You don’t need to spend more than a few hours shopping in Singapore to understand what makes it a dream destination for shopping mavens from all over the world. The diversity of products on offer is a true joy, as you’ll find luxury goods coexisting happily alongside devices on the cutting-edge of technology, traditional handicrafts, and unique cultural artefacts. Whether you’re most at home in a busy department store or among the stalls in a lively bazaar, Singapore’s shopping scene will surprise and delight you in equal measure.
Luckily for new shoppers, it’s not at all difficult to experience the dizzying range of delights the city has to offer. Its highly efficient public transportation system and well-connected infrastructure make navigating between shopping centres a breeze, even with multiple bags in tow. And once you hit the stores for real, you’ll be delighted to find the experience equally hassle-free. ATMs are commonplace and easily accessible throughout the city, and most establishments also take major credit cards.
Needless to say, if you’re aiming to make the most of your next shopping holiday in the Lion City, you’ll want to be strategic about where you go and how you spend your time. These handy tips will help you take your retail therapy to the next level, Singapore-style.
Explore the Shops in Changi Airport
If you think yourself a hardcore shopaholic, you can hit the ground running as soon as your plane touches down at Singapore’s airport. Changi airport shopping is truly world-class, featuring an extensive and well-curated assortment of beauty products, liquors, apparel and much more. Arriving and departing travellers enjoy generous duty concessions on the majority of items, and you can always chat up the airport staff for information on current discounts, rebates and other offers.
Many products sold in Changi are also significantly cheaper than they would be in the city center, so you’d best take advantage of the opportunity to save a few bucks. If you intend to pick up alcohol—within the regulated limits, of course—the duty-free stores at the airport sell at a much more affordable price than local bars and supermarkets. Perfumes and cosmetics are also sold here with a great price guarantee, up to 40% less than you’d find in the city and at a number of renowned airports around the world.
Allow Plenty of Time for Mall-Hopping
Singapore’s major shopping districts, including the famed Orchard Road and Marina Bay, are world-renowned for good reason. On the surface, their gleaming shopping malls and swanky storefronts may alienate visitors without the privilege of bottomless pockets. Step through the doors, however, and you’ll soon find that Singapore’s malls have something for everyone. Most offer a well-balanced range of luxury brands, high-end stores and more moderately priced retailers.
Many Singaporean malls are also filled to the brim with immersive, exciting attractions, offering visitors much more than top-tier retail therapy. Cafés and eateries offering all sorts of cuisines abound for those who’d like to take a well-deserved break from combing the shops. More adventurous guests meanwhile might enjoy a sampan ride at Marina Bay Sands or some rock-climbing at Funan. All told, whether you’re in the market for good food, particular quality goods or one-of-a-kind experiences, chances are, you’ll find it at one of Singapore’s malls.
Lose Yourself in the Cultural Districts
The image of Singapore as a highly developed, almost futuristic city-state may have captured the popular imagination worldwide, but it’s also a colourful cultural melting pot of myriad different influences from all over the Asian region. Nowhere is this reality more evident than in its many heritage districts, each one a vast trove of hidden gems that will surely enchant adventurous shoppers.
For a deeply immersive cultural experience, try on a beautiful cheongsam in Chinatown or strut your stuff in a Peranakan kebaya (a traditional nonya dress incorporating Chinese and Malay detailing) from Joo Chiat/Ketong. Meanwhile, shops in the Malay quarter Kampong Gelam sell an array of modern artisanal items alongside more traditional goods; think handcrafted leather items sharing the shelf with ceremonial daggers. You’ll definitely be hard-pressed to choose just one or two treasures to take home.
Time Your Trip around Major Sales and Events
Though the shopping in Singapore is indisputably great year-round, aligning your visit with big sale periods could make your experience all the sweeter. The Great Singapore Sale, for instance, is one of the biggest local shopping events and tends to be highly anticipated by visitors and residents alike. The sale is held anywhere between late May and early July and features generous discounts, sometimes up to 70% at select stores. With offers this generous, even the stingiest, pickiest shoppers frequently part with more cash than they originally anticipated.
Whatever your particular pleasure, whether it’s fashion, art, technology, quirky knickknacks or anything in between, you’re sure to find it at one of Singapore’s many retail havens. Best of all, you’re sure to come away from your shopping trips with a wealth of new insight into the life and culture of this wonderful city. Whether you max out your credit card or come out with your wallet mostly intact, the richness of the experience itself is one thing you’ll get for free and keep forever.