Published Date: 23 Jun 2017
The best enclaves for retail therapy
Planning to fit many shopping stops into your clients’ itineraries? Use this handy guide for the best finds in luxury brands, local products and souvenirs, and wallet-friendly buys in the Lion City.
As one of Asia's most famous shopping districts, Orchard Road is home to fashion favourites, specialist stores, and plenty of other lifestyle brands.
There are countless shopping malls to choose from, including major ones such as ION Orchard, with its good mix of high-end labels like Saint Laurent and affordable mid-range retailers like minimalist Japanese lifestyle brand MUJI; Tang Plaza, which stocks products made by local designers such as Matter and Elohim by Sabrina Goh; Paragon – best for international brands like Balenciaga and COACH; and orchardgateway, which has stores like Naiise and TotallyHotStuff for uniquely Singaporean souvenirs and fun knick-knacks for visitors to take home.
The Civic District is known for its museums, protected parks, and memorial spaces dedicated to Singapore's history and cultural heritage. Of all the areas that make up the Civic District, two main ones are best for shoppers: Marina Bay and City Hall.
When it comes to Marina Bay, it's hard to rival the award-winning S$8-billion-dollar architectural feat that is Marina Bay Sands® (MBS). Consisting of three 55-storey towers overlooking the bay, MBS – which was designed by internationally renowned architect Moshe Safdie – is topped with a 12,000sqm SkyPark that sits 200m above ground level. At MBS, apart from celebrity chef restaurants and theatres where one can catch Broadway hits and local productions, visitors can find The Shoppes, one of Singapore’s largest luxury shopping malls offering an array of international luxury brands, from Tiffany & Co. to Chanel.
Shopping at City Hall is diverse. There’s Capitol Piazza – one of Singapore's newer luxury shopping malls located right by City Hall MRT. Stores include Finnish label Marimekko and local designer Max Tan's first flagship boutique store. There’s also Raffles City, a complex integrating Raffles City Shopping Centre, Raffles City Tower, Raffles City Convention Centre, Swissotel The Stamford, and Fairmont Singapore. The shopping centre is home to brands like ALDO and British India, as well as British retailer Marks and Spencer.
If visitors prefer something arty, they can hit up Gallery & Co. at the National Gallery Singapore. The museum shop is a bookstore, bar, restaurant, and design store rolled into one. Here, visitors can find a colourful array of items, from comfortable bohemian-chic pants by socially-conscious made-in-Singapore brand, Matter, to gorgeous stationery like pencil sets and notebooks inspired by the Lion City.
Singapore’s south is known for its natural attractions and lush greenery, but shoppers who make the journey to this part of the island will also find some amazing buys, particularly at HarbourFront and on Sentosa.
As one of Singapore’s largest shopping malls and lifestyle destinations, VivoCity at HarbourFront houses Singapore’s largest cinema multiplex, as well as local department store TANGS – which is the only branch aside from its flagship Orchard Road outlet. VivoCity also offers myriad F&B options – perfect for visitors looking for a break between shopping. It is also great for older visitors travelling with a multi-generation family, as it has a number of outdoor play areas as well as a large Toys "R" Us store.
On the nearby island of Sentosa (which is right up from VivoCity), there's Festive Walk at Resorts World Sentosa, which has local stores and some high fashion street labels. Asia’s first ever Chihuly Gallery (specialising in fancy glass sculptures) and the world’s first Michael Graves Gallery for fine home décor are also located here, along with numerous other shops, restaurants and bars to suit all budgets and tastes.
For ethnic items and wallet-friendly finds, take your clients to the Bras Basah.Bugis precinct. These areas have long attracted artsy types and culture buffs.
Other options in the vicinity include Haji Lane and Bras Basah Complex. Haji Lane in Kampong Glam offers an unusual and interesting mix of independent boutiques selling everything from clothes to locally-inspired souvenirs and even vintage cameras. Visitors who want to browse through ethnic wear and fabrics as well as traditional ethnic crafts can head to the adjacent Arab Street, which is peppered with stores such as fabric shop Batik Emporium and fragrance outlet Jamal Kazura Aromatics.
On the other hand, Bras Basah Complex, which is located next to the National Library, is where one can find a wide variety of pre-loved books, musical instruments, and various other art accessories. There are also shops specialising in Chinese calligraphy and teapots, which may appeal to visitors interested in traditional crafts. Stores like Cat Socrates is also found here – good for locally-inspired souvenirs and handcrafted items.
Bustling Bugis Street, a shopping zone just outside the Bugis Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station, is a family-friendly shopping destination covering three storeys (the upper levels are air-conditioned and can be accessed via escalators) lined with rows of stalls selling the latest fashion and accessories for as low as S$12, as well as gadgets. Read more about Bugis Street here.
While not exactly a shopping cluster, Singapore Changi Airport, with over 350 retail stores, offers great duty-free shopping across three terminals that house labels like Burberry to Calvin Klein and electronic stores selling cameras and assorted gadgets.
Your clients should set aside time before their flights to indulge in some last-minute shopping, as well as enjoy the range of food and beverage outlets, including local favourite Bengawan Solo, which sells kuehs (‘cakes’ in Malay) and other bite-sized delicacies and sweet treats to bring home.