I'm from Australia, the land of shopping malls. We have the world's largest developer/owner of shopping malls headquartered right here in Australia, namely Westfield. A big name here in Australia. A big name in the USA.
A shopping mall as a tourist attraction? Ho hum, I thought to myself. What possibly could a third world country such as the Philippines (ok... developing nation in the metro area) know about shopping malls that would warrant it as a tourist destination?
Oh, how wrong could I be!
I've never seen or experienced anything like this in my life. Big? It makes our Westfields look like little corner stores by comparison! I went with a couple of friends, moreso for looking than for shopping, and it took an entire day - and still we didn't see it all.
According to Wikipedia, SM Mall of Asia was until recently the largest shopping mall in Asia. It has now been surpassed by another Philippines mall by the same developer, relegating it to the second largest shopping mall in Asia and the fourth largest in the world.
I am used to shopping malls having some entertainment features built in. Cinemas are common here in Australia, for example... but the Mall of Asia blasts all ideas of what a shopping mall can be right out of the water. Multiplex cinemas, plus a full screen IMAX screen, then throw in a full size ice skating rink on the ground floor surrounded by one of the food courts, a bowling centre, a monstrous sized children's play area, gardens, a promenade walkway facing Manila Bay positioned perfectly to catch the world famous Manila sunsets, an adjoining full scale fun park with one of the biggest and most colourful Ferris wheels you've ever seen in your life, entertainment areas, a science discovery centre... the list just goes on and on... and on and on...
There is nothing particularly or specifically "Philippines" about this mall. (Except maybe the security, with x-ray scanners and guards with wands at every entrance - something I found at any place in Manila that draws a crowd.) It is very modern, very western, rather upmarket shopping mall. I read that it caters for 200,000 people every day, yet it is so large and spacious, you never feel like you are crowded in. No crushes, plenty of room for everyone.
There is shopping for everyone, too. Wherever you are from on this planet, you'll find all the retail brands with which you are familiar. All your Asian chains are there. All your US chains are there. All your Aussie chains are there. All your European chains are there.
Do you like food? There's more than just a food court. There are numerous food courts. Additionally, there are two of most of the big name fast food places such as Jollibee, McDonalds, KFC, etc... and then there is the promenade with the sunsets on one side and the whole row of more formal diners and restaurants of many different national cuisines on the other.
Then there is the technology section, with dozens of specialist tech companies represented. There are (at least) two massive upmarket department stores. Medical centre. Not to mention the Hypermarket. "Hypermarket? What is that?" I hear you ask. Well, that's like a supermarket on steroids. If you are an Australian reading this, think of a large Coles or Woolworths store. That alone will be the size of the fresh food section in the hypermarket! Believe me, you've never seen anything like this in your life! But the Hypermarket is more than just that. Triple the size of your local Coles or Woolworths and you'll start to get the idea of the size of their *grocery* section... and then imagine that a full sized Kmart AND Target store were all under the one roof, all part of this one shop. OK... now you're starting to picture what a Hypermarket is.
Frankly, I'm not a shopper. If you get your kicks from shopping, this SM Mall of Asia is your Heaven on earth. As for the rest of you, those just like me who aren't born to shop, go anyway. Allow yourself an entire day (at least). You'll just find the enormous scale, the enormous variety, the innovation of it all just so indescribably jaw dropping.,
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.