October 29, 2020

Where to shop in Singapore: best markets and shopping malls

From stalls to the best international brands

Singapore is an ideal city for shopping. We're not just talking about shopping mall visits, but also the search for special objects, creative crafts or even unknown food. We really appreciate the fact that here you can find products from all over Asia and that the prices are reasonable. In this article we tell you about the markets we liked and the most beautiful and well-stocked (and cheap) shopping malls in Singapore.

We will focus our selection on the three categories that most represent the different shopping possibilities that are usually found in large Asian cities and for which Singapore makes no difference:

  • Food Markets
  • Areas of stores, craft stores, street market
  • Shopping Centers

Starting from the premise that every neighborhood has its own food market, small or large, there have been some that we liked especially for the atmosphere, wealth of supply of fresh fruit of the highest quality or even for the possibility of making spices.

Food markets

Chinatown Complex

We say it now: this is not the most jovial market in town, it is old and a bit smelly. It is located on the ground floor and in the basement of the large shopping complex in Chinatown which also houses an interesting hawker center. If you love Chinese cuisine and aromas this place will enchant you, there are many traditional herb shops but also stalls dedicated to dried and fresh mushrooms or those that deal with special eggs (of all colors and sizes). We liked it because it is one of those places with an ancient character where you can go to find some of that typical Asian chaos that sometimes can be missing from the most touristy places of the city. We will mention this area also later for other types of purchases because it reserves many surprises.

Geylang Serai Market

The Geylang Serai Market is one of the largest and busiest food markets in the city and also one of the oldest. In operation since 1964, it is a very important place for the local Malaysian community (very present in the Geylang neighborhood) and offers an excellent selection of Malaysian and Indian-Muslim specialties at the lowest prices in the city. We have stocked up on good quality spices at very affordable prices. There are also some stands selling Thai products and especially fresh herbs (among the best views in Singapore for price and quality).

The structure of the building is relatively new (it dates back to 2010 when it was renovated taking the particular shape of a big kampong house) and it is really beautiful. After shopping stop and enjoy a putu piring, a traditional dessert much loved by Malaysians that is still made with old-fashioned techniques (you will not often have this opportunity!).

Tiong Bahru Market

Definitely the most beautiful market we visited in the central area, in the charming district of Tiong Bahru. The building that houses it is really delightful and unusual, a large building with a round entrance all white with bright red details. Although the market was opened in the 50s it has been renovated several times and is in perfect condition, the stalls are tidy and clean and shopping is a pleasure. You will find a little bit of everything, we have been stocking fresh and dried fruit at very good prices. Upstairs there is a Hawker Centre to say the least amazing that you should not miss.

Areas of stores, stores, street market

We came across several interesting parts of the city for shopping, especially to find those more particular products that are difficult to find in shopping malls where everything is a bit standardized.

Bugis Street

Bugis Street is a street market area (in a large main building surrounded by other businesses) and is considered the place to do the best business in town any accessory or garment circled. Especially on weekends it is populated by a lot of young people and it can become almost difficult to move around the crowd. It is also a popular place for young girls to get a manicure, which tends to be quite eccentric (at least by Singaporean standards).

Little India (Serangoon Road)

The whole area of Little India is scattered with little stores and little stores: if you like the Indian style and you are looking for some garments, objects or pieces of furniture in this style here you will find what you are looking for together with spices at will. In general most of the stores sell cheap products and are mainly located on Serangoon Road. There is also a rather touristy souvenir market that sells the usual Indian junk that you would expect to find in similar places. If you are looking for electronics products there are many stores that deal with this kind of items even second-hand at great prices, while for spices you can go to the Tekka Centre.

So Gelam Market (Bagdad Street)

If you are interested in vintage and flea markets, know that every last weekend of the month Bagdad Street turns into a huge street market that welcomes professional sellers and emptying cellars. It ranges from antiques to vintage or modern to junk. In the middle of all this there are also sellers of handicrafts and even small pop up bars that dispense handmade herbal teas and delicious cakes. It's a nice place to escape a bit and discover a Singapore a little more fashionable and young.

Chinatown Complex (and surroundings)

As we had predicted in this area you can do great shopping even non-food. In particular in and around the Chinatown Complex there are many small stores selling ceramic items, such as cups and plates decorated with the traditional Singaporean style (whose emblem is a beautiful chanterelle) and you can find a lot of Chinese style tea services at very low prices. There are also plenty of tea, herbal tea and traditional Chinese medicine stores.

At the side of the complex there is a street of souvenir and gift sellers, it's nothing much but if you like cheap chinoiserie (fans, clothes, chopsticks...) you might find something good.

Shopping malls

We are not fanatic about shopping malls, but in Singapore there are a lot of them and they represent the perfect escape from the heat and humidity that you can sometimes bear with difficulty. We were amazed by two in particular, one for the variety offered while the other we appreciated the (successful) attempt to differentiate a little bit. We will talk about these two and the area par excellence of shopping malls in Singapore (yes, there is a neighborhood full of shopping malls).

Funan Mall (We The People)

The Funan Mall was a mecca for electronics lovers but recently it has been renovated and completely changed its face becoming one of the most innovative shopping malls in the city. It is not gigantic and there are no luxury stores, on the contrary this shopping mall leaves a lot of room for local brands and sellers who offer quality products and who love to stand out.

In addition to the fact that we often host art exhibitions or cultural projects we also liked the organization of open space style shops, a choice that greatly mitigates the sense of claustrophobia that we often get visits to the malls.

Vivo City

This mall is definitely more canonical but we found it cozy, giant (it's the largest in town) and very comfortable! You can practically get there by metro, it collects all the stores of the big brands and commercial chains that you need to feel a bit 'in Europe, has a giant cinema, several playgrounds for children and especially a food court excellent quality and also very nice.

Orchard Road

If you want to spend a full day in the shopping centers we recommend you to go to Orchard Road near the Somerset subway station and you will find your paradise. The street is teeming with more or less gigantic shopping malls and large multi-storey single-brand stores. This district is very famous for luxury shopping but in truth you can find a bit of everything, the most representative of the complexes is however the ION Orchard.

If you are in the area you can make a visit to the most photographed library in Singapore: the Library@orchard where the shelves that house the books have very particular shapes reminiscent of the waves.

If you're interested in reading more about Singapore, check out my article on the most popular aesthetic treatments in 2020.