Digital Nomad Philippines: 5 Ultimate Reasons Why Makati is the Best City

Digital Nomads Philippines: 5 Ultimate Reasons Why Makati is the Best City

In this Digital Nomad Philippines Guide, we go through the reasons why Makati is the best city in the Philippines for long-term travelers.

People who visit the Philippines for its pristine beaches and islands often avoid its capital, Manila, for various reasons due to safety, congestion and cost, but these generalisations come without fully understanding the geography of the capital of the Philippines.

There are areas in Metro Manila that are well developed and suitable for digital nomads, such as Bonifacio Global City, Ortigas, or Makati. The latter is the one we know best as it’s where we were based for more than a year. Makati has a Singapore-looking Central Business District with high condominium towers, world class restaurants, a renowned nightlife and shiny shopping malls. This Digital Nomad Philippines Guide will provide reasons and free maps that digital nomads in Makati can use for coworking, eating out, and partying.

Digital Nomads in Makati will never get bored

Makati is a city that is very alive. No matter what time of the day, you can always find something happening in this town. It has small affordable restaurants, international cuisine, and a mix of cultures. The city also has a thriving party scene.

Poblacion is the best known neighborhood for going out.
It is a mix of high end rooftop bars but also cheap drinks and great live music if you know where to look. There are many places we can recommend in the area. Don Pedro Street is a busy party arteria in Poblacion, but bars are to be found everywhere in the neighborhood.

We’ve narrowed them down for you in this Digital Nomad Philippines Guide:

Beyond Poblacion, there are other nice spots such as Belle and Dragon (Greenbelt) (also where they have the famous Quiz Night), Black Market (San Lorenzo) and 20:20 (San Lorenzo).

Digital Nomads in the Philippines will not have language barriers

Almost everyone in the Philippines speaks English. It is actually one of the country’s official languages. All signs are in English and people generally speak the language very well. Meeting new people and doing things on your own has never been easier in Asia.

People also speak Tagalog (the other official language in the Philippines) aside from English. Other dialects are spoken all over the 7,000 islands of the archipelago.

In addition to speaking multiple languages, Filipinos are very hospitable. The language barrier can be really strong in countries like Japan, China or Vietnam for instance, which makes it difficult to befriend locals. 

The Philippines seems to solve this issue. It makes it a lot more easier for digital nomads in Manila, Makati or the country as a whole, who don’t speak the language and can’t invest time in learning it, especially when their stay is temporary.

That being said, it’s always nice to learn a few words of Tagalog, such as “Salamat” (thank you), “Kuya/Ate” (Brother/sister when respectively addressing to someone) and “Kamusta” (How are you?).

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Overall Low Cost of Eating Out in Manila

Digital Nomads Philippines: 5 Ultimate Reasons Why Makati is the Best City
Street side barbecue in Makati

The cost of eating out is still low, even though it can be cheaper in other places in Southeast Asia. You can get meals for 2 dollars or less. we’d highly suggest getting Filipino food whenever you can, as fast food and international cuisine can be either unhealthy or a bit more expensive.

Another tip to eat affordable are the food courts of shopping malls, where you can get meals for 100-150 php (Philippine Peso), which is about 2 to 3 dollars.

Here are some of our top picks for affordable restaurants:

Many Cafés and Coworking Spaces for Digital Nomads in Makati

While Makati isn’t at the level of Bangkok or Saigon when it comes to remote work culture, it is still possible to find places to get some work done. From a simple café with wifi to coworking spaces, you’ll find a places that fit your needs if you like to work in a social environment.

It’s important to note that you’ll find a lot of chain cafés (Starbucks, Seattle’s Best, Krispy Kreme to name a few), but that not all of them are suitable to work at, as their wifi can be spotty.

In this Digital Nomad Philippines Guide, our best picks in Makati (with reliable internet and good atmosphere) include:

Digital Nomad Philippines Visa: Flexible Extension Policy

In addition to providing a 30 days visa on arrival for most countries, there is a possibility to extend it at the local immigration office in Makati, which is very convenient if you want to stay here for more than a month without having to fly somewhere and back. With one of us being Belgian, we would simply visit the Makati Extension Office and extend our stay every 30 days.

The cost of a 1 month tourist visa extension is about PHP 3,200  (about 45 EUR or 50 dollars). While it isn’t cheap, it’s definitely more affordable than planning a trip to go on a visa run outside of the Philippines.

You’ll find more information on the Official Immigration Office Website and below is the location of the Makati Extension Office.

Digital Nomad Philippines: A Look into the Disadvantages

Despite the perks listed above, Makati is (far) behind on certain points

Digital Nomads Philippines: 5 Ultimate Reasons Why Makati is the Best City
A Jeepney, an iconic form of public transportation in Manila

While it is an attractive city in the ways listed above, Makati and Metro Manila also come with some disadvantages people should be aware of:

  • Safety
    Safety is one thing to consider when you walk around. The city is booming, has quickly become gentrified, but its impressive condominium towers also hide shanty houses, poverty and street crime. It’s not exactly dangerous but we have experienced our things being stolen so take extra attention with your belongings and trusting overly friendly people too quickly. You will also notice security agents everywhere – malls, shops and buildings.

    Our tip: To protect your belongings, use zipped pockets or a secured fanny pack.

  • Traffic and Transportation
    It is simply worse than Bangkok during rush hour. If you want to get somewhere, Grab and taxis remain quite affordable but will most likely be in high demand, especially during the rainy season. The lack of reliable and efficient public transportation pushes people to keep their cars. As a result, being a pedestrian or a cyclist isn’t really appealing.

    Our tip
    : Avoid rush hour when using Grab. It will be quicker and the fares will be lower.

  • The Internet
    It is unfortunately the slowest we have experienced in Southeast Asia (especially for mobile data). It doesn’t mean good internet isn’t available, as Fiber internet has progressively spread in the high end neighborhoods, such as Rockwell, Greenbelt or Legazpi Village. A good tip would be to plan in advance where you are going to stay and work.

    Our tip
    : If you decide to book an Airbnb, ask your host to perform a speed test before booking. A pocket wifi can also be useful, as well as prepaid plans with two carriers (just to be safe).

  • Eating Healthy and Grocery Shopping:
    Even if diverse and affordable, the food in Makati isn’t exactly healthy. It feels like the Philippines is a bit Americanized, and you’ll feel it when you want to eat out. There are a lot of fast foods chains and restaurants in shopping malls that outnumber the fresh street food we found in Vietnam for instance.

    Street food exists, but it mostly consists of stalls. Fish balls, coconut juice, fried bananas and grilled meat sticks are some of the food you can buy on the streets of Makati. Buying fresh products at the supermarket can be costly.

  • Affordable monthly apartment rentals are hard to find
    While you won’t have issues renting monthly in Bali, Bangkok or Saigon, Makati is a bit more tricky if you want to find a bargain. Airbnb prices are quite expensive, depending on your location. Your best bet is to find a local listing that accepts month to month leases. We’d recommend the areas of Poblacion or San Lorenzo for instance.

    Our tip
    : Good platforms to search on are Lamudi or Craigslist. Some hotels also offer monthly rates.

Conclusion: Makati is the best pick for Digital Nomads in the Philippines

Far from being a digital nomad hub, Makati is still the best city for digital nomads in the Philippines, thanks to its amenities, food scene, friendly people and interesting nightlife.

While the internet and traffic situation cannot be ignored, it’s just something to be aware of before you come. After all, travelling is about getting out of your comfort zone.

We would also recommend Makati to those who plan to visit different islands of the Philippines and still want to keep a base.

Have you ever visited Makati or Metro Manila during your stay in the Philippines? If you have questions or stories related to this Digital Nomad Philippines Guide, we’d love to hear from you in the comments below!  

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12 thoughts on “Digital Nomad Philippines: 5 Ultimate Reasons Why Makati is the Best City”

  1. Now I am going to have to admit, despite being a geography buff but never been to the Philippines, I have never heard of Makati. Only the capital and all those romantic and stunning places in the other parts of the countries. By the sounds of it, this city is much more relaxed and slightly cheaper than the capital and properly safer. If I was going to be a digital nomad (doubt it now as I got two young children and a very good job at present in London) I dont know if I would want to stay here. I would want to be by the ocean as I wanna get away from the urban lifestyle. But can understand why digital nomads would consider Makati as a base.

    1. It’s simply because Makati is a city part of the Metro Manila itself, Danik 🙂 You are absolutely right, the Philippines beaches and islands are way more appealing than the capital if one was to travel there on holiday, but some people are looking for a mix of both and Makati isn’t too far away from the airport. Things might change in the future as islands get more developed and could make perfect bases as well.

  2. I have never been to the Philippines, but Makati does sound like a perfect place for a longer term stay as a base when visiting the other islands too. It’s good to know that most people speak English fairly well, and that the cost of food is quite inexpensive. Two very important factors when budget traveling!

  3. Philippines is definitely one of the places where I really want to spend a lot of time. The natural beauty of the country is so so impeccable and it has mesmerized me. I am hoping to atleast go on a month long trip if not longer. As you mentioned, Manila is definitely not a place that I’d prefer to stay. Good to know about the one month easy visa extension. Its super cool to know that English is widely spoken, definitely makes things easier for international travelers.

  4. That Jeepney looks from another world. It must be fun to use that. The street food looks quite delicious. It is so nice to know that most people speak English. It must makes the visit more relaxed. But picking up some local phrases would be nice too.

    1. It’s quite fun indeed to take the Jeep but not really practical (you have to learn their routes, know the fare, etc). It’s more enjoyable to ride it outside of Metro Manila!

  5. Makati sounds like Jakarta, where you can find slum area in between the tall buildings. You know where the good areas are, and which areas are best to avoid. But I think the cost of food in Makati are still cheaper than Jakarta. If the local authorities can fix the internet problem, I would think Makati will be the next digital nomad hub in Southeast Asia.

  6. Great insight for finding good areas in Makati. It’s always good to hear from someone who has some local knowledge and can tell you the best places. We are not digital nomads but this was very helpful and I will definitely bookmark this page for my future trips. Post pandemic we are hoping to able to travel to Philippines.

  7. I am in the lookout of some cities where I can go live for a long term and work off the internet. Its a shame that Makati is one of those that has the slowest internet, so that gets ruled out for me and another aspect I am looking for is safety and if there are things that are getting stolen then looks like I need to seach for some other place.

    1. We hope the cons of the Metro Manila didn’t scare you too much, Raksha! Good internet is there (Fiber optic), it’s just not widely spread. As for safety, it depends on where you go and how careful you are. I personnaly feel way safer in Manila than in the suburbs of Paris.

  8. Thank you for this! As a Phillipino myself I love when people around the globe give themselves the chance to explore a vibrant and beautiful city like Manila! Hope more and more people get to go there and take the amazing advantages, adventures and people that it has to offer.

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