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Sim Lim Square and Bugis
I was told, if I wanted to buy cheap electronic goods and photography equipment, then I should go to the Sim Lim Square...
Bugis is another mixed shopping area where you can try various foods and visit large department stores. Just a short walk from Sim Lim, so I went there as well.
Because the two (Bugis and Sim Lim) are quite close to each other, I was able to visit both - one after the other after having already paid a visit to Little India.
The Sim Lim Square is a large retail complex found on the Rochor Road.
It was opened in 1987 and has roughly 150 stores, but also a hawker centre.
The Sim Lim Square is often abbreviated "SLS".
The Sim Lim Square department store is the dark-windowed building on the right side
Because I wanted to swap my old Canon EOS 400D DSLR camera for a new one, I went to the Sim Lim Square, hoping I will find low prices and a wide variety of options, but I was utterly disappointed by what I encountered.
Although there were plenty of products, considering the size of Singapore and the enthusiasm that some locals had about the Sim Lim Square, I expected a lot more from the place.
Prices were a lot higher than average, so the "cheap" myth is not true.
Spiral stairs in Bugis
At least, I was able to have a brunch at Sim Lim's hawker centre before heading to Bugis.
But before I go into the Bugis experience, I want to attract your attention to the scams practiced at the Sim Lim Square complex.
Naive foreigners will be the most likely targets. Some sellers push prices high, others will try to apply a fake "tax" at the end and the naive buyer will think they'll have to pay the tax anyway, but that's not true!
The most common fake "tax" is a so-called "GST tax". Sellers will claim, you will be able to claim the GST back at the airport, but that's not true!
Other scams include: counterfeit product sales, products sold without vital components or accessories (like: chargers, batteries, cables...), no price tag scam (they will try to squeeze as much out from you as they can), the bait-and-switch scam (one example is: they will pretend to sell you one item, but they will give you another one)...
My verdict: the Sim Lim Square is not a good place for buying electronics. There are lots of individual shops in other parts of Singapore - just as good and the probability of getting scammed is also lower.
Bugis was a short walk away from the Sim Lim area. It was pinned on my Google Earth map, as one of the main attraction areas - a "must visit" spot.
The area along and around Bugis Street has developed into a vast shopping district. But it's mainly a mixed market and department stores area.
I loved Bugis!
The area is actually the largest street shopping area in Singapore.
In the past, Bugis Street was an important economic zone of Singapore. Its name derives from a Sulawesi province (today's Indonesia), where the Bugis people or Buginese originate from.
Old buildings with external spiral stairs - another reason to go visit Bugis!
You mustn't miss seeing the old buildings with external spiral staircases. Although these can be found in various other parts of Singapore (like in Geylang, for instance), the ones here in Bugis were the most beautiful ones, in great condition.
Multiple buildings side-by-side, all with beautifully-coloured staircases (each building had different colour combinations).
The Iluma Shopping Mall (today: Bugis+)
Here's a great building for you (photos above and below).
Back then in 2011 it was called Iluma Shopping Mall, currently it is known as Bugis+ (official site).
Daring hypermodern architecture that had me photographing for long minutes... The walls of the building differ so much from one part to the other that you might think they belong to separate buildings.
The entrance to Iluma
It's a 10-story shopping mall a short walk away from the Bugis MRT station.
It's one of Singapore's most beautiful buildings - one of the most memorable modern buildings that I've ever seen!
Besides the modern buildings, you shouldn't miss the stalls of the market either. Lots and lots of delicacies, including street food that you can eat right away...
Fruit sellers' stalls at Bugis
At this market you get a discount if you buy more.
The weirdest, most exotic foods and vegetables surrounded me at this Bugis market. It get pretty crowded in there between the stalls. Lots of sellers, buyers. I was probably the only window-shopper there.
Find more info about eating and drinking in Singapore - I tried out various delicacies, although I wish I tasted more!
To be honest, this was the widest variety of vegetables and fruits that I've ever seen at any market until then. And still is, until the posting date of this article.
Besides the market area, the smaller shops, the Bugis+ (previously Iluma) mall, you should also pay a visit to the Bugis Junction Mall (see the website here), which I couldn't visit due to lack of time.
It's an integrated commercial development located on Victoria Street. Besides the shopping mall, it is also home to an office tower.
The office tower of the Bugis Junction complex
About the Author:
Escape Hunter, the young solo traveler in his early 30's explores the World driven by curiosity, thirst for adventure, deep passion for beauty, love for freedom and diversity.
With a nuanced, even humorous approach to travel, an obsession for art and design, Escape Hunter prefers to travel slowly, in order to learn and "soak up" the local atmosphere...
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