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Singapore Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Singapore

The vast range of available goods and competitive prices have led to Singapore rightly being known as a shopper's paradise. Special purchases include Balinese, Chinese, Filipino, Indian and Malay antiques; batiks; cameras; Chinese, Indian and Persian carpets; imported or tailored clothing; jewellery and shoes, briefcases, handbags and wallets. Silks, perfumes and silverware are other favourite buys. The herding of shop owners from Chinatown into multi-storey complexes lost some of the exciting shopping atmosphere, although these huge centres do at least provide an air-conditioned environment. Orchard Road is the main shopping street, although many of the large hotel complexes, such as Marina Square, have shopping centres attached.

For electrical goods try Funan Digitalife Mall or Sim Lim Square. Despite initial impressions shopping in Singapore need not, however, be all about malls. For a quirkier shopping experience try the boutiques on Haji Lane, which attract droves of young and fashionable shoppers. For bargains visit the flea market on Sungei Road, best on weekend afternoons, popularly known as the Thieves’ Market although it has long since been cleaned up. Although most outlets operate Western-style fixed pricing, bargains can still be made in some places but generally only after good research and shrewd negotiating. Haggling is essential at the Sungei Road flea market.

Shopping Note

A 7% Goods and Services Tax (GST) is levied on most goods and services purchased from taxable retailers, although this can be claimed back on purchases made from retailers participating in the Tourist Refund Scheme. There are conditions, including: purchases must total S$100 or more from the retailer on a single day (on no more than three receipts); the goods must not be wholly or partially consumed in Singapore; your passport must be shown when making the purchase.


Refunds may be received at the airport, prior to departing flights. A new electronic system is being introduced, under which retailers issue an eTRS ticket when payment is made. This ticket, and the receipt, are required to use the electronic terminal at the airport. Some retailers still use the old system, where you must complete – and they must endorse – a form within the shop. Further details are available from Singapore Customs (www.customs.gov.sg).

Shopping hours

Daily 1000-2100, Sat 1000-2200. The Mustafa Centre in Little India is open 24-hours.

Nightlife in Singapore

Singapore has a vibrant and exciting nightlife. Alcohol is expensive by the standards of South East Asia, but at least there’s a great array of bars, clubs, discos and karaoke pubs in which to enjoy it. Look out for happy hours and ladies’ nights (which are usually midweek). Non-alcoholic entertainment can be found in street opera, night markets, river cruises, multiplex cinemas, theatre productions and international stage shows. There are casinos within the two huge 'integrated resort' complexes at Marina Bay (www.marinabaysands.com) and on Sentosa (www.rwsentosa.com).

Among the most popular all-in-one entertainment districts are Boat Quay and Clarke Quay, two riverside landmarks that offer a mix of restaurants, informal alfresco dining and lively bars. Moored Chinese junks have been refurbished into floating bars and restaurants. There are, however, several other parts of town which are lively at night; as in any big city, fashions change but it’s worth checking out Kampong Glam (particularly around Haji Lane, for shisha bars), Holland Village (popular with expats) and Club Street. If you’re around Orchard Road, try the bars in the restored Peranakan shophouses on Emerald Hill Road.