The SM Mall of Asia boasts over 3.5 hectares of floor area and over 8,000 parking slots. When hearing those facts, you could be forgiven for thinking this is actually an airport terminal, yet what you really learn is that Filipinos demand shopping centres as big as this, and visiting the SM Mall of Asia – the 3rd largest mall in the world – is certainly an experience you’ll never forget!
One thing I always remember from my time in the Philippine capital is the joy on the faces of the locals who were shopping in the giant malls here. The retail therapy that people have here is perhaps on par with what you would see in Singapore, as we forget about the recession and just be spent-thrift – and the SM Mall of Asia here beside Manila Bay is the perfect place for such a blasé attitude! Even as I was driven up the complex, I could see out of the front windscreen that it was a very impressive place, and the magnitude of the mall became more and more evident the closer we got.
There are so many shopping opportunities in Manila, from giant shopping malls to quaint outlets on the dimly-lit streets. I thought the malls were the best example of Pinoy retail therapy, as everybody here seemed to have bags in hand and walked around with a smile on their faces. In many ways, the SM Mall of Asia reminded me of the Dubai Mall, not just in terms of its size and grandiosity, but also simply because the average backpacker like me cannot afford much here! Also, it reminded me of Canal Walk in Cape Town with all its illuminated signs and decorations.
The stores here range from the local fare to the international brands like Uni-Qlo and Hermes. Some outlets I noticed like Dorothy Perkins I remember from the UK – and I did not expect to see it here in the Philippines! Vast natural light enters the building and it is a very well-designed shopping mall. I can see why it is so popular with Filipinos of every age group.
Fast food at SM Mall of Asia was very plentiful, and I even had the chance to try some McSpaghetti & fries from McDonald’s (how come Filipinos love spaghetti so much?), plus enjoy a Korean ice cream corn cone from a brand known as Jipangyi. I tried many of these in Insadong, Seoul, where they were invented, but I must say that in the heat and humidity of Manila, these ice creams worked a treat! It was a great way to wash down that spaghetti, too!