One of the places I would miss most in Manila are Quiapo and Divisoria. I love bargain hunting and these two places are simply the place to be for really great bargains. I’ve actually written a 3-post guide to Quiapo in my other blog but I have yet to post something about my favorite “shopping playground”, Divisoria.
Divisoria is located right in the heart of Manila. It is considered the mecca of bargain shopping in all of Metro Manila. If you are on the lookout for cheap items, then this is the place to go. Here you can find almost everything, school and office supplies, textiles, clothing, housewares, small appliances, accessories, home decors, toys..well practically everything. If you are also looking for crafting and packaging materials, Divisoria offers wide choices.
Divisoria is not just one street. It actually encompasses several streets and has several malls around the area. Be prepared to walk around. Before venturing there keep this in mind:
- It could get really crowded particularly during weekends, holidays, before school starts and during Christmas season. If you are claustrophobic, Divisoria street market is not the place for you. If you can’t stand the heat, smell and close proximity of other people, you may opt for the air-conditioned malls around the area.
- Dress down. Wear walking shoes or slippers. Don’t wear jewelry. I’d advice against bringing electronic gadgets and cellphones. (Hehe but I did brought my digi-cam to take this photos… believe me I was scared somebody might just grab it!).
- Bring cash and small bills. They don’t accept credit cards here :). There are ATM’s around but better be ready with enough cash.
- Before deciding on a purchase, check for quality. Especially ready made clothes, check the insides.
- Haggle, haggle, haggle! Sellers actually expect you to haggle. If its your first time, go with an experienced Divi shopper. If you can speak Chinese, that’ll mean additional discounts :).
- Be careful about your belongings. Bring a large shopping bag. That will keep your purchases organized.
There are several malls around Divisoria. Divisoria Mall, 168 Mall, Tutuban Mall, Meisic Mall and there is a new mall beside Tutuban..
- Divisoria Mall– located near Tabora St., it’s air-conditioned with stalls in grid-like position. This mall has a lot of stalls so the pathways are narrow so on crowded days be prepared to squeeze yourself. There are three floors selling a wide range of items at wholesale and retail prices. There a lot of toys, school and office supplies, party supplies, clothes, home items, accessories, footwear. The third floor also houses a small food court area and restrooms. This mall also has a lower ground floor with stalls selling party supplies and lots of native handicrafts.
- 168 Mall – located a few meters away from Tutuban Mall. 168 Mall is air-conditioned, well-lit, and have bigger passageways than Divisoria Mall. This one also has better security, restroom facilities, and has more stalls. Stalls here sell items almost the same as those in Divisoria mall but I noticed there are more quality home decor and electronic gadgets. Food court is also big with lots of restaurants from. McDonalds, Jollibee, Tokyo Tokyo, Chowking, Greenwich, Namit Gid, Reyes Barbeque, American Hotdog, Balot Express, plus a several stalls offering Chinese food. ATM’s are also located on the thri168 Mall can be accessed via Soler, Felipe and Sta. Elena St.
- Tutuban Mall – located along Claro M. Recto Avenue. This mall is also air-conditioned and divided in 3 clusters. This is also popular place to buy wholesale. You can find a good variety of textiles, ready to wear clothes, bags, shoes, sewing materials, accessories, phones plus there are also some shops of popular brands. Food court is also good as well as restroom facilities.
- Meisic Mall – this is a newly opened mall near 168. Located at the corner of Reina Regente and Meisic Sts in Binondo. You can find same items here as the other malls although the last time I went there 2 weeks ago, the first floor is not yet fully occupied.
Shopping at the malls are convenient but if you are not averse to large crowds, the heat and strong smell check out the streets too for good finds.
- Tabora St – find crafting materials, costumes, sewing materials, textiles, kitchen utensils, ready made curtains and seat covers.
- Juan Luna St. – textiles, ready to wear clothes, shoes, accessories, packing supplies, cheap stuff toys;
- Check out Azcarraga Building too. This is a few blocks from Tutuban Mall, you’ll find great choices of textiles here at cheap prices.
- The street across Tabora and fronting Divisoria Mall, you’ll find cheap vegetables here, there are also stalls selling boxes, gift wrapping materials.
- The building behind Divisoria Mall, I call it “Toy Kingdom”. This is the best place to shop for toys and party supplies.
How to get there.. Finding parking spaces can be difficult during crowded days. Tutuban Mall and 168 Mall have ample parking spaces but if bring a car navigating the crowded streets can be a headache. Park somewhere safe but make sure you can still walk back with all your purchases. As for me, I prefer commuting to Divisoria.
- If you are from Taft Avenue, there are jeepneys and FX taxi plying the Divisoria route. It will pass by Binondo Church, Juan Luna St., from here you can explore the streets or go to the malls;
- Take LRT1 if you’re from Monumento or Baclaran and get down in Doroteo Jose. From there take a pedicab to Divisoria or if you’re up to walk a few blocks then take a hike.
- If you’re from Cubao, Katipunan, Santolan area, take LRT 2 and get down at the last station- Recto;
- From Espana, there are also jeepneys taking Divisoria route;