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5 interesting shopping places in Singapore

A textile store in Arab Street, Kampong Glam

The Little Red Dot hosted my Singapore travel for ten days and during this time, I was able to become familiar with the culture, food and anything that made this small country one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. We all know that Singapore is a shopper’s haven with the many malls and markets that dot the island country but there are still those that stand out and these are not even found inside malls. Many do visit these for cool bargains and interesting finds. For those with the entrepreneurial streak, these are top places for buy and sell.

Bussorah Street with the Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque) in the background

1 Kampong Glam
Kampong Glam originally was the Malay and Arab enclave designated to these ethnic groups, and Muslims in general in the early history of Singapore and it was where the Sultan Hussein, his family and followers, settled. Today, Kampong Glam is known for its shops and markets in the following streets: Bussorah Street that leads to Singapore’s historic mosque, Masjid Sultan, Arab Street known for its textiles, carpets and crafts, Baghdad Street, Muscat Street and Haji Lane where trendy shops are found.

To reach Kampong Glam, alight at Bugis MRT and walk towards Kampong Glam for a few minutes. Just ask for directions.

Bugis Junction is quite popular for its bargain items

2 Bugis Junction
Just a neighbor to Kampong Glam, Bugis was once a notorious place that started as a haven for pirates that, over decades became a Japanese settlement prior to World War II and later a seedy red light district. Developed in 1985, it is now one of the popular shopping areas in Singapore. What I like about the area, especially near the temples is the lively open air atmosphere where several vendors vying for attention. On a hot afternoon, the roving ice cream vendors with their fruit flavored coolers is a welcome respite while shopping.

Take the MRT and alight at Bugis station.

Merchandise in Little India during the Deepavali Festival

3 Little India
Definitely, Little India is one of my favorite places to visit in Singapore. This area is where the biggest concentration of Indians and other South Asians are. The place is just so colorful with man interesting shops and markets mostly within the length of Serangoon Road. Tekka Wet Market for fruits, vegetables, fish and meat. Across the streets are various dry goods from clothes to trinkets, religious items and henna tattoo. During the Deepavali, the festival of lights, expect lively Little India to become more lively and many stalls are set up selling everything.

Take the MRT and alight at Little India, which is the closest to the action. Bugis and Farrer Park stations are also possible.

Restored old shophouses in Chinatown line the streets together with merchant’s wares

4 China Town
Rows upon rows of beautiful traditional Chinese shophouses line the many streets in Chinatown. Its colorful facade become interesting backdrops to the thriving markets found in Pagoda, Trengganu and Sago Streets. There are many items on sale here and one can visit this place between 11am – 11pm daily. Other than shopping, there are interesting museums, temples as well as food joints that make Chinatown one of the must visit places in Singapore.

Take the MRT and alight at Chinatown station.

A vendor setting up shop at the Thieves Market

5 Thieves Market
Thieves Market in Sungei Road is Singapore’s oldest, going back as early as the 1930s. This open air market, the old shophouses that used to line the street were torn down in the 90s, is rather unique as most goods are second hand merchandise and, probably, harking from the early days, stolen, that find its way here. Peddlers are even prevented from selling brand new items. Most items are just lain down on a canvas on the street. Like in such markets, always haggle.

To go to the Thieves Market, take the East-West Line to Bugis MRT Station and head to Rocher Centre. Just ask around for directions.

There you have it, five of the popular and interesting shopping destinations, outside malls, in Singapore. I’m sure you will find something that you like in these places. If you are visiting you will be happy to know there are lots of cheap hotels in Singapore that surround these shopping areas.

Estan Cabigas is freelance photographer, blogger and writer based in Makati City, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London) and other publications. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has traveled to all 81 Philippines provinces. I'm open for work, collaborations and inquiries, including hotel, restaurant and site features and reviews.

3 Comments

  1. Danny
    December 6, 2012 @ 14:15

    Hi Estan,

    thanks for mentioning Sungei Road Thieves Market! Not many tourists or even locals is aware of its existence! It’s really an interesting flea market where you see old uncles peddling used goods. Sometimes you may pickup a gem like a collectible vinyl record.

    Danny

  2. estancabigas
    December 6, 2012 @ 19:29

    Thnx Danny!

  3. estancabigas
    December 6, 2012 @ 19:29

    Thnx Danny!

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