks of the Pasig River downtown. Just a little further east along the Pasig, you’ll find the Quiapo district and the Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene—so-named for its life-sized and dark-skinned statue of Jesus Christ. Manila’s largest Muslim community is in Quiapo, where the Golden Mosque (Masjid Al-Dahab) is undergoing restoration.
Just a short walk nearby, the outdoor Quiapo Market offers inexpensive amulets, carved statues, and love potions—not that you’ll need the latter to get down and dirty in Manila, darling!