Shop till you drop
There’s practically a shopping sale of sorts all year round in Singapore, with the most notable one being the Great Singapore Sale. In addition to that, there are stretches of world-class shopping malls that offer you a wide array of shopping choices. You only need to take a walk down Singapore’s iconic shopping districts to find out what’s in store for you. One thing’s for sure, you won’t be leaving empty-handed, but with bag loads of great bargains and gifts. Get ready to shop till you drop!
Brace yourself for a world-class shopping experience. There are many shopping precincts you can explore to get your shopping fix, for a variety of shopping choices throughout the island.
For the latest in fashion trends, check out Orchard Road which is Singapore’s main shopping district. But if you’re looking for more cultural shopping, then the districts of Kampong Glam, Little India and Chinatown are most ideal. Here, you’ll find an assortment of ethnic products, jewellery, textiles, antiques and more.
The name of this quaint historic district possibly originates from the Gelam Tree, which used to grow in plentiful abundance in the area. In 1822, the land in Kampong Glam was officially allocated to the Malays and other Muslims, while it was also home to a small but successful community of Arab traders. In 1989, the Urban Development Authority gazetted Kampong Glam as a conservation area and most of the original architecture has now been restored and refurbished.
This district is just a stone’s throw away from Bugis MRT Station, and shopping haunts such as Bugis Junction and the bustling Bugis Market. Today, you’ll discover rows of conserved shophouses painted in vibrant colours lining Bussorah, Baghdad and Kandahar Streets. Many of them are now occupied by trendy design and IT firms, restaurants, caterers, art galleries, and craft and curios shops.
After a visit to the historical Sultan Mosque, you can step out to Bussorah Street which has been turned into a pedestrian thoroughfare. During colonial times, this was the heart of the Arab kampong and catered to the Muslim community’s religious needs. Nowadays, you can find an eccentric mix of old haberdasheries and new shops selling Singaporean wares such versions of the famed Singapore Airlines kebaya dress, decorative trinkets and accessories and books relating to Arabic and Muslim culture and religion.
From Bussorah Street, you can continue your idyllic walk down Muscat Street before turning into Arab Street, which was well known as a textile haven in the 1950s and 1960s. You can still find bales of silk, batik, lace, organza and other materials here, where customisation and tailoring services are also available. Bring home a ready-made traditional or modern Malay costume or browse the boundless variety of traditional games such as the congkak (a game involving marbles and a wooden board), carpets, antiques and rattan handicrafts such as wicker baskets to spruce up your home.
At the end of Arab Street is North Bridge Road, where you’ll find an abundance of shops selling unique wares catering to the Muslim community, including sandalwood, prayer beads, rehal (a book stand used specifically for the Quran) and wooden toothbrushes.
Don’t forget also to visit Haji Lane on your visit to Kampong Glam. An edgy and spirited non-descript back lane that’s behind the Sultan Mosque, it’s sure to excite shoppers with a taste for independent fashion boutiques and quirky small shops. With more than 20 shops for you to browse and explore, you’ll be sure to find some treasures at this favourite haunt for local art students and young creative types.
Escape the hustle and bustle
Holland Village is a favourite haunt for the expatriate community in Singapore, owing to the laidback charm it exudes. It is the perfect place if you want to spend the entire day relaxing, catching up with friends or simply listening to music.
For vacationers who don’t have much time to explore every nook and cranny, Holland Village is a microcosm of Singapore, and provides an array of shopping and entertainment options that you can only find in Singapore, a mere 10-minute taxi ride from Orchard Road.
Along Lorong Mambong, you’ll find an eclectic mix of live music joints, ritzy restaurants and casual wine bars. Among these establishments, you’ll also find traditional coffee houses where you can sip a cup of teh tarik (“pulled tea”) and watch the world go by, a wet market (selling fresh meat and fish) and antique stores. Photo enthusiasts also flock here during the day to develop film, frame their best works and invest in the latest equipment.
Holland Road Shopping Centre is a treasure trove of ethnic-inspired arts and crafts. It houses Lim’s Arts and Living, a mammoth store that displays choice antiques and other wares such as Moroccan dinnerware, bird cages, African figures and shisha pipes. Besides home decor items, you may even find one or two stores selling vintage clothing.
Opposite Holland Road Shopping Centre, you’ll come to Chip Bee Gardens, an area teeming with activity with its trendy Italian restaurants, quirky fashion stores, gourmet emporiums and art galleries. Come down to the trendy Holland Village, and experience a whole lot of style, fused with a mix of ethnic goodness.
Bring home a slice of Chinese Culture
Chinatown is Singapore’s largest historic district, nestled close to the bustling business hub. When Raffles announced Singapore as a trading post in 1819, many Chinese flocked to Singapore, and by the end of the 1860s, the Chinese community had grown to encompass 65% of the population in Singapore.
Chinatown is now made up of exotic pre-war shop houses, home to merchants who have been hawking the same wares for years – bales of fine silk, traditional handicrafts, and gold and jade jewellery. Make a visit to the large Chinese emporium Yue Hwa, conveniently located at the junction of Eu Tong Sen Street and Upper Cross Street. It stocks a wide array of authentic Chinese products such as tea, medicinal herbs, foods, household items, antiques and traditional Chinese costumes such as the cheongsam.
The best time to visit Chinatown is during Chinese New Year, when the Chinatown Food Market is abuzz with activity, from lion dances to Chinese opera performances. This much-anticipated festival enlivens the market even more, and is when you can find a dazzling array of stalls touting paper lanterns, Chinese calligraphy, opera masks, contemporary fashion and festive food. On most days, these stalls begin spilling onto Pagoda, Smith, Trengganu and Sago Streets by late morning.
Many shopping centres can also be found in Chinatown. Some of the more significant ones worth visiting include Chinatown Point, People’s Park Complex and the Chinatown Complex, which was built in 1972 and replaced the death houses that used to line Sago Lane. These malls not only sell a wide selection of Chinese products but also offer affordable electronic goods, textiles and discounted cosmetics and clothes.
If you’re keen on the latest trends in fashion, don’t miss Ann Siang Road and Club Street, where you can explore chic local boutiques such as Asylum and Style:Nordic. For a shopping experience that blends traditional Chinese heritage with contemporary offerings, the Chinatown stretch is a must-visit on your trip to Singapore.
The sounds of Little India
Little India is a cacophony of car horns, bicycle bells and the vibrant chatter of its residents. This explosion of sights, smells and sounds that you’ll find in Tekka Market is only a short walk from Little India MRT Station.
Tekka, as it’s popularly known, boasts a plethora of stalls selling Indian, Malay and Chinese food that regularly draws crowds from all over Singapore. There’s also a wet market stocked with the freshest vegetables, meat, fish, spices and flowers. Stock up on souvenirs such as brass oil lamps and pots, or buy a fresh garland of jasmine, whose scent is signature aroma of Little India.
Amid the pungent fragrances of spices and blooms is Serangoon Road and its inner lanes like Campbell Lane, Dunlop Street and Hindon Road. Here, look out for stalls selling Ayurvedic massage oils, gold, incense and fabrics in a variety of textures.
No trip to Little India is complete without an all-night shopping spree at the 24-hour emporium, Mustafa Centre, located at the corner of Serangoon and Syed Alwi Roads. Don’t be fooled by its inconspicuous exterior because this giant department store is a veritable treasure trove of household knick-knacks, decorative items, foods both packaged and fresh, Indian spices, a great range of apparel and textiles, electronic items and other ubiquitous buys, all at some of the lowest fixed prices in Singapore. Get your gold jewellery, spices, electronics and more, all at the bustling Little India.
The famous shopping strip
Orchard Road received its name from the orchards that used to encompass the area until the early 19th century, when a mysterious disease wiped out the nutmeg plantations. Since this area was surrounded by valleys, floods were also common here.
In the 1970s, buildings such as C. K. Tangs, Plaza Singapura and the Mandarin Hotel appeared and led the way for more entertainment complexes. Brick by brick and block by block, towers of steel and glass started to line what used to be mud tracks to make Orchard Road the famous shopping belt that it has become today.
One of the older shopping centres is Tanglin Shopping Centre, located near the start of Orchard Road. Just a stone’s throw away from the Regent Hotel, Tanglin Shopping Centre houses specialty stores selling an assortment of products such as beadwork, clothes, accessories, furniture and antiques, while arts and crafts galleries such as the Asia Ancient Gallery can also be found here.
A brand new retail experience awaits you at the ION Orchard, with more than 600,000 square feet of shopping space spanning over eight floors. The ground level houses luxury brands such as Prada, Ermenegildo Zegna and Louis Vuitton, while the basement levels are endlessly packed with shoppers from all walks of life – from students and nine-to-five workers, all drawn by the wide variety of high street brands such as Topshop, Fred Perry and Armani Exchange.
Another new shopping mall is Orchard Central. The interiors give out a cosy Spanish feel, with their balconies and grilles decorated with colourful blooms like bougainvilleas. You can also enjoy alfresco and roof gardens dining while experiencing a breathtaking view of the city, as you admire the world’s tallest indoor Via Ferrata Wall and artworks by renowned artists.
313@Somerset is also a new addition to the orchard shopping strip. It is home to the biggest Forever 21 flagship store in Singapore, which spans four floors in total.
With so many different malls selling all sorts of wares – from fashion and ethnic finds, to jewellery and furniture, Orchard Road offers much more than you can imagine. It’s no wonder then, that Singapore is known as a shopping heaven.
Enjoy a myriad of lifestyle offerings
Shop, dine and watch a movie all under one roof. These are just some of the things you can do in Singapore’s shopping malls. There are eateries for the foodies, cinemas for the movie buffs, and lots of shopping bargains for the shopaholics.
What’s amazing is that each shopping mall offers a distinctively unique shopping experience, yet enabling you to find what you need. Malls such as Ngee Ann City, ION Orchard and VivoCity are popular among the locals, so do pay them a visit while you’re here.
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Have a rewarding shopping experience
Shopping in Singapore is a rewarding experience, as you’ll find almost everything you’re looking for. The best part is, there are even specialised shops and malls for specific shopping interests!
This way, you’ll easily know where to go if you’re looking for a particular purchase. For example, the widest range of gadgets, including computers and electronics, are best found in Sim Lim Square and Funan Digital Mall. Or if you are looking for a good read, there are bookstores like Borders and Kinokuniya. Whatever your interest, there’s sure to be lots in store in Singapore.
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