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Similar to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, Calif., but with a lot more bargains and shops, Orchard Road is one of Singapore’s most sophisticated and diverse shopping destinations. Named after the numerous pepper and nutmeg plantations that were located along the road during the 1840s, Orchard Road experienced a $40 million makeover in 2009 that included wider pedestrian walkways and improved lighting. Today, the boulevard consists of 22 shopping malls, six department stores, and more than 5,000 brands to choose from, making it the ultimate shopping haven.
If you happen to be visiting in late May through July, you’ll be able to take advantage of the annual eight-week Great Singapore Sale. Countless shopping deals are offered at various stores selling toys, jewelry, electronics and much more.
For the latest technology and electronic goods, begin your shopping expedition at Wheelock Place. Just look out for the large glass cone structure that marks the main entrance to the glass building, which includes EpiCentre, the first Apple product premium reseller in Asia to satisfy all of your computer and iPod needs; the Nike store; and the popular British department store Marks & Spencer.
Located above the Orchard MRT station is Ion Orchard, which is known as “Singapore’s first multi-sensory experiential shopping and lifestyle mall. With approximately 710,418 square feet of retail space, this mall has more than 300 stores, including designers such as Aldo, Marc Jacobs and Vivienne Westwood. For those seeking additional high-end shopping, there are also duplex flagship stores for Cartier, Dior, Louis Vuitton and other well-known luxury brands.
Far East Plaza is located farther down Scotts Road and features smaller shops hawking the latest fashions. The first floor is where all the street fashion is located, while the upper levels offer bargain bins that I sifted through for deals costing under $20.
Right across from the plaza is DFS Galleria. With proof of passport, you can get duty-free savings on brands such as Burberry and Tiffany & Co. They also sell local specialty brands, including Tiger Balm ointment and the island’s signature cocktail, the Singapore Sling, in small takeaway bottles.
Located at the corner of Scotts Road and Orchard Road past Crossroads Cafe is Tangs, one of Singapore’s oldest retail institutions. Founded in 1932, this 29,000-square-foot space sells everything from electronics and homeware to shoes and beauty products. It even includes a beauty salon on the seventh floor, where I stopped for a quick manicure to cool off from the humidity.
One of the most impressive locations on Orchard Road is Orchard Central, a 14-story shopping mall that offers more designer brands, including Nike and Levi’s. And at 629,000 square feet of retail space, the neighboring Plaza Singapura is yet another place for extensive shopping. Dim sum lovers, such as myself, can visit the mall’s favored Tim Ho Wan restaurant for specialty dim sum — just make sure to arrive early as lines begin forming around 10:30 a.m.
Lucky Plaza is the place to go for bargain hunters. There, I enjoyed sifting through fake designer copies, as well as cheap DVD players, cameras and other electronic goods. The shopping policies are pretty relaxed, so haggling with hawkers over prices is encouraged to get the deal you want. Mandarin Chinese is the most common language to bargain in, but a majority of the vendors speak plenty of English as well.
Just a stone’s throw away is the Japanese department store Isetan whichoffers name-brand Japanese goods exotic timepieces and complimentary repair services. The other popular Japanese department store is Takashimaya, which has an extensive food hall for sampling Japanese snacks, sweets and gourmet foods from well-known department store Harrods — the perfect place to stop for a break along the way or to recover at the end of a long day’s worth of shopping.