Say goodbye to idle nights, and say hello to a plethora of choices for Philippines nightlife!
Everything from laser light discos, exclusive VIP clubs, karaoke bars, and underground music gastropubs can now be found in the Philippines nightlife scene. So whether you’re here to stay for just a weekend, or looking to spend years in the country, you’re bound to enjoy your stay if you know the right places.
Why experience the Philippines Nightlife?
#1 Friendly attitude towards foreigners. Filipinos are known to be hospitable people. Historically, it has had ties with the Spaniards, Americans, and the Japanese, making these races closest to the Filipino heart.
Before, everywhere foreigners go, they are often treated like celebrities and are also mildly expected to spend like one. But because of the thriving BPO industry nationwide, working-class Filipinos have encountered many expats almost every day in the workplace, thus seeing them more as peers. This may be slightly different in low-end establishments. But one thing remains the same: Filipinos love showing foreigners around!
#2 English-speaking nation. One of the advantages of partying in the Philippines is that most of the population is young and English-speaking. Even the poorest urban communities can accommodate tourists without a problem. In fact, expats can even navigate the entire country without ever touching a Filipino phrasebook. See more guides on how to backpack the Philippines.
#3 Unique beer and food. The Philippines is the place to enjoy a variety beverages such as flavored cocktails, craft beer, and homegrown coffee. A local drink to try is San Miguel Beer, simply called “San Mig”. It’s a Filipino beer brand that has become the Filipinos’ pride, and costs cheap at often $1-2 commercially. San Mig is particularly well-loved among the Japanese.
Aside from beer, there are many recognizable American fast food restaurants here, as well as international brands of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese cuisines inside the malls. For variety, try to go to Sunday food markets and nighttime food bazaars that offer unique flavors under one roof. Sampling street food is also a must. Our favorite pulutan or finger foods that go with beer are pork sisig, chicharon, calamares, liempo, or anything grilled.
#4 Love for KTV and live music. If you’re a frustrated singer, you’ll be happy to find that the karaoke machine is an indispensable element to Philippines nightlife. Saying Filipinos are fond of singing is an understatement, as they are known as world-class performers. Even the most remote islands devoid of electricity somehow have karaoke machines! But don’t worry about hitting the right notes. Letting go of your inhibitions by belting it out in the mic is the spirit.
In case you’re more of a listener, Filipino music played in bars are mostly in the rock and alternative genre. Because of the heavy Western influence, you can find that the performers also know the latest Billboard-topping music often played in the clubs. While concert events feature bigger acts from both of local and international artists, you can find popular local bands frequenting certain bars in the metro. Watch live performances or dance to other genres such as indie, reggae, or jazz.
Are you from the capital city? Read this more comprehensive Manila nightlife guide!
Things to Know about the Philippines Nightlife
#1 How to commute. Should you own a car in the Philippines, you’ll face the massive traffic that the cities are known for. But at least you’ll save yourself from the sweaty hustle of inner city commute. Otherwise, you can find a variety of public transportation to get from one place to the other.
In Metro Manila, the fastest way around the city is via the train stations of the MRT and the LRT. Note that it becomes tight during rush hours in the morning and in the afternoon. The last rides are usually at 10 PM as well, so do not expect that you can ride them later in the night.
Land transportation such as air-conditioned buses, vans, multicabs, and the local jeepney (fondly called “King of the Road”) are available nationwide. To navigate within inner alleys or more remote destinations, you can take a tricycle (motorcycles with side cars), habal-habal (back ride motorcyles), and pedicab (bike with side cars).
For convenience, expats often choose to ride taxi cabs. But a rule of thumb is to make sure that the taxi meter is on before proceeding. You can also use popular ride-sharing apps such as Uber or Grab.
#2 Best time to visit. Summer season is always the best time to experience the Philippines nightlife. During the months of March to May, people usually flock to party in the nearest beaches or city clubs. Friday nights and weeknights are often the days when the dance floor is packed.
Summer in the Philippines is also the time when universities have school break, so you can expect a younger crowd. You can also take note of the festivals all over the country because these are the great ways to experience not just the Philippines nightlife, but also its culture!
#3 Staying safe. Like most Southeast Asian countries, safety in the Philippines on the street level can be a cause of concern. You must have a degree of vigilance for petty crimes such as theft and pickpocketing.
When out and about, keep your valuables such as your wallet and smartphones secure in case you have one too many drinks. Try to avoid wearing eye-catching and expensive items such as watches, jewelry, and gadgets.
Want more tips? Here’s how you can have a safe travel in the Philippines.
#4 Dress codes. The Philippines nightlife is the perfect excuse to dress up. You’ll never know if you’ll meet your future partner here or rub elbows with celebrities!
Many dance clubs disallow guests from wearing of slippers and sleeveless shirts for men. But most city gastropubs, have a dress code-free hangout. Whatever you’re wearing, be presentable and stay comfortable!
The Rest of the Philippines: Nightlife Destinations
Metro Manila is the best place to find a wide array of entertainment and nightlife options. Each of the cities have their unique personalities that you can identify yourself with. Here you can find the biggest superclubs, concerts of the most popular stars, and just about any genre of music with accompanying communities! The Manila nightlife is another topic in itself, so do read that section too!
Meanwhile, it pays to discover some of the nightlife to find outside of the capital city. Outside of Metro Manila, you can still find nightlife and even red light districts. You’ll find that former US military bases and world-famous beaches have attracted a throng of expats looking to party and enjoy the night.
#1 Metro Manila. Because the capital city is another story in itself, check out my separate post about Manila nightlife.
#2 Angeles City. Interestingly named, Angeles nightlife is brimming with clubs and “AGogo” bars that attract many expats looking for some serious adult entertainment. It’s been dubbed as the “sin city” of the Philippines because of the rampant sex working. Compared to Manila, tourists can find less inhibition in Angeles City, as if nothing here is impossible.
#3 Boracay Island. Considered the Philippines’ official party island, you can find a handful touristy bars and nightclubs along the white-sand beaches of Boracay. The entire island never seems to sleep!
Bars often host live music and parties featuring the coolest DJs with crowds from all over the world. Booze also flows freely through the night. The best time to go here is on January, in time for the Ati-Atihan Festival in Aklan where the Boracay nightlife last for more than a week.
#4 Cebu City. Located the Visayas Region, the Queen City of the South is famous for its historical and cultural value. But in the recent years, it’s also famous for Mactan Island and Cebu City nightlife, luxury hotels, and casinos near the beautiful beaches.
For clubbing in Cebu, the Ayala Entertainment Center and Cebu IT Park are your best bet, having multiple pubs and restaurants where the younger and more affluent crowd goes. For your dose of adult entertainment, the sports bars, GoGo bars, and nightclubs are found in Mango Avenue.
One of the best times to experience Cebu is also on the third week in January for the Sinulog Festival. The party swells into the streets, where it’s all about loud music, colorful paint, and chanting, “Pit Señor!” By nighttime, the bars are filled with Cebuanos and foreigners dancing the night away.
#5 Davao City. Though paling in comparison with most cities, Davao nightlife is the best you can find in Mindanao. You can find music bars and nightclubs here, albeit with very few options to choose from. This may be attributed to alcohol control and curfew imposed in the city, forbidding the sale and consumption of alcohol in public spaces by midnight. Still, you’ll can try the local night markets and KTV bars!
If you’re an expat looking to discover the Philippines beyond tropical islands, massive malls, and natural wonders, take this guide with you. Go to the club or pub nearest you to relax and mingle with the locals. You’ll soon find there’s nothing like the Philippines nightlife anywhere in the world!