Posted by: David Stewart | February 13, 2009

The Land where they Love to Shop

“This is a small country.  There isn’t that much to do here, except eat out, go to movies and shop.” – David Chee

My one visit to Singapore was in the mid 90s for about 24 hours or so. Even with that short stay, one of the things which stuck in my head was the shopping.  When I was preparing to visit again last month, I read in a number of places that Singapore loves its malls and shops.

The Paragon is a fine example… an airy, multi-story mall with an open atrium, offering all of the Western brands you might be interested in.

The Paragon, Singapore

But I’m really not a big fan of shopping. (Unless it’s Costco or Fry’s).  So I treated this visit to Singapore’s shops as a cultural and anthropological exploration!

And shopping is truly embedded everywhere I went.  The conference venue where I was speaking and the hotel where I stayed were both combined with a shopping citadel called “Raffles City” named for Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of the city.  So I couldn’t help but experience the Chinese Handicraft display set up in the mall every day of the conference.

Raffles City, Singapore

The display was in honor of Chinese New Year.  I walked through at one point, but didn’t see anything I could not have found in China.

Chinese handicrafts, Raffles City, Singapore

Beyond the shopping malls, there are plenty of street markets in Singapore, both permanent ones and temporary ones.

Street Market, SIngapore

And the various neighborhoods like Little India, Arab Street and Chinatown all have shops at street level which reflect their cultural flavor.  For example, I noticed a lot of fabric / tailor shops in Arab Street, but they were present in the other areas as well.

Arab Street, Singapore

Not all of the malls were glitzy and overpriced.  In Little India there was a place called the Mustafa Centre, which was a good place for bargaining.

Mustafa Center, Little India, Singapore

… but I was frankly overwhelmed by the array of things and didn’t attempt to buy anything.

Mustafa Center, SIngapore

Of course, Singapore is known for its technology manufacturing, and I am rather fond of Fry’s, so I decided to visit a couple of the technology malls.  Here is one that was within walking distance of my hotel, Funan Centre. It was impressive, but mostly had laptops and cell phones.

Funan Centre, SIngapore

For some reason, it was more fun to visit Sim Lim center, another technology mall.  This place had a ton of photography places with lots of nice stuff to look at and play with, as well as a vast array of computer places. The camera guys were happy to start dickering with you right away if you showed any interest.

Sim Lim shopping center, Singapore

It was also more populated with interesting customers and shops with more personality.  Here was one I found that was crammed with laptop stickers. Check it out – these stickers are made to fit over your whole laptop lid.  They will cut them to fit your particular gear.  Cool, huh?

Laptop decorations, Sim Lim shopping center, Singapore



  1. and i thought our malls were crazy. sheesh.

  2. Yeah – our malls seem to be more horizontal. Theirs seem more vertical.

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