You will be surprised to learn about what to buy in Singapore, as this Asian country perfectly combines modernity and tradition. Its multi-ethnic community and its vertiginous race towards the future make this country’s traditional products unique.
You can find a great variety of products to buy in Singapore, from the most up to date electronic devices such as computers, smartphones and tablets to the most traditional hand crafted items. However, the country’s artisan crafts are being lost due to the intensity of its technological development, and for this reason, the government has developed the Trades Tour to raise awareness and promote the work of artisans.
Nonetheless, let’s see what the traditional products of Singapore are that you might want to take with you as souvenirs of your trip.
Originally from China, Peranakan porcelain is one of the most sophisticated pieces of art to buy in Singapore. Although it may not be suitable for all budgets, you can negotiate with the seller to reach a more affordable price. If you can, you will be taking home a real handmade treasure with a thousand year old tradition. If you are interested in this type of artisan crafts you should visit the Antiques of the Orient and Rumah Bebe, two of the businesses with the best reputations in the country.
As in almost all other Asian countries, as well as the African countries, batik textiles are also traditionally made in Singapore. Here, they are used in their traditional dress by ethnic Malays, Indians and Peranakans. The colourful shades and floral and geometric designs turn these textiles into the perfect items of clothing to buy as souvenirs of Singapore.
If there is an object par excellence to buy in Singapore it is a statuette of the Merlion fish. This fish with a lion’s head is a mythical creature which has become the country’s icon. It was designed in 1964 as an emblem for tourism and refers to the country’s past fishing tradition and it goes back in history, as Singapore was once known as the country of the lion. Today it is used as an emblem for sports teams and in many cultural representations of the country.
If you want to surprise someone special with a truly original gift, apart from being something extraordinary to buy in Singapore, the RISIS orchid is a very unique piece of jewellery. It is a fresh orchid which is covered in nickel, copper and pure gold. In this way, all the beauty of the flower is preserved, as well as the value of the gold. They are sold at various prices and you can find them in the main shopping centres.
Ethnic Peranakan beads
The use of beads in clothing or in shoes originates mostly from the ethnic Perankan, who still maintain this tradition. The Perankan continue to manufacture beautiful beads by hand as a means of preserving their culture and traditional customs. You can find them in the small shops in Arab Street, as well as in the Rumah Bebe shop. Without a doubt, they are one of the most charming traditional products of Singapore, not only because of their beauty but also because of the tradition they represent.
Ethnic Malay jewellery
Malay women use accessories such as brooches, pins, bracelets, necklaces, earrings, etc. in their traditional dress. This jewellery is traditionally made in Singapore and you can find it in the shops of Arab Street as well as in shopping centres. If you haggle with the sellers you may get a good price, although they are not excessively priced.
The multicultural nature of the country means that you can buy good quality traditional clothing from Malaysia, China and even from India. Both in China Town and in Arab Street, you will find shops with traditional dresses of different colours, designs and at different prices, of course, depending on the textiles used to make them.
Singapore culture holds perfume in high esteem. Not just any perfume, but one made from essential oils and which is used for special occasions. The ability to mix the different essential oils in a personalised manner is a complete art. You can order your own personal perfume in the shops which sell the JR Fragrances brand.
Ya kun kaya
If you want to take home an authentic Singaporean souvenir, don’t hesitate in getting the Ya kun Kaya breakfast set. It is the most traditional item you can find in this country. Since 1900, the breakfast of choice for businessmen has been toast, coffee and a boiled egg. The tradition originated from this and continues to the present day. It has given rise to these souvenirs, and you can buy them in any of the coffee stalls in Singapore.
This is just an example of the traditional products you can buy in Singapore and that you will want to bring home with you as gifts. There are many more waiting for you.