Ask any local to suggest where to get great value bargain shopping in the metro and there’s no doubt Greenhills Shopping Center (Greenhills or GSC for short) would be one of the top (if not the first), no-brainer answer to your query.
Among mid to upper-class gated communities in San Juan, Metro Manila is this sprawling bargain shopping mecca that has been known for cheap thrills and unbelievable value-for-money bargain hunting experience since the early 70’s, this year-round bazaar has basically turned into a cheapskate’s wonderland. The Greenhills shopping complex is incredibly vast and you can get lost in this maze of stalls and mall complexes, so for you to know before you go, here is MNLgo’s guide on bargain shopping at Greenhills Shopping Center.
First things first: Is Greenhills the cheapest of them all?
The short answer is no. Just to clear things: if you’re looking for the cheapest bargain shopping destination, it should be the equally famous Divisoria where people buy stuff at dirt-cheap wholesale prices. Some goods found in Greenhills are sold at Divisoria at a cheaper price point, but then there are other quality products that can only be found at Greenhills.
It’s a matter of preference, really. Although not the cheapest finds, what Greenhills lack in this area, it makes for a better variety of interesting yet still cheap goods at bargain price (and niche products & services – more on that below) and a more pleasurable (even entertaining) shopping experience, with room for other activities like fine dining and very comfortable cinema.
Getting around Greenhills Shopping Center
The Greenhills complex is composed of many interconnected malls and annexes like V-Mall, Shoppesville, Unimart, G Strip, Bridgeway Shops, Theatermall, Promenade, etc. It can be quite confusing, but even frequenters get confused by these many different names too so no need to memorise. The thing is, it really wouldn’t matter because it would be hard to distinguish where you are in the complex, anyway. These different malls are so interconnected as if they’re all housed in one single megacomplex.
MNLgo tip: Just go into any entrance and don’t be afraid to get lost in this complex as it’s part of the fun. Spend an hour inside Greenhills and you’ll get the hang of it. If you feel lost at any point, ask the guard (or anyone) if you want to find food, the nearest exit, or something else – they’ll help you find it for sure.
The Main Attraction: Variety Bargain Shopping
It’s hard to get bored when bargain hunting at Greenhills and its even harder not to get lost in its stall after stall of bargain items, with each stall focusing on a certain type of good. Choices are endless, too, so don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t like the deal – you’re sure to find exactly want you want in another store and you will be spoiled by the number of choices.
Items range from electronics to fashion and everything in between, and don’t be surprised to find knock-off and not-quite-brand-name stuff being sold beside authentic collector shops so surely there’s something for everyone. Expect to see these top picks at Greenhills:
Everything Smartphone / Mobile Related
Everything you can think of – including smartphone gadgets, selfie gadgets, tablets, SIM cards (read the MNLgo article on prepaid SIM cards), load credits, accessories and miscellaneous stuff, repair, downloads and unlocking, and even buy/sell/trade of mobile devices. In Manila, if all else fails at your nearest mall, the next place you will want to go to to trade or have your smartphone fixed is Greenhills and it’s already become sort of a mini-culture. Aside from mobile devices, there are also specialty shops for PCs and laptops, and many other electronic items.
Games, Toys, and Authentic Collector Items
This is a haven for die-hard fans of toys and games where hobbyists can get popular and sometimes even rare limited edition collector items and action figues. If you’re looking to start or grow your toy collection, this corner of Greenhills is a good place to start.
Clothes, Shoes, and Eyewear
Footwear, shades/glasses, and clothing including uniform and costumes for everyone including babies, this is variety at a bargain people! Choose from unbranded to branded-but-questionable knock-offs of popular clothing and shoe brands – the only problem is that fitting rooms are a rare find so be prepared to improvise.
As for the shoe selection, even guys would swoon at the variety (shout out to basketball shoe fans). Remember that more often than not, the branded thing you’re looking at is a knock-off so better inspect everything for flaws because you can always ask for a better quality or switch stalls for the perfect one.
Replica Luxury Watches and Bags
These two deserve their own category because replica watches and designer handbags/suitcases are taken seriously at Greenhills. They might be mere knock-offs but at Greenhills, these replicas looks real enough (accessories, branded boxes included) to make you mistake it for the real ones.
Replica items here are classified into four categories: Class A, Class AA, Triple Class A (AAA), and Quadruple A (AAAA), the latter two being the closest to the real ones and for some unknown or questionable reason, they’re usually hidden at the back so you would have to ask for it to take a look. Class A and AA are a bit fake to feel and look at so they’re pretty inexpensive (could buy them for a few hundred pesos), but for the Class AAA and AAAA, price range could reach to up to tens of thousands of pesos that you could already buy a decent mid-tier bag or watch for that price point.
Philippine South Sea Pearls
We all already know that people come to Greenhills because it has plenty of things to offer, but then there are others who come here just for the Philippine South Sea Pearls (SSP). When local and international celebrities, wives of ambassadors and visiting heads of state, and queens take a moment out of their busy schedules just to head to Greenhills and get their own set of these much coveted jewels of the sea, then you know that something interesting is worth checking out here.
South Sea Pearls are the most rare and sought after and they’re usually harvested in the deep seas of Palawan and Mindanao regions in the Philippines. It only makes sense that the rarest are here, given the fact that the country is part of the planet’s center of marine biodiversity. Greenhills is a major trading hub for pearls in Manila, so a trip to this place is a must for pearl lovers. Make sure you do your research though or if you know nothing about pearls, the sales gal will be more than willing to teach you about it.
MNLgo tip: Although Greenhills is a bargain destination, the pearls are not cheap here and can cost tens of thousands of pesos if you’re looking for top quality pearls. For irregularly-shaped fresh water pearls and single pearls though, you can get for a few hundred pesos so it’s still possible for you to get a bargain.
Other Stuff: Souvenirs, Pasalubong, Local Delicacies, and Handicrafts
Pasalubong (souvenirs or coming home gifts) which can range from food to quirky stuff you can definitely find here. Just ask where the central fountain is at and once you see the stalls circling the fountain, you are in the right place. You can find dried sweet mangoes for just PHP50 or less, and go on a shopping fiesta as Filipino sweets and comfort food like chicharon, pastillas, mani (nuts), leche flan, kakanin (rice cakes), and the popular purple snack ube are always on sale.
If you’re not that big on food then Filipino handicrafts and textiles such as fine banana, piña (pineapple), or abaca silk fabrics, traditional wooden sculptures, and even religious items, you will want to see (or buy) more of. You can find everything here. Cosmetics, home decor, paintings, or flowering plants? They have it here, too.
- Always haggle. It’s normal at Greenhills because buyers are expected to haggle. Bring cash in small denominations because it’s easier to haggle when you pay with smaller bills. It also helps if you bring a local with you to avoid “tourist prices”. Read on our MNLgo guide to the art of haggling in the Philippines for more.
- Always bring cash. Credit card is not accepted in these little stalls although some bigger electronics store accept cards.
- Greenhills is vast so be prepared to walk and wear comfy clothes. It’s indoor and air-conditioned, in case you’re wondering.
Other things to do
True to the variety of finds in its main shopping area, various food hotspots ranging from fine dining (such as Gloria Maris) and Michelin starred restaurants to cheap eats are all over the place, so you won’t be hungry and you won’t be eating so-so food in this bargain haven. Catholic and Muslim worship places, very comfortable cinema at the Promenade, and concert venue at the Music Museum are in the area as well so good luck doing being able to do all the shopping stuff plus these other things to do in a day. 🙂
|Place/s Mentioned||Greenhills Shopping Center|
|Address||Ortigas Avenue, Greenhills, San Juan City, 1502 Metro Manila|
|Contact Number||(02) 721 0572|
|Hours||10am-9pm (Sundays-Thursdays), 10am-10pm (Fridays & Saturdays including holidays)|