The Blog and Musings of Gnarfgnarf The Travel Mouse
Posted by Ah Chong (alias Tony Tong)
If you are a visitor to Singapore, electronics and computers may be on your shopping list as you have heard that good deals abound in the city. My good friend Ah Choy (alias Warren Wee) has already narrated his computer spare parts shopping experience at Sim Lim Square. Ah Choy usually posts on geeky subjects while I try to write on more cultural activities. However I happened to have some matters to attend to around St Andrew's Cathedral, which I urge you to visit if you are in the area. I guess Ah Choy would urge you to visit Funan DigitalLife Mall, as it it officially known, if you are somewhere around the Singapore City Hall.
To get to Funan, take the MRT and get off at City Hall. As you exit, admire St Andrew's Cathedral, a historic landmark. The pinkish gaudy box standing at the southwestern corner of the Cathedral is Funan, one of the better shopping centres to purchase electronics and computers in Singapore.
First I would like to debunk a common myth among visitors. Singapore is supposedly awash with cheap computers and electronics. It's all relative...
If you're from the rest of Southeast Asia, well the prices on electronic goods in Singapore are comparable, sometimes a little lower, sometimes a little higher.
If you're from northern Europe or Scandinavia, or some Latin American countries where government has enacted high tariffs on computer imports to protect local industries (say Brazil for instance), well Singapore electronics are going to be a bargain.
North American consumers won't find the local prices very appealing as Singapore is a much smaller market and does not benefit from economies of scale.
As a matter of fact, for higher end computers and laptops, tech savvy Singaporeans order their goods from the US and get them shipped by air mail: it's cheaper even after import duties and shipping costs. I've asked my cousin to bring back a couple of e-readers (which you can't find locally) and a laptop on her next visit home...
But if you're interested in purchasing a laptop computer, a camera, a flat screen television, or simply some much needed peripherals for your electronic toys, Funan provides a bevy of attractive stores without being too overwhelming for the non techno geek. Those looking for obscure spare parts or to build their own power systems will head to Sim Lim Square instead, Singapore's other giant electronics complex. Funan targets mainstream shoppers, although there is so much variety available that visitors will find treasures if they are willing to spend a few good hours.
Let me start with the non tech specs. Funan is adorned with a multitude of fast food restaurants, a designer trendy food court on the fifth floor, mid end eateries suitable for casual dates, and the usual collection of bars and cafes. There is even a pharmacy and a hair stylist. You can bring your family here, or your girlfriend, or you can accompany your boyfriend. This is not going to be endless rows of screens and keyboards (well, almost endless). The main hall is spacious and well lit, if a bit daunting at first sight. You won't get lost as the floor layout is plain and simple.
The stores of Funan generally tend to be quite large, with a good selection of the latest, as well as older models on special offers. The sale staff tend to be on the younger side, clean shaven and suitably permed. On the whole, they're not very pushy or aggressive, but as anywhere visitors had better do their homework.
One of the largest computer stores I have ever visited is located on the sixth floor of Funan. It's probably what you get in suburban America or in Tokyo's Akihabara. Some visitors may only have enough patience and energy for this one Challenger megastore that takes up the whole of the floor. It's a local chain, and it's got the goods. The Challenger website does not say much about products and prices, but do check their competitors such as Courts to get an idea of current retail prices.
So what I usually do is that I head straight for the top floor, look around for what I need (ultrabook, memory stick, laptop cover, whatever etc.), take down the prices, and drop by a few other stores to see whether they can do better. It is still a time consuming enterprise but you can shave off a few crucial hours that may save your marriage.
For more shopping tips on Singapore, visit the Gnarfgnarf Singapore shopping section.
Electronics shopping at Funan DigitalLife in Singapore