DIPLO HIT LIST: Manila

I am making this list for friends who are visiting or moving to Manila. If you are going to Manila to visit for a few days I hope this helps you decide where to go for shopping and where to eat. Manila is a great place for shopping. If you know where to look, it’s unbelievably cheap! There is also a lot of great food to be had. If you have more questions feel free to drop me a comment. I will be adding to this list as I think of more things. This is just off the top of my head. =)

For a short trip, I would suggest you stay in one of these areas (and find everything in the following malls):

  • Makati Area (Greenbelt Mall or Rockwell)
  • The Fort Taguig (Serendra & Highstreet Mall are right beside each other)
  • Or if you are in the Manila Bay/Roxas Avenue area then you can go to Mall of Asia (it’s massive & you can find anything there)

SHOPPING

Kultura

If you were to go to only one shop when you are in Manila go to Kultura. You can get everything from gifts for your loved ones, clothing, accessories, home decor, dining accessories, etc. There are big Kultura sections in  SM Mall of Asia or SM Makati. Click here for complete list of locations.

What to buy:

  • Freshwater & South Sea Pearls – I prefer buying in Kultura than in Greenhills or Market Market because the pearls are guaranteed & the prices are fixed. Sometimes going to places where you can bargain you end up paying more especially if you are a tourist.
  • Filipiniana Bags 
  • Local crafts
  • Capiz or shell decor 
  • Filipino delicacies
  • Local liquore – look for mango rum
  • Tabacalera cigars
At SM department store you can find great quality products at the super cheap prices – it’s convenient to get to and it’s air-conditioned. Go to SM Mall of Asia or SM Makati. Click here for a complete list of locations.
  • Cheap children’s clothes
  • For men: Cheap barongs & Guayabera – Look for the executive brand
  • Cheap basic  women’s clothes, accessories & shoes
  • Cheap homeware

FINO Leatherware

They have the most fabulous, and excellent quality leather bags. I always like to say, it’s the quality of a Louise Vuitton at the price of a Ninewest bag.

Click here to see more samples of their products.

TYLER

Buy one of a kind clothing pieces for men & women. Gorgeous day-to-night pieces that you can wear to work and confidently wear to a night out. Yes they are that amazing. My husband loves this store as well. He always makes sure to buy a few button down shirts & pants when he is in Manila. Our Tyler pieces are always complimented and catch the attention of fashionistas.

ECHO store

You can get amazing natural and environmentally sustainable Filipino products. You can find it in The Fort. Some examples of my favorite stuff to buy there:

  • ECHOstore Body Basics Spa in a Bottle (or Spa in a Can for home use)
  • ECHOstore Body Basics Peppermint conditioner
  • Ilog Maria Propolis Ointment – for insect bites, allergies, skin irritations, wounds, etc.
  • Ilog Maria Bee Pollen – for a natural energy boost & weight management
  • Civet cat coffee (our version of kopi luwak) or Barako Coffee

body basics spa in a bottle via

Buy basic clothing pieces at

Books

English books are much cheaper in the Philippines than in Jakarta. So take advantage but make sure you have enough luggage allowance. You can find one of these bookstores in the different malls that I recommended above. Click on each to find the official website.

Dimensione

They have gorgeous and cleverly designed home accessories. Many of my favourite brands, both local and imported, can be found in Dimensione:

MakeRoom

My favorite place for buying locally made home/travel organizers & other useful house ware products. I bought this and this. *For travel organizers BEABI is a cheaper version of Muji. 

Buy liquor 

Buy liquor  in the supermarket & cheap imported products that are hard to find, super expensive or not available in Indonesia. Liquor is cheap. Especially local liquor. I usually go to Rustans and they can even put stuff in a box for you and tie it up. You might wanna try:

philippines filipino rum

  • Paradise Mango Rum – highly recommend. Great on the rocks! These is more premium and well worth the $6 est. Great gift idea coz it comes in a beautiful container.
  • Boracay Rum in coconut flavor – highly recommended. Amazing for making pinacoladas and at $2 a bottle you can’t go wrong
  • Tanduay Rum
  • The Bar Vodka – drink this on the rocks

CURA V

Check out their to-die-for one of a kind jewelry made by Filipino designers at Powerplant Mall Rockwell Makati. Click here to see samples of items they sell.

DINING

If you are in Manila for a short stay, you may as well eat great food. If you know where to go, you can find excellent food! Click on the links below to find out what you should order, the contact details and see photos of the food!

NIGHT LIFE

This one I am not so familiar with anymore but these are bars that expats enjoy going to. museum cafe greenbelt makati manila philippinesvia

Greenbelt is a favorite among visitors for the mall’s amazing architecture and the lively vibe.

  • M Cafe – One of my favorite hangouts for the more mature and sophisticated crowd.
  • Cafe Havana – live music & tons of expats even on Sundays. You have to be careful though. This is not a family place. If you have children steer clear.

The Fort is also another area that comes alive at night.

Makati
  • Salon de Ning - There are only 3 Salon de Ning Bars in the World. Go for a surreal experience that transports you to old world glamour.
  • Blind Pig Speakeasy – I heard of this great concept from my friend Graey Eats Manila. They mix you a personalized cocktail based on your personality. Sounds like fun doesn’t it? Address: 227 Salcedo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City. *I am removing Blind Pig from my list of recommendations because I didn’t have a good experience when I went there last year to check it out. See comments below for details and also the story of another reader’s experience in Blind Pig. FYI.

Clubbing

There are clubs like  Prive,  Republiq and Opus. I’ve never been to them but my friends in Manila regularly go. So if you are looking for the club scene, click on the links above to get more info. I’ve gone to  Time Manila which is more my thing, because it’s smaller and I know when I go, I will see old friends and catch up.

Enjoy and feel free to drop me a comment for questions and I’ll try to help out if I can!

If you are going to Manila this is a must read: CNNgo’s Best of Manila.

Lovely comments

  1. says

    Great list, and a great idea for a post! I’ve been away for 4 years now so I’m not up to date, but I do have a list that includes favorite go-to places, and places I want to try. I can’t say anything about clubbing or nightlife though, lola na ako haha. I will post my own list one of these days!

  2. Jane says

    I made reservations for tonight at The Blind Pig. I sent text messages, then called the number, but I didn’t get a response until half a day later. This guy named Andrew asked me about the details of my reservation: for how many folks, what time, et al. When I said, “2 people, 9:30 pm, thanks,” he replied with “You’re welcome!”

    Come 9:30, we weren’t buzzed in. We happened to tail gate this other girl and when we went inside, a waiter said that we don’t have a reservation. Since my text exchange with the Andrew guy does not have a confirmation, they said that they couldn’t give us seats.

    So, they are asking for a “confirmation,” which, for some reason, they omitted to mention during my text correspondence with their rep.

    I went inside and I saw that it’s a small, highly overrated place, with a staff that is eager to treat you shabbily in the guise of exclusivity.

    I live in Makati and we have wonderful bars and restaurants here. The Blind Pig is just a pretentious and boring hole-in-the-wall.

    • says

      Dear Jane, thank you for your comment and feedback on Blind Pig. I’ve removed it from the recos above since I also didn’t have a good experience when I went there to try it out last year. Thank you for reminding me!

      For such expensive drinks, I didn’t have a lot of fun, we had the worst seats (we could barely breath it was so tight!) and though they try to make the service friendly, it’s far from great, and barely accommodating. I just think that for the price the pleasure of the customer should exceed expectation. Also the smoked scotch was done too long that the smoke just overpowered the drink. I totally agree with you that the place is highly overrated!

      Since you live in Makati I would love to get your recommendations for bars and clubs in the area that I may not have mentioned in the post above!

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