Not up for navigating your way through the throngs of people at Orchard Road? Beat the crowd and get your retail therapy fix elsewhere at the many heartland shopping destinations island-wide. Here’s an insider look at the five best neighbourhoods to visit for a unique Singapore shopping experience.
1. Jurong East
For maximum choice at minimum cost, head over to the Western side of Singapore and shop at IMM, well-known as the island’s largest outlet mall. Here, keep a watch on that credit card as tantalising discounts tempt year-round at over 80 outlet stores. From Adidas to Timberland, you’ll find many covetable big brands going at jaw-dropping low prices. Bring home a new designer bag from the likes of Agnès B or Coach at a whopping discount — sometimes up to 70 percent — or pop by the FJ Benjamin outlet store to nab some classic all-American threads from Gap and Banana Republic.
If that doesn’t satisfy the shopping bug, take a ten-minute walk over to Big Box, an 8-story retail behemoth which espouses a ‘factory-to-storefront’ concept. What’s that, you ask? Well, this largest warehouse retailer gives you stunningly low prices (due to its bulk inventory) in a one-stop setting. So, stock up on anything from groceries to health products to electronics or even baby items.
After you have completed that grocery run, cap off your shopping spree at lifestyle mall JEM — take pick from the best of high-street fashion brands such as Muji, Chanel, Topshop, Vans, H&M, Levi’s and other international labels.
Best for: Outlet shopping
IMM Building 2, Jurong East Street 21, Singapore 609601
Big Box, 1 Venture Avenue, Singapore 608521
JEM, 50 Jurong Gateway Road, Singapore 608549
Explore the golden trio of retail therapy in the East: Century Square, Tampines 1 and Tampines Mall. These malls — all located within walking distance — offer an astoundingly diverse shopping experience, with the total number of shops and boutiques hitting a mindboggling 469 in all.
The most established of them, Tampines Mall, is the ideal family-friendly hangout. It counts tenants such as Popular – a stationery shop, and toys shop – Toys “R” Us within its perimeters, while a Golden Village theatre and slew of rooftop learning centres ensure ample entertainment and education options for the kids. For wellness and beauty steals, hop on over to Century Square’s comprehensive departmental store BHG, or try on a sweet dress at one of the many ladies’ boutiques that line the mall’s floors. Rounding up the mix at this equally established mall are electronics giant Best Denki and Fairprice Finest that serves up premium groceries.
Tampines 1, then, is the savvier younger sister of the family — think a trendy mix of fashion and lifestyle labels and services that cater to the downtown urbanite. Stock up on make-up at Sephora, The Face Shop and Skinfood, indulge in a deep tissue massage at Urban Homme (for the gents) or even make a stop at Browhaus for a quick brow fix-up.
Now that you’ve got your best face on, get ready to shop till you drop at the popular Topshop, Uniqlo, Cath Kidston, Promod and other high-street labels, available at all these three malls.
Best for: Beauty and makeup, family-friendly good
Century Square, 2 Tampines Central 5, Singapore 529509
Tampines 1, 10 Tampines Central 1, Singapore 529536
Tampines Mall, 4 Tampines Central 5 Singapore 529510
While you’re in the East, swing by mall I12 Katong for a taste of the hip local fashion scene. Check out The Petit Emporium, a multi-label pop-up store that houses indie fashion and accessory brands. Coo over meltingly soft leather in the form of handbags from Desti Saint or flats by Indy K, or rock some bold statement jewellery from Lil Jewellery or Stones That Rock. Online retail sensation Megafash also takes root in the cosy mall, offering so-cool-it-hurts finds from Singapore and the region, amongst them eco-conscious products, kooky decorative items (such as kueh [bite-sized snacks or dessert foods] cushions) and a whole range of curated apparel.
Shopping is not restricted to the malls, though. Hit the streets and amble along Joo Chiat Road until you reach Cat Socrates, an independent store that sells quirky crafts, homeware, fashion accessories and more. Browse their selection of books from local publishing houses such as Math Paper Press and Epigram Books, music by home-grown record label Kitchen Label, as well as an array of eclectic art and music by creatives from Singapore and the region.
If you’re looking for a bit of tradition, head over to Rumah Bebe for a taste of local heritage. Housed in a 1928 shophouse, this Peranakan (Straits Chinese) boutique sells a hodgepodge of Straits Chinese-inspired food and fashion, which make for lovely Singaporean souvenirs.
In line with keeping things old-school, make a trip to Katong Shopping Centre, the oldest mall in the Eastern part of Singapore, going strong since 1973. The textile and tailor shops here are a legacy left from the mall’s heyday, and are often frequented by regulars.
Pro tip: don’t miss out on old favourites at Katong Shopping Centre. Drop by Dona Manis Cake Shop or Delicious Boneless Chicken Rice to sample some local treats.
Best for: Local brands and heritage goods
I12 Katong, 865 Mountbatten Road, Singapore 437844
Cat Socrates, 02-25 Bras Basah Complex, 231 Bain Street, Singapore 180231
Rumah Bebe, 113 East Coast Road, Singapore 428803
Katong Shopping Centre, 112 East Coast Road, Singapore 428802
4. Toa Payoh
For a glimpse of day-to-day Singaporean life, take the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) train straight into Toa Payoh Hub, the buzzing centre of one of Singapore’s oldest satellite towns. Here, you’ll get a down-to-earth, suburban shopping experience that’s far removed from the hubbub of the big city.
Explore the grounds and get a uniquely Singaporean experience when you shop and eat like a local. Follow their lead as they pull out the best bargains at the old shophouse stores of Toa Payoh Mall, some of which have been in existence since the 18th century. Get almost anything under the sun, too, at this colossal 186,000 square feet of retail space — choose from home essentials such as rugs and bedsheets, nifty mobile phone accessories or a colourful plethora of shoes and clothing options — all at affordable prices.
After all the bargain-hunting, fuel up and join the queues at the neighbourhood’s best-kept secret hawker stalls — the sliced fish soup and Tian Tian Lai hokkien mee (prawn noodles) at Block 127 Toa Payoh Lorong 1 are a must-try.
Best for: Household
Toa Payoh Hub and Mall, 480 Toa Payoh Lorong 6, Singapore 310480
5. Farrer Park
Farrer Park sits a stone’s throw away from heritage district Little India and is home to City Square Mall, Singapore’s first eco-mall. The eco-conscious will delight in the energy-saving LED lighting and roof which lets natural light in, while the shopaholics can rejoice instead over the mall’s wide variety of deals.
First, put your reusable shopping bag to good use at the eco-friendly NTUC supermarket when you fill it up with goodies and snacks to take home.
Then, troop over to massive sports store Decathlon. Although not the as large as the flagship store in Bedok, this outlet more than makes up for it in terms of accessibility, and offers up to 90 percent of the products anyway. Fitness fanatics will be happy to know that this outlet carries gear for over 50 different sports: think yoga leggings, in-line skates or even kayaking equipment. After you’ve stocked up on spanking new gear, you can even squeeze in a quick gym session or spin class at the nearby Celebrity Fitness.
However, if tech is more your turf, browse through Best Denki, Challenger Mini or Nübox for great deals on electronic gadgets and appliances.
Got kids in tow? Take them to the mall’s eco-playground and ride their complimentary kiddy cabs. Before you leave, pick something up for the kids at Toys “R” Us or get them a new outfit at Cotton On Kids or Fox Kids & Baby.
Best for: Sports, electronics, family
City Square Mall, 180 Kitchener Road, Singapore 208539