Day Trips · Philippines · Things to do in Manila

Things to Do in Manila: The Baclaran Experience

In this post:

  • How to get to Baclaran
  • Bargain Shopping Guide
  • Nightlife at Victory Food Market

Having heard a lot about the Baclaran Market, it was high time to explore this colorful spot.

For one, I’d been told before that if you wanted to buy clothes, this was the place to go. In truth, with all the wear and tear from travel in this past year, more than a few items in my wardrobe were in need of replacement. With more and more garments sprouting holes, my proudly minimalist wardrobe was bordering on an existential crisis.

Still, I didn’t want to spend my travel savings on expensive clothes at the mall that I may or may not ultimately be all that happy with. My partner was on board, so together we ventured into the hot, sweaty, vendors-as-far-as-the-eye-can-see territory of Baclaran Market.

Getting to Baclaran with Public Transportation

A good place to start is on Redemptorist Road. There are a couple of big buildings here but most of the action is on the street.

Coming from Roxas Boulevard, the first thing you’ll see on the corner is FPC Buildingwith a Chowking right at the front.

Behind that is another building called Berma, which has various shops on the lower levels and is entirely abandoned at the top. On these empty floors, you’ll find a shelled-out cinema that reeks of eighties nostalgia.

Next in line is the Victory Food Market, which again has shops on the lower levels. In contrast to old Berma however, this building is much more modern. Plus, the top floors are very much occupied.

More on that in the Nightlife section up ahead. Let’s get back to getting to Baclaran.

Also on Redemptorist Road, across from the commercial buildings, you’ll find Baclaran Church

Fortunately for us, getting to here was easy. We are staying in the south, near Alabang-Zapote Road. From there, you can catch any Lawton bus (the same one that takes you up to Intramuros).

From the south:
Catch a bus or and jeep to Baclaran from SM Southmall or along Alabang-Zapote Road.

From the north:
If you’re in the city of Manila (think Intramuros, the Bureau of Immigration, Chinatown, and Divisoria) you can take the same bus that comes from SM Southmall on its way back down, or any vehicle that says “Baclaran” (there are lots of them).

You can also take the LRT or MRT. Baclaran Station is the last stop on the LRT line and also not far from the Taft MRT Station.

Bargain Shopping Guide: What to Buy in Baclaran

Baclaran Market extends far beyond Redemptorist Road and the commercial buildings there. In fact, my partner and I got off our bus too early so we made our way up from a bit farther south.

We wandered down a few empty looking streets and eventually were pointed in the direction of the market zone. It was on Quirino Avenue where we found the first shops, starting with some pretty some nice clothing stores and moving into endless stall-filled streets.

What kinds of shops can you find in Baclaran?

  • A wide variety of clothing shops and outdoor stalls
  • School supply and fabric stores
  • Shoe and bag shops
  • Stalls with electronics and other random items
On Redemptorist Road, facing out toward Roxas Boulevard

Clothing

While some clothing shops were air-conditioned and one or two even had changing rooms, most of the clothes you’ll find for sale in Baclaran are in road-side stalls.

There are loads of shorts and T-shirt for men and women alike, as well as stalls geared toward ladies items such as negligees and swimwear. In addition to bikinis, a few stalls feature eye-catching arrays swimming gear and paraphernalia.

On the ground level of the Berma building, there were also stalls with traditional Filipino wear (lots of barongs).

School Supplies & Fabrics

Tucked into the labyrinth of side streets, you’ll find vendors with material for (or pre-made) school uniforms and other fabrics, as well as a mish-mash of school-related supplies.

Shoes & Bags

There were lots of shoe shops but most of the footwear we saw was used. Some shops had new shoes, but we found the selection was too small to find what we were looking for.

Bags, on the other hand, all appeared to be new. However, not on our shopping list.

Electronics & Other

From what we saw, most of what Baclaran has to offer (especially compared to places like Divisoria) is clothing. Beyond that, you may find a few vendors selling phone accessories and simple electronics, or random road-side goods such as glow-in-the-darks.

Which is an awesome way to decorate a child’s bedroom!

Street Food Stop

When it comes to street food in Manila, I have a history of being pretty unadventurous. Being vegetarian now doesn’t help. Still, my partner hasn’t relented from making me try new things.

So, in Baclaran, I had my first try of tokneneng.

A vendor selling tokneneng, veggie lumpia, seafood balls, and tokwa (tofu) on sticks

Tokneneng is eggs (itlog in Tagalog)usually chicken and quailboiled, covered in an orange batter, deep fried, and served up with cucumber and a vinaigrette. You can also add other spicy and/or sweet sauces to the mix.

Though I’ve always thought the bright orange color looked a bit ominous, they were not bad at all and definitely worth a try.

Other tasty options for vegetarians include the vegetable lumpia and tofu (tokwa in Tagalog).

For an idea of price, a little street food meal for two comprised of 4 quail eggs, 2 lumpia, and 8 pieces of tokwa cost us 55 pesos.

Back to shopping!

What we thought was worth it:

Baclaran is great for clothes that are semi-generic or “free size” as the vendors will say. Here are some of the things we found worth getting:

  • Sportswear: gym shorts and shirts; sports bras
  • Swimwear: bikinis (took a bit of looking but there is quite a selection)
  • Women’s clothing: tops and dresses
  • Men’s clothing: shorts and T-shirts

What we didn’t opt for:

When it comes to items like jeans, or the cheese-cloth style shirt my partner was looking for, finding the right fit in Baclaran might be difficult. With other items, you’ll probably want to go with quality over cost-friendliness.

  • Jeans: difficult to find the right size
  • Barongs and cheese-cloth shirts: might want to find a local tailor instead
  • Earphones and electronics: best to opt was a quality guarantee
  • Shoes: used shoes are not usually a good idea and the selection of new outlet-store-tye footwear was minimal

Baclaran Nightlife: Eat, Drink, Sing

What better way to celebrate your great acquisitions and rest your tired feet after hours of shopping then to relax with a cold beer on a rooftop bar or sip cocktails in a plush KTV room?

All of this and more is available in Baclaran, on the 7th floor of the Victory Food Market.

In addition to option, prices are pretty good. You can have a beer for 60 pesos or mason jar cocktails starting at 90. If you’re with a group, try the carafes or cocktail towers. The carafes are all rum-based and pretty tasty but don’t ask what’s inside the towers.

Once you’re ready to get back on your feet, you can play billiards at 25 pesos per game or 100 per hour. Challenge for a table and you might meet some interesting locals.

The view from the roof: the tarmac of NAIA against the backdrop of some distant mountains

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