Everyone heads to bargain city Divisoria for Christmas shopping but the hassle of travel made me skip the experience for years. Lately I discovered the convenience of taking the Metro Commuter Train of the Philippine National Railways (PNR).
The Metro Commuter Train serves 17 stations in Metro Manila from Alabang to Tutuban, with trains scheduled every 30 minutes (every hour at noontime). Travel from Makati to Tutuban is only 30 minutes; one hour if coming from Alabang. Trains are clean and air conditioned, the fare is cheap and it drops you exactly where the shopping action is. What's really great is that the maximum size of allowable carry-ons (be it a bag, a trolley or box) is 18x18x15 inches, a size not usually allowed in other public trains and vehicles. For train schedules, route and fares, visit PNR's facebook page.
It is advisable to do your shopping on weekdays and take the early train that arrives at Tutuban between 7:30 and 9:30 AM. If you can, skip the 8:00 to 9:00 trips as these are usually packed with students who get off at the Sta. Mesa station.
The PNR Tutuban Station is just a few minutes’ walk to the heart of the Divisoria shopping district. I personally recommend shopping at the ground floor of Cluster Building of Tutuban Mall facing C.M. Recto for nifty gift items and party favors. This is only a few meters away from the train station and items are cheaper than offered in nearby malls and by street vendors.
For good eats, visit the food court of the new 168 Mall. It is best to finish your shopping at around 2 or 3 PM to avoid the train's peak and crowded hours. With the Metro Commuter Train experience, Divisoria is at everyone's easy reach.
On where exactly to find items in mind, security measures and other Divisoria tips, do read this related article.
In Metro Manila, the PNR services 17 stations from Alabang to Tutuban. The train arrives every 30 minutes in the morning and afternoon, and every hour at noon time. Fare is anywhere from P10 to P20. (Photo: Vito Cruz station)
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Like the MRT and LRT lines, forward coaches are for women, children, senior citizens and PWDs.
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The PNR station in Tutuban
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Located behind Tutuban Mall, the PNR station is just 200 meters from the shopping district.
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Map showing malls and shopping areas close to the PNR station.
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C. M. Recto Avenue is a 10-minute walk from the PNR station.
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Ground floor Cluster Building facing C. M. Recto. Gifts and party items can be bought here at cheaper prices than in malls and street stalls in Divisoria.
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The new 168 shopping mall along Recto Avenue
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The food court at the 5th floor of 168 mall.
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More food choices at 168 mall's food court.
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Multi-colored ballpen = P15 Ballpen with strap = P15 Pocket crayon set = P25 Stamp set = P35 Note pad = P10 Notebook with plastic jacket and pen = P35 Flash light = P20 Assorted characters available Items can be found at the cluster building ground floor.
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Stamp Set Angry birds (big)= P45 Animmal characters (small) = P35 Items can be found at the Cluster Building ground floor
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Assorted characters notebook and pen set = P12 each 10 pcs cutie pencils with eraser = P60/ set Items can be found at the Cluster Building ground floor
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Assorted glossy gift wrappers = P10 for 3pcs 25 pcs gift tags = P15/pack Items can be found along CM Recto, in front of Fiesta Plaza
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Drink pouches = P21 each Items can be found at the Cluster Building ground floor
Assorted watches for kids and adults = P75 each Items can be found at 168 mall
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Cars back pack: P180 Item can be found at the Cluster Building ground floor
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Head home at 2PM when the train is hardly packed. Allowable bag size is 18"x18"x15"
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Travel time from Tutuban to Buendia (and vice-versa) is 30 mins. To Alabang is 1 hour.