Makati on the Filipino island of Luzon is a bustling gem where commerce, culture, and entertainment meet. Huge shopping malls, award-winning eateries, and world-class art can all be found in Makati, and with a population made up of both locals and expats, the nightlife is always lively.
Founded on swampland in the late 17th century by Franciscan monks, Makati City went on to have a huge impact on both Manila's and the Philippine's economic, cultural, and social history. Two churches from this early period can still be seen nestling among the futuristic architecture of the city. The modern world firmly arrived in Makati in the 1930s with the building of Nielson Airport.
With its cultural attractions and shopping malls interspersed with green parks and luxurious hotels, Makati is a safe city oasis that has much to attract and offer its visitors.
Take an eerie step back in time with a visit to the Guadalupe Ruins. Set among the skyscrapers, these churches were built around 400 years ago and are now some of the oldest historic ruins in the Philippines. As well as a place of worship, the Spanish conquistadors also used them as a fortress.
If you remember a time when board and video games were a regular part of your life, then drop into Gaming Soft. This modern arcade features great pop art, comfortable sofas, drinkable coffee, and enough games to keep any video gaming fan happy.
Keep the gaming theme going with a visit to Mystery Manila. The ticking clock gives you just 60 minutes to solve the fiendish clues and make your escape from a locked room. See if you can get your team's name on the leaderboard!
Makati is a haven for shopaholics. Market! Market! has an international flavor to both its shops and food court, and it's easy to while away a whole day browsing between the Glorietta, Greenbelt, and Century City shopping malls.
Take in the growing dining and nightlife scene of Poblacion, finishing with a drink at the Z Hostel Roofdeck. This party venue has great city views, while its state-of-the-art RFID bracelet technology makes getting your next drink super easy.
Looking like a spaceship from the outside, the Greenbelt Chapel is full of sparkly lights and stained glass inside. It is surrounded by trees and a tranquil lily pond.
In contrast, the Nuestra Señora de Gracia Church is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was originally built by Augustinian friars. A miraculous image of the Virgin Mary can be seen inside.
This sprawling cemetery is a peaceful and poignant spot in the city. As well as the immaculately kept memorials to the fallen of WWII, you will find open-air galleries that depict the important role US troops played in the Philippines.
With dioramas and interactive displays, the Ayala Museum captures the interest of all ages as it traces Filipino history. There are also superb displays of indigenous textiles and gold jewelry.
Another must-see attraction is the Pinto Art Museum. Its galleries and outdoor art installations showcase the work of contemporary Filipino artists.
Makati has a tropical monsoon climate with an annual temperature range between 68 °F and 100 °F. January to March sees cooler temperatures and less rainfall, while May and June are the hottest months. The monsoon period peaks from August to October. Makati has a full calendar of festivals and celebrations. One of the most important is Caracol. Held towards the start of the year, it celebrates Mother Earth's bounty. Another big event is the Flores de Mayo Procession held in May.
International flights land at Ninoy Aquino Airport, located approximately 20 minutes drive from central Makati. As there are no direct transport links into Makati, hiring a car or taking a taxi are the best options. Depending on the type of taxi, prices range from PHP250 to PHP700.
There is no mainline railway station in Makati but the MRT or Metro Rail Transit has four stations in the district. The most central is Ayala Station.
If driving from Manila to Makati, the best routes to take are the North and South Luzon Expressways. These require tolls and are best avoided at peak times. Car hire costs start at around PHP14,000 a week.
Although Makati has no central bus terminal, there are numerous local bus providers that operate services into the city from across Luzon.
As a business and expat hub, accommodation in Makati tends to focus on the more luxurious, although budget hostels can be found. The Makati Shangri-La has a stunning lobby where the atrium soars upwards and is supported by columns as tall as redwoods. For real luxury, however, the Raffles Makati has everything visitors could want, including baths with views and butlers. Offering a more laid-back vibe is the Z Hostel, famous for its rooftop partying and panorama of the Manila skyline. Nicknamed the 'flashpacker district', Poblacion is home to trendy bars, hip restaurants, and several upmarket hostels, many with a boutique appeal, and is a good spot to stay in.
The MRT or Metro Rail Transit provides a handy way of traveling north-south through Makati. Fares range from PHP12 to PHP15, but as a new ticket is necessary for each part of a journey, it is worth buying a 'stored-value' card. The BGC Bus provides frequent links from Makati to other tourist destinations in Metro Manila, while local buses cover Makati City with fares ranging from PHP10 to PHP25. The more expensive buses have air-conditioning.
When traveling by taxi, always check that the meter has been switched on at the start of the journey. Both local taxis and Uber cars are widely available and a trip of up to 20 minutes should cost around PHP150.
Hire a car to fully explore Makati, Manila, or the surrounding countryside, but some experience of driving in a large, busy city is advisable. Makati City has strict traffic regulations including an urban speed limit of 30 kph (around 18 mph). Another option is hiring a car and driver. These cost between PHP2,500 and PHP4,000 a day.
In Makati, you're never far from a shopping opportunity. The Greenbelt Mall is a one-stop shop for international names ranging from Adidas to Zara and Balenciaga to Top Shop. There is also a dining court built around a park area. As well as its shops and food courts, the Glorietta Mall also features a children's playground and concert hall.
The Salcedo Market is held every Saturday in the center and is a great place for stocking up on both groceries and souvenirs. Look out for organically grown vegetables and artisan crafts. Rustan's and SM Supermarket also have an extensive range of groceries and toiletries. Expect to pay PHP30 for a pound of tomatoes and PHP95 for a dozen eggs.
Many of Makati's best restaurants are clustered in Poblacion or the center, while the Greenbelt Shopping Mall is a good venue for al fresco dining. Start the day with some breakfast 'tapsilog' at Rufo's Famous Tapa. This Filipino delicacy features cured beef, fried garlic rice, and a sunny-side-up egg. The Hole in the Wall in Century City Mall is a gastronomic if quirky gem with an eclectic range of dining experiences. For award-winning Dim Sum, visit Tim Ho Wan in the Glorietta Shopping Mall. Be prepared to queue, however, for the experience. In Makati, prices start at around PHP250 for basic local dishes and a beer, while dinner and drinks at a high-end restaurant can cost up to PHP4,000.