I just got back from a week's trip to Manila and if there is one thing I learn, it's that Manila is a shopping haven. For me, when I travel, I don't usually shop at malls with stores that I can find in my own country. Having said that, I am only willing to shop cheap. I mean, why should I pay $30 over for a dress in Manila if I'll be paying that same amount in Singapore, right? So strictly, I make sure whatever I pay for in Manila, it's a price I can't get back at home.
Moving on! Here is my personal top 3 cheap shopping places in Manila:
1) Divisoria, namely, the street stalls and 168 mall
This, is the mother of all shopping place. This is like shopper's paradise 101. You name it, they got it. I could walk a whole day there and still not complete the entire area. Imagine Havaianas at 50 pesos (SGD1.60) each, a chiffon pleated dress at 250 pesos, a Marvel superhero t-shirt at 100 pesos, flats at 150 pesos each, the list goes on. In fact, I don't even remember seeing anything that costs more than 300 pesos. Surprisingly, the apparels are pretty much up-to-date with current fashion trends. The only downside is the crowd (obviously). Not much bargaining or haggling needed because most of the stuffs have the prices already displayed on them.
To get there: Take a train to Recto station (15 pesos) and lookout for jeepneys with the word Divisoria on their route signage. That should cost you about 8 pesos.
I spent about two hours here and only managed to cover like half of the entire place. It's air-conditioned so that makes shopping more pleasant as compared to those in Divisoria. But of course, the prices are slightly higher, albeit still cheap. Quite a number of stalls sell knock-off bags (Chanel, LV, and the likes) and shoes (Vans, Nike, etc.). The shoes were going at about 400 pesos or SGD13. Bargaining is a must. By the way, I hate to bargain mostly because I seriously suck at it. Those satchel bags in the last picture were going at a flat price of 600 pesos and I thought they were awesome. I haven't seen satchels with those kind of prints in Singapore yet. Anyway, if you're curious, I didn't buy any.
3) Quiapo Market
Located right by Quiapo Church, this market is an in-between of Divisoria and Greenhills. The stuffs aren't as dirt cheap as Divisoria, but at the same time, not as expensive as Greenhills. The range of products are quite extensive too. Apparels, shoes, toys, bags, baby products, and more. I bought a pair of red Vans for 300 pesos, down from 380 pesos. Of course the quality will not be as good as the genuine ones but that's okay for me because I only wear sneakers when I travel. My current Vans was on the verge of tearing apart when I was there anyway so I thought, why not?
Overall, my shopping experience in Manila had been a pleasant and fruitful one. I am really satisfied with my buys and I guess the next time I go there, it's when I need to restock my wardrobe, which I think will happen in a few months time, lol. Actually, I am seriously considering going again, maybe end of this year. I think shopping in Manila is way better than in Bangkok. But then again, the last time I went to Bangkok was in 2009, so I may be wrong.