7 Must-Visit Street Markets Throughout the Philippines
By Holly Fine
No matter where you travel in Southeast Asia, the ultimate way to experience the culture is by wandering around a local street market. Pak Khlong Market in Bangkok, Saturday Night Street Market in Chiang Mai, Dan Sinh Market in Saigon, ANM Khmer Market in Siem Reap – these are all local hotspots that you don’t want to miss.
The street market scene in the Philippines is no exception, especially in the capital city of Manila. Wandering through a Filipino street market might feel a bit overwhelming at first, but you’ll quickly start to appreciate all the craziness as you take it all in.
As you travel from Bohol to Cebu or Manila to El Nido, take a break from the crystal clear waters and white sand beaches. Spend some time eating, shopping, and observing Filipino culture by visiting these street markets throughout the Philippines island chain:
- Salcedo Saturday Market in Makati
- Baguio City Public Market in Baguio
- Divisoria Market in Manila
- Taboan Public Market in Cebu
- Maginhawa Food Park in Quezon
- Malatapay Market in Dumaguete
Salcedo Saturday Market, Makati
Makati’s Salcedo Saturday Market is located on the island of Luzon, which can be found in the northern end of the Philippines. Just like most local markets in the Philippines, Salcedo is mainly focused on food, so be sure to arrive with an empty stomach. Booth after booth is selling local cuisine, but you’ll also find a variety of international food options if you need a break from Filipino food.
This is a small market compared to others found in major cities like Manila and Cebu, but there’s no shortage of souvenirs to buy and food to eat. Shopping at Salcedo isn’t just an amazing way to experience the culture, but it’s also the best way to support local merchants and artists.
Baguio City Public Market, Baguio
Also known as the “Wet & Dry” Market, Bagui City Market is all about joining the locals in a shopping frenzy. This is the best spot in Baguio City to purchase fresh produce, seafood, meat and poultry, imported chocolate, and locally-made knick-knacks. Everything you could ever want or need can be bought at the BCPM.
The action of the Bagui market begins as soon as the sun goes down. Most local vendors start selling their products around 7 pm, but some of them will be open 24 hours. A TripAdvisor reviewer says that “the Baguio Public Market is the only place you need to go to for your Pasalubong (Souvenirs) needs. Prices are much cheaper but compare prices first.”
Divisoria Market, Manila
As the capital city of the Philippines, Manila is the epicenter when it comes to local street markets. Take your pick from dozens of Manila street markets, but whatever you do, make sure to add the Divisoria Market to your to-do list. It’s famous among locals for cheap goods, but tourists love Divisoria for its all-out craziness.
You’ll see lots of reviews of Divorsia saying that it’s “overcrowded”, “crazy”, and “far from relaxing”. But visiting a street market is not supposed to be about relaxation. It’s about fully immersing yourself in the culture, even if that means leaving your comfort zone for a few hours.
Taboan Public Market, Cebu
Just like Manila, Cebu is no stranger to local street markets. Whether you’re visiting Cebu for one night or one week, a trip to Taboan Public Market is a must. Not only is this the best spot in the city to chow down on local Cebuan food, but it’s also a place where you can pay homage to the well-traveled Anthony Bourdain.
Bourdain paid a visit to Taboan in an episode of No Reservations. Just as he tried a variety of local cuisine (some more appetizing than others), you should do the same. This is the best place to try danggit, a dried fish delicacy that the locals know as a “poor man’s food”. Whether you’re rich or poor, be sure to try danggit right before you chow down on the famous dried mangoes of Taboan.
Maginhawa Food Park, Quezon City
Luzon’s Maginhawa Food Park is located in the heart of Quezon City. This market is all about one thing and one thing only: food. Next to the booths selling local Filipino food, you’ll find everything from pizza to pasta to ice cream. It’s always tempting to turn to foods that we’re familiar with, but try to broaden your horizons by supporting the local food culture.
As you travelers walk through the food park, it’s normal for their eyes to be bigger than their stomachs. To make the most of this foodie experience, do your best to try a little bit of everything. Avoid ordering massive portions and don’t set your sights on just one food booth.
Malatapay Market, Dumaguete City
Walking through Dumaguete City’s Malatapay Market is an eye-opening experience for westerners traveling to the Philippines. Unlike the markets of Manila and Cebu, Malatapay is as local as it gets with very little influence from tourism. This is a fantastic place to experience the simplicity (yet hecticness) of local life, see what locals are buying and selling, and watch how they interact with one another.
Holly Fine is a freelance writer and traveler based in Tokyo.