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Brief lessons from a couple of days in Singapore: Shopping mall shops open after 11 AM and stay open until about 9 PM (varies). There are many shopping malls in the tourist areas, usually with variations of the same large international shopping chains. The GST refund system is worth noting. Theoretically you can claim back 7% GST component of your purchases at departure so long as the purchases exceed SSD100 in one shop and so long as the shop fills in the appropriate paperwork at the time of purchase.
There are two options when you depart from Changi airport: small hand-held items can be taken through check-in as hand luggage to be checked by customs in the transit area; this means having to carry them on to the plane. The alternative is to get them checked by customs in the airport lobby before you book in. You can get a customs stamp for larger items then pack them in your main luggage to be checked in. This saves the hassle of carrying them with you on the plane. Note that there is a processing fee for refunds. For example, for items totalling SSD $150, theoretically the GST component would be about $7.50 but a shopper would only receive SSD $2 in the hand after the fee was deducted. This may not really be worth the hassle of getting custom stamps and queue for the refund. Obviously larger purchases are worth the hassle.
The Arab Quarter is not a mall, but a series of shops around Arab Street, selling fabrics, rugs and other middle eastern artifacts. There are wonderful middle eastern restaurants. The Arab Quarter is heaven for dressmakers seeking interesting and unusual fabric! It is quieter than China Town and Little India, and it is easier to just browse.
For a better shopping experience, please see Singapore Tourism Board's consumer advisory for more information.
As in any city, you may find in Singapore also a small number of establishments whose practices tarnish the good image of reputable ones.
1. Always do price comparisons to get the best deals
2. Note that purchases made are usually final
3. Check receipts and invoices for accuracy and check your purchase before leaving the store
4. Verify what your ‘international warranty’ covers
More on shopping tips can be found on the Consumer Advisory at yoursingapore.com (under “Singapore Travel Information”). For assistance on complaints, call the Touristline or email through yoursingapore.com (under “Contact”).
For redress within 24 hours (depending on complexity of the claim), you can lodge your complaint with the Small Claims Tribunal (SCT) at 1 Havelock Square, 1st floor of State Courts, Singapore 059724. An administrative fee of S$10 is payable to the SCT.