The Best Markets in Manila, Philippines

Quinta Market was once the main commerce space in Manila
Quinta Market was once the main commerce space in Manila | © Cannon Photography LLC / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Ronica Valdeavilla
Writer5 May 2021

Be warned: the capital of the Philippines wants to part you from your money. But that’s no bad thing when the shopping is this vibrant and fun. In Manila you will find malls, stores and markets of vintage and bric-a-brac finds. So whether you want retro gear for your new-season look, a bunch of blooms for a date or a stack of second-hand furniture for your new home, you’ll find what you’re looking for at the best markets in Manila.

Divisoria

Market, Store
Map View
People shop ahead of New Year celebrations at a street market in Divisoria, Manila, Philippines, December 29, 2017.       REUTERS/Erik De Castro
© REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
A quick jeepney ride from Manila’s Quiapo district deposits you at every frugal shopper’s dream destination: Divisoria, the mother of all markets in Metro Manila (aka the National Capital Region). It’s too hectic for some, but it’s a fabulous playground if you’re a bargaining pro – sale items are the cheapest in the NCP, particularly if you know how to haggle. Scour the many streets of Divisoria and you’ll unearth great-value clothes, school supplies, kitchenware and home essentials. And if you are too faint-hearted for the scrum? The 168 Mall, 999 Mall and Tutuban Shopping Center are more organised outlets for trendy international finds.

Dangwa Flower Market

Market
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A vendor arranges a flower bouquet a day before Valentines Day in Dangwa Flower Market in Manila, Philippines, February 13, 2020. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez
© REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
Also known as the Flower Market of Manila, this aromatic sprawl of stalls is the biggest purveyor of freshly cut blooms in the Metro Manila area. Here, in the downtown Sampaloc area, you’ll find more than 50 stalls, some under cover, selling masses of roses, gerberas, lilies and more in neon-pink, red and purple tones. There are Filipino offerings from areas such as Baguio, Davao and Tagaytay. You’ll also find imports from international destinations including China, Ecuador and the Netherlands. If time is tight, the principal streets for shoppers are Dimasalang and Dos Castillas. Expect prices 50 percent lower than in malls and other markets.

Quinta Market and Fishport

Market
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A vendor splashes water on fish for sale to keep them looking fresh at a large wet market in Manila
© REUTERS / Alamy Stock Photo
The Quinta Market, as this public space was originally known, has origins in the Spanish-colonial 19th-century period. During that time, it was considered the main commercial space in Manila, catering primarily to the local wealthy families. People were drawn here to dine as well as shop, andhalo-halo – the lurid Filipino dessert of sweetened beans, crushed ice and evaporated milk – is said to have been created here. Its success was impacted by the 20th-century rise of mall culture, and in 2017 it was rebuilt as a two-storey structure and renamed. It’s popular for its wet and dry sections, snack outlets and bustling food court.

Quiapo Market

Market
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Street life Quiapo Manila Luzon Philippines
© Derek Dryland / Alamy Stock Photo
The buzzing city district of Quiapo is home to the hulking Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene, which holds the revered statue of Christ kneeling. The area also teems with market trade: spilling behind the church and along Carriedo Street, it is a magnet for shoppers out to buy pirated CDs and DVDs, potions, candles and herbal concoctions touted by stooping elderly vendors as cures for all kinds of afflictions. If you want to know what the future has in store, consult one of the fortune tellers who command the scene, adding colour and life.

Escolta Street Flea Market

Market
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PHILIPPINES A woman displays home decorations
© Danilo Pinzon, Jr / Alamy Stock Photo
If unearthing rare collectibles and vintage knick-knacks is your thing, visit the pop-up Saturday flea market run by the arts collective 98B COLLABoratory, which takes place monthly in the First United Building garage and along Escolta Street – one of the most prominent old thoroughfares in Manila. The whole area becomes a giant thrift shop, art gallery and garage sale rolled into one. The kind of stuff on sale might include artisanal journals, wall art and vintage garments, plus you can mingle with the artists, collectors and entrepreneurs.

Baclaran Market

Market
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Colorful umbrellas shade buyers and sellers at the Baclaran open-air market in Manila, Philippines.
© Art Phaneuf / Alamy Stock Photo
The big pull here is the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, known more simply as Baclaran Church. But flea markets also draw the crowds to this barangay (neighbourhood) in Parañaque, Metro Manila. Much more fun than the identikit modern shopping malls are the pavement concerns selling all manner of stuff, often for peanuts: designer-brand replicas, merchandise made in China, that kind of thing. Established in the 1980s, it’s known as the “shopper’s paradise in the south”, and is never less than crowded. In fact at the weekend, it’s jam-packed.

Cartimar Market

Market
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In between high-rise buildings and small establishments, the Pasay district is home to Cartimar: your typical marketplace and a whole lot more. It’s been in operation since the mid to late 1950s and has long been the go-to place for designer jeans, perfumes, chocolates, pets (expect plenty of foreign breeds), surplus stocks of big-brand stuff, trainers and more. Like other bargain places, everything’s being sold at dirt-cheap prices. Bookworms also love the area, as you can find art tomes, college volumes and stacks of novels at reasonable prices.

Greenhills Shopping Center

Market, Shopping Mall
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SAN JUAN CITY, PHILIPPINES ? NOVEMBER 1, 2019: Bazaar stalls sell assorted trendy and affordable clothes at a popular shopping center in San Juan City
© Danilo Pinzon, Jr / Alamy Stock Photo
Unlike most markets in Manila, Greenhills Shopping Center has the benefit of air-conditioned interiors: it divides up into 90 percent flea market and 10 percent boutiques and restaurants. Its tiangge (the flea market part) is home to more than 2,000 stalls shifting clothing, furniture, gadgets (both second-hand and new), shoes, bags and plenty more. In fact, if you can’t find it here, you probably don’t need it. As well as retail, Greenhills has cinemas, mini parks, interconnected mini-malls and the best bargains for shoppers of every stripe.

Salcedo Saturday market

Market, Street Food
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This little market is a food-lover’s Eden, held every Saturday in a shady park surrounded by towering skyscrapers in Manila’s modish Makati district. Rows of stalls sell deli-quality street food to the busy, well-heeled citizens of the area. Woks sizzle with spicy lobster-and-scallop balls, and trays brim with freshly fried Ilocos-region chicken and empanadaturnovers, which are like diminutive Cornish pasties. And if you spend a little time scouring, you’ll find some of Manila’s most delicious taho: warm silky tofu, served with tapioca balls and brown-sugar syrup.

Legazpi Sunday Market

Market, Thai, Asian, Vegetarian
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Fish stall at a night market in the Philippines.
© Art Phaneuf / Alamy Stock Photo
Held in a large tree-filled square behind the Corinthian Mall in the fashionable, upmarket district of Makati, this is one of the largest arts, crafts and food markets in Manila – with stalls of items from across the country and deli produce from the world over. Expats come here to devour, nostalgically, a Camden Market-style kebab pizza, or traditional Filipino cheese sticks – think cigars of deep-fried filo pastry filled with the white stuff – while browsing for manga posters, tribal textiles, batik weaves or that much-needed new set of hand-carpentered dining chairs.

Alex Robinson contributed additional reporting to this article.

These recommendations were updated on May 5, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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