Singapore

Shopping is a serious business in Singapore. Designer fashions, handcrafted jewelry, Khmer objets d‘art, cutting-edge electronics, Indian spices—the variety of goods sold in Singapore is likely to impress even the most seasoned shopper.

Here you’ll find an island well suited to full-day retail expeditions, from the mile-long strip of shoulder-to-shoulder mega-malls along dizzying Orchard Road to clusters of boutiques housed in the renovated shophouses in ethnic enclaves such as Chinatown and Kampong Glam. A growing number of independent shops are popping up within hip neighborhoods like Tiong Bahru and Little India, adding some welcome variety. Dempsey Hill, best known for its wining and dining, is also home to warehouse-like galleries filled with Southeast Asian antiques, artwork, furnishings, and housewares.

Bargain hunters should mark their calendars for the Great Singapore Sale, an annual eight-week extravaganza held from late May through July. At this time all of Singapore’s shopping centers and many independent stores slash prices by up to 80%. It pays to come early, though, as the biggest bargains are quickly snapped up by hawkeyed locals and zealous shoppers from around the region who flock to the island specially for the event.

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  • 1. BooksActually

    Tiong Bahru | Other Specialty Store

    Wooden planks painted like piano keys mark the entrance to BooksActually, a vintage shop and bookstore on the hip Yong Siak Street. Here you...

    Wooden planks painted like piano keys mark the entrance to BooksActually, a vintage shop and bookstore on the hip Yong Siak Street. Here you can browse a thoughtful selection of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry to the sound of light indie-pop tunes and the typing of twentysomething staff members. (BooksActually also owns a boutique publishing house.) Behind the front desk is a large room packed floor to ceiling with all manner of bric-a-brac: glassware, salvaged turn-of-the-century family photos, vinyl records, local artwork, action figures, funky home decor, and one of the better Pez dispenser collections in Singapore.

    9 Yong Siak St., Singapore, Central Singapore, 168645, Singapore
    -6222–9195
  • 2. China Square Central

    Chinatown | Shopping Centers/Malls

    This mall is the best place in Singapore for vintage and designer toys. Here you can nerd out in more than ten shops that are packed with scores...

    This mall is the best place in Singapore for vintage and designer toys. Here you can nerd out in more than ten shops that are packed with scores of action figures and collectibles, vintage video-game consoles, comic books, and much more. Head to Very Cool Stuff (#01–27) for a nostalgic trip down a memory lane lined with Darth Vaders and G.I. Joes; Past Time Collectable (#02–22) for a vast selection of Japanese imports; and The Vintage Diary (#01–14) to browse a husband-and-wife team's fun mix of old-school toys and, somewhat randomly, women's fashion. A toy flea market is held here every Sunday.

    18 Cross St., Singapore, Central Singapore, 048423, Singapore
    -6327–4473
  • 3. Haji Lane

    Kampong Glam | Neighborhoods

    Need a break from Singapore's fun but sometimes suffocating mall culture? Head to the open air and this strip of restored shophouses, which...

    Need a break from Singapore's fun but sometimes suffocating mall culture? Head to the open air and this strip of restored shophouses, which stretches from Beach Road to North Bridge Road in Kampong Glam. Among the 50 indie fashion and lifestyle shops are Sup (trendy streetwear and limited-edition sneakers), Victoria Jomo (handbags, vintage jewelry, designer women's clothing), and The Salad Shop (imported housewares and fashions). The best way to tackle Haji Lane is to simply give yourself a few hours to wander and window-shop at random.

    between Beach Rd. and North Bridge Rd., Singapore, Central Singapore, 189231, Singapore
  • 4. ION Orchard

    Orchard | Shopping Centers/Malls

    With a bold, sci-fi-inspired facade, a 56th-floor viewing deck replete with high-powered telescopes, and the excellent Salt Grill restaurant...

    With a bold, sci-fi-inspired facade, a 56th-floor viewing deck replete with high-powered telescopes, and the excellent Salt Grill restaurant, this is not your everyday mega-mall, even by Singapore's lofty standards. There are over 300 luxury shops, local boutiques, a cavernous food hall, and a gourmet supermarket, but that's not all. On the fourth floor you'll find the 5,600-square-foot ION Art Gallery, which regularly exhibits works from local and international artists.

    2 Orchard Turn, Singapore, Central Singapore, 238801, Singapore
    -6238–8228
  • 5. Jamal Kazura Aromatics

    Kampong Glam | Perfume/Cosmetics

    Locals flock to Jamal Kazura Aromatics for high-quality perfumes and essential oils. Allow about 30 minutes for a consultation with one of the...

    Locals flock to Jamal Kazura Aromatics for high-quality perfumes and essential oils. Allow about 30 minutes for a consultation with one of the shop's staff members, who'll ask you a few questions about your lifestyle and favorite smells before concocting your personalized take-home fragrance. Call ahead to make an appointment. There are two other nearby outlets: one at 27 Arab Street and another at 21 Bussorah Street.

    728 North Bridge Rd., Singapore, Central Singapore, 198696, Singapore
    -6293–2350
  • 6. Mustafa Centre

    Little India | Shopping Centers/Malls

    This used to be a humble store frequented only by Indian shoppers—until word spread about its low prices and mind-boggling variety of goods...

    This used to be a humble store frequented only by Indian shoppers—until word spread about its low prices and mind-boggling variety of goods. A visit to this sprawling, 24-7 complex in Little India just might be your most memorable Singapore shopping experience, provided you don't mind patiently navigating the sometimes overwhelming crowds. Surrounded by scores of Indian restaurants, some of which are similarly open all day and night, Mustafa Centre carries just about any manufactured product you can imagine—and they're often sold at cut-rate prices. It's great fun to wander and see what kind of treasures you can turn up. Be sure to check out the massive supermarket.

    145 Syed Alwi Rd., Singapore, Central Singapore, 207704, Singapore
    -6295–5855
  • 7. Ngee Ann City

    Orchard | Shopping Centers/Malls

    The Japanese department store Takashimaya dominates this gigantic shopping mall, but there are also more than 130 other shops and dining outlets...

    The Japanese department store Takashimaya dominates this gigantic shopping mall, but there are also more than 130 other shops and dining outlets packed into this somewhat drab building. The basement food center is fun for snacking on everything from Hokkaido-style ice cream and Italian-style gelato to marinated meats and freshly baked breads, and there's also, of course, a large food court if you're craving something more substantial. Books Kinokuniya is one of the biggest bookstores in Southeast Asia, and special sales on clothing, housewares, and other goods are regularly held in the basement-level square.

    391 Orchard Rd., Singapore, Central Singapore, 238873, Singapore
    -6506–0461
  • 8. The Little Dröm Store

    Chinatown | Crafts

    There's an air of whimsy to the playful design of this cute-and-colorful Chinatown boutique, where original Polaroid cameras and View-Masters...

    There's an air of whimsy to the playful design of this cute-and-colorful Chinatown boutique, where original Polaroid cameras and View-Masters (remember those?) share shelf space with vintage dolls and orange elephantine figures. Expect an artsy collection of handcrafted jewelry from indie Singaporean designers Vice & Vanity, children's books, paper products, housewares, and the store's own animal-inspired Hug a Porcupine line of accessories. Art exhibitions are held periodically, too.

    7 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore, Central Singapore, 069791, Singapore
    -6225–5541
  • 9. Wing Antiques & Collectibles

    Chinatown | Antiques & Collectibles

    It's a shame that no photography is allowed at this dusty old antique shop. Its remarkable groups of vintage goods, arranged in what you might...

    It's a shame that no photography is allowed at this dusty old antique shop. Its remarkable groups of vintage goods, arranged in what you might call haphazard symmetry, make for one of the more photogenic mishmashes of random, wonderful stuff in Singapore. Then again, photos might sully the surprises an hour of treasure hunting might yield. If you like thrifting, you'll love Wing Antiques.

    #02–21, China Square Central, 18 Cross St., Singapore, Central Singapore, 048423, Singapore
    -6438–0089
  • 10. 313@Somerset

    Orchard | Shopping Centers/Malls

    Another impressive block in Orchard Road's row of massive mega-malls, 313@Somerset contains eight levels of shopping and dining distraction...

    Another impressive block in Orchard Road's row of massive mega-malls, 313@Somerset contains eight levels of shopping and dining distraction. Key tenants include UNIQLO, Japan's popular clothing store chain; three floors of fashion at Forever 21; and EpiCentre, an Apple resell store. In 313's open-air Discovery Walk you'll find a clutch of buzzing bars and restaurants, including a branch of the ever-busy Brotzeit German Bier Bar & Restaurant as well as JiBiru Japanese Craft Beer Bar, which deals in local and imported microbrews. It also has Singapore's biggest selection of small-batch Japanese beers.

    313 Orchard Rd., Singapore, Central Singapore, 238895, Singapore
    -6496–9313
  • 11. Actually+

    Kampong Glam | Clothing

    This second-floor shop carries street-smart fashion and accessories from more than 60 local and international designers. Stylish Fjallraven...

    This second-floor shop carries street-smart fashion and accessories from more than 60 local and international designers. Stylish Fjallraven Kanken backpacks, colorful Happy Socks, Dr. Denim jeans, and handcrafted hats and jewelry from Philippines-based OS Accessories are just a sample of what you'll find. Another branch, called just Actually, is at 29A Seah Street.

    118A Arab St., Singapore, Central Singapore, 199813, Singapore
    -6298–8492
  • 12. Antiques of the Orient

    Orchard | Antiques & Collectibles

    Head to this long-established store inside the Tanglin Shopping Centre for an interesting selection of vintage Southeast Asian artifacts and...

    Head to this long-established store inside the Tanglin Shopping Centre for an interesting selection of vintage Southeast Asian artifacts and collectibles, including original books, photos, maps, and prints.

    #02–40 Tanglin Shopping Centre, 19 Tanglin Rd., Singapore, Central Singapore, 247909, Singapore
    -6734–9351
  • 13. Art Forum

    Orchard | Art Galleries

    Owned by the Shanghai-born art dealer and author Marjorie Chu, Art Forum is a beautiful contemporary art gallery with a focus on Southeast Asia...

    Owned by the Shanghai-born art dealer and author Marjorie Chu, Art Forum is a beautiful contemporary art gallery with a focus on Southeast Asia. Paintings and sculptures from more than 150 local and international artists are on display within this restored, whitewashed terrace house, and Chu herself is a wonderful resource for learning about the region's evolving arts scene.

    82 Cairnhill Rd., Singapore, Central Singapore, 229684, Singapore
    -6737–3448

    Shop Details

    Rate Includes: Closed Sun.
  • 14. Asiatique Collections

    Dempsey Hill | Antiques & Collectibles

    Occupying a large 5,000-square-foot space on Dempsey Hill, this store specializes in jewelry, art, and home furnishings from around the world...

    Occupying a large 5,000-square-foot space on Dempsey Hill, this store specializes in jewelry, art, and home furnishings from around the world. There's a focus on natural and recycled materials, and personalized services such as custom-made furniture and home design are available.

    #01–14, 14–18 Dempsey Rd., Singapore, Central Singapore, 249669, Singapore
    -6471–1853
  • 15. Bhutan Shop

    Tiong Bahru | Other Specialty Store

    Organic soaps and essential oils, handcrafted jewelry and accessories, and imported Bhutanese textiles and handicrafts are all sold in this...

    Organic soaps and essential oils, handcrafted jewelry and accessories, and imported Bhutanese textiles and handicrafts are all sold in this boutique. The shop's friendly owner, Pin, was inspired to open Bhutan Shop after volunteering in the country, and today donates a portion of proceeds to charities that assist disadvantaged children and the physically disabled in Bhutan, Singapore, and Vietnam. Paintings from Bhutanese and some Southeast Asian artists are available, and custom tours of Bhutan can be arranged through Pin's travel agency.

    1D Yong Siak St., Singapore, Central Singapore, 168641, Singapore
    -6236–0750
  • 16. Blush!

    Orchard | Clothing

    At what's basically the Singapore version of Victoria's Secret, you'll find bathing suits, sleepwear, lingerie, and intimate apparel from familiar...

    At what's basically the Singapore version of Victoria's Secret, you'll find bathing suits, sleepwear, lingerie, and intimate apparel from familiar international brands like DKNY and Maidenform.

    4 Tampines Central 5, Singapore, Central Singapore, 529510, Singapore
    -6781–0190
  • 17. Bugis Junction

    Bugis | Shopping Centers/Malls

    This unique shopping complex is worth visiting just to see its shophouse facades and cobblestone streets, all enclosed under glass domes and...

    This unique shopping complex is worth visiting just to see its shophouse facades and cobblestone streets, all enclosed under glass domes and cooled with arctic-strength air-conditioning. While you're there look for affordable streetwear boutiques, a movie theater, cafés and restaurants, and the BHG Bugis department store. The center of Bugis Junction connects to the InterContinental Singapore hotel and Bugis MRT station.

    200 Victoria St., Singapore, Central Singapore, 188021, Singapore
    -6557–6557
  • 18. Cat Socrates

    Bras Basah | Crafts

    Given its somewhat hidden location on the second level of the aging and nondescript Bras Basah Complex, there's a good chance you'd miss this...

    Given its somewhat hidden location on the second level of the aging and nondescript Bras Basah Complex, there's a good chance you'd miss this indie-minded boutique if you didn't know it was there; it's well worth seeking out. Low-res Lomography and 35mm cameras, stylish camera bags, vintage postcards and stationery, handbags from thhe Singaporean designers Uyii, and a small-but-thoughtful selection of books, music, and journals highlight the mix of goods here.

    #02-25, Bras Basah Complex, 231 Bain St., Singapore, Central Singapore, 180231, Singapore
    -6333–0870
  • 19. Cathay Photo Store

    CBD | Cameras/Electronics

    ...

    #02–219 Marina Square, 6 Raffles Blvd., Singapore, Central Singapore, 039594, Singapore
    -6338–1746
  • 20. Cathay Photo Store

    CBD | Cameras/Electronics

    This photography shop, open since 1959 and located within Peninsula Plaza, has an excellent selection of top-quality cameras, video equipment...

    This photography shop, open since 1959 and located within Peninsula Plaza, has an excellent selection of top-quality cameras, video equipment, and related accessories. Genus, Canon, National Geographic, and Olympus are just a few of the brands available.

    #01–05, #01–07/08, and #01–11/14, 111 North Bridge Rd., Singapore, Central Singapore, 179098, Singapore
    -6338–3881

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