Shopping in Singapore

March 18, 2003


Shopping (along with eating and movie-going) is among Singaporeans’ three favourite pastimes. Orchard Rd offers unrivalled opportunities to spend your life’s savings without moving more than 20m in any direction, but window shopping is free. It can also be fun to explore small businesses in the backstreets of Chinatown, Little India and around Arab St.Prices & Bargaining

Compared to neighbouring countries Singapore is no bargain hunter’s paradise and you may find that prices are equal to those at home. Prices are usually fixed except at markets and in touristy areas. If you do have to bargain stay good-humoured and don’t get petty – this causes everyone to lose face. Also, don’t start a bargaining session if you have no real interest in buying.


When buying electronic goods make sure they have an international guarantee. Singapore enforces international copyright laws and you are not likely to be palmed off with pirated goods,

but if you do purchase pirated goods you may find yourself in trouble with customs officials. If you have any serious problems with a retailer you can contact the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) or the Small Claims Tribunal (+435 5946, fax +451 4207); tourist complaints are usually heard within two or three days. You can access the tribunal’s website through

Almost all goods and services are levied with a 3% goods and services tax (GST). A tax refund on goods worth $300 or more can be applied for through shops participating in the GST Tourist Refund Scheme. These shops will display a ‘tax-free shopping ‘logo, though often it’s more hassle than it’s worth.

Great Singapore Sale

In an effort to reverse Singapore’s declining image as a bargain hunter’s destination, the STB and Orchard Rd traders promote the Great Singapore Sale, held every year in July.

from Singapore Condensed, Rachel Anthony, Lonely Planet Publications.

Singapore Condensed

1st edition 1 74059 385 5

Rachael Anthony

128 pp, full colour, 12 maps


This informative and savvy guide captures the best that Singapore offers in a practical, easy to use format. With opinionated reviews, essential travel tips and detailed fold-out maps, Singapore Condensed has all the information a discerning visitor needs – for a day or a week, for business or for pleasure.

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