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Last updated : Nov 2009
Singapore Shopping
Singapore Shopping Guide -
Singapore offers great shopping for everyone. The Great Singapore Sale from May to June, offers bargains of up to 70% off, is almost a national obsession that attracts shoppers from throughout the region.

Orchard Road
is the main retail area and there are shopping malls on both sides, from Lucky Plaza at the lower end of the market to high-end shopping at Palais Renaissance, the Hilton Shopping Gallery and Paragon.

With its towers rising above the rest, Ngee Ann City is the largest shopping mall of all, with more than 100 speciality stores and its flagship Japanese superstore, Takashimaya. The top floors of the Heeren Centre have market stalls selling fun and novelty items. The same centre is also home to HMV, the largest music store in the city.

, in the middle of Orchard Road, is home to Robinsons, Singapore’s oldest department store. Orchard Road does not have the monopoly on great shopping. There are more than 120 malls and arcades in the city.

Bugis Junction, once a transvestite locale, has had its shop-houses renovated and integrated into an air-conditioned complex known as PARCO and there is a street market selling cheaper items and souvenirs. Raffles City, at City Hall, is another popular place, with exclusive boutiques at Raffles Hotel just across the road.

Chinatown (Outram) is a colourful area of streets and alleys with a wealth of artefacts, clothes, jewellery, food and medicines for sale behind traditional Chinese shop-house fronts. Smith Street and Trengganu Street are good for cheap clothes and souvenirs. Gold, priced according to weight, is sold in the stores crowding the People’s Park Complex, while hawkers offer the foul-smelling durian fruit or grilled pork to passers-by. Nearby is Yue Hwa Chinese Products, a five story department store selling all things Chinese, while Chinatown Point houses the Singapore Handicraft Centre. The Majestic Theatre, a disused venue for Cantonese Opera on Eu Tong Sen Street, was converted into a shopping mall and managed to preserve its famous mosaic façade.

While the major department stores and chains have fixed prices, bargaining is de rigeur in other places and it is always good to compare prices before buying. The Singapore Gold Circle seal at stores is an assurance of quality and reliability has the official thumbs up. Arab Street (Bugis) is lined with shops offering high-quality cottons, silks, velvets and batiks.

Little India, on and around Serangoon Road, is another area of sumptuous textiles, as well as spices, jewellery, handicrafts and cheap Indian CDs. At the far end of Serangoon Road is the Mustafa Centre, an emporium selling electrical goods at fixed prices. It offers some of the best deals in town, visitors should check that there is a full warranty. Its popularity means it is packed on the weekends.

Singaporeans shop at Sim Lim Square (Bugis) for discount electronic goods; four levels stacked with cameras, computer equipment, pirated CDs, hi-fi and video equipment. Tourists should check for a valid warranty. Funan The IT Mall (City Hall) is a shopping area with dozens of computer shops on each floor at competitive prices. Across is the Adelphi and the place to spend thousands on top-of-the-range audio equipment, and nearby Peninsula Plaza is a favourite for camera gear.

Some of the homes of wealthy Singaporeans are adorned with art and antiques from all over Asia, much of which can be purchased in Singapore. The warehouses on Dempsey Road sell Chinese and oriental antiques, original and reproduction furniture, while the cool Tanglin Shopping Centre (Orchard Road) has some of Asia’s finest statues, carpets, textiles and antique furniture. For contemporary Asian art, Art2, at The Substation, Armenian Street, offers works by established as well as up-and-coming local artists.

The flea markets offer a different shopping experience and bargains and novelty items can be found by browsing through a lot of junk. One of the best is at Clarke Quay, 3 River Valley Road, open every Sunday from 10.00 am to 6.00 pm. The flea market outside Tanglin Mall, 163 Tanglin Road, is for fashion and opens the 1st and the 3rd Saturday of every month from 5.00 pm to 11.00 pm. Thieves Market around Sungei Road is open weekends from 11.00 am to 6.00, with a collection of 2nd-hand novelty items and handicrafts.

Most stores open daily from about 10.00 am to 9.00 pm or 10.00 pm, although some boutiques close earlier. All prices include a 4% (GST) Goods and Services Tax, which is refundable at Changi Airport’s Global Refund Centre on individual purchases over S$300, or on S$300 made up of several items with a minimum value of S$100.

Shoppers need to look for the Tax-Free Shopping logo, complete the Global Refund Shopping cheque and show it with their goods. Money is refunded either by cash, Changi Airport Shopping Vouchers (where 10% will be added) or direct transfer to a credit card or bankers cheque.