I've decided to break my journey from Abu Dhabi to Sydney with a stopover in Singapore for some retail therapy. I only have 48 hours; can you suggest anywhere that I should visit?
The clean and green state city of Singapore deserves its reputation as a consumer's dream thanks to its residents' all-consuming passion for shopping. Orchard Road is the city's retail hub and at this time of year it sparkles with festive lights (once appropriately sponsored by the credit card company Visa). If you love designer labels this is where you should spend at least a day trawling its numerous mighty malls. Ngee Ann City and ION Orchard are home to high-end fashion outlets such as Prada, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton and Dior. Present your Singapore Airlines boarding pass at cafes and restaurants at ION Orchard, and you should receive up to 50 per cent off some items.
If all of the above sounds like hard work, retreat to the Four Seasons Singapore (www.fourseasons.com; 00 65 6734 1110), a five-star hotel on Orchard Boulevard a few minutes' walk from the heart of the action. A double room costs from 430 Singapore dollars (Dh1,218) per night including breakfast. And if your passion for contemporary fashions threatens to fade, spend an hour at the thoughtfully curated National Museum of Singapore (www.nationalmuseum.sg) on Stamford Street, admiring the "living" gallery devoted to the history of fashion and women's tastes from the 1950s to '70s.
If you crave one-offs rather than gilt-embossed leather goods, ignore the air-conditioned mega malls and head to Arab Street in Kampong Glam where fabric shop after fabric shop sits alongside small retailers selling clothing and knick-knacks. Given Singaporeans' love of the new, there's also a surprising market for vintage clothing. Wander down to Haji Lane, which runs parallel to Arab Street, and look into the White Room (www.atwhiteroom.com) for a great selection of vintage men's sunglasses. There are dresses in fetching prints to be found at Dulcetfig (www.dulcetfig.com), which specialises in vintage clothing and accessories including shoes and handbags. Slightly out of the way is the cutely named Dustbunny Vintage (www.dustbunnyvintage.com) on Bukit Purmei Road in Telok Blangah near Mount Faber Park, which does a neat line in vintage bags and "play purses". It's open by appointment only, call 00 65 6274 4200 to arrange a visit.
If you like being surrounded by lovely things, stay at the Scarlet (www.thescarlethotel.com; 00 65 6511 3333), a boutique hotel, amid the shophouses of Erskine Road, right in the middle of the Central Business District. A double room costs from $185 (Dh523) per night. It's within walking distance of Chinatown, and it's here that you will find stalls selling trinkets; worth a stroll to soak up the atmosphere.
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