Guest Post -> by Mona Sabalones-Gonzalez
The Philippines is the bargain center of the world, and its malls are culture quirks. Malls for everybody, which will entertain every visitor no matter your tastes. A day in a mall offers a selection of restaurants, theatres, all types of stores, beauty salons, spas, clinics, play areas and wonderland rides for children, furniture shops, etc. under one roof.
Philippine traffic is legendary, and not in a good way, so you are better off to do your shopping all in one place rather than spend hours on the road. Because malls tend to have the same stores, boutiques, options, etc. I will first suggest the best or the best malls and describe their unique traits, then recommend stores to look for in them.
The Mall of Asia is Asia’s biggest mall. Do go to the bridge to see the sunset. It is framed well and you feel quite Zen. The Mall of Asia has the widest Filipiniana selection (basketry, capiz, Filipino jewelry, bags, etc) at good prices. There is also a 3D theatre and a nice science discovery center. At night bands play and liven the place up quite a bit.
The Fort: Just off Makati’s edge is the Fort. Start off at Serendra to experience this posh mall with lovely Zen sculpture and overall peace and quiet. The Echo Shop has beautiful bags, soaps et al from top local designers, and constructed by prisoners and people from the mental hospital. A leisurely walk through lovely gardens and posh stores can eventually lead you to Market Market for cheaper buys.
The Greenbelt Mall: is a must for a great shopping experience. Try to see Ayala Museum while you are there. This is also a great place for club hopping as they are all steps away from each other. Remember, clubbing starts at midnight.
Rockwell Powerplant Mall: Upscale and tasteful, this mall is comfortable with quality buys. The basement has a wide selection of good food choices.
Alabang Town Center: I love ATC. Cheap options can be had at the Food Court and there is a flea market on the ground floor with Korean buys. Havin’ a Baby has the greatest pregnancy stuff. All the other stores here are expensive but quality is very good.
Festival Supermall: The basement jewelry stalls give you choice overload. You can also have stuff made to your design for as little as P100 (US $2). There are no pearls, though. Booksale has secondhand books and magazines for US$2-$5 that are in brand new condition.
Tiendesitas: This pet friendly mall has a great flea market where you can bargain for clothes, accessories, household items and furniture.
Greenhills: You MUST buy pearls here—but know the real from the fake. My sister got a beautiful earring and necklace set for P13,000 (US $280).
Shangri-la Mall: I love the old antique shops here where you can find old editions of comic books, magazines, jewelry, piano pieces, watches, et al.
SM Malls: These is an SM mall everywhere you go, and it’s a good starting point to determine price ranges. SM has good Filipiniana buys with products sometimes at 1/3 the price of the same item in an upscale mall.
In all these malls, I recommend the following stores and boutiques:
Rustan’s for everything. The local brands are less expensive than the DKNYs and Pradas, etc. and of excellent quality, especially Rusty Lopez and LR (Lady Rustan) for clothes, shoes and bags.
Mango: Great edgy fashion for working women and college students. Pricey but good quality.
Surplus Shop: A must. Every SM Mall has one. Get top US brands for a song like Liz Claiborne, DKNY, Anne Klein, et al. Check carefully, these are export overruns.
Top Shop, Folded and Hung and Bench have great clothes at good prices. For children, Gingersnaps and Kids of Bayo are good. For shoes, Celine’s and Via Venetto. The Philippines is also a great place to get makeup. Ever Bilena and Fashion 21.
The Body Shop has everything. Also get full work beauty salon treatments. Upscale Piandre and Salon de Manila are good, but for cheap prices with quality, Ystilo. Oh, and be sure to get a massage while you’re at it. It should cost from P250 – 500 (US $6-12).
Mona Gonzalez writes for Briefcases Direct, a website that offers luxury briefcases direct from the manufacturer. She is a veteran writer of some 30 years in her country, the Philippines and has covered a range of topics from business to lifestyle and travel.
Mona grew up travelling and studying at schools in Europe, the United States and Asia as the daughter of a diplomat. She later settled again in the Philippines with her husband, daughter, and three dogs.
Photos of SM Mall of Asia courtesy of PaoloE-MontE of Flickr.