First time visitors to Singapore are struck by the preponderance of shopping malls, but they soon adapt to the Singaporeans retail obsession. During May-July Singapore celebrates this love of shopping with their Great Singapore Sale when huge discounts are offered in many stores, and raffles, competitions and entertainment for all ages take place.
Singaporeans like to hang out in shopping malls, not just to shop, but to eat, watch a film, or to have a respite from the relentless humidity of the outside world. If you can’t decide where to go, or need something in particular, then ring the Shopping Helpline on 1-800 736 2000, a 24-hour toll-free service that can also advise on accommodation. Opening hours in most stores are from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Where to Shop in Singapore
Orchard Road is Singapore’s main shopping drag, a mixture of London’s Oxford and Regent Streets with a dash of Knightsbridge thrown in and a bit of Bangkok’s Silom Road for good measure. Many hotels are located along Orchard Road and the shops there range from chic boutiques to massive shopping malls like Tangs department store and the more up-market Paragon which specialises in designer outlets.
Top Shopping Malls in Singapore
Vivocity is almost a destination in its own right with a walkway along the waterfront facing Sentosa Island, a multi-screen cinema complex, restaurants, shops and a rooftop padding pool.
Raffles City is at the expensive edge of the shopping experience but if you carry a platinum card, then this is the place for the one-off designer item, or that article unobtainable anywhere else.
Far East Plaza for young fashions, Funan Digital Life for electronics, Tanglin Shopping Centre for carpets and pearls, and Suntec City Mall is designed according to Feng Shui principles, including Koi Carp in a pool to encourage prosperity.
Festival Time in Singapore
The festivals in Singapore start with the Christmas Light Up Tour in September and continue right through to Chinese New Year. The main festivities are listed here
Bugis Street in Singapore
Originally the red-light area of Singapore but now transformed into a sanitized tourist area, Bugis Street is the place for bargains with a covered bazaar offering clothes, CDs, DVDs and handicrafts all at bargain prices. Bugis Junction is a covered, air-conditioned mall with shop fronts designed to look something like the old Bugis Street (but a cleaned-up version). Be prepared to be jostled by half the population of Singapore as Bugis is a favourite place for shopping. Many of the outlets here stay open until midnight (check with the shopping helpline above).
Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam
Shopping at a more leisurely pace but not in shopping malls as there are few in these areas. Chinatown has the Complex Temporary Market on Outram Road where exotic vegetables and fruits can be found. Little India is good for clothing and gold jewelry (the Mustafa Centre is open 24 hours a day), and Kampong Glam, the Arab area, offers fabric shops where the tailors can rustle up an outfit in a couple of days, small shops selling exquisite pashminas and beaded bags.
Make sure you hang on to your receipts if you spend more than S$100 (22 Euros or US$66) as you can get a refund of the VAT as you leave the country.