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Published Date: 30 July 2019
A shopper’s paradise, Singapore invites its visitors to indulge in countless homegrown labels and international brands. In our vibrant city, your guests can immerse themselves in futuristic retail experiences in shopping destinations like Design Orchard, Funan and NomadX, where shopping choices are presented using artificial intelligence and virtual reality technology. Your guests can take their pick from countless traditional souvenirs such as tableware, lanterns and other household decorations when they shop in cultural precincts like Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam and Joo Chiat/Katong. Browse Singaporean brands like kapok and The Farm Store and their creative modern keepsakes that celebrate local heritage.
Credit cards and various modes of e-payment are widely accepted across Singapore. Tax refunds of more than S$100 (including GST) can be claimed from participating shops. Visitors who spend S$100 or more in one shop can claim refunds for a maximum of 3 same-day receipts and invoices. To find out if a shop is participating in this Tourist Refund Scheme, look for a “Tax Free” sign in the shop. Shoppers can also check with retailers whether their purchases are eligible for GST refund.
Buzzing with modern and traditional sights, sounds and scents, Little India never sleeps. Tekka Centre (665 Buffalo Road) is its epicentre, where one can enjoy a variety of hearty Indian delicacies like roti prata (South Indian flatbread) and briyani (an Indian spiced rice dish with meat or vegetables) on level one. Your guests can walk off their meal as they browse traditional garments, textiles and accessories on its upper floor. In the vicinity of Tekka Centre, visitors can also visit long-standing establishments like Nalli (10 Buffalo Road) and Haniffa Textiles (106 Dunlop Street), which are known for their rich fabrics and intricately embroidered garments. In between browsing traditional accessories and confections in historic establishments like Little India Arcade (48 Serangoon Road), tourists can take a break in Little India’s many trendy cafes, restaurants and hotels. Shopaholics have to visit Mustafa Centre (145 Syed Alwi Road), a one-stop 24-hour shopping mall that sells just about everything, at competitive prices to boot. Numerous eateries in this area stay open through the night. This neighbourhood is very lively during festivals like Pongal (15-18 Jan) and Deepavali (the Deepavali bazaar takes place from October to November) too, which is when your guests can see Little India flourish with traditional performances, decorations and workshops.
Nearest MRT: Farrer Park, Little India and Rochor
The old-school shops along historic Arab Street sell an assortment of fabrics and decorative materials. Some stores like Turkish Handicraft and Carpets (53 Arab Street) treat shoppers to a variety of traditional lanterns, pouches and trinkets. As your guests stroll through this precinct, they’ll love taking photos with the colourful ceramics and dazzling lanterns of stores like Sufi (52 Arab Street) and Sarvan's Carpets (49 Arab Street). Your guests can fuel up at the many iconic eateries of this neighbourhood, such as the famous unnamed “No Name Teh Sarabat stall” (21 Baghdad Street) and Warong Nasi Pariaman (738 North Bridge Road). On some weekends, Arab Street is closed to traffic, which is when street stalls selling both snacks and trinkets will pop up. You can sign your clients up for a tour of Masjid Sultan (3 Muscat Street) and bring them to learn more about the precinct’s history at the Malay Heritage Centre (85 Sultan Gate), which used to be the local sultan’s palace. If they take a closer look at Masjid Sultan’s gilded domes and they will notice that its dome bases are decorated with glass bottle ends. Less well-off Muslims donated these bottle ends so that everyone in the community, not just the rich, could contribute to the building of this mosque.
Nearby, Jamal Kazura Aromatics (728 North Bridge Road) is a multi-generational family business that purveys traditional perfumes, while Haji Lane is where an eclectic array of apparel and accessories can be found. Cushions emblazoned with icons of Singapore, along with postcards, pouches and brooches with caricatured symbols of our culture and cuisine are displayed in Craft Assembly (66 Haji Lane). Local print art can be bought from Hygge (37 Haji Lane), which also sells functional objects decorated with these artworks. Admire local pop art at the Famous Popart Gallery (49 Haji Lane) and customise a pair of flip flops with Fickle (62 Haji Lane). When your guests would like to take a break, they can step into Oriental Elixir (10a Haji Lane), which is a new experimental bar that infuses its own alcohols and sells antiques procured from across Asia. On the fringe of Kampong Glam, Singapore-inspired furniture and homeware is sold in prominent local retailers Scene Shang (263 Beach Road) and Supermama (265 Beach Road), which include stackable mugs that look like apartment blocks and pillowcases emblazoned with symbols of Singapore.
Nearest MRT: Bugis / Lavender
A stone’s throw from Kampong Glam, the National Design Centre champions smart and tasteful design from Singapore and around the world. This gallery is also home to shops like Kapok, which carry apparel and accessories by emerging local and international designers. The Farm Store, which was the first store to retail quirky trinkets themed on Singaporean identity, is also situated within the National Design Centre. In The Farm Store, your guests can choose from a variety of whimsical everyday items created by different designers, like heritage snacks in huggable plushie form and tote bags inscribed with colloquial expressions. Carrie K. has a store here too. Its namesake founder Carolyn Kan left the corporate world and took on an apprenticeship with a silversmith in Florence, Italy more than a decade ago. She founded Carrie K. in 2009 and her off-kilter jewellery has been warmly received around the world. Her innovative designs have been worn by celebrities like Hong Kong actress Angelababy and tennis star Caroline Wozniacki. Carrie K. also accepts bespoke orders.
Address: 111 Middle Road
Nearest MRT: Bencoolen / Bugis
Your guests can visit historic places of worship like the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (288 South Bridge Road), Sri Mariamman Temple (244 South Bridge Road) and Masjid Jamae (218 South Bridge Road), located side by side in Chinatown. Visitors can pick up souvenirs themed on Singapore and local Chinese culture from shops like Isle, Giftmaster and The Gift Shop, located along Pagoda Street. The sweet barbecue scent that fills the air is that of bak kwa (barbecued meat slices), which can be bought from famous local brands like Fragrance (61 Pagoda Street) and Bee Cheng Hiang (69 Pagoda Street). Invite your guests to step into Feng Shui Specialist (59 Pagoda Street), which sells home accessories themed on feng shui (Chinese geomancy) and into Chin Hing Emporium (55 Pagoda Street) to discover a wide array of traditional and festive garments. Spoil your clients in the award-winning restaurants along Keong Siak Road and bring them for tipple in lively hangouts along Ann Siang Road and Club Street. Photography enthusiasts will love the open-air roof of People’s Park Complex, which offers many beautiful vistas.
The Chinatown Heritage Centre (48 Pagoda Street) not only offers tourist information, but also multimedia tours of Chinatown through the years, and free walking tours of the neighbourhood. You can sign your clients up for tea workshops with Tea Chapter or Teahouse by Yixing Xuan, which will unveil to them the history and technique of traditional tea brewing. Participants can also take away an array of tasty tea-time treats and traditional souvenirs from these tea workshops.
Nearest MRT: Chinatown / Outram Park
The Joo Chiat/Katong neighbourhood takes its name from philanthropist Chew Joo Chiat, while Katong is the name of a species of turtle that has since gone extinct. Today, the meticulously decorated houses of the Peranakans (Straits-born people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage) can still be admired along these tranquil streets. Bags, books, stationery, magnets and numerous other accessories are themed on the colourful majolica tiles and detailed French reliefs of these houses, which can be purchased from Cat Socrates (448 Joo Chiat Road) and Naiise (I12 Katong, 112 East Coast Road #01-31/32). Take your clients on a stroll through this historic precinct, where long-standing establishments like Teong Theng Rattan Furniture (321 Joo Chiat Road) have been selling everyday items like handmade rattan furniture for decades. At Rumah Bebe (113 East Coast Road), your guests can purchase Peranakan outfits, beaded slippers and intricate accessories, and attend beading and cooking classes. Next door, more antiques and handicrafts can be found in Rumah Kim Choo (111 East Coast Road), which is famous for its kueh chang (a sweet and sticky rice dumpling that envelopes minced meat). A short distance away, Joo Chiat Complex (1 Joo Chiat Road) is where your guests can browse a bevy of traditional Malay clothing, crafts, decorations, fabrics, accessories and other everyday items.
Nearest MRT: Paya Lebar / Eunos