Short Guide to Shopping in Singapore

All About Southeast Asia's Retail Heaven

Shoppers along Wisma Atria, Orchard Road, Singapore
••• Shoppers along Wisma Atria, Orchard Road, Singapore. Image courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

The nation of Singapore packs the most malls per square mile within its tiny interior - making this island-state the best place in Southeast Asia to go shopping. (Among other things.)

Singaporeans have turned shopping into the national sport - they do get a lot of practice, what with the many shopping centers lining Orchard Road, the street markets in Chinatown and Bugis, and the family-owned shophouses in Singapore's ethnic enclaves.

Shopping is so popular in Singapore, they've set aside a whole month to celebrate it – the Great Singapore Sale slashes prices island-wide by as much as 70%! Shopping hours are also extended past midnight for selected stores on selected weekends, and other major promotions are held during this time of the year only.

  • Great Singapore Sale - One Month of Cut-Rate Shopping in Singapore

Shopping Precincts in Singapore

Ride the MRT around Singapore, and you'll find the malls are built right into the island-state's transportation system: many MRT stations are located right at the basements of Singapore's most popular shopping centers!

Orchard Road is where the world goes to shop when in Singapore! The island-state's primary retail district is a shopper's dream: a long, leafy stretch of shopping centers strung end to end, with warrens of stores numbering in the thousands!

You can get anything here in Orchard - expensive fashion labels and street wear, cutting-edge fashion and pre-loved vintage wear, books, electronics, and Singapore's amazing hawker food in abundance.

Stay at one of Orchard Road’s hotels to hop into a mall whenever you want, or travel in via MRT and exit at Orchard (NS22), and Somerset (NS23) stations, both of which exit immediately into the bowels of Orchard's malls!

The City Hall and Marina Bay area houses not just the city's most prominent historical sites, it contains some of its finest shopping areas, too.

If you're staying at accommodations in Marina Bay and in the Heritage District, you can easily walk to a selection of shopping malls that includes the I.M. Pei-designed Raffles City Complex; the Suntec City Mall with a massive lucky fountain at its center; and a former Catholic convent transformed into the hip young CHIJMES shopping arcade.

City Hall can be reached by train, via the City Hall MRT Interchange (NS25/EW13) that exits below Raffles City. Travelers on the circle line can exit via Bras Basah (CC2) across the Singapore Art Museum; Esplanade (CC3) under Suntec City; and Promenade (CC4) next to Millenia Walk.

To go shopping at Marina Bay, travel via MRT to Bayfront Station (CE1) and exit into the massive, luxurious Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.

Kampong Glam is the historical and cultural heart of Singapore's Islamic community. Walk through the shophouses that surround the Sultan Mosque, and you'll find merchants selling perfume oils, carpets and pastries, in ways that feel little changed over the decades. At the turn of the 20th century, Aljunieds sold carpets here, and Jamal Kazura sold fragrances; both businesses (among many other family-owned enterprises) still do brisk business today!

And yet the modern world lives here too: go to the Kampong Glam's southwest corner and you'll find Bali Lane & Haji Lane, two parallel pedestrianized streets crammed with bohemian boutiques, ethnic restaurants and cutting-edge concept stores.

Chinatown retains its historical color as an enclave for traditional Chinese arts and crafts, with an expanded range of handicrafts, clothes, food, jewelry, and medicine sold from renovated Chinese shophouses.

Street markets on Smith Street and Trengganu Street offer great bargains on souvenirs. Shophouses and shopping malls around Chinatown sell more than just traditional goods, with funky T-shirts, toys and electronics joining the abundance of goods for sale.

The MRT connects to Chinatown via Outram Park (EW16) or Chinatown (NE4) stations.

Little India, centered around Serangoon Road, caters to the local Indian population, and offers a magnificent range of spices, jewelry, clothes, textiles, and handicrafts. Mustafa Centre on one end of Serangoon Road is a great source for cheap electronics.

Money in Singapore

As Singapore is a major financial center in the region, the country's banking sector is so artfully arranged to provide maximum convenience for shoppers from all over, with moneychangers, internationally-networked ATMs, and banks operating at extended business hours.

The following article explores Singapore's money situation: its banks, moneychangers, and credit cards, together with money tips and useful spending suggestions for travelers in Singapore.

Tax-Free Shopping in Singapore

Visitors to Singapore can shop tax free - while Singapore shops do charge a 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST), stores let tourists redeem taxes upon departure. The following article explains how you can shop tax-free in Singapore, together with useful tips and links.