Surprise, surprise! Shopping is actually good in Manila! During my Resorts World Manila familiarisation trip, they brought us to see three different areas, which I will summarize for you here:
1. GREENHILLS - budget buys.
If cheap deals are your thrill, indulge in pasar-malam (night market) style bargain-hunting! This is one of the complexes at Greenhills. Inside, it's one long giant hive of stalls. Wear comfy walking shoes.
This is the land of cheap tees. Would you still go Threadless when you see printed tees for just PHP150 (US$3.50)? And you can still bargain down the prices! I didn't have the heart to. A lot of the stallholders are poor folks trying to make a living, we are told.
So much stuff here - clothes, bags, shoes, Angry Birds...lots of imitation brands. There is also a section dedicated to gadgets, IT accessories. Greenhills is kinda like Gmarket but IRL!
Of course there are food items.
All manner of dried goods and snacks. But somehow I didn't pick up anything here.
Some home decoration items. They even have religious artifacts (I did not take photos of those).
It used to be that they hawked traditional handcrafted or "Made in Philippines" goods. But now, a lot of the products come from China. They can't beat the cost.
Surrounding this huge complex are side malls with boutiques, small shops and restaurants. Get your barongs (traditional Pinoy outfit) here.
2. GREENBELT - high-end spending
Located right in the heart of Makati, at the Ayala Center, Greenbelt is a shopping mall with higher-end luxury goods. It has five sections, named Greenbelt 1-5.
All your LV, Gucci, Prada brands are here. But they are more expensive here than in Singapore, so check prices before you buy.
We crossed over to The Landmark, which is like a regular shopping mall. I don't know, but this bridge reminds me of Bangkok somehow.
There is a huge foodcourt at Landmark which looked interesting, but we scoured the supermarket instead to look at local goods. It's really huge and astounding. Guess what we found?
JUNK FOOD GALORE! Oh, my god! Walls of it! This is a junk food haven. And it's all so cheap! Most of them are less than a dollar!
Upon leaving, we caught sight of a cute jeepney! There are all kinds in Manila, but this one was the most cheery one I've seen.
3. MALL OF ASIA - everything under one roof!
This is the Philippines' largest mall, and the world's third largest. It is a low-rise sprawling campus of all kinds of brands. Yes, all the ones we have in Singapore (Mango, Zara, Gap, Muji, and even Gong Cha) and then some! Alvin and I bought stuff from Terranova which was having a sale (up to 70%).
And guess what these are?
Hermit crabs! For sale as pets! Will they take over pet rocks in popularity? However, I'm really not sure about allowing people to keep them as pets though. Do we really know how to take care of them?
Oh man, my kids will never leave this place! There's also an indoor ice-skaing rink.
If you're looking for affordable souvenirs, try Kultura. Good variety and non-rip-off prices. Interestingly, the shop staff broke into a dance at a certain time in the evening. It sure livened up the place!
Well, I had to buy an extra bag to bring home all my loot (mainly snacks!). This foldable bag cost PHP450 (about US$10) from Greenhills.
So, while I haven't found many good eats yet, I was pleased to see that Manila is quite a viable destination for shopping.