What to buy in Singapore, and Where to Buy It?
March 1, 2006 5:00 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine will be visiting Singapore later this month and is looking for shopping tips. Generally speaking, what kinds of things should she look out for that will be cheaper, better quality, or uniquely available in Singapore? (She lives in London, so "Cheaper and/or better than in London" is her benchmark) And more specifically, are there any particular shops you'd recommend?
posted by yankeefog to Travel & Transportation around Singapore, Singapore (3 answers total)
MP3 players will be significantly cheaper and newer (and sometimes unreleased-to-the-West). I would go out on a limb and suggest that you'll find the same situation with just about anything electronic.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 5:06 AM on March 1, 2006

Well, there's always clothing in regional styles. Embroidered clothing is popular (it's machine-embroidered), and you can find some interesting batik or batik-look garments.

A local specialty is a woman's blouse called a kebaya. These are made of sheer fabric and lavishly decorated with embroidery and cutwork. In fact they are often quite transparent! You can find less transparent but still lovely versions that are safe for work. By the way, kebayas are not unique to Singapore proper, but they are unique to the Singapore/Malaysia/Indonesia region, so I hope that's close enough.

There are several Kinokuniya bookstores that carry English-language books published in Asia, which might be worth a look as booksellers in the UK might not stock them. Books about Asian art and culture would be a good bet. Also, the gift shops at the museums are good for this kind of thing.

Indian-style jewelry abounds in shops in the Little India neighborhood, both the real 22kt stuff and attractive costume jewelry. Don't know how this would compare to what's available in London, though. If your friend is a quilter, or wants to get gifts for quilters, you can find cheap cotton batik sarongs (read: length of fabric) in Little India shops too. The sarongs are mostly from Indonesia, BTW.

Shopping seems to be the national pastime in Singapore, so if your friend loves to shop she'll be in hog heaven. But I have to give a plug to the Chinatown Heritage Center, one of the most memorable museums I've ever visited. Your friend should definitely take a break from the shopping to visit this place (conveniently located right in the middle of the main Chinatown shopping drag). It's a traditional shophouse set up to recreate the living conditions in early to mid-20th C Singapore. Wow - I was nearly crying when I left, and my parents grew up in NY's Lower East Side tenements. Bring a hankie.
posted by Quietgal at 7:44 AM on March 1, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks, Civil_Disobedient and Quietgal!
posted by yankeefog at 2:42 AM on March 3, 2006

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