The Lion City sits at the crossroads of South-East Asia, and as you might expects, offers a little something of everything: there’s historical sights and attractions aplenty for those who are interested, the Singapore Zoo is one of the most respected of such establishments in the world, there are sporting opportunities galore for the active and for the shopaholics, there’s more shopping centres per city block along Orchard Road then anywhere else in the world!
Becoming a Shopaholic in Singapore
I’d have to confess that I have never been much of a shopping addict. That is, until I ‘accidentally’ stopped by the small island during the Great Singapore Sale held in May last year. My brother however, failed to warn me of this despite living and working in the country for many years. I don’t blame him entirely though as he probably never expected his sister going on a bargain-hunt binge in the city during her one-week stay.
Upon visiting Singapore, I found that shopping is the next favourite pastime for Singaporeans apart from indulging in their prime passion: food. Although the food here is nothing to shout about (or perhaps it is because I am more partial to Malaysian cuisine), the shopping experience here is definitely something to talk about! There is an abundance of shopping outlets all around the city from storefronts of traditional Asian merchants to upscale shopping complexes and posh malls. If you’re into designer items and fashion, then Singapore is definitely a shopping haven as there were many varieties available especially imported goods and clothing from all around the world.
Before embarking on your shopping spree, the first place you must visit is Orchard Road. This is the epicentre of the whole shopping scene in Singapore and here, you can find almost anything and everything you need from designer wear, electronic goods, souvenirs and many more! The whole stretch of road is flanked by malls cramped into just a few blocks of the shopping district where some of the biggest shopping centres in Singapore, including (from west to east) Tangs, The Forum Shopping Mall, Palais Renaissance, The Shopping Gallery at Hilton, Lucky Plaza, Centrepoint Shopping Centre, Paragon, Orchard Towers and Singapore Plaza.
Although I found that most goods sold here tend to be slightly more expensive than in other parts of the city, the overall shopping ambience is definitely not to be missed. What I liked best about doing my shopping in Orchard Road was the numerous restaurants, coffee chains, cafés and food joints lined up nearby the shopping malls. Here, a mixed crowd of both local and foreign tourists can be seen in nearby cafes and restaurants relaxing and unwinding after a long day of shopping. After spending the whole morning scouring for bargains from one mall to the next, my sister and I decided to join in the crowd to rest our feet (and our wallets as well!) and headed off to a nearby restaurant for some food before continuing on our next shopping trip.
As we sat down in a restaurant enjoying our meal, we heard that there was a commotion going on in one of the big malls. Apparently, as we later found out, in conjunction with the Great Singapore Sale, there were lots of shopping activities and promotions that were organised by the tourism board to promote the Great Sale. One of it was The Great Singapore Shopping Challenge. This challenge called for both international and local shoppers to compete for the best bargains and grand prize. It was divided into two categories – Singapore and International where the selected teams were given shopping money worth up to SGD 1,000 to purchase the best bargains from selected categories in 4 different malls. I only wished that I had known about it earlier as I would have definitely made full use of that SGD 1, 000!
I was told that Orchard Road has a pulsating nightlife aside from shopping especially during weekends as it houses some of the city’s hippest clubs, bars, pubs and posh hotels. So apart from its extended shopping hours to 11pm during the Great Sale, there is still much to do there. I was tempted to stick around longer to get a feel for its nightlife but decided against it as it was getting late and I was only half-done with my shopping. There were still so many places around town to check out and yet so little time to do it so we both decided to call it a day.
Early the next day, my brother and sister took me to another popular shopping destination: Bugis Junction. After spending a whole day yesterday spending wads of cash at upscale malls for designer items and quality import goods, Bugis Junction was definitely a pleasant change of shopping experience. At the Bugis Junction, you can either choose to shop at the air-conditioned shopping mall at Parco Bugis Junction or haggle for bargains at the flea markets along Bugis Street located opposite the mall.
With more than 600 stalls lined up along the sheltered and air-conditioned walkway, the stalls along Bugis Street offers a variety of goods from souvenirs, women’s, men’s and children’s clothing to pirated CDs, accessories, shoes, slippers, bags, sunglasses and watches. As I browsed through at the many stalls, I found that most of the items sold here are exactly the same as those sold at Orchard Road but at a much cheaper price! Items sold here come with discounts of 10 – 20% off their retail price. The beauty about shopping here is that if you’re not satisfied with the price, you can always haggle for better bargains at other stalls and also get a chance to compare the prices and quality of the goods sold.
By the time we were done with our shopping, my brother’s car was filled with shopping bags of all shapes and sizes. Not to mention the size of his credit card bill as well! Nevertheless, it was well worth it as I found that during the Great Sale, the items that are usually on fantastic offers are electronic gadgets and gizmos, perfumes and designer wear. These items are usually offered at slashed prices of up to 70% off! So, if you’re looking for a bargain for these items then make sure you visit Singapore during the Great Sale.
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