Divisoria (or Divi to its patrons) is a district at the heart of Manila, comprised of malls and markets that sell virtually everything you need at dirt-cheap prices. Considered as every bargain hunter's shopping mecca, Divisoria is the place to go when you're in need of houseware, clothes, accessories, costumes, toys, food, textile, wedding gowns, and all sorts of supplies imaginable.
The district is big, busy, and buzzing with activity. But despite its notoriety for its tight alleys and hellish human traffic, Filipinos still enjoy trooping to Divisoria especially during the holiday season. Why? Simply because items in Divisoria are cheaper than their counterparts sold elsewhere in the metro. For instance, a fashion ring priced at P300 in a mall boutique can be bought at Divisoria for only P35. You can even haggle further and arrive at a lower price if you know the art of “tawad” and/or are buying in bulk or wholesale (6 items is the standard). No wonder Divisoria is a haven for entrepreneurs and cheapskate consumers.
So if you're really keen on finding the best bargain, hyper like an Energizer bunny, and patient as a saint, we suggest you to try shopping at Philippines' largest flea market. Below is a map and a guide on how to conquer Divisoria.
Click to enlarge map
Places of Interest in Divisoria
168 Mall Located along Sta. Elena St., Binondo, Manila
When people say that they are going to Divisoria, they likely mean that they will shop in 168 Mall. This huge and air-conditioned shopping complex is a favorite of many because almost everything they need is here.
Tops for as low as P100 are sold in 168
At the lower ground floor is supermarket. First and second floors are for general items you can buy in retail or wholesale. Third floor is for fashionistas, while the fourth level is for toys and electronics. At the fifth floor is a food center where you can take a break from shopping. And, lastly, the sixth floor is reserved for Health, Beauty and Wellness enthusiasts who frequent spas and salons.
One of our favorite stores here is Uncle Sam's Warehouse (4th level), which sells toys and knick knacks from the States at budget-friendly prices. Our best finds include Dogpound Skateboards (P850), Family Guy Trivia or Dare Board Game (P350), Texas Hold'em Poker Set (P350), Hot Wheels cars (P150), and First Act Electric Guitar (P3,800).
Toys for the big boys: skates and electric guitar for less!
Divisoria Mall Located along Sto. Cristo St., Tondo, Manila
Older than 168, Divisoria Mall has three floors and a basement packed with clothing, shoes, Christmas decorations, stationery, stickers, invitations, wallets, calculators, pens, umbrellas, flashlights, kitchen utensils, gardening tools, and toys.
We found these assorted costume hats in Dug 51 of Divisoria Mall at P100/each- retail and P65/each for wholesale (6 pcs).
Other malls: Tutuban Center, 999 Mall, and 11/88 Mall (formerly Meisic Mall)
These malls are less crowded albeit not much different from 168 and Divisoria Mall. The same haggling and wholesale shopping rules also apply when you visit these malls.
Lucky Chinatown Mall Located along Reina Regente St., Binondo, Manila
In stark contrast to its neighbors, Lucky Chinatown Mall offers mid to high-end brands and products for Filipino-Chinese community residing nearby.
Benisons Located along Recto Avenue
Benisons is a low-level complex enjoyed most by engaged couples and would-be debutantes. Stalls here sell gowns for all occasions.
"Hands off plizzz!"
Tabora and Ylaya Streets
Head to Tabora St. if you're looking for ribbons, beads, gift wrappers, bottles, strings, sand, crystals, paint, and Christmas decors. The arts and crafts hub of Divisoria, Tabora's stalls offer items such as wicker baskets, raffia bags, glittery paper flowers, ribbons, wooden beads, papier-mâché masks and colored abaca ropes.
Ellen and Dodong Souvenir and Mask offer imported and Philippine made items which will pique anyone’s ghoulish fancy. They have on display deformed masks which would make a great center piece for your parties.
Marlene’s Made-To-Order Costumes creates costumes for children and adults. She has a catalog for you to choose from, or if you have something else in mind, just bring the design over to her and she’ll see what she can do for you. She also sells butterfly and fairy wings for both children and adults to enjoy.
Meanwhile, along Ylaya Street is Family Feather Shop (Pasilio W-49 Yangco Market, 785 Ylaya Street), which sells ready-to-wear and made-to-order costumes. Also at the Yangco Market are shops which sell crowns and tiaras.
Best time to visit Divisoria
If you want to avoid heavy traffic, be there as early as 7:00 am. As of our last visit this November, human traffic in and outside the malls is still bearable during weekday mornings. Days on which Pacquiao has a fight is also a great time to visit Divisoria.
So what if you miss his fight? At least you didn't miss this polka dot Paquiao briefs!
How to get to Divisoria
Human and jeepney traffic make it nearly impossible for cars to enter the Divisoria area especially during the holiday season (October to January). If you really need to bring your car, head to the 168 Mall as early as 7:00AM in order to secure a parking slot (from Reigna Regente Street, enter Felipe Street). Another option is to park along the side streets of Chinatown, just by the Divisoria perimeter.
Ride the LRT 1 or LRT 2 lines to Doroteo Jose/ Recto station. Ride a Divisoria-bound jeepney. Get off at Tutuban Mall or at Recto corner Reina Regente. Or...
Ride the PNR train. Get off at Tutuban Center.
Ride a Divisoria-bound jeepney. Get off at Tutuban Mall or at Recto corner Reina Regente.