Even more than other Southeast Asian capitals, Manila is a city of contrasts. And never are those contrasts more acute than in Makati, home to sleek skyscrapers, high-end malls, and slick hotels. But Makati has historical appeal as well, with highlights including Saint Peter and Paul Parish Church, dating to 1620, and the Manila American Cemetery.
You don’t need a tour to explore Makati, although a set of wheels will come in handy, as this is a large, sprawling district. One very Filipino way to experience Makati is by hanging out in malls—the Ayala Center alone offers three, as well as a museum.
Most Makati tours check off the key sights in half a day or visit the area as a stop on a more general Manila tour. Historical Manila tours may visit the American cemetery or one or more of Makati’s churches.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Shoppers, pop culture fans, and anyone who likes fine dining or fine drinking will enjoy Makati.
- When navigating Makati on foot, expect to spend a lot of time on walkways above street level.
- On a clear day, a sunset cocktail in a rooftop bar is a great way to appreciate Makati.
- Most malls and upscale restaurants in Makati are wheelchair-friendly, and this is probably the easiest part of Manila to appreciate when traveling with a disability.
How to Get There
Though it’s possible to drive and malls provide easy parking, gridlock during Manila’s lengthy rush hours makes public transit a more popular option. And getting to Makati by public transit is easy: Just ride the MRT (Metro Rail Transit) to Ayala station on Line 3.
When to Get There
If sundowners form part of your Makati plan, aim to arrive at the rooftop bar between 5pm and 6pm, depending on the time of year; arriving by 5pm should enable you to beat the evening rush hour. Malls are at their busiest on weekends, which can make them particularly entertaining for the traveler in search of local color.
Makati and Ayala
Manila was pretty much flattened during World War II, leaving opportunities for wealthy Filipino families. One such dynasty was the Ayala family, who built Makati almost out of nothing: Makati Avenue and Ayala Avenue were the runways of the city’s old airports. Today, the Ayala group is worth billions of dollars and remains family owned; attractions from museums to shopping centers as well as streets and stations bear their name.