Singapore is one of the most vibrant shopping hubs in Asia, filled with lots of shopping centers that have about every possible thing that one could ever want or need. The country has long been a chosen tourist destination for many people all over the world, not just for sight-seeing, but also for buying the latest fashion items.
Although Singapore is known as a shopping paradise for the elite crowd, that doesn’t mean that the country has forgotten about its budget-conscious customers who want trendy and good quality items for a lower price. So where can people on a tight shopping budget go for a bit of retail therapy? Here are the places that you should definitely check out, the next time you go shopping in Singapore.
1. Lucky Plaza
304 Orchard Road, #02-115 Lucky Plaza, Singapore
This is one of the largest shopping malls in Singapore and is often crowded with many shoppers who want a good bargain. Compared to other mega structures in the country, Lucky Plaza is still very much a plain mall, but its strategic location enjoys a lot of good business on any given day.
This mall is also home to many remittance houses and micro-businesses catering to Filipino workers and expats in Singapore, hence it’s sometimes called “Little Philippines”. Some of the locals may advise you to steer clear of Lucky Plaza as it is a massive tourist trap. Though this is true, there are still a lot of hidden gems worth discovering and many trustworthy shopkeepers here, so take a chance and head on in.
Locals like to shop for cheap and genuine perfumes in many of the stores in Lucky Plaza. The reason why the perfumes cost almost forty percent less than their original price is that the shops sell testers from hot brands such as Estee Lauder, Bvlgari, Issey Miyake, Davidoff, Gucci, and many more. Don’t be put off by the fact that these perfume bottles come in plain packaging with “Not For Sale” labels on them. Rest assured, these are the real thing, and it is perfectly legal to buy them.
Fashion stores from level 3 onwards sell cheap clothes and shoes. There are also a couple of shops that offer tailoring services, minimarts, and food outlets. Speaking of food, the mall is also home to small, nondescript cafes that serve cheap and home-cooked style food during lunch hour. Take your pick authentic Malaysian, Filipino, Japanese, Chinese, or Indian dishes. A complete meal here costs about $2.50, which means you get to have more money for shopping.
To be on the safe side, don’t buy any electronic gadgets here as some of the salesmen are known to engage in scamming tactics such as giving false warranties or selling you a defective product.
2. Mustafa Centre
145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore
The Mustafa Centre is open 24 hours a day, and business is buzzing all throughout the day. One might wonder if the shoppers who come in at 3AM are insomniacs, incurable shopaholics, serial hoarders, or a mix of everything. But this is the very thing that makes this mall special, as this means that you can take in the sights and sounds of Singapore during the day, then do your shopping at night here.
The moment you step inside the mall, you might forget that you are in orderly, neat-as-a-pin Singapore. Here, a chaotic crowd rules the scene. It’s best to come during the weekend if you want to experience the excitement of shopping and bargaining among the crowds. This mall is not only a favorite shopping center for budget travelers, it’s also a gathering spot and a place to hangout for many locals and immigrants from India, hence the mall’s moniker, Little India.
It’s going to be a challenge to leave Mustafa empty-handed. Going up the six levels of the building will make you spot things that you didn’t know you wanted. It’s amazing how each and every kind of product you can think of is housed under one roof. Think giant Toblerone bars nestled beside imported perfumes, air mattresses, cat figurines that wave at you, toilet seats, paper weights, beauty products from different parts of the world, huge bags of chips, fabrics, old-school watches…I could go on and on. It’s easy to spend three or four hours here, even on the wee hours of the morning, because shopping here is like an adventure.
You could also find services in this mall, so this is the place to be just in case you’re looking for airline tickets, travel insurance. visa processing services, and foreign exchange. It’s also worth mentioning that Mustafa gives the best rate of return for currency exchanges and the lines are fast, and the people managing the money exchange centers are very efficient.
Ladies looking for cheap clothes and cosmetics will fall in love with Mustafa Centre, and this is also a good place to buy souvenirs. It’s best not to buy any high end digital cameras or computers here as they may not work when you get home.
3. Bugis Street
3 New Bugis Street, Singapore
Bugis Street is basically an outdoor street shopping area with many food, clothing, and accessories shops. It is considered Singapore’s largest street shopping location, home to approximately 800 shops that attract both tourists and locals. Aside from retail concepts, there are also beauty services available such as nail and beauty salons.
Bugis Street is divided into several sections, and it will take at least two days to explore them all, so wear comfy shoes, carry a light bag, and watch your belongings to deter lurking pickpockets or thieves.
For souvenirs, head on over to Bugis Street Market. Here, you’ll find extremely cheap t-shirts that cost around $10 for 4 shirts! This bazaar is packed with stalls that sell the cheapest clothes and accessories, and if you’re looking for something more unique, you can also find local artwork and tattoo parlors here.
For fashionistas craving the latest trends, spend the day at Bugis Junction and Bugis Plus. These are the two malls situated at the heart of the Bugis district. Between these two malls, they have almost every international brand, from Aeropostale to Zara. The Japanese and Korean pop culture influence is strong here, and a lot of shops sell imported cosmetics, toiletries, clothes and stationery that you won’t find anywhere else.
Navigating the entire Bugis district is chaotic, but fun. There are absolutely no directories to speak of, and no order to the way the shops are laid out. But Bugis contains a lot of hidden treasures that are worth braving the Singapore humidity. The good thing is that there are more shops that can be found at the second and third levels, which are aggressively airconditioned so bring a sweater with you to avoid getting that frozen feeling.
The best part of Bugis is the $10 lane, where you can find items for that price. You’ll find that most of the vendors are not very friendly though, and they may not let you open the plastic packages to inspect the shirts before buying them. Do some comparison shopping, as the stall that sells three shirts for $10 may be two stalls over from the guy who sells the same shirts, but offers them to you at $10 for four pieces.
When buying items at bargain centers, make sure to carry cash in small bills, as there are very few stores that accept credit card payments. Carry a lightweight bag with you, and perhaps an extra bag to contain all of your purchases. Be wary of what you’re buying, and make sure to inspect the item thoroughly before handing over your cash.
Have a great time shopping!