December 2010


Christmas Shopping Singapore Style
December 2010




Bright and busy, shop at night for a more comfortable experience

One of Asia's top shopping destinations, head to Singapore for a pre-Christmas credit card blowout, says Helena Iveson

While snow, frost and reindeer might be a little thin on the ground thanks to Singapore's year-round heat and humidity, visitors can still make good on that most traditional of Christmas pastimes; a festive dose of retail therapy. Singaporeans have a reputation for shopping till they drop, and the Lion State's compact size means that the city's many shopping precincts are all within easy reach.

Singaporeans go all out for the festive season when "Christmas in the Tropics", a month-long festival, lights up the streets. Seasonal decorations illuminate Orchard Road, Singapore's main strip of glitzy malls and a myriad of entertaining street performances add a festive vibe to the city. An open-top double-decker bus is the best way to take in the festive fun.

Just as Singapore's people are a diverse bunch, so is the city-state's assortment of fabulous shopping options, at any time of the year.

As well as the designer fashion on offer at Orchard Road, visitors shouldn't miss Sungei Road Thieves' Market and the vibrant ethnic enclaves of Kampong Glam, Little India and Chinatown for colourful souvenirs, a lively atmosphere and brilliant bargains galore.

The new Singaporeans are a bunch of mall addicts and Parco Marina Bay, which opened this year down on the waterfront, has a massive 85,000 sqft of shops and restaurants to cruise around, including some retail options new to Singapore. On the second floor, check out the NEXT Fashion Incubator where 24 up and coming local designers sell their latest collections.

While Orchard Road has been a prime destination for decades thanks to its glamorous strip of shopping centres, chic hotels and restaurants, the area received a new lease of life with the opening of ION Orchard. Packed at the weekends with locals and tourists sniffing out that must-have buy, over 300 retail, food and entertainment stores over eight floors mean that you're guaranteed to find something special. And exclusively for tourists, the ION Orchard Tourist Wallet gives you discounts, special deals and gifts. Get yours by flashing your passport at the Singapore Visitors Centre on Level 1.

To market, to market...

Sungei Road Thieves' Market

Not every shopper wants glitz and glamour; if you're more into vintage and retro, the Sungei Road Thieves' Market is for you. The flea market dates back to the 1930s and its name refers to the days when goods on offer were perhaps of dubious origin - nowadays the atmosphere is more hip than seedy. It gets hot and is always busy, but the promise of unique buys, such as vintage clothes, vinyl records and fashionable knickknacks that date back a few decades, make this a paradise for bargain hunters.

Chinatown

Singapore's Chinese enclave is a shopaholic's dream and has been ever since it was home to the Chinese migrants who drove Singapore's economy in the British colonial period. Where once merchants sold cloth and gold, now they offer everything from gaudy souvenir shacks, traditional keepsakes to expensive teas and traditional Chinese medicine. The myriad of stalls along Pagoda Street offer kitschy T shirts and Chinese lanterns - bargain hard - while more traditional buys can be found on side streets like Mosque Street. Look out for Pek Sin Choon at number 36, Singapore's oldest tea merchant which has been in business since 1925.

For a quirky souvenir, how about some herbs and poultices to keep your loved ones in fine fettle? Eu Yan Sang on South Bridge Road has pre-prepared traditional Chinese medicine.

Don't overlook the shops that line the streets nearby either; you need patience to pile through the teeming streets... but there are real bargains to be had

Little India

Noisy, busy and vibrant, Singapore's Little India shouldn't be missed. Everyone from bargain-hunting locals to curious backpackers pack into Mustafa Centre, which is open round-the-clock in the centre of the district. Selling everything from ornate sarees to saucepans, bejewelled sandals to knock-off handbags, this institution is always worth a look. Don't overlook the shops that line the streets nearby either; you need patience to pile through the teeming streets and rummage in the clothes shops and Bollywood music stores, but there are real bargains to be had.

Kampong Glam has long been a meeting place for Malays, merchants from the Middle East and Indonesians, and Singapore's largest Mosque, Sultan Mosque dominates the area

Kampong Glam

Southeast of Little India is the Muslim area of Singapore, known as Kampong Glam. Here has long been a meeting place for Malays, merchants from the Middle East and Indonesians, and Singapore's largest Mosque, Sultan Mosque dominates the area. Aside from excellent food and low key coffee shops serving shisha pipe smoking regulars, there are interesting shops selling antiques and exotic materials. Head to Basharahil Bros House of Batik for intricate swathes of batik, a store that has been in business for more than 80 years. The real deals go for high prices but there's also a selection of machine-made cloth if you're on a tighter budget. For a change of scene, Singapore hipsters head to Haji Lane, a small street between Arab Street and Bali Lane packed with funky boutiques.

Pluck has a great selection of vintage furniture and household goods, while Threadbare and Squirrel's quirky local fashions and leather bags are inexpensive, stylish and make fabulous Christmas gifts.

 

 

  • image01
    image01

    This respected store sells ready-made medicine and also has doctors on hand to diagnose problems

    Prev Next
  • image01
    image01

    Funky fashions at Threadbare and Squirrel on Haji Lane

    Prev Next
  • image01
    image01

    Often stalls along Arab Street have been in the same family for generations

    Prev Next
  • image01
    image01

    Bargains galore across six floors at the Mustafa Centre

    Prev Next
  • image01
    image01

    Every year the shops along Orchard Road try to out-do each other when it comes to decorations

    Prev Next
  • image01
    image01

    It might be hot, but Singapore is full of Christmas spirit come December

    Prev Next
  • image01
    image01

    ION Orchard dominates busy Orchard Road

    Prev Next
  • image01
    image01

    Souvenirs a-plenty on Pagoda Street

    Prev Next
  • image01
    image01

    The iconic Mustafa Centre is in the heart of Little India

    Prev Next
  • image01
    image01

    Watches and jewellery are popular purchases

    Prev Next