Are you looking for your next great shopping adventure?
A true collector and shopaholic knows that it's not about what you buy, it's about how what you buy says something about who you are and who you can become. Colours, textures, shapes, every seemingly simple choice lends itself to shaping your identity into something that's uniquely you.
So if you love collecting beautiful things that show off who you are, then it's time for a trip over the border to Singapore to check out the gorgeous local goods in these charming neighbourhoods.
1. Head over to Joo Chiat/Katong for the perfect harmony between heritage and modernity
This neighbourhood is truly an excellent display of the best of both worlds - you'll spot traditional shophouses and old-school eateries right next to trendy studios and hip cafés. Around every corner, you'll be met with unique takes on local heritage.
Shops to look out for:
The traditional Peranakan art of beading dates all the way back to the 1900s, when young nyonya women used to have to skillfully bead their own footwear and other decorative items for their bridal chambers. This form of art used to be passed on over generations, from mother to daughter, but it began to slowly die out over the years.
But Bebe Seet, the pioneer behind Rumah Bebe, was determined to learn it and sought out a friend's mother to teach her the basics, making quick progress and continuing to learn on her own after her elderly mentor's passing.
Rumah Bebe is a testament to Bebe's years of passion for the Peranakan art of beading, carrying a vast collection of exquisite, detailed, and expertly handcrafted pieces. The unique products and services you'll find here truly highlight the rich history of Peranakan culture.
Location: 113 East Coast Road Singapore 428803
It's not everyday that you find a quirky shop filled with an endless supply of curios (think indie localised version of Typo) and attended by an adorable kitty "shopkeeper" named Zoo-Zoo.
Cat Socrates was born out of proprietor Helen Jiang's passion to be surrounded by beautiful things and she definitely has succeeded as the shop looks more like a display of an enthusiast's personal collection rather than just another retail store.
What makes Cat Socrates stand out is its focus on selling things from around Asia, with a particular emphasis on cool local products. This is the place to go if you're looking to bring home some non-mainstream souvenirs that are still uniquely Singaporean - kuih cushions, Singlish postcards, kopitiam glasses, pins of local candy/games, and much more.
Location: 448 Joo Chiat Road Singapore 427661
2. Check out Kampong Glam’s independent boutiques and crafts shops
The back alleys and old shoplots of this iconic heritage neighbourhood has a certain charm you won’t find anywhere else. Just a 10-minute walk from the Bugis MRT, this hipster spot is sure to ignite your curiosity.
Shops to look out for:
Perfumery is so much more than just a business for Johari Kazura, the founder of Sifr Aromatics, it's also a family tradition. The experience and knowledge gained from his grandfather and father's respective perfume shops, spurred him to challenge himself by branching out to create his own independent perfume brand.
Johari even took a sabbatical in the perfume capital of the world (Grasse, in the French Riviera) to further his skills in perfumery - he spent his time there taking various courses and meeting with his grandfather's suppliers.
His training and experience has helped him run Sifr Aromatics as a traditional perfumery with a modern twist. With his help, you'll be able to experiment with innovative scents to create your own bespoke signature scent that's uniquely you. You can also get body balms, scented candles, and aroma pendants, all handmade and high-quality, made by combining old-world ingredients with modern techniques.
Location: 42 Arab St, Singapore 199741
The idea behind the start of Mondays Off was a simple one: to inspire. It first kickstarted as a business with the concept of designing and selling decorative posters featuring powerful quotes, in an effort to fill homes and offices with daily sources of inspiration.
This humble shop aims to make you feel at home while shopping, appealing to both tourists and locals alike with their collection of interesting items from all over the world that you probably won't be able to find anywhere else in Singapore.
The two storeys that make up this charming boutique are filled with an eclectic mix of accessories, homeware, merch, and more, predominantly from Scandinavian- and Japanese-inspired brands. They also offer a slew of customised services to fulfill their dream of using their quirky creativity to help you express your personal style.
Location: 76 Haji Lane, Singapore 189269
3. Explore Orchard Road to discover some cool local brands
Many know this iconic street for its fancy malls as well as the plethora of high-end and international brands available there, but if you know where to go, you'll be able to find local brands that carry some awesome stuff that'll make all your friends green with envy.
Shops to look out for:
The story of Bynd Artisan includes a legacy of master craftsmen, spanning a period of over 70 years. It all started back in 1942 as a small bindery workshop. The small bookbinding business continued to grow and evolve over the years, passing through the hands of different generations of the Chan family.
One thing that has remained the same is their spirit of artisanal excellence which lives on through their excellent workmanship in creating high-quality products. For the very best of personalised leather goods consisting of custom-made journals, notebooks, pouches, tags, and much more there's no better place to go.
Or if you're up for the challenge, you can give learning from some of Singapore’s greatest practicing craftsmen a try with one of Bynd Artisan's workshops and walk away with your very own custom leather creation.
Location: Pedder on Scotts, 6 Scotts Road, Scotts Square, Level 2, Singapore 228209
The Social Foot
This sneaker concept store was launched with the sneakerheads in mind and designed for you to talk the walk. Going beyond just being another sneaker store, The Social Foot aims to unite the local sneaker community.
In the future, there are plans to use The Social Foot as a space to host all kinds of sneaker related events for enthusiasts such as preview launches, pop-up installations, talks with representatives of the sneaker industry, and more.
Sneakerheads can definitely spend all day in here, completely spoilt for choice. Check out the large variety of kicks from all kinds of different brands - both the mainstream popular ones and some more exclusive labels, that will catch any true collector's interest. Don't forget to add some custom personalised touches to your new sneakers with their free laser engraving service - creating a truly one-of-a-kind pair that shows off who you are..
Location: 181 Orchard Road #01-19/20, Singapore 238896
4. Visit Little India for bursts of colour, gorgeous textiles, and more
Little India is one of the most vibrant, colourful, and excitingly bohemian districts in Singapore, especially if you're visiting during one of the big Indian celebration seasons - Deepavali and Pongal. Aside from the many beautiful art installations that are sure to light up your Instagram feed and an endless array of yummy Indian food, it’s also a haven for serious shoppers.
Shops to look out for:
Looking at the enormous mall that it is now (two buildings and six levels!), it's hard to believe that it started out in 1971 as just a small shop selling readymade garments (and later expanded to also selling electronic goods).
It's popularity and ever-growing clientele from all around the world led its owner, Mustaq Ahmad, to continue expanding his shop, eventually making it into the one-stop shopping paradise it is today. Spanning 400,000 square feet and selling over 300,000 items, this impressive mall is one of the best-kept-secrets amongst locals.
It literally has everything that you could ever want, from clothes, beauty products, and jewellery, to books, foodstuff, and electronics. The best part about Mustafa Centre is that it's both budget-friendly as well as the only 24/7 shopping centre in Singapore, making it the best place to shop 'till you drop.
Don't miss these popular stores in Mustafa Centre
- Silks and Saris (Level B1, entrance 1): for some truly gorgeous clothes and fabrics
- Lakmé Cosmetics (Level 1, entrance 2): India's premier makeup brand, famous for their Eyeconic Kajal eyeliner
- Curry and Spices (Level 2): an impressively huge selection of food products, all imported from India
Location: 145 Syed Alwi Road, Little India, Singapore 207704
5. Wander around Chinatown and stumble upon some unexpected finds
Chinatown may seem like a touristy area at first, filled with typical souvenirs like Merlion keychains and magnets, but you can have a local experience here too. Take your time to wander through the markets and small, local businesses, and you're sure to find some interesting stuff. Plus, there's free Wi-Fi throughout the whole area.
Shops to look out for:
China Square Central Weekend Flea Market
Every Sunday since 2006, this humble mall in Chinatown becomes an enthralling showcase for anime and comic book passions. Two entire levels get taken up by fans gathering to display and sell their collections of vintage toys, manga, comic books, figurines, and merch from popular fandoms like Marvel, DC, Studio Ghibli, Bandai, and much more.
True collectors will know all these emotions well: the joy of scoring some rare finds, the pride of updating your collection with new releases, and the excitement from unexpectedly coming across something unopened and in mint condition.
With some luck and persistence on you're side, you'll be able to go through all that and more, so make sure to take your time and carefully browse through the 60+ vendors available there so that you don't leave with any regrets.
Location: China Square Central, Level 1 & 2, 18 Cross Street, Singapore 048423
Grassroots Book Room
Formerly located at the North Bridge Centre, the Grassroots Book Room was first opened in the early 90s by Yeng Pway Ngon, a passionate book lover as well as a renowned Singaporean writer. His popular Chinese-language novels have won him prestigious awards such as the Cultural Medallion and the Singapore Literature Prize.
The bookshop has gone through some turbulent years, closing and re-opening a few times, with Yeng fighting hard to keep it open in an effort to spread the love of reading, and maintain a place for people interested in Chinese books. In a touching move, some of his loyal customers stepped up to take over ownership when money and health problems had Yeng contemplating closing Grassroots for good.
They have since transformed the beloved bookstore into something more modern, featuring some new additions like a lovely in-store café, and a slew of various exhibitions and events. Bookworms will especially love how you can find unique books that are not commonly available and the cosy atmosphere that will make you want to curl up and read for hours.
Location: 25 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore 089839
From traditional heritage goods, to funky modern pieces, Singapore's got it all!
Don't forget to visit all these local stores to bring home a unique memento that will not only always remind you of the amazing time you had in Singapore, but also become an irreplaceable addition to your collection.
As a hub for shopping and a paradise that has all kinds of international must-haves, Singapore is truly the place where collectors meet. Whether you're indulging in heritage brands, discovering the local design scene, visiting international flagship stores, or browsing eclectic collections from independent brands, you're sure to find something that feeds your passion for unique items that you can't get anywhere else.
Check out VisitSingapore to find out more about the best shopping experiences and hotspots in Singapore