Thursday, January 20, 2011

Shopping on a Budget in Singapore

The first month in Singapore was a total nightmare.  One because I am all alone.  Second, I don't have internet in my room and third I don't know anyone there to consider my friend.  However, our office has an internet connection and I could check my mails and update myself on a forum I have initially joined before trying my luck in this new country.  So what to do?  I explored the city.  On my own.  There is a lot of advantages when roaming around a big and busy city all alone.  You don't have to worry about your companion and you get to do and eat whatever you want.  I must admit I was sort of the introvert that time.  But it was fun.  More time for my self and for discovering things.  Singapore always connotes shopping but since no salary yet, I opted to hunt down bazaars and flea markets.

The first flea market I visited was the one just within Chinatown area.  The China Square Central.  When you get off the Chinatown MRT, take the exit leading to Pagoda St.  This is the main Chinatown area where souvenirs flanked the alley.  Most of their items are collectible items, shirts, some bric-a-brac and a small alley that leads to some of the local restaurants selling authentic and good chinese food.  Just go straight and when you reach the end of Pagoda St., cross the street then turn left, walk towards the intersection then cross another street in that corner is China Square Building.  The so called flea market is not easily visible and it doesn't have the vibe of a flea market at all since it is inside an air conditioned building, you have to enter the building and head towards the center of the building.  Booths are scattered with different merchandise like kids clothes and the latest fashions.  Level 1 is a bit pricey.  Level 2 more stuffs are sold mostly second hand.  The only thing brand new there were toys.  If you are a toy fanatic this is definitely the place.  Most toys are collectible items.  I was actually looking for some cheap clothes which I can wear for work, but China Square Central is not the place to do such shopping.  By the way, this flea market or bazaar is only open on Sundays.

The next flea market I hunted down is that of Tanglin Mall.  Finding the mall is one heck of an adventure since the mall is way too far from the MRT station.  The nearest MRT going to Tanglin Mall is Orchard station since the mall is within orchard area.  When you get off Orchard station you take the exit that leads to orchard road then turn left.  Go straight and cross the street.  You would be passing by a Starbucks shop, a 7/11 stall and you will reach the corner where the Orchard Parade Hotel is located.  Turn left again and walk straight ahead.  The walk would take almost 15-20 minutes depending on your pacing and how big is your stride.  Since I like to take time in enjoying the sights, it would take me almost 30 minutes.  You would know you'd reach the Tanglin Mall when you see lots and lots of people selling goods just outside the mall.  Most of the vendors have their wares on the floor.  So it actually looks like a flea market in a poor way.  The goods sold there are a mix of second hand and brand new.  My heart skipped a beat when I saw loads of books for sale.  Most of the chic lits only cost S$1 with no spine creases.  I also found some clothes for work.  A lot of Filipinos go there to buy and fill up their balikbayan boxes.  I enjoyed shopping in this market.  This flea market only happens on the first and third Saturday of the month.  Better mark your calendar for that.

The other flea market which I totally dislike is the one near Bugis junction.  According to one website the Thieves' Market at Sungei Road sells everything and believe me when they say everything they mean EVERYTHING.  At that time I have already found a friend and we searched for this flea market hoping to find good buys.  To our dismay, most of the vendors only sells trash and rubbish.  Aside from the place which is very very dirty, most of the people going there are mostly male.  I would not recommend this place for whatever activity at all.

Although there were a lot of flea markets in Singapore waiting to be discovered, I have only wandered into three (3) of them.  I wanted to do more scouting, maybe I just got discouraged with what I have witnessed at Thieves' Market.  But for those who would still want to unearth more good buys, here are some of the list of flea markets in Singapore, happy shopping!

Zouk Flea and Easy Market
held at Zouk, 17 Jiak Kim Street
Once every 3 months, on a Sunday from 2-7pm

Lime Flea Market
held at *scape (youth hub behind Cathay Orchard Cineleisure)
2nd and 4th Saturday of every month (Bi-monthly)

Maad Flea Market
held at Red-dot design Museum, 28 Maxwell Road
Operates only on first weekend (Sat and Sun) of every month, 11am-7pm

Timbre Flea Market
held at Timbre Bistro, 45 Armenian Street (The Substation Garden)
held monthly

Far East Square
situated at 76 Telok Ayer Street
Every Saturday and Sunday, 12pm-10pm

Kampong Glam Flea Market
Situated near Bugis MRT station
Every 3rd Sunday of the month, 10am-6pm

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