Where to Shop, What to buy in Singapore
Orchid Road: Similar to London’s Oxford Street or Hong Kong’s Tshimshatsui, this bustling boulevard got its name after the nutmeg and pepper plantations that once lined it in the 1800s. Flanked on both sides by local and international department stores, tiny boutiques, offices, spas, beauty salons, hotels, entertainment spots, restaurants, and cafes, one could spend a whole day trawling the stretch starting from Tanglin Mall on Tanglin Road down to Plaza Singapura at the lower end of Orchard Road. Shopping malls and centres are stocked with practically everything under the sun from apparel, consumer electronic items, local/international fashion labels and housewares. There is always some kind of fair or activity taking place in the malls and centres so there is never a dull moment. And if you are weary, take a breather at one of the many alfresco spots along the road and watch the world go by. The changing skyline on Orchard never fails to amaze. Malls or buildings are either sprouting up or being spruced up to keep up with competition. Buskers and performing artistes do take to the sidewalks on weekends. On Saturday night, Orchard Road takes on a vibrancy when participating outlets extend their shopping hours till 11 pm.
China Town: With the Chinese forming over 75% of the population, one can expect Chinatown to be a prominent landmark that evolved from the time of the first immigrants in the 19th century. Today, it is a vivid and energetic gazetted conservation precinct bounded by these major roads - Eu Tong Sen St, New Bridge Road and South Bridge Road. Interspersed with modern tall buildings, the appeal of the old era is still preserved in the charming pre-war shophouses, temples, markets, Chinese medicine halls and tea houses. The best time to visit Chinatown is during the Lunar New Year, usually in January or February. One month before the New Year, Chinatown goes into a decorative frenzy of stunning lights and ornaments – a photographer’s delight. Streets are filled with stalls touting their wares – foodstuffs, clothes, pottery, plants and other household items. Another brilliant burst of colours and lights occurs during the Mid-Autumn Festival held traditionally in September. This is when the streets become festooned with a myriad of lanterns of all shapes and sizes; and locals go on a buying spree of the seasonal mooncakes.
Clarke Quay: Since its early days, the Singapore River has played a significant role in the history of the island. From the time of Sir Stamford Raffles, the River established itself as a thriving centre for trading, commercial and financial activities. Warehouses and shophouses were dispersed along the banks of the river in tandem with emerging communities and their cultures which contributed to the rich, diverse heritage found in the area. Today, a growing number of office, residential, retail, lifestyle and hotel buildings can be found along the river. Visitors can glide up and down the river in bum boat taxis reminiscent of the old trading days and disembark at designated stops. Along the River, you will find shopping centres such as, Riverside Point, Clarke Quay, Liang Court and Great World City, which is a little more inland.
Marina Bay: Located in the Central South district, Marina Bay was artificially created through land development in the 1970s. Today, the area is known commercially for its hotels, offices, entertainment and shopping centres. Singapore’s first F1 race was held in the scenic backdrop by the Bay in 2008. A lot of thought and detail have gone into the planning of Marina Bay. A 360ha development, it was created to seamlessly extend Singapore's downtown district and further support the island's continuing development as a major business and financial hub in Asia. Flourishing with greenery all year round and surrounded by water, the area enjoys a reputation for its pulsating waterfront ‘Garden City by the Bay’ for working, living and entertaining. Its breezy promenade strolls, entertainment venues, wide open spaces and lofty hotels, shopping and offices add up to make this area a significant visit. With its picturesque skyline and bustling activities, tourists will be kept occupied with an endless gamut of retail offerings. Visitors can enjoy ease and comfort moving around Marina Bay at street level, above or underground. Sheltered sidewalks, covered walkways, underground and second-storey links ensure all-weather protection and seamless connectivity between developments and MRT stations.
Little India: One of the most colourful and vibrant ethnic enclaves in Singapore, Little India is a hive of activity from dawn to midnight everyday. The focal point of the Indian community, Little India has become a gazetted conservation area with its own MRT stop and another one called Farrer Park. The main thoroughfare, Serangoon Road is easily connected by side lanes, which makes shopping and walking around a breeze. Your senses will be pleasantly assaulted by the heady mix of colours, sounds and captivating scents of shops teeming with spices, rich sari fabrics, flower garlands, jewellery, brassware, silverware, traditional snacks and more. Here you might even spot a parakeet fortune telling service along the shop fronts. Serangoon Road, the main road, boasts a mélange of shops selling gold jewellery, saris and Indian ethnic wear, trinkets, Indian CDs, fresh fruit/vegetables, spices, cheap basic clothing wear and beauty salons with henna treatments. Lots of Indian curry and vegetarian outlets abound. Similar products are found on the side streets of Buffalo Road, Campbell Lane, Dunlop St, Kerbau Rd, Upper Dickson Rd, Upper Weld Rd, Cuff Road and Veerasamy Rd. For classy, elegant Indian wear to take you to Bollywood parties and weddings, visit Sheetal at 136 Serangoon Rd or Style Mart at 149 Selegie Rd on the fringe of Serangoon Rd. Known as KK Market to the locals, the Tekka Centre on Buffalo Road is a venerable institution. Generations have visited the market for its fresh vegetables, fish, meat, spices and flowers. Mustafa Centre- If you are still awake at 3 am and can’t get over your jet lag, visit Singapore’s first 24-hour department store at the other end of Serangoon Road in Serangoon Plaza . This thriving emporium sells almost everything under the sun at arguably the lowest fixed prices in Singapore. From vitamins and supplements to watches and electronic goods, there is something for everyone.
North Bridge Road & Stamford Road: Positioned north of the Singapore River, North Bridge Road was constructed between 1833 and 1835 by Indian convict labor. The route was plied by trolley buses in the past and now features several prominent landmarks including the National Library, St Andrew’s Cathedral, Parliament House, Supreme Court and The Treasury. North Bridge Road begins at the Crawford Junction and ends before the Elgin Road Bridge. With its name taken after the founder of Singapore, Stamford Road cuts across North Bridge Road which forms part of the civic district. Its most famous landmark, the National Library, was torn down to make way for an underground tunnel. Stamford Road showcases some of the most architecturally arresting buildings restored from the turn of the century. Wandering along North Bridge Road and Stamford Road, visitors will catch a fascinating glimpse into the past and present day Singapore covering a wide spectrum of retail outlets from fashion to IT and historical attractions. Capitol Building: the home to selected local fashion boutiques, Campers’ Corner for trekking and adventure gear as well as cybercafés and food outlets.The Adelphi- known for its high-end audio systems, its tenants include Alpha Audio, Pioneer, Linn Lifestyle, Tat Chuan Audio and more. For collectors of rare coins and bank notes from China, South America, Australia, Malaya and the Straits Settlement, drop by Monetarium on level 2 and view an amazing display which includes old silverware and military caps. Funan IT mall- for reliability and competitive prices in town. Retail names like Harvey Norman, Challenger, Lenovo, Samsung, Vaio, Futjitsu and more are located here. Stamford house- worth stepping in are Nicholas for its chic fashion designs; Lavender for its cocktail wear; Eagle’s Eye Art Gallery for works by Singapore and Asian artists; The Cottage Craft for European provincial furnishings and accessories and L’Erbolario for Italian beauty products using natural ingredients.