Traditional tastes

Bring home a memento that reflects Singapore's rich, multi-cultural heritage in the form of ethnic-inspired clothing, accessories and homeware.

Accessories from Little India
Little India

Visit the vibrant Little India Arcade, a row of shophouses full of brilliant finds like saris (traditional South Asian garment) and lavish accessories. Then, take a stroll around Tekka Centre for a variety of affordable clothes or spend some time getting lost in Mustafa Centre, the one-stop department store for anything and everything.

Where to buy: Little India Arcade at 48 Serangoon Road, Tekka Centre at 665 Buffalo Road, Mustafa Centre at 145 Syed Alwi Road

Cheongsams from Chinatown

Show off your silhouette with flair by adding an elegant cheongsam (traditional silk dress worn by Chinese women) to your wardrobe. Swing by any of the many shops in Chinatown and browse through off-the-rack selections going at affordable prices. You could even get one custom-fitted – imagine a cheongsam finished with fine workmanship and the most luxurious of fabrics to call your very own. 

Where to buy: People’s Park Complex, Chinatown Point, Yue Hwa Chinese Products Emporium

Batik material from Arab Street
Kampong Glam

For the fashionistas among us, put together your own signature Singapore look with Batik fabric. Browse the many libraries of batik materials along Arab Street, where fabric ranges from machine-printed to hand-stamped (Pro tip: the price tag varies accordingly).

Where to buy: Toko Aljunied, Batik Emporium, Bian Swee Hin & Co at Arab Street

Peranakan gifts from Katong

Visit the vibrant neighbourhood of Katong, where Peranakan (people of Straits-born Chinese or Malay descent) culture is preserved in antique stores and colourful shophouses. Add some tradition to your souvenir collection with a kebaya (a long-sleeved blouse incorporating Malay and Chinese influences) or classic Peranakan artefacts from Katong Antique House. For something with a little modern colour, bedazzle your look with bespoke Peranakan-inspired jewellery crafted by Singapore designer Choo Yilin

Where to buy: Katong Antique House at 208 East Coast Road, Choo Yilin at 331 Joo Chiat Road (appointment only) or Mandarin Gallery


Old-school Singaporean tableware
Teh tarik

Recreate that authentic Singapore dining experience with some old-school Singaporean tableware. Think glass mugs like those used to serve up iced milo or Tiger Beer in hawker centres, porcelain kopi (coffee) cups and saucers, and enamel bowls embellished with intricate illustrations – these vintage trinkets will make the perfect colourful addition to your dining table or china collection.

Where to buy: Hai Seng Porcelain at 4 Sago Lane, or BooksActually at 9 Yong Siak Street

Five stones set

A traditional game played by Singaporean children back in the kampong (village community houses that Singaporeans lived in in the past) days, five stones is a simple game of dexterity and coordination where the goal is to successfully toss and catch the ‘stones’. The game is usually played with five small triangular cloth-bags filled with sand or rice, and these cloth-bags often come in a plethora of patterns and colours. Pick out your very own set of five stones and challenge your friends back home to a round or two. 

Where to buy: Mint Museum of Toys at 26 Seah Street

Tried and trusted

The island city has seen its fair share of successful home-grown brands over the decades — treat yourself to mementos that have become household names while proudly bearing the made-in-Singapore tag. 

RISIS orchids

You can now own your very own piece of Singaporean flora. Since 1976, RISIS has been immortalising the natural elegance of Singapore’s national flower in brooches, necklaces, plaques and more. Bring home one of these gold and palladium-plated orchids that exude luxury while uniquely embodying Singapore’s beauty. 

Where to buy: RISIS stores at Gardens by the Bay, Takashimaya Shopping Centre, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, Suntec City Mall, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Changi Airport Terminal 3, and more

Eu Yan Sang
Eu Yan Sang

One of the largest Traditional Chinese Medicine groups in Southeast Asia, Eu Yan Sang has a selection of over 300 nourishing healthcare products and supplements for you to choose from — from essence of chicken for those who need that extra focus, to supplements for supermoms and the little ones. You can even pamper yourself and your loved ones with a gift hamper or two. 

Where to buy: Eu Yan Sang stores at Bugis Junction, all Changi Airport terminals, Chinatown Point, ION Orchard, VivoCity, and more

Chop Wah On
Chop Wah On

Get a whiff of Singapore’s most established medicated oil brand Chop Wah On. All Chop Wah On products are made with traditional remedies and have been manufactured in the business’s very own factory since 1916. Soothe your travel fatigue with their aromatic and therapeutic products, or pick up some skin products to protect your complexion from the sweltering Singapore sun.

Where to buy: Chop Wah On at 34 Upper Cross Street

Tiger Balm
Tiger Balm

Sore from your long flight or all the walking you’ve been doing? Tiger Balm could make for a great pain-relief solution and classically local souvenir. Tiger Balm has been a household name in Singapore since the 1920s, and this trusty herbal formulation pain rub is a medicine cabinet regular of many a local. 

Where to buy: Any Guardian, Watsons or Unity pharmacies island-wide 

Contemporary and creative

#SupportLocal and pick up a souvenir or two from the new wave of Singaporean creatives. These movers and shakers embody the country’s young, scrappy and hungry entrepreneurial spirit with their quirky, refreshing and souvenir-worthy interpretations of Singaporean culture.

Merlion ‘Chou Chou’
Merlion Chou Chou

Merlion magnets and keychains too tacky for your liking? Bring home Singapore’s mythic mascot in the form of one of these cuddly little guys. Created by Singapore designer Edwin Low, this adorable take on Singapore’s national icon is an ideal gift for the young ones. 

Where to buy: Naiise stores at Clarke Quay Central, Suntec City, Orchard Gateway, Katong 112, The Cathay and Westgate

National Day tote bag
Tote Bag Totebag by Olivia Lee

Don Singapore’s red and white colours all day every day with this National Day tote bag, a quirky shout-out to the ‘funpacks’ of the yearly National Day Parades. The design is reminiscent of the iconic Chinese lunar almanac calendar, simultaneously paying tribute to the traditions of yesteryears as well as Singapore’s day of independence, 9 August 1965. 

Where to buy: Naiise stores at Clarke Quay Central, Suntec City, Orchard Gateway, Katong 112, The Cathay and Westgate

SingLit books from BooksActually

Get acquainted with Singapore’s burgeoning literary scene when you pick up some books by homegrown writers at indie bookstore BooksActually. For an authentically local read, we recommend SingPoWriMo 2014: The Anthology, a collection of poems by Singapore poets from all over the island that were written as part of Singapore Poetry Writing Month. Dedicate a few hours of the day to getting lost in this quaint and lovely bookstore — the space is perfect for an afternoon spent leafing through a few books, or browsing the bookstore’s selection of Singapore-made trinkets. (You might also get to meet the bookstore’s resident feline friends!)

Where to buy: BooksActually at 9 Yong Siak Street 

Durian pins from The Farm Store

While you might not be able to bring actual durians on the flight home with you, you can still keep a memento of this lethal (for the olfactory glands) yet loved fruit in the form of this adorable durian pin from The Farm Store. Wear the pin with pride – after all, you came, you smelled, and you conquered the king of fruits. And if that isn’t quite your cup of tea, opt for the kueh (bite-sized cakes or snacks) or ice kachang (a dessert of shaved ice, beans and jelly) variations of the pin instead.

Where to buy: The Farm Store at 261 Waterloo Street

Artwork by local artists from Kult

Get artsy with Kult, where you can pick up some trendy new artwork to adorn the walls of your home. Kult carries contemporary art by local and international artists, showcasing some of the best and edgiest works that current artists have to offer. Get a copy of Kult Magazine for little snippets of artwork curated around each issue’s theme, or swing by Kult Gallery for an eye-opening look at Singapore’s contemporary art scene. 

Where to buy: Kult at 11 Upper Wilkie Road