Shopping in Singapore
If shopping were an Olympic sport, Singapore would be a nation of gold medalists. Brand worship and a growing disposable income have turned retail therapy into a national pastime. Servicemen in their fatigues carry luxury label paper bags, young girls clutch what looks like their body weight in purchases. On weekends the enterprising Sanctuary Bar on Orchard Road tends to those left behind by shoppers with their "Men-Minding Service." Recently, United Overseas Bank launched a Visa mini credit card that can be worn on a necklace to facilitate the transaction process.
Singapore is brilliantly set up for shoppers within a centralized geographical area. Air-conditioned underground walkways run along most of Orchard Road as well as from Raffles City to Suntec and surrounding areas, but you may prefer to walk on the street if you dislike shuffling crowds. Khmer objets d'art, funky Indian housewares, Chinese calligraphy, Indonesian teak furniture, Thai silk, Indian spices, and Vietnamese lacquerware are as easy to find as cutting-edge laptop computers and digital cameras. If you're loathe to lug your parcels around, you can send your purchases back to the hotel in a taxi (drivers are very trustworthy). Ask the store to call a taxi for you, then call your hotel to forewarn them. You'll need to pay your fare, based on the driver's estimation, when you hand over your parcels. Make sure your name, hotel, and room number are clearly marked. It's always a good idea to give them a few extra dollars in case they get stuck in traffic.
If you're interested in thumbing through haute couture, head to the Orchard and Scotts roads area to browse the designer boutiques at the Hilton Shopping Gallery, which is connected by an underground walkway to the Four Seasons Hotel arcade. The Paragon, a few blocks east, has local and imported high-end brands. The Heeren is on the next block, and across the road from The Paragon is the Wisma Atria. Trendy outfits can be found on the cheap at the Far East Plaza on Scotts Road.
Orchard Road is composed almost exclusively of mall after mall and is Singapore's prime shopping strip, especially for clothes and shoes. It's more than a mile long, but there are three MRT stops—Dhoby Ghaut, Somerset, and Orchard—that cover about two-thirds of it. The Tanglin Shopping Centre, with its distinctive antiques shops, is a 15-minute walk west from the Orchard MRT. A five-minute taxi ride from Tanglin are the former army officers' quarters on Dempsey Road. Here you'll find a selection of warehouses selling antiques, art, and rattan and teak furniture.
To avoid crowds and high prices, head for a suburban mall that's next to an MRT station. Junction 8, for example, is beside the Bishan MRT, and Tampines Mall and Century Square are next to the Tampines MRT.
The shops around Temple and Sago streets in Chinatown, Serangoon Road in Little India, Joo Chiat Road in the East Coast's Malay areas, and Arab Street market local baubles and tokens, herbal medicine, traditional housewares, antiques, religious sculptures, Chinese movie posters, and Indian tiffin boxes (stainless-steel lunch boxes). Generally speaking, the quality rivals that of the products found in the more touristy Orchard area, but because the overhead is much lower in the ethnic areas, the savings are passed on to you.
Bargain hunters should time a visit to Singapore with the annual mid-year Great Singapore Sale, which usually runs from late May through early June. During this eight-week extravaganza, all shopping centers and boutiques extend considerable discounts (up to 80%). This is a serious sale: zealous shoppers from around the region fly in, hotels and airlines offer bargain packages, and The Straits Times publishes supplements profiling the best deals. Hit the sale when it starts for the best bargains.
When you're tired of shopping, you can take a break at any of the eateries sprinkled around the shopping areas. There are reflexologists set up in malls to soothe your aching feet—and prime them for more pavement pounding.
Browse Singapore Shopping
- Household Items / Furniture
- Jewelry / Accessories
- Perfume / Cosmetics
- Shoes / Luggage / Leather Goods
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