Ask any Singaporean what the national pastimes in Singapore are, and the answers that come back are likely to be “eating” or “shopping”. Singaporeans will travel the island to investigate any rumour of a superior dish – consider it a form of shopping around, if you will. In the same vein, Singaporeans will traverse the country in search of the best bargains, and the newest shops in town.
Shopaholics will find Singapore a dream come true with conjoined retail belts within the city. It doesn’t matter what your shopping preference is: couture labels, the latest teenage street fashion, high-tech gadgets or sporting equipment. With an incredible diversity in the retail landscape catering to specific segments of shoppers, no one is left out. Entertainment and dining options are aplenty so happy shoppers turn into satisfied diners after a fulfilling shopping trip.
Venture into the very heart of Singapore shopping when you step onto Orchard Road. Lined with rows of shopping malls, this is where you figuratively shop ‘till you drop. Put some thought into which shopping route to take for one day simply isn’t sufficient to sweep through this major shopping belt.
Soak in the atmosphere in one of Singapore’s famous shopping icon Tangs. Founded in 1932 and recently refurnished, it carries exclusive and specialised merchandise alongside international fashion labels. Saunter across the road to Ngee Ann City where Takashimaya (the giant Japanese department store), Kinokuniya's Southeast Asia flagship store and more than 100 specialty stores are located. Internationally renowned labels such as Tiffany, Chanel, Christian Dior and Louis Vuitton have also set up shop within.
For aficionados of designer labels, the choice destinations are Palais Renaissance, Paragon or DFS Galleria Scottswalk. Palais Renaissance is occupied by designer boutiques including DKNY, Gianni Versace, Prada, The Link and Jim Thompson. Paragon takes pride in its display of Gucci, Bvlgari, Bottega Venetta, Ferragamo as well as the more youthful G Star Raw, Diesel and Armani Exchange. If you’d like to get duty-free savings when you make luxury purchases like these, visit DFS Galleria Scottswalk, which offers a selection of the world’s leading luxury brands with exclusive DFS-only items.
After you’ve picked out some designer items for family and friends, you might want to pick up on the fashion vibe of youths in Singapore. There’s no better place to do this than in 313@Somerset and Orchard Central. A mere five-minute walk from Ngee Ann City, the former contains Southeast Asia’s largest music superstore HMV and the Annex, a double-storey offering of street and vintage fashion. At the latter, the crowd-pulling magnet is a dazzling array of shops selling shoes, accessories and chic fashion labels.
Here are some of the more popular shopping malls at Orchard Road
Also located in the city, the shopping belt near Marina Square encompasses several huge malls, most of which are interconnected via underground walkways. These malls are strategically located at or near waterfront locations, giving you a great place to take a leisurely stroll if you want a break from all that retail therapy:
- Raffles City Shopping Mall
- CityLink Mall
- Suntec City Mall
- Millenia Walk
- Marina Square Shopping Mall
- Funan DigitalLife Mall
Travellers need only take the MRT train to City Hall station, after which going on foot or taking the free shuttle bus service is the best mode of transport to visit all five malls.
Raffles City Shopping Mall is situated directly above the City Hall MRT station and is filled with four floors of shopping pleasure. Walk through the air-conditioned subterranean CityLink Mall to get to Suntec City Mall and Marina Square Shopping Mall. Both are mega complexes lined with more than 600 retail outlets altogether, including many of the top designers of Singapore and food and beverage venues. Entertainment options include cineplexes, bowling and karaoke singing. Families with children may want to explore the top floor of Suntec City, a little enclave dedicated to children’s apparel, toys and other products.
Suntec City is also niftily connected to Millenia Walk through another connecting passageway. It serves a good mix of more than 190 shops including designer fashion stores and specialty shops such as the Celia Loe boutique, Cortina E'space watch boutique and the Harvey Norman electrical, electronic and furniture superstore. The first phase of a $410 million renovation of Suntec City has finally opened, with $230 million spent on the mall and the rest spent on overhauling the convention and exhibition centre. All renovation phases are due to be completed by the end of 2014 but the injection of high-street fashion labels have made it a must-visit even now. Flagship Uniqlo and H&M stores are not the attractions; various Korean skincare and cosmetic labels have set up boutiques in Suntec City Mall, alongside a milieu of F&B options that range from a sprawling food court to cafes and bistros. What’s more, if you present your passport you get a Tourist Privilege Card that entitles you to specials offers and vouchers!
Exit from City Hall MRT station towards St Andrew’s Cathedral, if you wish to stop by well-known Funan DigitalLife Mall for the latest IT products. A cash refund counter provides instant tax refunds for visitors. A short ten-minute walk from here brings you to Central on Magazine Road, a newly opened mall with great views of Singapore River. Alternatively, take the train to Clarke Quay MRT station which is situated right under Central. Have a penchant for Japanese food? Central has a floor dedicated to Japanese eateries which serve authentic Japanese cuisine.
From City Hall Station, visitors can take a train to Dhoby Ghaut and ride the North-East bound train towards HarbourFront station. Although located outside the city, VivoCity is Singapore’s largest shopping complex that is also family-friendly. The nearest mall to Sentosa, its two floors are designed to resemble a cruise ship: the top floor is partially unsheltered, a characteristic similar to the open concept found on cruise decks. Children will love playing in the shallow water and playgrounds here.
Designed by acclaimed Japanese architect Toyo Ito, VivoCity was inspired by its harbour front location and the sea waves. The sections meld seamlessly into each other, providing shoppers with a shopping experience that is quite different from most other vertiginous malls in Singapore. There are resting areas with views that overlook the harbour that separates Sentosa from the main island, and play areas with splash pools for the kids to ensure fun for the whole family.
This stretch of retail space promises visitors an unusual experience, with Bugis Junction on one side of the road and Bugis Street on the other. Air-conditioned shopping and the bustling bazaar of over 600 stalls simultaneously enthrall shoppers. If you work your way through Bugis Street and walk towards Sim Lim Square on Rochor Canal Road, you will be confronted by a six-storey electronics hub selling everything you need in the field of electronic or digital technology. Sim Lim Square is packed with shops vying to offer you the most competitive prices on the latest products.
Amidst Little India’s hustle and bustle is Mustafa Centre, the only shopping mall in Singapore that operates 24/7. Anything you can imagine wanting is here, at prices that are usually cheaper than at other places. In lieu though, you’ll have to give up a lot of customer service and do the digging yourself – it’s next to impossible to find someone to help you look for what you want. Just soak up the atmosphere and browse everything from electronics to clothes to foodstuffs to cosmetics and more. The money changers usually give fairly good rates too.
Ride on the extremely accessible MRT system along the North-South line and you will find a few stations that hold incredible potential. Novena, Toa Payoh and Ang Mo Kio are only a few stops away from each other.
Toa Payoh Hub and Ang Mo Kio Hub house an eclectic mix of local stores that may steal more than a penny from you with affordable products. If you happen to have a fetish for all things Korean, Novena’s Square Two has a few tenants devoted to Korean garments and its culture. Sports enthusiasts will be delighted to know that Velocity@Novena Square, Singapore’s first sports and active lifestyle mall is also located here.
Alternatively, you might like to take the train and travel to Tampines Mall, Tampines1 or Century Square Mall, the leading suburban malls located in the East.
Duty-Free at Changi Airport
Any traveller knows to take advantage of airport duty-free shopping, and Changi Airport has a fine selection of shops spread over three terminals for travellers to take advantage of. Some of the dining options are outside the transit area so if any local friends are seeing you off, it is a good place to spend some time over a meal before your flight. Once inside the transit area, you have your choice of luxury boutiques, mid-priced fashion, fine jewellery, cosmetics and even wellness and beauty treatments.