Sunny Singapore has long enjoyed the position of a favored shopping destination. However, in recent years owing to its affluence and the appreciation of the Singapore dollar, shopping in Singapore has become quite pricey. Even then there are bargains to have if you know where to find them.
The malls of Orchard Road
Orchard Road is Singapore’s famous shopping drag, which is littered with several large malls. These goodie-filled retail heavens offer every conceivable product and host stores belonging to the world’s best brands. You might wonder as to why do the malls of Orchard Road then figure in such a ‘best of’ list? Yes, it’s true, prices at Singapore’s shiny, sparkly malls like ION Orchard, Ngee Ann City and Paragon are by no ways cheap but they are well worth a visit during the island’s state annual shopping sale- the Great Singapore Sale. This shopping extravaganza is scheduled for July every year and offers a plethora of bargains and deals.
However, some Singapore malls like Lucky Plaza and Far East Plaza are renowned for their many year round cheap shopping options.
Lucky Plaza is oldest of the malls located on Orchard Road. A buzzing hive of activity, the plaza is regarded as the domain of Singapore’s resident Filipino population. The plaza hosts numerous stall stores and kiosks that offer reasonably priced accessories, apparel, fragrances (stores like Bonjour), footwear and more. Also located within this cavernous mall, are many salons offering well-priced beauty treatments. The mall also hosts a flea market every weekend from 12pm to 8pm.
Far East Plaza is located round the corner from Lucky Plaza and offers a similar mix of stores though it also hosts several tailors’ stores, which specialize in making custom-made garments for men and women. Prices at these custom tailoring stores are quite comparable to those charged by similar establishments in Hong Kong and Bangkok.
The Bugis Street enclave is Singapore’s largest street-side shopping enclave. The made for shopping district hosts more than 800 stores that offer myriad products like fashionable apparel, accessories and footwear, mobile phones, small electronics and their accessories, beauty and cosmetic products, gifts and souvenirs (tourist tat). The Bugis Street shopping district is open from 11 am to 10pm and is easily accessible by the Singapore subway (MRT) at Bugis Street station on the East-West line.
Located in the heart of Singapore’s ‘Little India’ district (Serangoon), Mustafa Center is a gargantuan shopping destination catering mainly to Singapore’s large South Asian population.
Originating from humble beginnings, a small store in 1971, Mustafa Center has now grown into an expansive complex of six buildings. The center today sells more than 300,000 products including electronics, jewelry, clothes, footwear, sports equipment, books, cosmetics, Chinese medicines, groceries and packaged foodstuff. Mustafa Center is open round the clock and represents a heaven for the budget shopper. This famed shopping locale situated on 145 Syed Alwi Road can be accessed at the Farrer Park station on the North East line of the Singapore MRT system. The best time to visit Mustafa Center is before 11 am before the crowds arrive.
One of the oldest neighborhoods in Singapore, Chinatown offers a wealth of shopping options within its various sections. If you enjoy rummaging through street markets, the many stalls and kiosks lining Chinatown’s Pagoda Street are sure to delight you with their many touristy wares and ‘antiques.' Even more shopping options are available at the area’s malls like People’s Park Centre, People’s Park Complex, Chinatown Point, Victoria Gift Centre and the Yue Hwa Building (a Chinese Emporium filled to the brim with goods from China).
Also, worth a visit is Ann Siang Hill, a small neighborhood filled with shop houses that house various Singapore startup and media companies along with indie boutiques and cafes.
Chinatown Singapore can be reached on the North East MRT line at Chinatown station.
Haji Lane located within Singapore’s Kampong Glam or Arab Street District is not a bargain-basement shopping district but it warrants a visit for it is the epitome of all that is hip and stylish in Singapore. This ‘alternative shopping’ district that once housed Malay immigrants within its many quaint shop houses now plays host to several fashion-forward boutiques and cafes.
Popular haunts include boutiques like Know it Nothing, Soon Lee, Wicked Laundry, The Blog Shop, Crayon and SUP clothing and lifestyle stores like A Thousand Tales, Gaia Living, Chillal and the Salad Shops. Peak times at Haji Lane are between 5pm and 7pm for the shops located here don’t usually open until 12pm.
If all this shopping makes you peckish, you can always drop into one of the area’s atmospheric cafes like Café le Caire, Sushi Airways, Symmetry, Piedra Negra, Bar Stories, or Blu Jazz Café and grab a bite and something to drink.
The East West line at Bugis Street MRT station affords access to this hip enclave.