Thinking that you’ll be priced out in Makati? Then choose a place away from its soaring skyscrapers. Enjoy a unique, down-to-earth charm in one of the city’s more affordable suburbs: Bangkal.
Named after a tree that was once numerous in the area, the barangay of Bangkal in Makati City is a primarily residential and commercial area. Yet while the neighborhood is known for its entrepreneurial character, don’t expect the usual malls here; Bangkal is populated mostly by many small- and medium-sized businesses. These come in the form of thrift shops selling antique furniture, automotive and bicycle stores, plus restaurants.
Since it’s also a residential area primarily catering to office workers who can’t afford the exorbitant rent in Makati CBD, most establishments here are budget friendly. Hence, staying in the area is not only suitable for backpackers; it’s also the best place to get a taste of the real Makati.
With its location near the Magallanes Interchange, the Bangkal neighborhood is easily accessible via public transportation. For starters, the Evangelista-Libertad jeepney route traverses the whole length of the barangay’s main street. Alternatively, you can also ride a bus along EDSA Southbound that’s heading to Mall of Asia or MIA, then just get off at Evangelista Street.
There are also two commuter rail stations within walking distance—the PNR Pasay Road and EDSA stations. From these two stations, all you need to do is to cross Osmena Highway, under the Metro Manila Skyway.
Apart from riding the Evangelista-Libertad jeepney, you can also ride a tricycle to reach your destination. These three-wheeled motorcycle-powered vehicles are the best way to navigate the area’s many side streets. Or just walk—the Bangkal area is not that big anyway.
Admittedly, due to its suburban character, there’s not much in the way of tourist attractions in Bangkal. So, why do people still go to this area? That’s because of the many antique shops and thrift stores that line Hizon Street. These primarily sell hard-to-find furniture, collectibles, even the occasional turntable or phonogram.
But those aren’t the only things that you can buy in Bangkal. The area also has a good number of bike stores and automotive parts outlets, many of which are located along its EDSA side. Hence, if you’re looking to quickly patch up or upgrade your ride, you can find the missing piece here.
Due to the proliferation of shops in the area, shopping is one of the most popular activities in Bangkal. But that’s not the only thing you can do here, as the area is also home to a good selection of budget restaurants. And once you’re done with both, you can always explore the rest of Makati City, which is only a few minutes away via public transportation. From here, you can easily hop over to nearby Magallanes or even to the CBD itself for more tourist attractions and fun activities.
Other than the usual Filipino fast-food joints, there’s a whole number of really affordable eateries in the Bangkal area. First is Jolly Dopey at the corner of Evangelista and Cailles Streets, which serves a wide range of Filipino food plus sandwiches and pasta. Another option is Spare Strike, an open-air food spot also along Evangelista Street that’s best known for their tapsilog.
For a taste of the exotic, head over to Capitol Restaurant, located near the Bangkal Talipapa (market). The restaurant serves tapang kabayo (cured horse meat) and crispy ulo (deep-fried pork head). That said, they also serve up popular Chinese-style dishes.
While Bangkal once had a reputation of being a red-light district, this has largely changed in recent years. Hence, if you want to party the night away, better head to the Poblacion and Bel-Air sides of Makati. There are better, classier options there.
Being a more suburban part of Makati, don’t expect glitzy hotels in Bangkal. Most available accommodation choices here are in the form of long-term rentals, though there are a number of places available for shorter stays. These include boutique hotels such as AurumOne Makati and the Lorenzzo Suites Hotel. For those on a tighter budget, there’s the Seamen’s Boarding House, which as the name suggests was originally created as temporary lodging for seafarers.
Make sure to have cash on hand since most establishments here fall into the “small business” category.
Remember that Bangkal is not the poshest side of Makati; some areas may not have well-maintained sidewalks. Hence, wearing comfortable clothing and footwear is a must.
If you’re buying several items from a thrift shop, it won’t hurt to ask for a small discount. Who knows, you can end up saving a few hundred pesos on your purchase.