The shopping centres along New Bridge Road, on the border of Chinatown, make a good alternative to the glitzy malls of Orchard Road and Marina Bay, especially if you are on the look for something slightly more local…
Built around the 1820s under Raffles plan of Singapore and the British policy of ethnic segregation, the picturesque neighborhood features a labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways lined with vivaciously painted restored shophouses, and packed with many traditional shops and street-stalls that sell everything China has to offer... Cheap tourist souvenirs, incenses, dried seafood, herbal medicines, jewellery and trinkets, Taoist and Buddhist paraphernalia, silk garments, arts, handcrafts and what not...
Chinatown MRT Station is probably the best starting point for a Chinatown shopping experience. Take the Pagoda Street exit and you'll find yourself right in the middle of the street's hustle and bustle.
Lined with beautifully restored shophouses, Pagoda Street is a small, pedestrians only street, chockfull with street stalls that sell whatever you can think of... From here, you can wander around the small neighboring street, like Mosque Street and Cross Street to the north of Pagoda, and Temple Street, Smith Street (the food street), Sago Street and Trengganu Street, to the south of Pagoda street. The whole cluster of streets is not more than a few minutes walk, from one end to the other, and most of these small alleys are buzzing with activity during the evening, as much as during the day.
The night market is held daily, from 5 to 11 pm (until 1 am on weekends) and stretches along Pagoda St., Trengganu St. and Sago St.
On top of the shebang of shops and stalls scattered along the restored historic streets, the area is surrounded by some more modern shopping complexes, where you can find pretty good deals on both Chinese arts and crafts, as well as on a range of lifestyle products, fashion ware, electronics and what not...
♦ Chinatown Point, on the corner of New Bridge Road and Cross Street, a step away from Pagoda street (directly accessed from the MRT station), is probably the first modern complex you should visit when shopping around Chinatown. The large mustard-colored mall, shadowed by the glittering glass-clad tower above it, houses a unique mix of both traditional and modern shops. At Podium B of Chinatown Point you will find Singapore Handicraft Centre, a range of specialized shops selling Chinese arts and handicrafts, Chinese furniture, and even Chinese Seal Cravings.
♦ A few steps from Chinatown Point, on 18 Cross Street, China Square Central is a nice and modern mall that beautifully combines Chinese contemporary architecture with colonial-era shophouses. Most of the shops here are somewhat upmarket, with a good mix between fashion and accessories, lifestyle products, beauty and bodycare and so on... Not really the kind of place where you are likely to find cheap bargains, although they do have a Sunday Flea Market, where you can get some interesting stuff at a good price...
♦ Far East Square, next to China Square Central, is a good place to chill out and have a bite and a drink (or even a "real lunch")... The cluster of beautifully restored shophouses doesn't offer the same authentic experience you'll get in some of Chinatown's traditional eateries, but if you want a good variety and nice surroundings, just go for it.
♦ Back to the corner of Cross Street and New Bridge Road: People's Park Centre, opposite Chinatown Point (on the other side of New Bridge) is a fairly big shopping centre, topped by a soulless, giant white building. The mall has a reasonable range of shops selling various inexpensive goods... Chinese arts and crafts, fashion and accessories, electronics, luggage and suitcases... You name it. There are also some cafés, eateries and food stalls in the building.
♦ Opposite People's Park Centre, on the other corner of Upper Cross street, you will find a few shopping buildings, worth mentioning: The historic Yue Hwa Building houses a large and well known Chinese department store, called Yue Hwa Chinese Products, where you can shop for all sorts of Chinese goods: Herbal medicines, dried foods, fashion and accessories, home furnishings, house hold items, Jade sculptures, porcelain, traditional Chinese furniture and more...
The shop is open daily, 11 am - 9 pm (till 10pm on Saturday).
♦ Next to Yue Hwa Building, facing Upper Cross Street, you will find the impressive department store of OG, with five floors of fully stocked retail space. OG stocks a good selection of both regional and international brand names, so the price range is vast enough to suit different people with different budgets.
♦ Further on New Bridge Road (or, more accurately, on the parallel Eu Tong Sen St.), on the other side of Yue Hwa Building, People's Park Complex is a big Chinese-style mall, dwarfed by an old (and rather ugly) mustard-colored monolith with huge red Chinese letters on its side wall.
The mall boasts a good range of shops selling everything from Chinese arts and crafts to fashion and accessories, electronics and what have you... It's quite a good place to fetch bargains and there is also a pretty good food-court here.
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