Singapore is an excellent place for shopping and has over 250 shopping malls to visit. Alongside ‘eating’, shopping is considered the national past time on the island. Ranging from hi-tech wares to designer wear, there is something for everyone. Browsing around local markets and shop-houses in the ethnic enclaves to the glitzy portals of Orchard Road, the experiences are wide, varied and even intriguing.
For most visitors, Orchard Road is a must-visit on the itinerary. Packed with modern malls and hotels, this stretch is transformed into a dazzling display of lights and festive embellishments at Christmas time when all buildings join in the annual festive light-up. Fabulous knick knacks and other memorable finds are also found in Chinatown, Arab Street, Little India and the suburban areas like Holland Village, Katong and Tampines. Unlike most Western countries, shopping hours usually start from late morning to 21:30 or 22:00 at night and these can extend to as late as midnight during festive season.
The mid-year Great Singapore Sale is a much looked-forward to time when prices come down heftily in all precincts. Even during non-sale times, visitors will do well to bargain, particularly, in electronic stores found at Lucky Plaza, Sim Lim Square or Far East Plaza. A general rule of thumb for haggling is to begin about 25% -30% below that being offered. Do make it a point to compare prices at various shops. For convenience, most stores accept credit and charge cards.
1. Orchard Road Shopping
Similar to London’s Oxford Street or Hong Kong’s Tshimshatsui, this bustling boulevard got its name after the nutmeg and pepper plantations that once lined it in the 1800s. Flanked on both sides by local and international department stores, tiny boutiques, offices, spas, beauty salons, hotels, entertainment spots, restaurants, and cafes, one could spend a whole day trawling the stretch starting from Tanglin Mall on Tanglin Road down to Plaza Singapura at the lower end of Orchard Road.
|Orchard Road - Singapore|
- The Centrepoint: 176 Orchard Road
- DFS Galleria Scottwalk: 5 Scotts Road
- Far East Plaza: 14 Scotts Road
- The Heeren: 260 Orchard Road
- Tanglin Shopping Centre: 19 Tanglin Road
- Tangs: 320 Orchard Road
- Wisma Atria: 435 Orchard Road
- Paragon Shopping Centre: 290 Orchard Road
- Plaza Singapura: 68 Orchard Road
- Ngee Ann City: 391 Orchard Road
- Palais Renaissance: 390 Orchard Road
2. Chinatown Shopping
With the Chinese forming over 75% of the population, one can expect Chinatown to be a prominent landmark that evolved from the time of the first immigrants in the 19th century. Today, it is a vivid and energetic gazetted conservation precinct bounded by these major roads - Eu Tong Sen St, New Bridge Road and South Bridge Road. Interspersed with modern tall buildings, the appeal of the old era is still preserved in the charming pre-war shop-houses, temples, markets, Chinese medicine halls and tea houses.
The best time to visit Chinatown is during the Lunar New Year, usually in January or February. One month before the New Year, Chinatown goes into a decorative frenzy of stunning lights and ornaments – a photographer’s delight. Streets are filled with stalls touting their wares – foodstuffs, clothes, pottery, plants and other household items. Another brilliant burst of colours and lights occurs during the Mid-Autumn Festival held traditionally in September. This is when the streets become festooned with a myriad of lanterns of all shapes and sizes; and locals go on a buying spree of the seasonal mooncakes.
|Chinatown - Singapore|
- Chinatown Complex: 335 Smith Street
- Chinatown Point & Singapore Handicraft Center: 133 New Bridge Road
- Yue Hwa Emporium: 70 Eu Tong Sen Street
- OG Department Store & People’s Park Complex: 100 Upper Cross Street OG Building
- Chinatown Street Stalls: Pagoda Street, Trengganu Street, Sago Lane, Smith Street and Temple Street.
3. Clake Quay Riverside Shopping
Since its early days, the Singapore River has played a significant role in the history of the island. From the time of Sir Stamford Raffles, the River established itself as a thriving centre for trading, commercial and financial activities. Warehouses and shophouses were dispersed along the banks of the river in tandem with emerging communities and their cultures which contributed to the rich, diverse heritage found in the area.
Today, a growing number of office, residential, retail, lifestyle and hotel buildings can be found along the river. Visitors can glide up and down the river in bum boat taxis reminiscent of the old trading days and disembark at designated stops.
Along the River, you will find shopping centres such as, Riverside Point, Clarke Quay, Liang Court and Great World City, which is a little more inland.
The nearest MRT station here is Clarke Quay.
|Clake Quay - Singapore|
- Riverside Point: 30 Merchant Road
- Central: 6 Eu Tong Sen Street
- Clarke Quay: 3 River Valley Road
- Liang Court: 177 River Valley Road
- Great World City: 1 Kim Seng Promenade
4. Little India ; Sim Lim Square Shopping
One of the most colourful and vibrant ethnic enclaves in Singapore, Little India is a hive of activity from dawn to midnight everyday. The focal point of the Indian community, Little India has become a gazetted conservation area with its own MRT stop and another one called Farrer Park.
The main thoroughfare, Serangoon Road is easily connected by side lanes, which makes shopping and walking around a breeze. Your senses will be pleasantly assaulted by the heady mix of colours, sounds and captivating scents of shops teeming with spices, rich sari fabrics, flower garlands, jewellery, brassware, silverware, traditional snacks and more. Here you might even spot a parakeet fortune telling service along the shop fronts.
The best time to visit Little India is the month leading to Deepavali (also known as Diwali) or the Festival of Lights usually held in October. The hub is transformed into an incredible display of lights and Indian decorations with bazaars. Even if you do not buy anything, the festive atmosphere is infectious enough for you to just capture it on camera.
|Little India - Singapore|
Another spectacular festival is Thaipusam, a religious celebration that takes place at the Hindu temples there in January or February. Witness devotees pierced with kavadis, heavily ornamented wooden or metal arches, walking in a long processional route from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road.
- Serangoon Road and Side Street Shops
- Mustafa Centre: 145 Syed Alwi Road
- Sim Lim Square and Computer Centre: 1 Rochor Canal Road