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10 Makati Must-Dos You Shouldn’t Miss Out On

by Maia Marquez

Makati is the type of city that has a little something for everyone.

The food critics, the music mavens, the globetrotters, the art enthusiasts, the self-proclaimed shopaholics, the culture buffs, the nature lovers, the party animals, and everyone in between!

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Glitz, glamour, business, and sophistication—these are some of the words one can associate with Makati. But behind its seemingly posh and intimidating façade is a sense of innovation and openness that attracts many.

Keeping up with the times while preserving classic traditions, Makati constantly creates a culture to call its own. And with an endless list of things to explore, where do you even begin?

Here are the must-dos you can’t miss to gain the full Makati experience!

1. Eat to Your Heart’s Delight

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It isn’t unheard of for people to make their way to Makati just for delicious eats! Having neighborhoods with various things to offer, the city’s food trip options never disappoint.

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Located within a couple of minutes’ drive from each other, go-tos Salcedo Village and Legaspi Village house food spots that can sate any craving! For innovative comfort food, try Common Table at Salcedo or Legaspi’s Your Local. Don’t miss out on the much raved about Mendokoro Ramenba or the recently-opened Ooma Sushi Bar. Italian cuisine aficionados will delight in meals from La Grotta Cucina Italiana and Sicilian Roast by Giuseppe Genco, while Mexican food lovers will enjoy Lágrima.

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If you’re looking for something a little bit fancier, Smith Butcher & Grill Room, Stockton Place, Bondi & Bourke, or The Wine Club are worth trying. Of course, you shouldn’t miss out on the Salcedo Saturday Market and the Legaspi Sunday Market for artisanal meals and treats. It's a great place to buy fresh produce, too!


2. Lose Yourself in Great Music

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Long live OPM! From old school favorites like Parokya ni Edgar, Hale, and Up Dharma Down to name a few, to on-the-rise artists like Ben&Ben, IV of Spades, and Over October, among others, the country’s music scene just keeps getting better and better.

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Get your dose of Pinoy pride, sing along to classics, and discover new tunes when you catch gigs and enjoy an amazing lineup of performances. Rock out to good music over a beer or two at artsy space B-Side the Collective or at the house-turned-bar SaGuijo Cafe + Bar. Whether you’re at a music festival or just simply catching your favorite band, nothing can get more authentic than watching them at two of the metro’s most well-known music destinations!


3. Hop Around to Savor Different Flavors of Food and Drinks

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If it’s a laidback evening you’re looking to have, a night filled with dancing, or one making new friends, trust that you’ll find that and more at Poblacion! With its bars and restaurants just walking distance from each other, it brings a certain charm you won’t find in anywhere else.

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Sample a wide variety of yummy snacks and meals and pair them with craft beer and creative cocktails. Don’t miss out on The Social on Ebro’s Crosta Pizzeria, Wicked Dogs’ hotdog sandwiches, Wantusawa’s oysters, Tambai’s street food, and so many more!

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Once you’ve fueled yourself up for a night of fun, head over to Apartment or OTO for catch-ups with friends over drinks. If you’re one to dance the night away, Costa Rican-themed Pura Vida or Z Hostel’s rooftop bar might just be the place for you! Oh, and memorabilia-filled Filling Station Bar and Café makes for a great nightcap too.

RELATED: These Poblacion Personalities Share Insider Info on Makati's It-Place


4. Embrace the Inner Artist in You

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For those whose love for art goes beyond annual visits to Art in the Park and Art Fair Philippines, Makati’s art scene is one to not miss out on. With galleries spread throughout the city, it offers more than just a visual feast for art enthusiasts and those learning to appreciate the arts!

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Contemporary art lovers will recognize known artists and discover new ones as they browse through Finale Art File’s three galleries, international Art Fair participant The Drawing Room, or one of Southeast Asia’s leading galleries, Silverlens. Stay in the know when it comes to Bataan’s art scene with their satellite exhibition space, Bellas Artes Outpost. Whether it’s your first time or you’re a returning visitor, you’re always bound to learn a thing or two from their exhibits!


5. Whisk Yourself Off to Japan

Indulge in Japan’s well-loved cuisine in a setting that transports you right to their country—minus the costly plane ticket and the hassle of visa applications!

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Little Tokyo is the place for authentic Japanese food—so much so that their numerous restaurants specialize in their own dishes and delicacies. While Izakaya Kikufuji’s expertise lie in their gyu kaku (grilled wagyu sticks), Urameshi-ya Yakiniku Restaurant is known for their yakiniku buffet (read: unli wagyu cubes!). Okonomiyaki lovers can get their fill at Kagura, while Nodasho serves you the freshest sashimi you’ve ever tasted! Eat like a king when you feast on Seryna’s Saikoro steak, or head over to Yamazaki Bento for a satisfyingly filling meal that won’t break the bank. And when you’re done, grab a cup of Dojo Dairy’s unique ice cream flavors, or a drink or two at Bunchum’s.

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All contained within the same Japanese-style vicinity, their no-frills restaurants are all beside each other, so we wouldn’t blame you if you choose to go on a food trip here too!


6. Revisit History and Culture

When you’re in the mood for Philippine culture, tradition, and history, a full immersion is possible thanks to these two Makati museums!

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Situated within the city’s shopping district is the Ayala Museum. Wander through six floors of archeological exhibits on the country’s history and culture. If you’re lucky, you might even get the chance to attend an event, catch a show, or see their occasional displays of international collections.

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Still with the business district is the Yuchengco Museum that commits to helping people appreciate historic and modern art. It also houses the art collection of Ambassador Alfonso T. Yuchengco, while celebrating his career and sharing his advocacy. Indeed, any day is a good day to learn something new and reconnect with our past.


7. Treat Yourself to Some (Cheap) Retail Therapy

When you’re in the mood for a little shopping spree, practically every corner you turn to is a mall waiting to be conquered. But when you’re looking for cheap thrills, Makati Cinema Square is where all the fun is at!

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With rows and rows of one-of-a-kind finds, these ukay-ukay outlets have become a hub for very affordable shopping. Bargain hunters, fashionistas, and trendsetters will get their fill of excitement as the mall houses several stores. And while they may all look alike, thanks to their no-frills signs, packed racks, and plastic hangers, we’re almost sure that no two thrift shopping hauls will ever be alike!


8. Embark on a Culture Trip to Europe

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Getting in touch with the world’s different cultures doesn’t necessarily mean whisking yourself away to lands far and wide. Just a car ride’s away from each other are these European culture hubs that will give you more than just a little taste of what their countries have to offer—minus the long hours in transit!

While these centers offer language classes to have you speaking like a local, they host a bunch of cultural events, movie screenings, and socials (sometimes even for free!) to have you feeling like the citizen of the world.

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If you’re looking for something avant-garde, head over to Alliance Française de Manille. For when you want your knowledge on Italy to go beyond gelato and various kinds of pasta, make your way to Società Dante Alighieri Manila. Instituto Cervantes de Manila is your go-to for all things Spanish, while Goethe Institut Philippinen is bound to give you a full German immersion. Don’t forget to check out their websites to stay updated on their events and socials!


9. Reconnect with Yourself and with Nature

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With its tall clusters of buildings and many infrastructures, it surely lives up to being compared to the concrete jungle. But despite the greys you think you’ll see all over, refreshing sights of greens are to be found in the city as well.

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Whether your goal is to meditate and find inner peace, go on a picnic with friends, or simply just bask in beautiful scenery with a good book in hand, you need not go far. For a place to chill before or after a hearty meal, Ayala Triangle Gardens might just be the one for you—it houses a row of quality restaurants to sate a multitude of cravings. A peaceful walk at Washington SyCip Park to clear your mind is always a good idea. It has beautifully decorated paths, a gazebo, and even small fountains! Salcedo’s Jaime Velasquez Park has become a favorite for children and dogs especially in the afternoon. It’s where the Salcedo Saturday Market is held, too.


10. Celebrate a Day or Week's Worth of Hard Work

No matter what kind of night out you’re looking for, trust that this city will and can provide just what you need.

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For a turnt night out with dancing to great music and making new friends, old favorite Black Market by the B-Side group is still the place to be! Dive bar Finders Keepers right inside it is your one-stop spot for curated cocktails, draft beers, and the hottest tunes. Belle & Dragon can be your go-to pub for great food paired with even greater drinks—plus, they’ve got quiz night and trivia nights every so often, too! Oh, and did you know they have a secret whisky bar that lets you enter through a closet called Mandalay?

Speaking of secret bars, behind Lazy Bastard’s wooden door lies arguably one of the most popular ones, ABV or Alcohol by Volume—a speakeasy bar for intimate conversations over quality drinks. Remember, you must know the password to enter! On to more secrets, Salcedo Village's tucked away 78-45-33 is your posh after work go-to for masterfully crafted cocktails, mouthwatering truffle popcorn, and high quality tunes—did we mention it's named after the rotations per minute of vinyl records?


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About Maia
Maia’s passions in life are to travel and tell stories. Born in the States and raised in Manila while having studied in France, her ultimate goal is to travel all countries of the world. While she’s not abroad, she spends time tanning at the beach, exploring the underwater world or chilling with her 14 dogs. Follow her adventures on her Instagram @maiawillseetheworld.

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