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Manila After Hours: Where to Have Good, Clean Fun As the City Sleeps

by Chinggay Labrador

As a self-confessed introvert, early bird, and homebody, I like staying away from Manila’s streets once the sun goes down.

When you’re dealing with traffic, work, the lack of parking spaces, and a distaste for crowds, it’s just easier for someone like me to retreat into the comforts of home. Manila is a bustling city. Incredibly high density (just look at the MRT at rush hour), and filled with a sometimes incomprehensible mix of urban hotspots, residential neighborhoods, and malls on top of malls, the city can be difficult to navigate after hours, especially when you’re looking for good, clean fun.

On the flipside, it’s the chaos and traffic and the people that cram themselves into every nook and cranny the city has to offer that can make Manila fun once 10 PM (aka, my bedtime) strikes. With the BPO night shift crew filling the CBDs, the traffic that manages to jam up EDSA and C5 no matter what time of day (or night) it is, and the slew of people keeping the sidewalks and streets busy all the way up ‘til sunrise, you’re provided with a safety-in-numbers atmosphere wherever you go.

So for the non-drinkers, club non-enthusiasts, and purveyors of all things wholesome, here’s my way of sticking it out in our city as the moon waxes and wanes until the sun comes up again.

10:00 to 11:00 PM: Midnight Snack

INSTAGRAM: giipiigii and trudismalana

If I know I’m going to stay up ‘til sunrise, I’m going to want to fill my system up with some energy (read: food). And nothing’s more effective at literally greasing me up than an honest-to-goodness diner. Sure, P. Burgos may not be the epitome of good, clean fun, but I promise, amidst the girly bars, Filling Station is a gleaming beacon of burgers, fries, and milkshakes. So what if you’re surrounded by folks curing hangovers and beating a beer buzz? This 24-hour diner’s Americana vibe will transport you right to Pop Tate’s at Riverdale or the Peach Pit in 90210.

Filling Station
5012 P. Burgos Street, Poblacion, Makati
(02) 897 2053, (02) 899 5555

11:00 PM to 1:00 AM: Movie

INSTAGRAM: journell_canezal

I try to avoid the cinemas especially during blockbuster season, especially at peak hours. The theaters are packed, the floor gets dirty, and the inevitable phone-ringing happens 9 out of 10 times. Hence, the appeal of an all-nighter theater—not only do you get to score prize seats, you can watch your movie in peace. These cinemas have last full shows that start after 11 PM, offering you a chance to score some silver screen silence in the wee hours of the morning.

Newport Cinemas
Resorts World Manila
Newport Boulevard, Newport City, Pasay
(02) 908 8888

Uptown Mall Cinema
11th Avenue, Uptown Mall, BGC, Taguig
(02) 869 9029

1:00 AM to 2:00 AM: Gym

INSTAGRAM: harvchua

Now that the burgers and fries have managed to settle into my belly, it’s time to get moving. What I like most about Anytime Fitness is its anytime component (naturally), and that it’s literally everywhere in the city. I can change into my most threadbare workout tee and my most embarrassing pair of joggers and get on that rowing machine without worrying about embarrassing myself in front of other gym goers. Out of all the times I’ve actually gone into an Anytime Fitness off hours, I’ve never come across another insomniac exerciser—which is a good thing.

2:00 AM to 3:30 AM: Spa

INSTAGRAM: jo__jai

What can be more relaxing than a spa session after the gym? Thanks to the Koreans, we’ve got a couple of Jjimjilbangs (Korean bathhouses) proliferating the city, giving us 24-hour access to massage rooms, heated and cool pools, wet and dry saunas, and snack bars that serve up Korean dumplings, noodles and rice cakes all hours.

If you’ve watched a Korean drama or two, you’ll know what I’m talking about—these spas are a popular destination if you want to hang with friends, relax by your lonesome, and aren’t afraid about stripping down to your birthday suit to dip into the pools.

New Lasema Spa Jjimjilbang
8846 Sampaloc Street corner Estrella St., San Antonio Village, Makati
(0995) 783 0094

3:30 AM to 4:30 AM: Chill

INSTAGRAM: ivanhomd

The good thing about hotels is that they’re open all hours. Manila Peninsula is a favorite of mine because it’s been around forever, and has always offered the same standard of service and quality. Their lobby is famous for its ice cream and high tea menus. But truthfully, at the crack of dawn, you’ll probably just want to order a nice pot of hot tea while you enjoy your surroundings and people watch.

The Lobby
Manila Peninsula
Corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues, Makati
(02) 887 8888

4:30 AM to 5:30 AM: Sunrise

INSTAGRAM: yndzn

It’ll be fun to head to the east side of the city to catch the sunrise. While Manila Bay is famous for its blazing sunsets, not a lot of people trek all the way to Lower Antipolo to catch the sunrise. I love a good road trip, especially during off hours when you’ve got a better chance at clear roads.

With a little more planning, you can even book a room at St. Moritz Swiss Inn by popular restaurant Vieux Chalet, so you can rest, freshen up, and get yourself situated before heading out to watch the sun greet the day.

St. Moritz Swiss Inn / Vieux Chalet
456 Taktak Road, Sitio Sampaguita
Brgy. Sta. Cruz, Antipolo City
(02) 697 0396

If I’m still up and ready to join the rest of civilization after this all-nighter, I’d count myself lucky. Most likely, post-sunrise will find me heading back home and into my favorite spot—my bed.

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About Chinggay
Chinggay Labrador is a freelance writer and published author. She also runs Practical Magic, a tarot business, which specializes in readings that aim to bring the magic of intuition together with practical, everyday guidance. When she’s not writing or slinging cards, Chinggay practices and teaches yoga and meditation, finds inspiration through travel, and bakes super fudge brownies. Find her on Instagram at @practical_magical and @superrrfudge.

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