Shopping: is Singapore expensive?


Let’s say you are in Singapore and feel like going on a shopping spree. But you were told that Singapore was expensive. Well here is news for you! Singapore might not be as expensive as you think, it simply boils down to knowing the right places…

1. Garments and accessories

Of course the first place which comes to your mind is Orchard Road, the perfect place for luxury and branded items (if you haven’t been there yet, check out ION, Tangs, Ngee Ann City or the recently opened Abercrombie and Fitch store).

However, you can also find less expensive clothes in globalised brands outlets, like Uniqlo or Zara for instance. Most of these brands are in shopping malls like 313@Somerset or Vivo City near Harbour Front. If on the contrary you are willing to try unique garments, you should go for designer clothes and jewelry from Haji Lane!

Finally, if you would rather not spend too much, check out Charles and Keith outlets for shoes : they are usually comfortable, trendy and cheap. Another option for tighter budgets could be Far East Plaza’s basement, Bugis Street, Chinatown or Little India where garments and accessories are usually coming from China. Do not expect excellent quality though…

2. IT products

Singapore might not be as cheap as other Southeast Asian countries when it comes to IT, but there are still many places where you can make a bargain.

You could start with Orchard Road, the most obvious place to go first. However if prices seem to high or if you find the selection too restricted, go to Funan Shopping Mall or Sim Lim Square. Both malls are famous in Singapore for the choice they provide regarding IT products (I bought a 500GB hard drive a year ago in Sim Lim Square and it really does the job!). Also, Holland Village is a safe bet for cheap and reliable devices (try Parisilk for example).

3. Fine art and decorative objects

If you are looking for fine art or decorative objects to bring back to your home country, you can try Chinatown, Kampong Glam or Little India. They are safe bets and not too expensive compared to what you could find on Orchard Road. You might also find fine art items from Cambodia in the Holland Village Shopping Mall, and typically Peranakan objects in shophouses along East Coast Road.

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For other types of items, here is what I would recommend:
– Books : Kinokuniya in Ngee Ann City for their large choice of literature,
– Fun accessories : Bugis Street for cheap and shiny party add-ons,
– CDs and DVDs : HMV, or Mustafa Center in Little India,
– Fine jewelry : Chinatown, definitely.
– Sports equipment : Queensway Shopping Center of course!

Also, do not forget that the best way to make a bargain while shopping in Singapore is to wait for the GREAT SINGAPORE SALE, which takes place every year in June and July. Discounts are really worth it !!

Chinatown


How can you go to Singapore and not go to Chinatown?

When Sir Raffles organised the city of Singapore, he determined zones for each ethnic minority. The Indians have what is today Little India, the Malays have the Kampong Glam area with Arab Street… and the Chinese have Chinatown.

Today, Chinatown is still mostly populated by Chinese people. You can go there very easily by MRT and experience a China-like atmosphere. If you really want to see the way some locals live, have a stroll around People’s Park Complex. It is a huge shopping complex – not very beautiful, but at least it will give you a taste of locals’ daily lives.

What is there to do in Chinatown?

Visit the area to begin with. When you step out of the MRT, simply walk around. Do not stay only on Pagoda Street (which is the most “touristy” street), but instead do feel free to take a turn and go into Mosque street, Temple street… Among Chinatown’s must-do, do not miss out on the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, the Sri Mariamman Temple (an Indian temple in Chinatown! That’s Singapore’s melting pot!), and of course the Chinatown Heritage Center – a wonderful Museum that will tell you everything about how Chinese migrants settled in Singapore. Also don’t forget to look up once in a while to admire ancient shophouses and Chinese lanterns!

Eat of course!! Hawker food in chinatown is not bad, I particularly enjoy their noodles. Try “food street” (which is actually Smith street) at night, or you can also go further to Maxwell Center too, where they serve excellent Chicken Rice !! However if you prefer to sit in a restaurant and enjoy the aircon, there are many restaurants in the area that you can choose from. A personal favourite would be Kok Sen Coffee Shop, on Keong Saik Road – their Chicken Claypot is simply to die for !!

Food street at night

And shop!! In Chinatown you will find lots of decorative objects and fun things for tourists to bring back to their home country… chopsticks, key chains, small buddha statues, scarves and so on. But you can also find Chinese medicine and herbs (check out Eu Yan Sang for instance), or refined jewellery and antiques on South Bridge Road. Other shopping options include chinese dresses (“cheong sams”) or tea. There are also a few designer boutiques if you go further to Ann Siang Road and Club Street, not too far away.

So don’t just walk through Pagoda Street and say there is nothing to see in Chinatown… you will soon find out this area is more interesting than you thought!

Holland Village


One of Singapore’s well hidden places is Holland Village. Not sure you’ve heard of it? I’m not surprised!!

Holland Village (“Holland V”) is a nice spot for shopping, restaurants and bars. It is quite calm during the day and very lively at night, especially after working hours when office people meet up for a refreshing beer. It is usually packed with both locals and expatriates, which makes it a great spot to meet new people and blend in with locals if you’re an expatriate!

Best outlets in Holland V include:

1. Restaurants : you can find basically anything! European, Thai, Lebanese, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Australian, Mexican food … you name it! You will find famous restaurant chains like Crystal Jade or Sushi Tei as well as less well-known places like the Cha Cha Cha Mexican Restaurant or La Nonna Italian Restaurant.

2. Bars : Of course, the most famous one is Wala Wala bar, a two-storey bar with a terrace, usually very very packed. Harry’s bar is also always a safe bet for cocktails. But mostly, Holland Village is full of pubs and bars with live music and happy hours, so really you can just walk around and choose your favourite!

3. Shopping places : In Holland Village you will find smaller shops usually specialised in one type of product, like antiques or IT items. There is also a Shopping Mall but I think that’s less charming…

I think Holland Village is a good name for this area, as it really does capture the spirit of a “village” 🙂

Haji Lane


I decided not to write about the major « must-do » places in Singapore (Marina Bay Sands, Sentosa, The Singapore Eye, The Raffles Hotel…) to begin with. I’d much rather share my personal experience of the city and write about the places I like most.

One of my favourite areas is definitely Haji Lane. It’s a tiny alley buzzing with energy and new ideas, where entrepreneur and artists of all ages start their own shop, a place where you can simply walk around and enjoy the atmosphere, while having a look at outlets’ fashionable and original products on display… and who knows ? You might just end up buying the item you had been looking for for a long time !

Why don’t most tourists stop by Haji Lane ?

Well you see, when you are stopping over in Singapore for a few days, guidebooks and travelling websites will recommend you to go to Arab Street to experience the “muslim district” by the mosque, but few will really tell you about the charming lane hidden between Arab Street and Bali Lane (where the Blu Jazz Cafe is, also quite famous). So as a result, you might end up walking up and down Arab Street, thinking it’s mainly full of touristy shops, and leave a little disappointed. My recommendation : take the time to walk around famous places ! You will discover quaint places that you are bound to love.

What is there to do on Haji Lane?

1. Eat

We all know this is a major subject of interest for both tourists and locals. There are a few eateries on Haji Lane that you might want to check out : the Altazzag serves delicious Egyptian food, the Bistro Parisien will provide you with French-halal food, while Piedra Negra has delicious tapas and mexican delicacies… And they are all really good!

2. Shop

Of course, you will want to shop. Haji Lane is a great place to find original designs and fashionable items, ranging from vintage clothes to home furnishing, women’s accessories and jewellery, books and DVDs, paintings… To me it is the perfect place to search for items you couldn’t find elsewhere.

3. Chill

Coffee and Ice Cream places on Haji Lane are very relaxing and not that expensive. Also, Going Om is one of my favourite spots. It’s a very nicely decorated sheesha place, with decorative paintings on the walls and a very charming second storey too. I definitely recommend it for a chilled outing.

Inside Going Om

For more information on Haji Lane, try this.