Something is dawning amidst the cogon grass and turbid canals of the Pasay-Parañaque reclamation area, south of Manila Baywalk. Something potentially more exciting than the concrete behemoth called Mall of Asia. Welcome to Neo Chinatown.
A complex of six clusters characterized by traditional Chinese architecture and adorned by red lanterns, this open-air mall promises to rival the shopping and leisure experience of Old Chinatown in Binondo, Manila. Of course, this synthetic landmark can never compare to lively Ongpin, with its jewelry shops, restaurants, vegetable carts and trinket hawkers, but the district’s alleged reincarnation offers a refreshing ambience different from your usual weekend trip to yet another mall in the metropolis. It’s a convenient place to watch Manila’s world-famous sunset as well.
A night at Neo Chinatown is a banquet for the senses. The year-round night market is open from 4:00PM to 4:00AM, where bazaaristas sell clothing, shoes, antiquities and other bargain finds. An interesting booth called “Swap Meet” (no name posted at the bazaar) sells large black and white reprints of Manila, Antipolo and Baguio sceneries before the 1950s. After rounds of shopping, you can refuel at the food stalls area inspired by those found in Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore. Enjoy your grilled seafood and ice-cold tea at the square to the serenade of Chinese violin and fanfare of stilt-walking clowns and gyrating fire-eaters.
Neo Chinatown Mall is located at Bradco Avenue corner Diosdado Macapagal Blvd, Parañaque City. To get there, alight the MRT/LRT (P15.00) at the EDSA-Taft junction, where you can catch a jeepney (P7.50) or bus (P8.00) headed for Mall of Asia (MOA). Go down at Blue Wave Mall at EDSA-Macapagal Blvd. intersection. With MOA to your right, walk down Macapagal, cross the bridge and you will soon see the Mall’s distinct rooftops to your right along Bradco.