Passing through Manila is always a tricky proposition. In reality, one does not just “pass through” Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, as if it was a rest stop off of I95 in New Jersey. In fact, any length of stay in Manila – albeit it 4 hours or 4 day – takes a little piece of your soul and leaves an indelible mark, and not always in a good way!
I end up staying in Manila for a night or two several times a year, as it’s pretty much your only option if you’re flying in or out of the Philippines (Cebu does have some international flights). Sometimes, it even makes sense to fly to Manila from within the country to then catch a flight to your next island destination.
Manila is big, insanely crowded, chaotic, polluted, and even a mile-long trip can take you an hour in traffic (no lie!).
Therefore, you have to choose your hotel’s neighborhood and choice of recreation carefully.
As you probably know by now if you’ve been reading any reviews about the Philippines, I usually stay in Makati, the business and also nightlife capital of the city. When in Makati, there’s plenty of entertainment within walking distance – or stumbling distance to be more accurate, because it’s the neon circus nightlife that you’ll find.
While I’m not much of a partier these days, it is fun to catch a good meal at a vibrant resto-bar (instead of a more formal or stuffy eatery), watch a game at a sports bar, or even go out for a couple of cold pops in the evening.
And I just found a super cool new place in Makati to do just that – The Social. It’s more of an entertainment complex or district, as I’ve seen emerge as a new trend in nightlife, from the shipping container bar district of Siem Reap, Cambodia, to the bar avenue in Bantayan Island, Philippines.
But The Social takes it one step further, incorporating both. It’s shaped like an H with two-stories of small bars (really just kiosks) constructed around a long, square courtyard, where patrons can sit and drink or eat on numerous tables. It looks like each bar or establishment is independent, so you get a lot of different themes and flavors. Each little bar also has a window where you can order and a couple of small seats right in front of their place.
You can easily browse the offerings of each place in about five minutes by strolling around, and each person in your party can opt for a different drink or cocktail from a different site or all order from the same one.
They’ve also done a fantastic job with decorating The Social, too. It’s adorned with colored string lights hanging across the courtyard, colorful paper globes lit up and hanging periodically, big plants and ferns to semi-block off the street view and noise, even murals by local artists. It’s perfect to sit and chill with friends or just people watch on Manila evenings, and they’ve also accommodated their patrons with – my favorite – huge industrial-sized fans to keep it cool.
Check out The Social next time you’re in Makati!