Almost always, the answer to “Where can I get ____?” is Mustafa Centre, Singapore’s very own 24-hour Walmart.
But we’re not going to lie – this megamall is overwhelming at least; add in the crowd of eager shoppers and it gets almost chaotic. But it’s got everything in one spot, from electronics to groceries to sporting goods and even gold (fun fact: Mustafa Centre even sold cars at one point). Chaotic or not, this is the place to go if you want everything you need for cheap.
There must be some guide out there to help navigate the madness, we thought.
Why not come up with one ourselves, we also thought. So, here’s our guide to Singapore’s famous Mustafa Centre.
Yes, it’s those two buildings connected on the second floor by a bridge. You can’t really see inside because merchandise piled high blocks the view, but if you really need some sort of marker, surely the crowd of people standing outside the building with bags and bags of Mustafa purchases could be a hint.
There are 6 entrances to Mustafa Centre, well marked with white and green signs. You’ll be asked to check any bags (other than personal purse or backpack) at desks just outside the entrance.
I recommend entering through door 1 (top of Syed Alwi Street closest to Serangoon Plaza) as it provides you with only one direction to start.
Stepping inside this 6-storey shopping emporium, you may start to feel a bit like Charlie walking through the chocolate factory. It can get a little disorienting and you may see things that seem like they would be impossible in the outside world. Stacks and stacks of stuff that seem to defy gravity by not falling over. Piles and piles of clothes that appear to multiply right in front of you.
When in doubt, look out for the directories, that’ll point you to each section on their respective floors, from bedding on level 3 to the supermarket on level 2 to clothing in basement 1.
That said, it’s probably not a good idea to tell your shopping companions to “meet by the toothpaste shelf”. The same products or types of products may be found in a few different places within the buildings (we’re looking at you, toothpaste). Use entrances and exits as meeting points, as they’re all numbered.
We learnt this the hard way.
A random list of things you can find: toys, water bottles, CDs and DVDs, small kitchen appliances (juicers, toaster ovens), not-so-small kitchen appliances (washers, refridgerators), Western and Eastern vitamins and supplements, giant lollipops containing little lollipops, spices you’ve never heard of, door bells, an aqua spa machine, wheelchairs, sports equipment of all kinds, two pharmacies (maybe more?).
And it just goes on and on (and on and on…).
The joke about being able to find anything here is no joke. Word on the street (put out by us) is that if you manage to walk to the far reaches of the building (if it even really ends at all), you’ll find a unicorn.
If you’re here to buy the gold blings, there’s a department where you can get armfuls of bangles and flashy gold earrings for super cheap. We say super cheap, because they aren’t real gold.
There’s a whole other apartment dedicated to the real thing, so don’t get confused about the two. Chances are, you’ll still be able to snag these gems at a lower price than the general market rate.
The short answer: Yes.
The degree to how much cheaper will vary. For example, Tiger Balm mozzie spray was $6.90. Regular price at Watsons is $7.60 but on sale can be as low as $6.23. Men’s Levis 505 jeans were marked at $89.90, which is an awesome steal.
My best deal: 2 pomegranates for $4.60; I normally pay close to $8 for this at a regular supermarket. The grocery section is where you’re likely to see the biggest savings.
Those who are light want to be dark. Those who are dark want to be light. #impossiblebeautystandards Also, no sunscreen?! Someone missed the memo on sun and cancer.
The bizarre products that we spotted made the shopping trip a whole lot more fun. Perhaps it’s better to go in without a shopping list, because you’re sure to find what you need and don’t need.
Definitely NOT on a weekend mid-afternoon, when everyone else is at Mustafa.
What’s a 24-hour megamall for, if not for a late night excursion? Generally, Mustafa Centre itself quietens down by 10pm at night on weekdays (Although road traffic around the area remains heavy – careful there!), making your shopping experience much more pleasant.
All done with shopping? Reward yourself with a delicious authentic Indian meal at Mustafa Centre’s rooftop restaurant, Kebabs ‘n curries.
The simple eatery serves vegetarian and non-vegetarian North and South Indian dishes, as well as some interesting Indo-Chinese fare.
By Kathleen Siddell and Pinky Chng, September 2017
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