Being a fusion of east and west, Singapore offers endless shopping opportunities, and there is an impressive mix of both tradition and modernity, noticeable in the shopping as well as everywhere else. In the city center and surrounding areas, there is a huge variety of markets and malls, making it possible to discover both foreign luxury fashion and pieces of local culture. Undoubtedly, in Singapore, you can find anything and everything.
Commonly known as Takashimaya, after its prominent Japanese department store, Ngee Ann City is a must-see of Singapore’s shopping world. The majestic building complex is located conveniently on Orchard Road — the main shopping area of the city — and hard to miss. At the entrance, the proud golden lions guarding the building give you a certain pampered feeling. Naturally, the main department store offers everything from A to Z, but don’t miss out on the rest of the mall. Drench yourself in books on the top floor, or explore the bottom floors filled with both fashion and food.
Being one of Singapore’s most elaborate malls, ION Orchard is, indeed, huge. The eight-story shopping center is located toward the end of Orchard Road, just a couple of steps from Ngee Ann City. Located partially underground, the center is filled with stores ranging from high status to basic brands. At ground level and above, you’ll find well-polished floors and a luxuriously decorated environment matching the couture brands located there. Further down, find a large variety of noticeable stores, such as the Japanese dollar store, stocking everything you might need.
In the neighborhood of Bugis, you’ll find not only two large shopping malls but also a crowded street market. The air-conditioned malls house famous retail chains on the bottom floors and small local boutiques on the upper levels. At the market among the cramped stalls and crowded aisles, you’ll find cheap copies of the latest Asian fashion trends as well as a variety of candy, fresh fruit, and plastic shoes.
Singapore’s largest shopping mall, VivoCity, is located near the popular island resort, Sentosa. This spacious venue also has a terrace where you can step outside and enjoy the surrounding view. The mall has a wide variety of stores but with an emphasis on trendy, ordinary stores and contemporary brands. You’ll also find spas, gigantic food courts, movie theaters, and children’s playgrounds; there is basically enough to spend an entire day there exploring.
Just a short walk from the downtown area, you’ll find the lively district of Chinatown. With its bright lights, colorful decorations, and delicious smells, shopping becomes an adventure here. Walk around and between the stalls and shops, and discover everything from cheap souvenirs and traditional clothing to gorgeous fabric and amazing food. Get something to munch on, do some bargaining, and don’t forget to check out the surrounding beautiful antique architecture.
Located across the street from antique Raffles Hotel and right in between two underground stations, Raffles City is a gem among malls. The lower floors have busy food courts, while the upper floors offer a wide selection of both regular stores and fancy brands. Also, as it is connected with underground passes via one of the MRT stations to Marina Square Mall, CityLink Mall and Suntec City Mall, it’s possible to continue the shopping trip without ever going outside.
At the beginning of Orchard Road, you’ll find Plaza Singapura, a noteworthy shopping mall. Located away from the busiest part of Orchard, this nine-story mall is not as crowded as others in the area, yet it features just as much shopping. Check out the large food court on the bottom floors, or go see a movie at the cinema on the top floor. If you need a break, sit and relax on the well-kept benches outside, or take a walk in the green Istana Park across the street.
With numerous small shops, Lucky Plaza has managed to capture the spirit of the intense Chinatown marketplace and put it into a mall. Right across from the expensive Ngee Ann City, this mall is almost the absolute opposite, with small stores featuring everything from handmade shoes to chocolate boxes and imported jewelry. Essentially, this is the spot to visit if you want the busy marketplace shopping but with air-conditioning and more personal space.
If you’re looking for pure luxury without having to walk around outside in the heat between boutiques, then Marina Bay Sands is the place to go. The newly built complex opened in 2011 and features a large variety of fashionable brand stores in its mall section. There is also a casino, a costly sky park, along with the expensive resort hotel. Stop by if you want classic luxury and glamour — better-polished floors and shinier windows have never been seen.
Open 24 hours a day, this bustling shopping mall is a true experience. Located in the area of Little India, Mustafa Center never sleeps, which is great if you only have time to shop at inconvenient hours. Get electronic goods, budget fashion, as well as some groceries all at the same time; there is nothing that cannot be found at this mall. Don’t let the rough exterior scare you as both the shopping and the neighborhood are truly charming and honest. The shopping experience doesn’t get more authentic than this.
Tekka Wet Market is just next to Little India underground station, right at the end of Serangoon Road. This down-to-earth neighbourhood market is the epitome of Singapore’s multicultural heritage: exchanges are often in a mixture of Singapore’s four official languages (English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil), and the crowd is usually dressed in typical Singaporean garb – t-shirt, shorts and slippers. The huge market is divided into a wet area and dry one. The wet area (which is constantly hosed down – therefore a ‘wet market’) has stalls selling fresh produce like vegetables, fish, meat; whereas the dry area offers dried goods like herbs, spices, rice, dried noodles, dried seafood and beans. Upstairs on the second level you’ll find Indian clothing, brass ware, linen and some kitschy souvenirs. A part of the market is allocated to a hawker centre filled with various food stalls selling local fare, to complete your ‘get to know Singapore’ outing.
So Gelam Market in Singapore is a pop-up market not to be missed – if you are in Singapore at the right time. The vibrant market held on the last weekend of each month is a quintessential Singaporean flea market, filled with food and drink stalls, as well as those selling knick-knacks like homemade beauty products, candles and art prints. In true Singaporean kampong spirit, try out some traditional kampong games like five stones and spinning tops; or buy some yummy snacks and lounge around on a mat on the central lawn for a picnic. This is the best way to immerse yourself in the laissez-faire atmosphere of Kampong Glam.
As the name suggests, this market located in the Peranakan neighbourhood of Katong offers all things vintage. Whether it’s watches, vintage jewellery, haute couture, vinyl records, curios, art or anything else you can think of that is bohemian with a tinge of nostalgia, you can find it here. The Katong area is also a culinary institution where you can get some of the best local food like katong laksa or old school kaya toast – the perfect round-up to your vintage shopping day.