Shopping in Singapore

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Although Singapore may not be well-known for being a shopper’s haven, there are still hidden finds around the island that promise you a bang for your buck, and here’s a guide to show you the best deals in town for you to do your shopping.

Bugis Street

Bugis Street has frequently been likened to the “compressed” version of the heart of Singapore’s most vibrant street, that is, Orchard Road. If you’re looking for the cheapest apparels in town, you have to visit Bugis Street (Bugis MRT station). This place is almost always crowded with youngsters and school-going teenagers because of the cheap deals you can find here. Clothes are sold at an average of $10 per piece, but don’t expect high quality with such a great bargain. Most shops are small and cluttered, and hence they do not allow you to try the clothes on most of the time. Clothes are also usually free-sized as well.

There’s also a second level of Bugis Street which is less popular but which also has some great bargains that you should not miss out on. Bugis Street, apart from being popular for its cheap apparels, is also well known for cheap accessories and shoes. Although the apparels here mainly appeal to the younger generation, there’s a wide variety of apparels for you to choose from, so you’ll definitely be spoilt for choice. Is this place worth the discomfort from squeezing and pushing with the crowd? Definitely.

Mustafa Centre

Located near Farrer Park MRT station, Mustafa Centre has always been popular amongst foreigners, especially the foreign workers who live around the area. This place is packed like sardines every single day, and it is not difficult to see why since this place sells just about everything you’d like or need to buy.

From groceries to clothes to electrical appliances, Mustafa Centre is a one-stop shopping centre for you to settle your shopping needs. The prices here are relatively competitive as well, and many of the items sold here are much cheaper than what you’ll find at any other supermarket or retail store. Mustafa has always been known for selling cheap electronic gadgets, though prior research regarding the price should be done beforehand to ensure that you don’t get ripped off by the salesmen.

It would also be good to note that majority of the crowd are Indians, and the crowd may get rather unbearable on weekend nights, so this wouldn’t be an ideal place for you to do some quiet shopping during those “peak periods”.

Sim Lim Square





Sim Lim Square is famous in Singapore for selling electronics at a cheap price. However, it is not advisable for tourists to visit this place alone if you are not extremely knowledgeable about the product you’d like to buy. This is because many shops in Sim Lim Square tend to quote a higher price to tourists or foreigners, giving you all sorts of excuses and eventually persuading you to purchase the product at a price much higher than it’s worth. It is best to visit Sim Lim Square with a local friend or tour guide who is more familiar and who can also help you converse with the salesman. It would also be good to get recommendations as to which trusted shop you should visit.

Here are a few more tips to guide you while shopping at Sim Lim Square:

  1. Always be sure of what you’re buying and the standard retail price of that particular item. Don’t appear unsure to the salesman because your uncertainty might give him a chance to outtalk you and hard sell his product to you. Don’t pay a price that does not justify the item you’re buying.
  2. If in doubt, walk away. You are not obliged to purchase anything from any particular shop and if they are rude or unpleasant towards you, do not hesitate to seek assistance. Some salespersons may become aggressive if you choose not to buy their products, but always remember that you have no obligations to purchase from any particular shop, and you should have the right of choice to purchase any item from wherever you want.
  3. If you’ve decided on an item, check to make sure that the item is in proper working and physical condition. Be sure to check through very thoroughly as salesmen may sometimes sell you faulty items without informing you, and once you’ve made the payment it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to get your money back.
  4. When you’ve made your purchase, always ask for a receipt that explicitly states the exact items you’ve purchased. Check to make sure that what is stated in the receipt is what is in your shopping bag.

It would of course still be advisable for you to bring along a local who’s knowledgeable in electronics so that he may help you out wherever necessary.

The Heartlands

You will be surprised to know that the heartlands actually offer a lot of great deals at fantastic prices, especially if you’re looking to buy daily household items like shampoos, bath foams etc. Take a train and alight at places like Toa Payoh MRT and Ang Mo Kio MRT, and walk through the many small shops amidst the heartlands. Prices there are generally reasonable, though the staff may not provide you with excellent service. Haggling is not common in all parts of Singapore, but you can try your luck at the heartland shops.

There are in fact many more places for you to do your shopping in Singapore, so take your time to slowly explore this small island.  Most major shopping malls and shopping centres accept cash, NETS and credit cards as a form of payment, but heartland shops usually only accept cash; few accept NETS payment. Certain retailers also operate the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS) – a scheme that allows you to be refunded for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) that you pay for every item you purchase. However, not all retailers operate this scheme. More info on this scheme can be found here:

http://www.iras.gov.sg/irasHome/uploadedFiles/Quick_Links/e-Tax_Guides/GST/Guide%20to%20Visitors%20on%20Tourist%20Refund%20Scheme%20(28%20Aug%202007).pdf


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