It’s hot, sticky, crazy busy, and full of life! The gay Manila nightlife scene is not huge but has plenty of lively characters. Most visitors love the city for its trendy food, crazy entertainment, and of course bargain holiday shopping.
The Philippines is often referred to as one of Asia’s leading nations for LGBT rights and for gay life. The predominantly catholic religion of the Philippines has created some cultural challenges but the local community are pushing for rights and protections. The district of Malate was once the center of gay Manila, however, gentrification has pushed the gay scene out. Gay bars and clubs are now spread in small pockets across the city.
Manila is a diverse metropolis that blends the unique aspects of Filipino heritage with Spanish, American and Chinese cultures. Like most capital cities, life in Manila is unlike the rest of the country. While the city is modern and looks to be prospering, the rest of the country remains poor and in some parts underdeveloped. Parts of Manila can be sketchy, especially at night, so make sure to use your common sense.
Gay Manila’s scene has reduced in past years, and the city no longer has a gay village or center. The biggest gay bars in Manila are F Club and O Bar, and most of the bar and clubs are spread across the city. This makes bar hopping difficult, especially since Manila suffers from chronic traffic jams. Luckily, most of the bars are fun and lively, and are a great place to spend a night.
For a megacity, while the number of bars is small, the city packs a huge amount of character and spirit. If you can, check out Gay Manila during Pride weekend to see the city at its fullest and gayest.
Gay Manila has two main gay saunas. All gay saunas in Manila are private member clubs, so expect to pay around P200 ($6 USD) to join. Additionally bring at least two pieces of government-issued ID, such as a passport or driver’s license, for registration. It is important to note that gay saunas in Manila have been raided by the police in recent years with reports of patrons being arrested.
Looking for luxury at a bargain rate? Manila is a great city for booking 5-star hotels for international affordable rates. You can expect to pay as little as $100-150 USD for a night in a 5-star luxury hotel.
Many LGBT travelers choose Malate as the district for them, since it is walking distance from Manila’s main sights such as Baywalk and Roxas Boulevard. The financial district of Manila in Makati offers many great hotels, along with shopping malls and restaurants, and is convenient for travelling around the city.
A 2013 survey ranked the Philippines as the 10th most gay-friendly country in the world, and the highest-ranked in Asia, with 73% of respondents claiming homosexuality should be accepted. This reflects the country’s reputation for being remarkably gay-friendly, despite a devout Catholic population.
There are a few reasons for this, one of which being that Filipino indigenous cultures had a very progressive attitude to gender roles and sexual norms, which has survived to this day. Though gay marriage is not legal, the issue has been hotly debated in the government for years.
There is still some homophobia present in the country as a whole but, as the cosmopolitan capital, Manila presents no issues for gay travelers.
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