If you’re looking for cheap shopping in Manila, you’ve come to the right place. Manila is a paradise for shoppers looking for low-priced items. Whether you’re hoping to score branded goods or fashionable clothes at a bargain, you’ll find a variety of options in shopping malls, night markets and public squares.
Without further ado, here are 12 places where you can do some serious cheap shopping in Manila.
1. Divisoria area
Even among locals, the Divisoria area is a shopper’s heaven. Boasting several shopping locations within walking distance of each other, Divisoria is where you can find everything and anything you need at almost dirt-cheap prices. There’s Divisoria Market, of course, and also Lucky Chinatown Mall, Tutuban Prime Block, 168 Mall, Divisoria Mall, Tabora Street Market and hundreds of other establishments all clumped together in about a four-square-kilometre area. Shoppers come here for bargain clothes, textiles, shoes, bags, fruits, hardware & electronics, and hard-to-find items.
How cheap does it get? Well, for instance, baby clothes can go as low as PHP50 ($1) per set. Single comforters sell for PHP150 ($2) and up, depending on the thickness. If you’re looking for a pair of earrings that would match the bag and shoes you’ll wear for your friend’s birthday, chances are, you’ll find not one, not two, but several choices here. A word of caution though: avoid supposedly branded items – they’re probably knock-offs.
2. Quiapo district
Old-timers frequent this place to go for church services and then shopping afterwards. The Quiapo district is one of the busiest areas in the metropolis because it serves as the transport hub of the city. As one of the oldest commercial districts in the country, shoppers should not expect fancy shops and big malls. The area teems with small bazaars, ambulant vendors, sidewalk stalls, shop houses, and a few malls.
If you’re looking for Philippine handicrafts, wood carvings, pearls, and small souvenir items, there are a lot of them here at around half the price of what you’ll pay in a mall. The area around the Quiapo church also bustles with vendors selling religious items, herbal medicines and even amulets for the superstitious. The Quinta Market in the area is good for cheap fresh fruits, vegetables, and other food items. Don’t miss the Quiapo Market too!
3. Baclaran Market
Baclaran is the cheap shopping paradise for people who live in the southern part of Metro Manila and the neighbouring province of Cavite. Similar to Divisoria, it’s a market that often spills out to the street. Shoppers can find clothes, bags, and footwear at bargain prices.
The adjacent area is pretty busy with cars, motorcycles, three-wheeled cabs and buses so be extra careful when you’re scouting the place. Hungry? You don’t have to go far. They have a section that sells (and cooks) fresh seafood at reasonable prices.
Greenhills is actually an upscale residential community but shoppers flock to the Greenhills Shopping Centre because of the low-cost goods they find in the malls and stores within the compound. It has an assortment of speciality shops and small stalls where bargain hunters can get their fill.
If you’re in the market for mobile phones (brand new and pre-owned), electronics, shirts, bags, sneakers, pearls, home decorations and pants, this is where to go. But watch out for fake items that keep on surfacing in many of the stalls and stay away from the vendors that sell ripped DVDs of movies and TV shows.
5. Market! Market!
Located in the Bonifacio Global City, this place calls out to shoppers looking for great finds that won’t break the bank. There is a wing inside the mall brimming with stalls that sell quality clothes and shoes at budget-friendly prices. Then drop by the activity area on the ground floor where there is always a speciality sale going on, depending on the season. One weekend it’s appliances, the next it’s phones and gadgets, then toys – you name it.
There are branded clothes and goods in the mall, as well as eating places for the cuisine of your choice. It’s also a good idea to visit the department store where you can also find a lot of inexpensive items to your liking.
6. Makati Cinema Square
Does cheap shopping in Makati exist?
Makati, to the locals, is synonymous to ‘expensive’ so it’s a pleasant surprise that there’s a place for the frugal. Originally, the primary attraction of Makati Cinema Square was the movie theatres but now, it has become famous for its thrift shops. Although it’s quite far from the main business and commercial district, it’s very accessible.
You can find a lot of shops that sell various stuff such as clothes and gadgets but the biggest draws are the second-hand clothes shops (ukay-ukay) that dot the area. Not only do they have wide and decent selections, but the prices also do not disappoint. Your PHP1,000 ($20) could probably get you five to six pieces of nice shirts and pants depending on your haggling skills.
7. St. Francis Square
This mall sits like a dwarf between two giant malls but inside, you can’t imagine how they were able to fit in hundreds of stalls on several floors of St. Francis Square. You’ll find blouses, pants, shirts, bags, shoes, phones, accessories, toys and other items at very low prices. Just be careful of imitations.
This is like a mini-Greenhills so it’s more compact. The place also boasts of other speciality shops including several that offer to repair your phone or laptop if you don’t want to buy a new one or trade your old one.
8. Cartimar Market
If you ask a local about Cartimar Market, many would say that it’s where you can buy a pet, whether it’s a dog, cat or bird. But what many people don’t know is that it is also home to many cheap finds and interesting shops.
There are shops that sell overruns and second-hand clothes, bicycles, appliance, shoes, home furnishings, kitchen wares, and gardening stuff all at slashed prices. It even has a Korean & Japanese grocery store. One proof that it’s cheap to shop here is the presence of many students who can afford to buy things at a student’s allowance.
9. Pasig City Public Market
This may appear like a wild card among the popular entries. Aside from its offering of fresh meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables, people flock to the second & third floors to buy cheap, ready-to-wear clothing.
Perhaps you were searching for where to buy cheap branded clothes in Manila, but if you don’t mind overruns, here’s a secret: branded factory overruns find their way here minus the labels at cut-price tags. In fact, some small clothes shop owners buy their merchandise from this market.
If you know how to haggle, for a branded blouse that sells for PHP600 ($12) in a mall, you can get an identical generic one for around PHP250 ($5). Time your visit to the clothes market on a Friday night, starting at around 7pm, for more items to choose from.
Although this area has been upgrading for the past several years, this is still a good place to visit for cheap shopping in Manila. There are a lot of malls now in the area but you can still find many stores that sell low-priced goods like the ones in Farmer’s Market. Walk around the area and scout if you don’t want the usual brands that the malls offer.
On top of that, a short distance away is the Anonas Light Rail Station which is the home of several thrift shops that sell clothes, bags, shoes, toys, bikes, and even furniture.
TriNoMa (Triangle North of Manila) is actually a huge mall that has a combination of shops that sell international and local brands. However, people looking for bargains still find their happiness here. The Landmark Department Store is a good stopover. They sell reasonably-priced clothes, bags, and shoes whose brands you won’t find in other malls.
For example, a pair of men’s leather shoes going for PHP2,000 ($40) in some shops is a steal here for only PHP800 ($16).
12. SM Malls
If you don’t have time to go all over the city, just find an SM Mall near you. They’re not really cheap in general, but you can always find several shops that have marked down their prices for the week. You can also check the mall announcement because they would often have three or four of their malls having a mall-wide sale on a weekend. If you’re lucky, it could be the one near your place. And check their trade hall (if your mall has one) because from time to time, some great sale happens there for shoes, bags, appliances, phones, travel packages, Philippine products and other things.
Tips for cheap shopping in Manila
If you want to make your shopping experience more satisfying, remember these few tips:
Mall stores have fixed prices so the salesclerks won’t let you haggle. But market stalls and flea-market stores let you negotiate for an even lower price. You can initially offer to pay for around 60% of the price tag then work your way down until you get a good price. If you’re buying several items (and you’ve already negotiated for a discount for each of them), you can still try a last hurrah on the total price. Say, your purchase added up to PHP525 ($10.50), you can ask the vendor to round it off to PHP500 ($10) – it’s amazing how most of them will agree.
Bring assorted bills
Be ready with an assortment of coins and bills from PHP1 up to PHP500. Most cheap shopping places in Manila accept only cash. Unless you’re planning to buy a flat-screen TV or a brand new mobile phone, skip the PHP1,000 bill for now. When buying something, don’t flash a thick wad because the vendor will think that you can afford to pay the listed price.
For example, you offer to buy an item on sale for PHP500 ($10) for PHP300 ($6), you’ll get a better chance of success if you show the vendor you have three pieces of PHP100 bill than a full PHP1,000 bill.
Take a local with you
It’s always a good move to shop with a local if you’re a foreigner. Vendors will often assume that you have a high spending power when you’re a foreigner. Having a local with you makes them think twice about overpricing or even trying to pull a fast one on you.
Look around first to compare
Don’t buy from the first store you see. Go around and compare prices. If you see an item selling slightly higher in one store, you can ask the vendor to cut down his price or at least match the other stores.
Go on a slow day
As much as you can, avoid weekends to do your shopping. The law of supply and demand applies anywhere. The more shoppers there are, the less likely the vendors would lower their prices. Go on a weekday in the morning when there are very few people. It’s easier to negotiate for a lower price during these times. Most vendors are superstitious – they want to make a sale as early as possible for good luck.
Check your package
Always check if you have everything you paid for or if the store vendors gave you the right items. It can be hard to go back to the vendor if you bought your items in a labyrinthine market. There’s no label on the shopping bag and not every vendor will issue a receipt (although you can always ask for one).
Dress down, protect your belongings
Don’t go shopping looking like a million bucks. Jeans and shirts will do – and leave the pieces of jewellery somewhere safe. Keep your money and phone in your front pocket or if you have a bag, hold it in front of your body. You never know who will be in the crowd.
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