Singapore’s Chinatown is a hub for all things Chinese, and this extends to the shops and malls that you will find in the area. Most things here are made in China, whether you are looking for traditional items, imported toys or even antiques. Our favourite spot to shop in Singapore Chinatown has to be the colourful markets that line the lanes near Chinatown MRT. The malls are also fun to explore, shops here tend to offer great value Chinese items and where there’s shopping, there’s food, so you won’t be short of snacks and along with plenty of places to rest if the bags get too heavy. To help you navigate one of the most interesting but confusing parts of Singapore, we’ve put together a top ten shopping in Chinatown Singapore guide.
1 Yue Wa
With its impressive Chinese façade built at the turn of the century, the legendary city landmark offers a wide variety of reasonably- priced, authentic Chinese products – from tea, herbs and medicines to silks, cheongsams, handicrafts and antiques. The quality of the goods available at Yue Wa is definitely better than what you will find when browsing the markets, and prices will only be slightly higher. You can also find seasonal promotions especially around the Lunar New Year delicacies: moon cakes, specially imported seafood and much more. Yue Hwa has seven floors, with zones dedicated to each item.
2 Ann Siang Road
This lovely street filled with old shop houses is also an excellent place to shop, with plenty of stand-alone boutiques that sell something a little more out of the ordinary compared to the mega malls Singapore is known for. Ann Siang Hill’s shops include plenty of clothing stores such as Willow & Huxley, an umbrella shop for funky womenswear brands from around the globe, Mythology on Club Street for colourful party dress and independent labels from the Asian region and Aston Blake, for men who like smart tailored shirts and suits. For homeware we love Rose Citron French Design: the patchwork cushions are stunning.
Rising just above the Chinatown MRT, OG is a household brand in Singapore known for its fashion, jewellery, cosmetics, watches and toys. It’s modern and distinctly international – with sports brands and a whole host of Korean cosmetics and imported products. Adjacent to it is the refurbished People’s Park Centre frequented for its textiles, haberdasheries, electrical /electronic goods, street wear, toiletries and luggage, all priced competitively. It’s a little run down, but great for bargains. The shopping centre is located inside the apartment building so follow the signs and head up the escalator to level 3. There’s also plenty of places to get a massage if you need a break.
4 Tanjong Pagar Plaza
This cream coloured building doesn’t look like much from the outside, but if you are looking for bargains then Tanjong Pagar Plaza is the place to come. The entrance is mainly taken over by beauty salons, manicurists and hairdressers, but with 130 shops here it’s a good place to bag deals on electronics, stationary and even textiles. If you fancy a bite to eat head up to the impressive second floor food court with fish soup being one of the specialities (there are five stalls dedicated to it). Tanjong Plaza is set up for locals and the prices reflect this, so if you’re on a budget but love to shop it’s a great experience.
5 China Square Central Flea Market
During the week China Square doesn’t really stand out, but come Sundays, this is the place to be. Stalls and sellers set up early in the morning, and although it’s air-conditioned and inside a mall, the objects for sale match the variety that you’d find in any outdoor market. China Square is home to a lot of toy and comic book stores, and on Sundays they have tables and stands outside their shops as well. There are also plenty of antiques, including some great vintage china items, retro clocks and phones, and second hand books. The market takes up two floors and they really pack the stalls in. It’s a fun and different shopping experience in Chinatown.
6 Chinatown Point
With over 200 shops spread out on six levels, Chinatown Point, which also houses the Handicraft Centre, is a modern building with a jumble of shops and stalls selling souvenirs, shoes, cosmetics, clothes and travel bags at bargain prices as well as restaurants and cafes. The highlight has to be the arts and crafts – if you are antique lover you will be impressed with the variety of goods dating from the Ming dynasties, although many of the items come with a hefty price tag. For more affordable souvenirs then Handicraft Centre is your best bet.
7 Chinatown Street Market
One of the fastest ways to acquaint oneself with Chinatown is to go on a walking tour of the shops and stalls on these streets – Pagoda Street, Trengganu Street, Sago Lane, Smith Street and Temple Street. These busy streets encapsulate all the sights and sounds visitors expect of Chinatown, with hundreds of stalls selling everything from silk robes to lucky cats. There’s also a fantastic range of street food carts amongst the shopping, with fresh dim sum and crispy duck. Remember to haggle with a smile if you want the best price. The market is open during the day, but it looks its most picturesque at dusk, with the lights shining brightly and the sound of hawkers tempting you to check out their wares.
8 View Point
View Point is the kind of shop you should check out even if you have no intention of purchasing anything, it’s a treasure trove with hundreds of vintage items full of history that are piled on top of each other in a haphazard way. The store are dealers in antiques, and their specialist products looks to be a best of pop culture, from old film posters from the 60s and 70s, metal and ceramic advertisements for beer, tea and other household goods. Alongside this you’ll find plenty of old magazines, photos and records. Be sure to speak to the staff – they are passionate about their wares.
9 Ming Fang Antique House
The owner at Ming Fang Antique House doesn’t speak the best English, but that doesn’t really matter. He’s friendly, knows the essentials about the products on sale here and is always game for a little bartering. The shop is carefully arranged, with all the products on shelves by size, age and value. Antiques are taken seriously here, and some pieces are worth hundreds of dollars, so it’s worth having an idea of how much you want to spend before visiting. There’s a whole range of Chinese trinkets and statues here, including masks, coins, Buddha statues and plenty of jade.
Easily one of the best independent book stores in the city, BooksActually not only have a wide variety of alternative titles, they also publish their own books, focussing on up and coming Singaporean writers. There’s the whole gamut here, from fiction to history via poetry, kids books and mathematic tomes. You could easily spend hours here, not only browsing the shelves but also checking out the collection of knick knacks and stationary which are sold alongside it. The owner hand selects every book and product on sale and it’s not hard to see why it’s such a success.
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