Manila is a vibrant city where business and pleasure merge seamlessly. As any Manila travel guide will tell you, shopping in Manila is one of the many “must-dos” in this dynamic city. You can find just about anything and everything here with its countless swanky malls, bargain centers, flea markets, and trade expos. In Manila, shopping is both a necessity and a pastime. Hundreds of thousands of Filipinos flock to the malls everyday to shop, relax, dine, and play. It is no wonder then why 6 out of the 25 largest malls in the world are found in the Philippines, 4 of which are located in Manila.
Shopping malls here are like miniature cities. They come complete with supermarkets and department stores, theaters, spas and wellness hubs, amusement complexes, churches and religious centers, and in some cases skating rinks, all while being fully air-conditioned. The SM Group of Malls, a family-owned conglomerate, currently holds the most number of malls in the Philippines. Among its biggest are SM City North EDSA (currently the biggest in the country and third in the world), Mall of Asia (located along the Manila Bay), and SM Megamall (in Ortigas Center). Another family-owned chain of malls, the Robinsons Malls, also has a handful all over Metro Manila, including Robinsons Ermita (near Malate) and Robinsons Galleria (also in Ortigas). The Ayala family has a number of malls in Manila as well, like the posh Greenbelt Center, Glorietta Malls, and the Landmark (all in Ayala, Makati), as well as Market! Market! (at The Fort, Taguig).
If malls are not your thing, you can always head out to Bonifacio High Street in Taguig for an outdoor stroll, dining, and shopping experience. Patterned after London’s High Streets, shops and restaurants are lined up in rows. As an added bonus, kids, and even pets, can play in its sprawling child-friendly grounds. Located in the upscale neighborhood of The Fort, Bonifacio High Street even houses clubs and bars, perfect for an after-shopping drink or two.
If upscale shopping complexes and upmarket malls do not tickle your fancy – or your budget – then it’s time to head out to Manila’s bargain centers. The metro is home to a number of flea markets and bargain hubs where locals and tourists can haggle on prices of just about any merchandise under the sun. While haggling is uncommon in malls, it is the practice in wholesale and retail centers in Manila, including Divisoria (the most popular), 168 Mall, Tutuban, Tiendesitas (very pet-friendly), and Greenhills Shopping Center. For electronics, particularly cameras, head out to Hidalgo Street and Binondo for the best deals. Do not be afraid to haggle to get the best deal for your money.
Manila also has a number of weekend lifestyle, food (usually healthy and organic), and alternative merchandise markets. These include Salcedo Market (open on Saturdays, 7 am to 2 pm), Mercato Centrale (open on weekend mornings until 2 pm), and Midnight Mercato (open Fridays and Saturdays, 10 pm to 3 am). There’s also Distrito Night Market (open Wednesdays to Fridays, 9 pm to 3 am) and Banchetto (venue usually changes, also open at night). These flea-market type venues are just perfect for food shopping.
There are just so many fun things to do in Manila, shopping first and foremost. After an all-day spree, this travel guide suggests that you head back to your Manila hotel to freshen up and rest for another day of sightseeing or, if budget still allows, shopping in Manila.