Manila markets guide Philippines

Dangwa flower market is a feast of colour

Dangwa flower market is a feast of colour

Filipinos really have a knack for shopping and this is evident in the countless shopping precincts and shopping centres that don’t just serve as retail venues but also as entertainment and leisure centres. But despite the advent of big, bustling, low-end to high-end shopping centres in almost every corner of Manila, nothing beats the rush of the street and central market scenes, as well as the stir of flea markets and bargain centres that thrive in the city.

Everything from handicrafts, jewellery, furniture, clothing, footwear, fabrics, home décor, house ware and even electronics can be found in the shopping markets of Manila.

There are two main market destinations in the city, one being the Baclaran Market, which is located at the southern end of EDSA (main road bisecting Metro Manila), and the other the Divisoria Market, located in the far side of Manila, in C.M. Recto, near the renowned Quiapo Church. Those who have time to spare may even take a side trip to the streets of Quiapo and around the stunning church, where there are shops and stalls everywhere.

Diviroria Market

Divisoria Market is a hodgepodge of fresh produce, street stalls and mall buildings — a shopping Mecca especially for bargain seekers who don’t mind swimming through streams of people roaming the area in search for those great buys. The crowd is part of the exciting experience. A famous Christmas shopping venue especially for the locals, you may want to avoid Divisoria before and during holiday seasons, as the place is most likely to be crowded with people eager to get a grip of low-priced Christmas presents.

Divisoria is a true bargain paradise all year round, with the lot of products sold at as low as half their regular prices in the bigger shopping centres that thrive in the metro. One of the most famous enclosed shopping centres in the Divisoria area is called the 168, (read as 1-6-8) where you will find a smattering of Asian stores and just about everything under the sun. A trip to Divisoria is not complete without sampling the street stalls while savoring a tasty barbeque and a refreshing ‘buko juice’ (coconut water).

Just a few minutes from Divisoria lies Quiapo Church, around which are many street stalls selling flowers, decors, bead works, crafts, and other usual stuff as well as interesting herbs and traditional medicines. A historic place in itself (especially the Plaza Miranda right in front of the Church), the place also doubles as a major tourist destination. Aside from the street markets, you will also find some interesting fortune tellers lined up just outside the church. Have them read your palm.

Search hotels near Divisoria Market

Insider Tip – Wear comfortable clothing and shoes and do away with jewellery and large, bulky bags. This way, you can get through the crowds easily without having to worry about losing valuables.

Baclaran Market

Baclaran Market has everything on offer

Baclaran Market has everything on offer

Baclaran can be found on the opposite side of the city. The place is right by the famous Baclaran Church, which is another monumental building in the city. The street market is as festive as those in its Divisoria counterpart, with a lot of side streets and shops. The area is probably more accessible because of its proximity to Makati City, the Airport, and the rail line. Street markets selling all sorts of trinkets as well as fresh local produce are also found in the area.

All these places are alive and bustling every day of the week, although you may find the church areas to be more crowded during Sundays and Wednesdays when services and masses commence. If you don’t like crowds, then it is best to avoid going on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays.

Haggling is a common so be wise in negotiating your prices. Most vendors are generous enough to cut prices significantly, especially if you buy in bulk. All these venues sell great products, although Divisoria is famous for its diversity and night market scene (especially if you want to escape the heat), Baclaran for its side shops, and Quiapo for its unconventional herbs and crafts.

A word of advice before plunging into the street market adventure in Manila — bring just enough money. Don’t bring a lot of cash to avoid attracting petty criminals. You can get by on very little money in these places (even without haggling).

The market scene in the city of Manila is truly a must-see, especially for those who want to taste a slice of the local life and experience the unique atmosphere of local shopping. You’ll enjoy the great buys in these places, but the experience  is enough to give you a unique brand of excitement.  

More Manila markets

Salcedo Community Market
Delectable international cuisine from all over can be found at this gastronomic Manila market where French pastries, fiery curries and traditional Filipino fare are served at bargain prices. (Open: 07:00–14:00; Barangay Hall, 40 Solar Street, City of Manila, Metro Manila, Jaime Velasquez Park, Bel-Air, Makati, 07:00–14:00, tel: +63 2 895 4011).

Under the Bridge Market (Sa Ilalim ng Tulay)
Good selection of handicrafts at bargain prices including pretty capiz shell ‘parols’ lanterns that adorn the city at Christmas. Vintage t-shirts and clothes are a fraction of the glitzy shopping centres price or what you would fork out back home. (Open: 24 hours (daily); San Andres St cnr Guerrero St, by QuirinoAve LRT, tel: +63 2 525 6322).

San Andres Market
Fruit lovers will find one of the largest selections of mangosteens, pomelo, rambutan, jackfruit and more of anywhere in Asia. Get lost in the labyrinthine interior and stock up on tasty healthy treats before that mammoth bus/ferry journey. (Open: 24 hours (daily); San Andres St cnr Guerrero St, by QuirinoAve LRT).

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