For many stopover visitors, Singapore is synonymous with shopping
, though contrary to popular belief prices are not rock bottom across the board, due to the consistently strong Singaporean dollar and a rising cost of living. Good deals can be found on watches, cameras, electrical and computer equipment, fabrics and antiques, and cut-price imitations - Rolexes, Lacoste polo shirts and so on - are rife, but many other articles offer no substantial saving. Choice and convenience though, make the Singapore shopping experience a rewarding one. What's more, come during the Great Singapore Sale
(usually in June or July), and you'll find seriously marked-down prices in many outlets across the island. The free monthly, Where Singapore, has plenty of suggestions as to what you can buy and where, and the STB publishes a Merchants of the Gold Circle brochure, which lists those shops deemed courteous and reliable enough to display the 'Gold Circle Promise of Excellence' logo in their windows.
If you have any complaints to lodge, contact the Retail Promotions Centre on 450 2114 or, better still, go to Singapore's Small Claims Tribunal , Subordinate Courts, Apollo Centre, 2 Havelock Rd (tel 535 6922), which has a fast-track system for dealing with tourists' complaints; to have your case heard costs S$10.
A goods and services tax (GST), introduced in 1994, has added a three percent sales tax to all goods and services, but tourists can claim a refund on purchases of S$300 or over at retailers displaying a blue and grey Tax Free Shopping sticker. Ask retailers to draft you a Tax Free Shopping Cheque, which you can then redeem subsequently at the airport. Usual shopping hours are daily 10am-9pm, though some shopping centres, especially those along Orchard Road, stay open until 10pm (except the Christian-owned C K Tang's, which closes on Sunday).
For designer clothes, tailor-made suits, sports equipment, electronic goods or antiques, head for the shopping malls of Orchard Road
. At Arab Street
, you'll find exquisite textiles and batiks, and some good deals on jewellery. From here, make a beeline for the silk stores and goldsmiths of Little India
, via the intersection of Bencoolen Street and Rochor Road , known for its electrical goods. As well as its souvenir shops, Chinatown
boasts some more traditional outlets.
Books Times bookshops at 04-08/15 Centrepoint, 175 Orchard Rd, and 02-24/25 Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Rd. Books Kinokuniya, 03-10/15 Ngee Ann City, 391 Orchard Rd, is the island's biggest bookshop. MPH shops are also well stocked, especially the flagship store on Stamford Road. Select Books, 03-15 Tanglin Shopping Centre, 19 Tanglin Rd, has a huge array of books on Southeast Asia.
Camping equipment Campers' Corner, 01-13 Paradiz Centre, 1 Selegie Rd.
Computers and software Funan Centre, 109 North Bridge Rd.
Electronic equipment Sim Lim Tower, 10 Jalan Besar, Lucky Plaza, 304 Orchard Rd.
Fabrics and silk Jim Thompson Silk Shop, 01-07 Raffles Hotel Arcade, 328 North Bridge Rd. Aljunied Brothers, 91 Arab St. Dakshaini Silks, 164 Serangoon Rd.
Jewellery The entire first floor of the Pidemco Centre, 95 South Bridge Rd, is a jewellery mart.
Music Beethoven Record House, 03-41 Centrepoint, 176 Orchard Rd, for classical sounds; Lata Music Centre, 42 Race Course Rd, for Indian music on tape; Roxy Records, 03-36 Funan Centre, 109 North Bridge Rd, for new releases; Supreme Record Centre, 03-28 Centrepoint, 175 Orchard Rd; Tower Records, fourth floor, Pacific Plaza, Orchard Rd, for a wide choice of music on CD.
Souvenirs Chinese Mec, 03-31/32 Raffles City Shopping Centre, 250 North Bridge Rd; Eng Tiang Huat, 284 River Valley Rd, for Oriental musical instruments, wayang costumes and props; Funan Stamp and Coin Agency, 03-03 Funan the IT Mall, 109 North Bridge Rd; Selangor Pewter, 02-38 Raffles City Shopping Centre, 252 North Bridge Rd, for fine pewterwork; Singapore Handicraft Centre, Chinatown Point, 133 New Bridge Rd, gathers around fifty souvenir shops under one roof; Zhen Lacquer Gallery, 17 Duxton Rd.