With the dizzying number of malls in Metro Manila, it might be best to take the mall-crawl one neighbourhood at a time. Beginning with the glitzy promenades of Makati, here are Culture Trip’s top five shopping hubs.
Makati City is a shopper’s playground with several fantastic malls sprinkled about, some of which even sit side by side. Whether you’re in for a spending spree, food trip, or just a comfortable stroll in air-conditioned bliss, one of these Makati malls will suit your fancy.
Perhaps the best mall in Makati, and arguably the Metro, is the Power Plant Mall at Rockwell Center. Don’t let the industrial name fool you: this mall is far from the unsightly, smoke-belching images of a power plant. Taking its name from its origins as an unused thermal power plant, it was transformed into a chic, upscale shopping hub housing thoughtfully selected stores and establishments. Around for nearly two decades, Power Plant is a shopping favourite that has aged well, improving instead of deteriorating with time. It is clean, well-maintained, and conveniently laid out. The recent opening of a new wing further added dining options and cinema theatres. Being just the perfect size, it doesn’t feel overwhelmingly large nor limited and lacking. Most restaurants are concentrated on the bottom level and the new annexe; the top level houses the cinema, a bookstore, and child-oriented establishments; while high-end boutiques pepper the floors in between. It hardly ever gets too crowded, making it perfect for a leisurely stroll and even just window shopping. A very relaxed, airy atmosphere flows throughout the mall thanks to its multi-floor atrium and live piano music wafting through the floors. Pro tips: On weekends, they hold a baker’s fair at the basement level, where regulars stop by the different tables for their specialties. Keep an eye out for Costa Brava’s scrumptious chicken mushroom pie. And should you find yourself in Manila around Christmas time (which slowly begins around September), make a point to visit this mall. They have among the best, most tasteful Christmas decor in the Metro.
Another classic Makati favorite is the Greenbelt Mall: a massive complex of five interconnected buildings surrounding a refreshing open space of greenery – a wonderful refuge from the bustling Metro streets. Shoppers can retreat from the Manila heat and enjoy its extensive array of stores that stretch to the most high-end of brands. Or, for a breath of fresh air, they can step out onto the complex’s landscaped park of towering trees, stone paths and koi ponds. Because of its size, Greenbelt is able to house everything a shopper might need, from home appliances to luxury bags, all functionally organised among the five buildings. While most home and supply items are concentrated in Greenbelt 1 for example, Greenbelt 4 is lined with upscale boutiques. There are also more than enough dining options to make you dizzy. Because of its beautiful outdoor areas, dining al fresco is popular among Greenbelt shoppers. In the evenings, some bars have live music performances, making it a great place for a few drinks or a nightcap after dinner. An entire day can easily be spent at this mall, even for non-shoppers. Within the Ayala Center Complex, next to Greenbelt, is the Ayala Museum: home to wonderful exhibits on Filipino art, culture, and history. On the off-chance you’re able to see the whole of Greenbelt in less than a day, another mall, Glorietta, also sits walking distance away.
Similar to Greenbelt, Glorietta Mall is itself a complex of five buildings (Glorietta 1 through 5). While buildings 1 to 4 are connected, Glorietta 5 is detached yet still conveniently adjacent to the rest of the compound. And like Greenbelt, shoppers are likely to find whatever they are looking for within the enormous complex. Beginning and expanding since the 90s, Glorietta is a place regular mall-goers have mastered through the years. So while they may know the area by heart, first-timers might find the layout to be a tad confusing. Mall staff, however, are always glad to help shoppers find their way around. To the excitement of many, the Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo, which quickly became a Filipino favorite after the opening of its first Manila store in 2012, recently opened a flagship store in Glorietta 5. Two levels and over 4,000 square meters large, Uniqlo Glorietta is the biggest branch in Southeast Asia. Travellers staying at the Holiday Inn Makati will find themselves a stone’s throw away from this vast shopping paradise, as the Inn is also within the Glorietta network. And as if being connected to the large Greenbelt complex isn’t enough to guarantee a full, shop-til-you-drop mall experience, Glorietta is further connected to yet another mall, SM Makati.
One of the shopping giant’s many malls across the country, SM Makati is among its more compact branches, especially in comparison to its multi-structural neighbours. But because it is smaller, it makes for a safer choice for shoppers who want to make a quick run to the mall without the overwhelming complexities of Glorietta or Greenbelt. Along with its annexe, SM Makati houses several fashion favourites like Uniqlo, Forever 21, and H&M. Shoppers can also naturally expect to find a large SM department store as well as a supermarket for their basic needs. And for those looking to buy local goods and pasalubong (gifts) to take back home, Kultura is the place to go. This spacious store displays fantastic local finds from pearls and woven apparel to foodstuffs and home decor.
Century City is one of Makati’s newer malls. It’s even more compact than SM Makati, so its stores have been carefully selected to offer clientele a bit of everything. What it lacks in size, it makes up for in convenience, perfect for those who simply want to escape the heat, stroll comfortably in an uncrowded area, catch a movie, and dine well. Century City boasts a luxurious ‘Premier Cinema’ lined with fine brown leather seats and a top-of-the-line surround sound system. For those looking for alternative entertainment, the mall houses exciting escape rooms by Mystery Manila. Century City Mall is also well-known for its trendy, upscale food hall, Hole in the Wall. A treat for avid foodies, the space has all sorts of interesting stalls such as Scout’s Honor, a craft cookie bar, and Bad Bird, loved for their award-winning Umami Fried Chicken. For foreign travellers longing to sink their teeth into local cuisine, XO 46 Heritage Bistro in the mall’s second level serves dynamic Filipino dishes with classic Pinoy hospitality.