Shopping in Singapore

Shopping in Singapore

From the luxurious shopping centers of Orchard Road to the roadside hawkers of Chinatown, there's no shortage of places to shop in Singapore. Home to both international brands and a huge amount of locally produced inexpensive goods, Singapore is a great shopping destination for shopaholics, no matter how much, or how little, they're willing to spend during their stay.

While Singapore's fantastic cultural attractions and surprisingly dense jungle are great reasons to visit the island, most visitors experience a different side of Singapore when they first arrive. The glitzy shopping malls of Orchard and Bugis, two of the city's most popular districts for visitors, are the image that pops into most peoples' minds when they think of Singapore.

It's certainly not hard to understand why, particularly once you touch down in Singapore itself. The city is renowned around Asia for its great shopping opportunities, and residents of nearby countries like Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia routinely fly to Singapore for the sole purpose of shopping.

Shopping in Singapore

There are several reasons for this, beyond Singapore's massive mall culture. The first is its very low taxes on consumer products and electronics. Like Hong Kong is to China, Singapore is a haven for low import taxes in a sea of countries that are burdened by heavy consumer taxes. Electrical goods, for example, can often be fifty percent cheaper in Singapore than they are in nearby Malaysia.

Likewise, most luxury goods are significantly less expensive in Singapore than they are abroad. A designer handbag or pair of shoes can reach into the hundreds of dollars in nearby countries due to hefty import taxes; in Singapore, it can be thirty percent less. Before you visit Singapore, it's worth looking at the difference in prices between your own country's stores and Singapore's to calculate how much you could save.

Singapore's best shopping districts are spread throughout the city itself, but most visitors will find themselves visiting one in particular. Orchard Road, accessible via MRT Orchard Station, is one of the world's most well known shopping areas, attracting hundreds of thousands of shoppers per day. From designer stores to small, independent outlets, Orchard Road is the place to shop in Singapore.

At the west end of Orchard Road, you'll find ION Orchard, the area's capital of designer style and high-end goods. From Mont Blanc to Louis Vuitton, ION Orchard is one of the best places in town to get designer clothes and luxury gear. The mall is home to a sizable food court and, on the highest floor, one of Singapore's best public observatories.

Orchard Central is a mid-range shopping mall in the area that's great for high street clothes, modern fashion, and other consumer products. The mall can seem somewhat empty earlier in the day due to its unusual open hours – some stores remain shut until midday. On the upper floors, this mall has a selection of great coffee shops and restaurants with good views of the Orchard area.

Shopping in Singapore

Closer to MRT Somerset Station you'll find 313, a fashion mall that's popular with teenagers and young professionals. Packed full of contemporary fashion outlets and entertainment options, this mall is a great place to stock up on reasonably priced clothing. On the lower floors, you'll find a selection of good food stands that are much cheaper than those in the neighboring malls.

Of course, Orchard Road isn't just home to luxury. Check out Lucky Plaza, the city's most popular budget shopping mall, for a wide selection of cheap clothing and apparel. On the lower floors, you can sample food from a variety of local stalls, while on the upper floors you can browse expensive film and photography equipment, infringing copyright material, and other modern technology.

Orchard Road's department stores are a mixed bag – some are modern and full of good deals, while others are expensive and in need of repairs. For a reliable choice, check out the Isetan stores, which are found at both ends of Orchard Road, or the Takashimaya Center. Both are great for home goods, sports equipment, and general furnishings.

While Orchard Road is undoubtedly Singapore's capital of high-end shopping, it's close neighbor to the west, Bugis, is the city's reigning teenage shopping hangout. Accessible via MRT Bugis Station, the area is home to some of the cheapest fashion gear you'll find in Singapore. Teen pop icons, rock stars, and actors adorn most of the clothing here, but more original items can be found if you don't mind searching around.

At the lower end of the price scale, Singapore's Chinatown district, accessible via MRT Chinatown Station, is a great place to find cheap clothes and trinkets. Some of the smaller shopping malls here are great for buying used jewelry and wristwatches. Counterfeit items are rare but they do exist – if you're unsure of an item's legitimacy, it's best to pass on the deal and search for another shop.

Slightly further afield, Sim Lim Square, found near MRT Farrer Park Station, is the best place in town for computers, video games, and other technology. Packed with tiny shops, it's a short walk from Bugis and is a must-visit area for geeks of all types. As you go up further in the mall, expect prices to drop and technology to switch from glossy and impressive to dusty and intimidating.

Every year, the Singapore Tourism Board organizes a city-wide clearance sale, attracting thousands of visitors seeking great deals. The sale runs from the 27th of May until the 24th of June, and most of Singapore's major shopping malls participate. During the sale period, a short walk up Orchard Road can quickly turn into an entire day spend navigating 'fifty percent off' sales and other giveaways.

From the flashy malls of Orchard Road to the inexpensive hipster fashion of Bugis, Singapore is a great city for shopaholics of all nationalities. Thanks to its low import taxes, its massive amount of shopping areas, and its wide selection of great products, a trip to Singapore with the sole intention of 'shopping until you drop' certainly isn't a bad idea.