While some people dismiss Singapore as an artificial island, there is a lot to love about this man-made mecca.
In most other countries one may find oneself feeling guilty for sunbaking and shopping at the expense of taking in the culture and history. Not here. In fact, it is almost rude to go to Singapore and not shop.
After spending two days in Singapore at the end of our recent Holland America Line Far East Explorer cruise, I embraced shopping as the sport it is, working up a sweat, helped along by the humidity.
Originally an unnamed country road lined with orchards (who would have thought), today Orchard Road is indisputably Singapore’s top shopping street. As we strolled the 2.2 km boulevard, home to almost 800,000 square metres of retail therapy, I was certain I had died and gone to heaven.
With 22 shopping malls and six department stores Orchard Road can be slightly overwhelming and it’s difficult to know where exactly to start. The easiest solution to this problem is to stick to your budget.
While all the noteworthy high-end designers – read Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada; the list goes on – can be found on Orchard Road, these were sadly not in my budget. If you are lucky enough to afford top-end luxury labels, then you will find most of them housed in the ION Orchard building.
If, however, like me, you are on a more modest budget, I suggest hitting up the usual high street suspects, aka H&M, Topshop and Zara. While I realise these are all officially in Australia now, local outlets do not even start to compare to their overseas counterparts. Still much cheaper overseas, most stores have at least double the floor space and therefore, double the stock.
And this means great for stocking up on basics or buying on-trend pieces, including accessories, without spending a fortune only to throw them out next season. Another one to add to your list is Forever 21, which, while slightly more junior, has the best-cut pants I have ever come across. Even less expensive than H&M (many items are AUD$24) it’s definitely worth a look.
Situated in front of the newly revamped Marina Bay Sands is a shopper’s paradise, encompassing more than five of Singapore’s biggest shopping malls. While many of the shops are repeat offenders from Orchard Road, I know true shopaholics like to visit each outlet for the few pieces that differ!
For a more cultural shopping experience, head to Arab Street. Well known as a textile haven in the 1950s and 60s, you’ll find beautiful fabrics here, including cashmere, silk and soft-hued pashminas. There are also countless shops selling intricate cushion covers, table runners and the like.
Singapore Art Museum is another way to sneak in some culture before visiting their very edgy and cool gift shop. Featuring unique pieces based on works within the museum, the gift shop is a great place to pick up unusual and affordable presents for loved ones, or yourself.
Last but not least, some history
For your required dose of history, it’s worth splurging and spending a night at Hotel Fort Canning, a World War II-era building, tucked away in the tranquillity of Fort Canning Park. If not for the history, stay for the sunbaking alongside the mineral water pools, which make cooling off after all that sport a much more enjoyable experience.