Guide to budget shopping in Metro Manila

Fashion blogger Christine Dychiao reveals her favorite stops in the city for affordable fashion, from pearls to designer brands 

By Lei Chavez

Tiangge stalls at Greenhills Shopping Center, San Juan City

Tiangge stalls in Greenhills Shopping Center pinched from Greenhills Shopping Center's Facebook page

Tiangge in Greenhills is the Filipino fashionistas best-kept secret. This is the place where you get your quality pearls at a fraction of their retail price, but you have to know your pearls, and haggle hard, and make sure you take note of the store stall number for the next time you go and visit. Pearl stud earrings sell from P500 depending on size and quality. Tiangge also sells mobile covers and accessories, clothes and accessories for men, women, and kids. “Look out for export overruns and imported clothing from Bangkok and China. You can get a fashionable top for P150 (about US$3) and a complete outfit for P1,200. Beware of reproduction or fake designer/luxury bags and footwear,” says Christine. Bottega Veneta-style intrecciato nappa faux leather tote bags sell from P1,500, less if you buy more than one.

The Landmark and SM, Makati City

The Landmark in Makati City pinched from omfoongpc.com

Inside SM Makati Department Store pinched from triciagosingtian.com

Shopping inside airconditioned department stores is more comfortable and convenient, but goods are relatively pricier. The upside? There are more choices, from clothing, footwear, formal wear, cosmetics, toiletries, home goods and electronics. Landmark and SM department stores are good places to shop for made-in-the-Philippines handicraft, home accessories and souvenirs.

Divisoria, Manila

Inside Tutuban Mall pinched from markmaranga.com

In front of 168 Mall pinched from maniladestination.com

The mecca for budget shoppers. Divisoria market has malls like Tutuban, 168, 999 and Meisic, now known as 11/88 Mall for both retail and wholesale goods. Divisoria is crowded, but Filipinos love it because it's a great place to bulk buy whether you're a seamstress looking for bargain textiles and buttons, cheap fabric cuts, or a mom buying  party favor treats — lots to buy for kids' giveaways from toys, games to hats and trinkets— and kids' clothes, or a decorator looking for homeware and accessories to furnish an apartment cheaply. You name it, Divisoria has it. Just dress down for the shopping trip, keep your valuables close to you, and beware of pickpockets and best of all, bargain hard!

Outlet stores at Paseo de Sta. Rosa and Solenad in Nuvali, Sta. Rosa Laguna

Pinched from Paseo de Sta. Rosa's Facebook page

Pinched from solenad.ph

For luxury brands for less, go to outlet stores, about a 45-minute drive from Manila. Paseo de Sta. Rosa has outlet stores for brands like Gap and Nike while Paseo de Sta. Rosa houses 158 Designer’s Boulevard, the outlet store of Stores Specialists’ (SSI) one of the Philippines' largest retail houses selling brands such as Armani, Gucci, Bally, Hugo Boss, to Tory Burch, and Bench Depot, which carries brands like La Senza, Charles & Keith, Pedro & Celio. Solenad 2 has outlet shops for brands like ALDO Liquidation and Payless Shoe Source, a place where you can get branded shoes from P1,000.

Christina Dychiao is the blogger behind manilafashionobserver.com.

Originally published in InFlight Traveller April 2012. Updated March 2016.