A book from a local author
This one might be a strange choice but particularly apt due to the fact our literature is pretty unique, even in English, as compared to elsewhere in the world. Anything from the use of Singlish, to describing the interesting experiences of living in the city-state, this is probably the most enriching souvenir you can grab while here. Local bookstore, BooksActually stocks a wide selection of such material and even giant bookstores such as Kinokuniya have a massive share of it. If reading is not your thing, perhaps a graphic novel is more suitable.
There are some really rad utensils if you’re really keen when it comes to being uniquely Singaporean. Supermama is particularly renowned for this, especially with their plates that feature a stylised map of Singapore’s key landmarks and another one that shows Rochor Centre, one of Singapore’s famous HDB landmarks (which sadly is no more). There are also others elsewhere with ornate designs or something more culturally specific.
This one really depends on your budget. If you want something extravagant, check out something gold plated and inspired by our national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim, a type of orchid. In the scenario you want to go a little more quirky and cute, there’s a nice little collection that takes its design cues from local snacks such as the lapis sagu, kueh tutu or mooncakes.
A local delicacy you can pick up from any convenience store or supermarket peppered all across the country, this is one of the most popular and common foodstuffs from Singapore. Usually served for breakfast on toast, there are some different variations of the coconut jam but regardless, they all taste good and would be perfect to keep back home in your kitchen.
An exquisite kebaya
An outfit that you might have first seen adorned by the flight stewardesses aboard Singapore Airlines, assuming you arrive via that route. This is an outfit that mirrors the blend of cultures intermingling that eventually resulted in this stunning form-fitting piece. You can choose something specifically made for you, which will take time and cost more, or go ahead and grab one of the many ready-made ones available at plenty of different places.
Local boutique clothes
Singapore has a number of labels specialising from streetwear to high fashion. These are some of the more statement items you can grab here as the fashion scene blossoms and becomes more unique. Check out Depression or Mash-Up for some fashion forward statement items or Ong Shunmugam or Sabrina Goh for some savvy outfits that won’t look out of place elsewhere while showcasing a little of bit of the Singaporean flair.
Anything with a Merlion
The Merlion is a national symbol of Singapore. It’s extremely iconic and this half fish, half lion creature is also where a lot of tourists gather for their famed memento shots. You can get Merlion keychains in some neat designs or even a gold pendant bar if you desire. There are also t-shirts, magnets, plates and all kinds of other memorabilia featuring this mythological animal, so you can pick whatever strikes your fancy.
One of the most novel items and cool fashion accessories you will see across Asia and Singapore is the snapback. There’s a lot of great international brands but it’s the Singapore variation you should keep a lookout for. The famed ‘Lim Peh’ snapback is particularly infamous as the word means ‘your father’ in Hokkien and is a popular fighting term amongst Singaporeans (or if you understand Singlish). People where you live might not understand it, but it will certainly stand out.
As previously stated, literature is one of the best things to get here for numerous reasons, but in particular for offering a slice of Singapore, as experienced in a more nuanced way. Another great option is to pair literature with a photobook. One of the most famous is ‘Singkarpor’ by Aik Beng Chia available at BooksActually. Grabbing this book also comes with a complimentary token on the cover which varies with each copy you get. In it you also get to see some great images of a city that is constantly evolving. Another is Nguan’s ‘Singapore’, which is internationally acclaimed and covers the period from 2007 to 2017.
A stylised map of Singapore
This city is constantly in flux. What was here today is gone tomorrow. This particular series of maps are fantastic to hang on your walls. They display Singapore in its most constant state as seen from a topographical point of view. A fantastic memento of your adventure in an ever-changing location.