With its numerous shopping malls and the internationally famous Orchard Road, Singapore is known for being a shopping paradise. You can find anything and everything you need, as long as you take some time to explore.
If there is a sport that transcends urban cultures, it would have to be shopping. For most people who live in cities steeped in consumerist cultures, there will always be a desire to spend money on items ranging from essential items to luxury goods. The thrills and spills of a booming economy has propelled Singapore to be the créme de la créme of Southeast Asia when it comes to shopping – good news for shopaholics from all over the world!
For Glamorous Shopaholics
Tourists from all over are making Singapore a central stop for picking up the latest luxury goods, fresh from Europe and the Americas. Here is a waltz down some of Singapore's largest malls for the brands of your choice.
Ngee Ann City
Most certainly, the magnificent marble building is one of the few homes of established luxury clothing brands such as Louis Vuitton, Burberry and Chanel. For Asian labels, you can look for Shanghai Tang at Level One. You will also be delighted to find some of the latest and most expensive jewellery here, like the classic Lock and Key bracelet in the two-storey Cartier. As for men, you can get spiffy suits from Hugo Boss or head to Mont Blanc for swanky accessories.
With a sparkling new look, Paragon is showing the signs of a rejuvenated business. With a good mix of new tenants that include the punk-inspired British brand Ben Sherman, Tod's and Banana Republic, there is now a wider selection of luxury stores for all types of consumers to bask in the joy of endless shopping indulgences. Not to forget of course, the grand spread of Prada, Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent lining the entrance and Hogan for their brand new collection of thousand-dollar sneakers. Of course, do remember to save some money for Din Tai Fung's sumptuous Xiao Long Baos at the basement.
The largest shopping mall in Singapore, VivoCity is the 2008 winner of the Singapore Tourism Board's Best Shopping Experience Award. While you might find it difficult to find your way around the mall at first, you will be blown away by the wide selection of shops. There is an almost infinite array of fashion outlets such as Armani Exchange, Zara, Pull and Bear and Naf Naf, for everyday clothing. However, VivoCity is most well-known for high street labels such as River Island (for its skinny jeans and slip tops), Gap, Topshop and Ted Baker.
For Indie Shopaholics
Popular with designers and young people in search of alternative labels, Ann Siang Hill is a small lane that houses exclusive boutiques and concept stores for the creative and more adventurous shopaholics who refuse to buy into mainstream culture.
Pronounced 'ag-nay bay', this is a French brand much in tune with the look of European indie musicians. Besides the usual skinny jeans and basic tees, its designs are minimalist and yet outstanding with fresh colours.
After having some tea at the café on the ground floor, proceed upstairs to marvel at their stylish collections of dresses, cardigans, expensive Japanese brands and men's wear. They carry UMBRO shoes by Kim Jones among other cult brands of exclusive sneakers, costing a minimum of $200.
Started by Swedish Jonas Ericsson who wanted to bring Scandinavian style to Singapore, Style: Nordic is a store of the most unique yet wearable fashion, as endorsed by almost all local fashion magazines. It carries edgy labels such as Nudie jeans and POUR, amongst others. Also, Style: Nordic retails furniture for the home and office, such as oddly-shaped chairs and bowls.
For Cheap 'n' Chic Shopaholics
When we mention 'cheap' in front of shopaholics, it does not imply settling for goods of a lower standard but instead, rare finds of quality at an affordable price. Around central Singapore are pockets of such exceptional places, and here are a few you should explore.
A sheltered road just opposite Parco Bugis Junction, Bugis Street is the epitome of affordable street-styled clothing and accessories that are popular with teenagers and young adults. Small shops teeming with all varieties of bags, accessories, jewellery and casual street wear flank the narrow walkways. You can expect to get a decent bag at $15 and a nice watch for $8.
Once known only as a budget shop, the revamped This Fashion does not sell only cheap clothing, but also good quality ones. You will be able to find everything from silk blouses to pretty dresses and tube tops. The best part is that there is an outlet at most heartland train stations.
For Flea-Mad Shopaholics
If you are looking for something unique but have a tight budget, you might want to pop by these few places.
Zouk Flea Market
While there are no specific dates to look forward to for the Zouk Flea Market, it happens at approximately every quarter of a year at Zouk, located at Jiak Kim Street. A well-known event among young bargain-hunters, you can expect to find Fred Perry polo shirts for as low as $10 and many other second-hand branded goods. This will also be a good place to hunt for accessories, good books, and even for home décor items.
MAAD Sunday @ Red Dot
MAAD stands for Market of Artists and Designers, and takes place every first weekend of the month at Red Dot Museum, which is situated near Tanjong Pagar. Unlike other flea markets, MAAD does not sell second-hand things, but only original works that can range from clothing to quirky paintings. A better known brand there is Maki Squarepatch, selling items such as purses and clothes that are made from discarded materials.
For Techie Shopaholics
Singaporeans have a never-ending love affair with gadgets, which has led to the establishment of malls dedicated to selling affordable technological products.
Sim Lim Square
The biggest hustle and bustle of IT sales is in Sim Lim Square, which is located at a walking distance from Bugis Street. As the definitive shopping centre for all things technological, you will be dazzled by the many storeys of plasma television sets, digital cameras (both consumer and SLRs can be found here), desktops, laptops, accessories, gaming consoles and video games.
Funan the IT Mall
While products are generally more expensive than those in Sim Lim, Funan also offers a wide range of technology products. Located conveniently outside City Hall MRT and next to Peninsula Plaza, it is the place to go for those who do not consider themselves tech-savvy. Although the stores here do not entertain price haggling, they are mostly official stores of brands such as Acer, Dell and Apple Computers, so you can be assured of quality for your buck.
For Niche Shopaholics
Besides shopping for clothing and accessories, you can find many fun places to purchase furniture, books and photography equipment in Singapore.
Furniture & Interior Design
Ikea is the place to go for affordable yet stylish items to furnish your home. With two huge branches, one at Bukit Merah and the other at Tampines, it is accessible from the central and eastern parts of Singapore. At Ikea, the prices are cheaper than most furniture retail stores, as it practices a Do-It-Yourself concept of encouraging self-delivery and having less customer service assistants to bother you every step of the way. Ikea's products are designed in Europe and are practical for furnishing cosy apartments.
For shops that provide interior design service as well as stylish furniture according to your needs, visit Park Mall, which is a huge building behind Dhoby Ghaut MRT station. Whether you want a modern look for your home or a more classic touch, you will be satisfied with the wide array of choices.
Shopping for the right lighting for your home can be a complicated affair, and besides the usual places to visit, such as Ikea and Courts, Balestier Road is one place that might offer you more alternatives. There are many shops there that specialise in lighting, such as Elegance Art Lighting & Décor and Chan Huat Lighting.
Anthropology at Holland Village is a must-go for anyone with a love for alternative home concepts. From funky aprons to adorable plush cushions, it is a great place to visit to add character to your home. If you fancy black and white accessories, visit Salad at Haji Lane; or if you are looking for antiques or quaint items to decorate your home, be sure to drop by Grandfather's Collection, also at Haji Lane.
Queensway Shopping Centre is a haven for all your sporting needs. You can find running attire, golf equipment and sport shoes from brands such as Adidas and Nike. This is also one of the few places in Singapore where you can haggle successfully. Tennis balls, for example, can be purchased at $8 for a pack of six.
For camping items such as tents and torches, visit the Beach Road army market, which is near Lavender MRT station.
With a regular clientele of book lovers, Books Actually is a store you cannot miss for its select collection of contemporary literature and film books. For example, you can find the works of Doris Lessing in full, Vladimir Nabokov (of Lolita fame), biographies and rare writing that are not usually found in the bigger book stores. This is also one of the few places that carry foreign magazines like Nylon and Monocle.
For bookshops with a niche collection, be sure to visit Select Books at Tanglin Mall, which carries mostly books on Southeast Asia, from history and politics to translated literature. If you prefer browsing magazines, do visit Page One at VivoCity, as publications such as Vanity Fair, Glamour, and GQ are sold for half the usual price. Page One also has an impressive collection of Chinese books.
For those who enjoy taking photos, Peninsula Plaza is a great place to hunt for second-hand film cameras, Polaroids and accessories such as external flash, lenses of all varieties, tripods and camera bags. With patience, you may even be able to get your hands on a Nikon F4. Of course, camera prices vary depending on the brand, but a decent second-hand Nikon can be purchased from $200 to $300. Repairs can also be done here for photographers with old cameras that require maintenance.