If you are staying in Metro Manila, some people will say that you should stay in Malate in Old Manila. I do not and can not recommend this. I would strongly suggest that you do not stay there if you are a single woman! The problem with Malate is its crime and poverty. When those two mix, you have a recipe for trouble and lots of it.
I am from Manila. I know the city. I know where to go and not go. I know that one street can be safe and the two streets beside it can be dangerous. It is just the nature of life in Metro Manila. You can go from the developed world to the developing world by walking a block in the wrong direction. It is what it is.
The thing about the Malate area is it was once a happening place. During the Commonwealth period, it was the center of business and it was really nice. I have seen some old pictures (that I will put at the bottom of this article). However, in the last 50 years, it has become a gathering place for crime, prostitution, and poverty.
It is what it is. No one likes what it has become but that doesn’t change it.
Malate has become the red light district
Alot of older white men that can’t get laid in their own country come to Malate to get what they came for: sex. Filipinos have opened shady restaurants and bars to cater to that in Malate as well. They like Malate because the area is run down so the rent will be cheaper. Today, there is whole streets that have nothing but these shady bars and restaurants.
I would say the whole area between Roxas Blvd (Old Dewey) and Taft and between United Nations and Quizon is a no go for the decent tourist that is looking to have some clean, wholesome fun while in Manila.
The bigger issue that Malate has become a bedrock for human trafficking and many of these girls are sex slaves to pimps in the area. Few of these girls have any roots to Manila. Many of these were victims of Typhoon Yolanda. Some of them are as young as twleve.
It gets even worse in some cases. I have seen fathers pimping out their own daughters for money. It is wrong. It is sick. It is happening. I do not like it. I would hope you do not like it, either.
All in all, I think staying in Malate in Manila is a moral choice more than a financial choice. You can find better places to stay for close to the same price and same distance from the airport without being funding human trafficking in the process.
In the end, Malate is not safe; there is not much there to do, and most people that go there; it is for all the wrong reasons. The people run from the cameras for a reason.
If not Malate, make it Makati!
If you are looking for a safer, more clean time; I highly recommend going to Makati, the business center of the Philippines. This is where the middle and upper class come to play. Better restaurants, better night life, and better locals all are waiting on your arrival. You can still find pretty cheap places to stay too. (I have found a place for as little as $5 before)
You can stay at the hostels along Makati Ave and you are walking distance to A-Venue, the upscale night market and drinking hole of Makati that is alive every night of the week unless there is a tropical storm over Metro Manila. On the weekends, you can also walk down to Glorietta where there a even nicer night market that are US beef and tacos and the like.
One of the great things about staying in Makati is you do not have the safety issues that you would have in Old Manila. You can relax a little and just have a great time without worrying about the crime and the poverty. I am not saying it doesn’t happen in Makati, just not as bad.
With that said, you will see some beggers in Makati because that is where the money is. They are mostly the Muslims from Mindanao coming up and believe it or not, there is travelers out on the street begging. I find it crazy myself, but I have seen it more than once in Makati. Such as life, I guess.
Makati is closer to the airport
One thing many consider is how close they are to the airport. According to Google Maps, Makati is three kilometers closer than Malate. When you have a very early flight, you don’t want to fight the traffic to get to the airport. Even as a local, I hate the Roxas Blvd traffic!
Another thing about staying in Makati is if you are traveling light, you do not even need a taxi to take you. All you need to do is jump on the MRT (Lightrail) and take it to Taft (2-3 stops from Makati) and litterally walk down the stairs to the shuttle to the airport. You just got to the airport for less than a $1.50! Oh, the shuttle will drop you right off at the door at Terminal 3!
Disclaimer: I am a resident of Makati
I think it is important that I come out and say that I might be a little bias to Makati. I am a resident of the city and I am a tax payer here as well. However, I believe my opinion was factual. Things in the city just work. We are the most developed city in the country and we make sure it remains that way.
I am not beyond admitting that I could have let my personal feelings make some of my advice lead toward Makati. Just my little disclaimer.
Now, the pictures of Old Malate