Retail therapy is a national pastime for Singaporeans – a typical stress-relieving weekend includes an afternoon of shopping along Orchard Road or around the Marina Bay. With the addition of dining stops, and punctuated by tea breaks (for weary boyfriends and husbands), this shopping session usually extends into a full day excursion. Given the inclination of the local population towards everything and anything shopping, it is no surprise that Singapore is indeed a retail haven.
Shopping in Singapore is ultimately convenient and familiar, boasting excellence in both quality and choice, little urban chaos to negotiate, and no burden worrying about getting ripped-off. As such, most travellers choose to spend time exploring the malls of Singapore, in air-conditioned comfort, and are presented with a range of brands and labels that could only be described as impressive.
This is an itinerary that has been crafted specially for fashionistas and shopaholics. The perfect retail therapy session - a day out on the town indulging in shopping and dining along the iconic retail mecca that is Orchard Road, and around the scenic Marina Bay. Satisfaction guaranteed.
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Orchard Road: 10AM to 4PM
Nearest MRT Stations: Orchard [NS22], Somerset [NS23]
Practically synonymous with shopping in Singapore, Orchard Road is Singapore's premier retail destination, a canyon of shopping malls that extends beyond sight. Each iconic mall houses an extensive selection of retail, dining and entertainment options, promising to please any taste or budget, from designer brands to fast fashion, and from posh restaurants to casual food courts.
Jump right into the action and start your day at ION Orchard (2 Orchard Turn. +65 6238 8228.), Orchard Road's brand-new swanky and glitzy centrepiece. Towering above the streets, this striking shrine to consumerism was constructed above the Orchard MRT station, bringing together over 330 fashion and gastronomy offerings across eight levels. These range from luxury flagship stores such as Dior, Giorgio Armani, Prada and Yves Saint Laurent (mostly above-ground) to high street fashion labels such as Topshop and River Island, as well as up-and-coming boutiques and concept stores (mostly in the basement levels). Check out ION Sky, located on the 55th and 56th levels at an impressive 218 metres above ground. The breathtaking panorama sets a stunning backdrop for international runway shows, exclusive product launches as well as celebrity and themed parties.
Cross the underground link to Wisma Atria (435 Orchard Rd. +65 6235 8177.), which caters predominantly to a younger and trendier crowd, as well as the sophisticated working woman. Anchored by Japanese department store giant Isetan, this modern fashion centre specialises in midrange fashion names including Nike, bebe and Nine West. Food Junction, a food court with great views, is situated above the streets with wide windows and a diverse range of cuisines.
Head on to Ngee Ann City (391 Orchard Road. +65 6506 0458.), known by locals as “Taka”, as derived from Takashimaya Shopping Centre, which anchors the building. This is a perennial favourite among Singaporeans and an Orchard Road staple, boasting both variety and style, and houses numerous luxury boutiques including Chanel, Christian Dior, Fendi, Hugo Boss, Ted Baker, and Versace. Specialty shops range from Tiffany & Co. and Shanghai Tang to the largest book-store in Southeast Asia, Kinokuniya. The mall's basement is the perfect stop for lunch, with a wide range of eateries offering diverse cuisines, including many Japanese street-food stalls.
Cross through the underpass to the other side of Orchard Road, and continue along the same direction, away from Orchard MRT Station towards Somerset MRT Station. With a name that speaks for itself, Paragon (290 Orchard Road. +65 6738 5535.) is a true mark of exclusivity and luxury on Orchard Road. This upmarket mall is home to luxury names including Armani Exchange, Banana Republic, Bulgari, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Raoul, and Salvatore Ferragamo. Paragon has maintained a high-end personality while balancing between fashion and other lifestyle options such as furnishing, sports and fitness, health, and beauty spas.
Cross Bideford Junction to the new Mandarin Gallery (333A Orchard Road. +65 6831 6363.). This is home to a plethora of international luxury stores such as Dolce & Gabbana and Emporio Armani, and also stylish boutiques including adidas and hansel. The storefront, with its undulating curvaceous facade and all-glass spaces, displays established brand names that can only be found here in such glory, such as Y-3, Bread and Butter, and Mauboussin. Mandarin Gallery makes for a serene and comfortable shopping experience, with rest areas available for lounging or reading, and a concierge facility second to none.
Another recent addition to the shopping scene is [email protected] (313 Orchard Road. +65 6496 9313.), which is home to the multiple-storied flagship stores of the international fashion scene – an impressive 4-level Forever 21 flagship store, a 3-level Zara store, and a Uniqlo store deemed to be the largest in the region. Beyond these, there is an exceptional range of global and local brands including Levis and New Look. There is a themed Discovery Walk dining precinct, a one-stop Food Hall for takeaways, and the largest Food Republic. This distinctive mid-market retail destination presents fashion, food and lifestyle options across 8 levels, just above Somerset MRT Station.
Travel by MRT on the North-South line and alight at City Hall MRT Station.
Marina Bay: 4PM to 10PM
Nearest MRT Stations: City Hall [NS25/EW13], Esplanade [CC3], Promenade [CC4]
Directly connected to City Hall MRT Station is Raffles City (252 North Bridge Road. +65 6338 7766.), occupying an entire city block. The soaring atrium presents 5 levels of shopping, lifestyle and dining establishments, including the excellent Robinsons department store and a Marks & Spencer. Those in search of the perfect handbag should check out agnès b., Coach, and Kate Spade.
However, the first order of the afternoon is high tea. The Equinox Restaurant of Swissotel The Stamford serves a delightfully quintessential buffet that redefines the high in high tea, with a spectacular view from the 70th floor that is vividly beautiful in the late afternoon light. The elegant amphitheatre-style space is decorated with three-storey high teak and rice paper lanterns, Ming-inspired wooden trellises and a luminous wall of mother of pearl. There is a generous variety of local and international offerings including unique appetisers, finger sandwiches, steamed dumplings, freshly-baked scones and pastries, topped with home-made ice-creams and desserts.
(2 Stamford Road. +65 6837 3322. Daily 3.30pm – 5.30pm. $38++, $52++ with champagne.)
Head back underground through CityLink Mall (1 Raffles Link. +65 6339 9913.), an underpass mall that links the City Hall MRT Station to areas such as The Esplanade, Suntec City and Marina Square. As you pass through this underground mall, check out HMV, for audiophiles and movie buffs, as well as local footwear and accessories retailer, Charles & Keith, and their Pedro line for men.
You will end up at Suntec City (3 Temasek Boulevard. +65 6825 2669.), once the largest shopping complex in Singapore, with over 360 outlets including Gap, M)phosis, and La Senza, divided into four zones. The Galleria offers high-end international labels, the Tropics emphasises lifestyle merchandise and services and the Entertainment Centre holds a 5-theatre cineplex, a fitness centre, a gaming arcade, as well as a Carrefour hypermarket. The crowning jewel of the mall is the Fountain of Wealth, the largest fountain in the world, located within the dining area of the Fountain Terrace. Visitors walk around the central base of the Fountain three times, touching the water throughout, in hopes of attaining good luck. Continue underground through Marina Link.
Marina Square (6 Raffles Boulevard. +65 6339 8787.) is another massive complex of 300 specialty shops, which offers a myriad of choices for the casual and working fashionista, including high street fashion boutiques such as Espirit, Mango, Dorothy Perkins, Miss Selfridge and Lacoste. Pop in to the Japanese lifestyle store MUJI, or the John Little department store. The mall houses a Food Loft, numerous casual eateries and restaurants, which present a great variety of dinner options in cuisines from around the world, catering to any and every taste.
On the Marina Bay waterfront, catch the breathtaking Wonder Full (Marina Bay. Daily 8pm and 9.30pm), the largest light and water spectacular in Southeast Asia, presented by the Marina Bay Sands. Captivating visual effects are crafted using a sequence of lasers, searchlights, LEDs, video projectors and water screens to portray Light and Water creating Life, choreographed to a touching original score. The best spot to catch this show is on the Event Plaza of the Marina Bay Sands, along the Bayfront Promenade, which is linked to the Marina Centre area by the Helix Bridge.
Your final stop is the mesmerising Marina Bay Sands (10 Bayfront Avenue. +65 6688 8868.), Singapore's first integrated resort and the world's most expensive casino property, home to a world-class casino, top-notch dining choices, high-end entertainment, as well as awe-inspiring panoramic views offered from a superior vantage point - the Sands SkyPark. The Marina Bay Sands offers luxury shopping and idyllic sampan rides in The Shoppes, an eye-catching, modern shopping mecca that is Singapore's first large-scale luxury shopping destination. Complemented by a contemporary, open design and breathtaking views of Singapore's city skyline, The Shoppes include Bottega Veneta, Burberry, Cartier, Chopard, Escada, Hermes, Miu Miu, and Ralph Lauren. Along the waterfront, Louis Vuitton's flagship boutique is enshrined in a standalone glass-and-steel Crystal Pavilion that appears to float on the water.
As shops around Singapore finally begin to close, turn in for the night at one of the many nightspots within Marina Bay Sands, around the Marina Bay, or the Singapore River.