Your Guide to Shopping in Manila
Shopping in Manila isn’t quite like shopping anywhere else! Manila offers up some of the most exciting shopping experiences in Southeast Asia. Giant “megamalls” are the norm here, and they’re open 7 days a week (except on a few religous holidays). The malls usually open their doors at 10 or 11 in the morning, so you can get an early start on your shopping in Manila.
The malls of Manila are found pretty close to each other, and they contain pretty similar stores, so if you just need to pick up something basic any one will do. They differ radically in ambiance though, so if you’re looking to have a shopping spree or make a day of your shopping outing, give this list a browse. We’ve rounded up the Top 11 Malls for Shopping in Manila:
1. SM Mall of Asia
A sprawling supermall
SM Mall of Asia (simply known as “MOA” by the locals) is the 4th-largest shopping mall in the Philippines, and the 11th-largest shopping mall in the entire world!
Located in Bay City, Pasay, MOA opened in 2006. At that point it was the 1st-largest shopping mall in the world. A large LED globe display on the roundabout welcomes shoppers to MOA when they arrive. MOA is a collection of four buildings joined together by walkways: the main mall (shopping and dining establishments), the entertainment mall (a 2-storey complex facing Manila Bay), and the North and South Parking Buildings (together they have 5,000 parking spaces).
The store selection is similar to that found in most SM Supermalls, but MOA’s main attraction is its cinemas! MOA is the first mall in the Philippines to feature an IMAX Theater—and it’s one of the largest IMAX Theaters in the world. The array of cinemas also includes the Director’s Club (an exclusive theater with 30 La-Z Boy chairs) the Premiere Cinema, and the CenterStage Cinema (used for live performances and concerts). Apart from these special theaters, MOA also houses 6 regular cinemas.
MOA is so much more than a mall. Besides stores and cinemas, it features:
- An Olympic-sized ice-skating rink—the biggest in all of Southeast Asia. It accommodates both competitive and recreational ice skating, plus ice hockey. In 2007 it was even the venue for Skate Asia.
- Concert grounds
- A ferris wheel called “The Mall of Asia Eye”
- One Esplanade (a party and event venue)
- An indoor arena called “The Mall of Asia Arena” with a whopping capacity of 20,000—it’s sometimes used as the venue for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
- EXPLOREUM Science Center, the first center of its kind in the world. EXPLOREUM features a digital planetarium and a diverse range of exhibits in the field of science and technology.
- SMX Convention Center—the country’s largest privately run exhibition and convention center with a 6,000 seating capacity.
SM Mall of Asia on TripAdvisor
2. SM Megamall
The fourth-largest mall in the world
Image courtesy of travelbox.ph
SM Megamall is located in the Ortigas business district of Metro Manila, in Mandaluyong City. SM Megamall consists of 5 shopping buildings: Building A, Building B, Building C, Mega Atrium, and Mega Fashion Mall (Mega D). If that sounds massive compared to the malls you’re used to, that’s because it is! The supermall is the second-largest shopping mall in the Philippines and the fourth largest in the entire world, occupying a land area of approximately 10 hectares (5,451,220 sq ft).
SM Megamall opened its doors in 1991 and went down in history for having the first ice skating rink in a mall. In 2009, the skating rink was removed (oh no!) but then 5 years later it was rebuilt (hooray!).
SM Megamall’s Building A features cinemas, a food court, Toy Kingdom, and other anchor stores. Building B is home to the SM Department Store, SM Supermarket, and Cyberzone. The Mega Fashion Mall (Mega D) is a high-end area that features an IMAX theater, The Director’s Club Theater, and the ice skating rink.
The Mega Atrium bridges the gap between Building A and B, featuring more restaurants and shops and event venues. Building C, on the other hand, contains office spaces, transport terminal, and offices for the Department of Foreign Affairs. SM Megamall truly has a bit of everything.
Owned by Ayala Malls, Greenbelt is a shopping mall found at Ayala Center, Makati City. Greenbelt consists of 5 shopping areas (Greenbelt 1 to 5) filled with a mix of high-end retail shops, leisure and entertainment centers, and restaurants.
If you’re looking for supply and appliance stores, then Greenbelt 1 is the place to go. If you wish to go the cinemas, then head to Greenbelt 3—which also features international stores, like Topman, Hermes, Kate Spade, Calvin Klein, Kenneth Cole, and Topshop. At Greenbelt 4, you will find high-end boutiques, like Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs, and Tod’s. Greenbelt 5, on the other hand, features high-end Filipino designers, Adora, and more international brands.
Greenbelt offers a wide range of restaurants in 1, 2, 3, and 5. While Greenbelt 1 is more concentrated on fast food restaurants, the rest offer sit-down restaurants.
Greenbelt is like a mall within a garden, and as you wander through you’ll notice the outdoor and indoor scenery seamlessly blending. The mall has earned numerous awards, including the International Design and Development Award (ICSC Center Build, 2004) and Best Shopping Center of the Year (Philippines Retailer’s Association and Department of Trade & Industry, 2004).
A popular mall with a colourful history
This huge shopping mall, operated by the Ayala Corporation, is located in the Ayala Center, Makati. Split into 5 sections (Glorietta 1-5), Glorietta has a wide selection of shops, restaurants, cinemas, arcades, a gym, and much more.
Glorietta 1 through 4 are also linked to nearby malls, such as Greenbelt, The Landmark, and Rustan’s Makati. Glorietta 5 is separated, located beside Rustan’s Department Store.
This mall has an unfortunate history of scary incidents—an explosion in 2000, a bombing in 2005, and another explosion as well as a fire in 2007. However, the mall is still popular and thriving because of its accessibility, convenience, and plentiful features. It’s also been awarded Shopping Center of the Year by the Philippine Retailer’s Association in 2002 and the Department of Trade & Industry in 2004. Definitely worth a visit if you want to do some shopping in Manila!
5. SM City Santa Mesa
A small, cozy, one-stop mall
Image courtesy of fun-philippines.com
If you’re tired of overwhelming megamalls and looking for something smaller and cozy (that still meets all your shopping needs!) then SM City Santa Mesa is your best bet. With a land area of just 3 hectares and nothing but one main mall and a four-storey carpark building, this mall is tiny relative to the others on this list. It’s easy to navigate when you’re shopping in Manila and need to find something in a hurry.
Even though it’s a small mall, SM City Sta Mesa is not lacking in selection. It has a department store, an IT center, beauty and health stores, boutiques, restaurants, a food court, arcades, appliance and hardware stores, a supermarket, and cinemas. The mall’s layout is basic, you could know it by heart in a few visits.
The mall opened its doors in 1990 and was formerly called SM Centerpoint because it’s so close to the tripoint of Manila City, Quezon City, and San Juan City. This is a very prime location for your one-stop shopping in Manila. The name was changed to SM City Santa Mesa on its 15th anniversary.
SM City Santa Mesa on TripAdvisor
6. SM City North EDSA
The largest mall in the Philippines
Image courtesy of www.sminvestments.com
SM City North EDSA is the largest shopping mall in the Philippines and the third largest in the world, with a total retail area of 5,360,000 sq ft. The mall is located at the intersection of North Avenue and EDSA. It’s an eco-friendly shoping destination: SM City North EDSA has been named the largest solar-powered shopping mall in Southeast Asia for its installation of 5,760 solar panels.
SM City North EDSA is basically a huge complex of shopping in Manila, with 9 parts. The most notable ones, however, are:
- The City Center – the main building containing the main anchors, like the SM Store and SM Supermarket, SM Foodcourt, and a Cineplex (with the Philippines’ second-ever IMAX Theate!)
- Interior Zone (Annex I) – the Car Park Plaza, and home to the solar power plant
- The Annex (Annex 2) – high-end retail stores, a bowling center, a Cyberzone, a game arcade, and specialty restaurants
- The Block (Annex 3) – 5 storeys of high-digital cinemas, retail shops and restaurants, SM Hypermarket, and a courtyard for events and product launches
- Sky Garden -an elevated park with a simulated river and waterfalls, restaurants, and the Sky Dome, 1,500-seater events venue.
SM City North EDSA on TripAdvisor
Alfresco style, gardens, and water features
Image courtesy of trinoma.blogspot.com
TriNoma is a direct competitor of SM City North EDSA, as the two malls are standing right next to each other and connected by an overpass. The mall is located beside EDSA and connected to the North Avenue MRT Station.
TriNoma is on a 20-hectare parcel of land and has a gross leasable area of 195,000 square meters—which includes the mall’s major anchor, The Landmark Supermarket and Department Store. It opened in October of 2007, costing 3.5 billion pesos.
Consisting of four levels, TriNoma is known for its alfresco zones incorporated with water features and lovely landscaped gardens at the mall’s rooftop park. The TriNoma Park is also lined with specialty restaurants and linked to the mall’s 3rd floor.
8. Shangri-La Plaza
Upscale luxury shopping
Shangri-La Plaza is owned and operated by the Kuok Group of Companies, the same owner of the worldwide chain of Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts. This mall is found along Shaw Boulevard in Ortigas, Mandaluyong City, near SM Megamall.
Shangri-La Plaza has five sections. The Main Mall has 6 levels and a basement filled with a great variety of shops and restaurants—both local and international. The basement consists of the Garden Food Court that is lined with fast-food chains, the Rustan’s Fresh Supermarket and the Technohub. The sixth floor of the mall has a bookstore and 5 state-of-the-art cinemas, where the annual CinEurope Film Festivel is held. The Main Mall also features the Rustan’s Department Store—a four-level luxury department store crammed with high-end brands.
Shangri-la’s East Wing was recently opened in 2013. Connecting to the main mall, the East Wing is an expansion of more upscale boutiques, retail chains, and restaurants that has added a lot to the scene for shopping in Manila.
The North Wing of the mall is connected to the Main Mall and the East Wing, and is also called the multi-deck parking area. The North Wing has bars, salons, and restaurants and a retail strip composed of banks, service shops, convenience stores and drugstores.
The Shangri-la Plaza is the best place to go if you desire a more laid-back and relaxed shopping and dining experience. The place is pretty calming and quiet, a total opposite to the relatively loud, crowded, and noisy SM Supermalls.
Shangri-La Plaza on TripAdvisor
“Like no other mall in the world”
Image courtesy of www.skyscrapercity.com
Gateway Mall is a shopping complex found in Araneta Center, Cubao, Quezon City. Gateway was recognized by the Philippine Retailers Association as the ‘Shopping Center of the Year’ in booth 2006 and 2007. It was also a Merit Awardee on the International Council of Shopping Centers’ 30th Innovative Design and Development Awards, and a finalist in the Urban Land Institute Awards for Excellence 2008. Clearly this destination for shopping in Manila has something good going on!
Gateway is connected with the LRT Cubao (Araneta Center) Station by a direct passageway. Gateway’s features include the Rustan’s Department Store, Rustan’s Supermarket, Food Express food court, and Gateway Cineplex 10 (the first mall cinema to ever have a La-Z Boy Theater), and the largest branch of National Bookstore (5 levels of books, office, and school supplies!).
Gateway is also linked to the Araneta Coliseum (“The Big Dome”)—an indoor multi-purpose sports arena and one of the largest indoor arenas in Asia. Another feature of the shopping complex is The Gateway Tower, a 6-storey office building that features a two-level H&M Store.
10. Robinsons Magnolia
A spacious, elegant mall
Robinsons Magnolia is a relatively new shopping mall that opened in 2012 along Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City. The space was formerly the Magnolia Ice Cream production plant. Now the mall is frequented by celebrities because of its privacy and prestige—it’s not too crowded and most of the shoppers belong to the upper class.
The multi-storey shopping mall has a rich variety of shops and dining experiences. Fashionistas will be love the selection of international brands, like Topshop/Topman, Lacoste, Perry Ellis, Nine West, and Steve Madden. Popular local retailers are also found in the mall, so you get the full experience of shopping in Manila.
Robinsons Magnolia also features a unique food court experience: the stalls are island-style with open kitchens. For restaurant dining, you will be delighted by the four-level alfresco area overlooking a lush garden with water features, Starbucks, and the Magnolia Ice Cream Shop. As well as a lush foodcourt, Robinsons Magnolia offers babycare facilities, valet service, a monitored taxi service, and a concierge facility.
The mall also has a Cineplex, but be warned – there are no bathrooms inside, so if you have to go during your film you’ll have to walk all the way out into the mall. Skip the large soda!
Robinsons Magnolia on TripAdvisor
11. Greenhills Shopping Center
Greenhills arguably offers the best shopping in Manila. If you live to shop, then you’ll never need another mall.
Located in the tiny city of San Juan, Greenhills first emerged in the country in 1970s as a collection of multiple shopping malls. The complex was redeveloped throughout the years and now has an exciting and richly diverse mix of shopping and dining experiences. From bargain stalls to upscale designer brands, from cheap snacks to high-end restaurants: everything you need can be found in Greenhills. The center is a sprawling, elegant, and modern complex. Arcades, world-class cinemas, a music museum, an indie theater mall, IT and cellphone centers, salons, cafes combine for a heady mix of shopping, dining, and entertainment.
The mall itself is a tourist destination, world-renowned for its bargain shops—around 2,000 entrepreneurs with stalls and shops ranging from furniture to clothing. Greenhills also has a Pearl Center, where about 90 percent of all the South Sea pearls are traded.
Greenhills Shopping Center on TripAdvisor
Helpful articles and blog posts on shopping in Manila:
We only recommend writers and blogs that we read regularly and believe will deliver substantial value to our readers. The following are our top picks of articles we think are worth reading for reviews on some of the spots for shopping in Manila on our list.
- Trinoma Merry Musical Lights Show – by Out of Town Blog
- My First PyroMusical Experience; Fireworks Photography Tips – by Ambot-ah!
- You haven’t been to Manila until you’ve been to Greenhills! – by Today’s Thoughts, Tomorrows Hopes
- Just…Wow: The Robinsons Magnolia Mall in Quezon City – by Glimpses and Glances
- Restaurants in Mega Fashion Hall – by Pinas Muna
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About the author
Stephanie Mayo is from Manila, Philippines. When she isn’t writing awesome articles for Mad Monkey Hostels, she enjoys traveling, photography, and movies.