First published on 25 May 2012. Updated on 25 May 2012.
Golden Mile Complex
What it is Thailand in shopping mall form, with three storeys of borderline seedy fun and even that distinctive Thailand smell.
What you get Aside from the tacky shops, there’s a Thai supermarket, a load of travel agents who’ll get you on a bus tour to Malaysia, and restaurants like Diandin Leluk, which is authentic but over-rated. Really, it’s about the entertainment – neon-lit Thai discos with names like Diva and Club Lucky, an array of karaoke bars, and the offices of J-Tracx.com, who’ll provide party girls for your own Thai disco. On Sundays, you’ll find Thai migrant workers eating en masse on the top floor. 5001 Beach Rd. MRT: Lavender. Open 24 hours (only selected venues).
People’s Park Complex
What it is Possibly the Chinese equivalent of Golden Mile, also housed in a grim, imposing Le Corbusier-style block.
What you get Better shops than Golden Mile, with some decent shoe outlets, though the food court is lacklustre. What’s most striking is the prevalence of tattoo parlours (there are about five) and reflexology/foot-massage joints (all for $15). The most intriguing places are Master Ang Professional Geomancy Services and the Sincere Maid Agency. There’s also a range of Chinese tour operators, and those ubiquitous massage chair shops. Eu Tong Sen St. MRT: Chinatown. Daily 7.30am-midnight.
What it is Three buildings, five storeys and 24 hours of getting lost. A contributor on TripAdvisor described it neatly as ‘Star Trek’s Borg, but with reasonably priced toaster ovens’.
What you get What can’t you get? From electronics to homeware, obscure imported food to magazines and tiny tweed suits for kids, it sells a wider range of goods than any department store we’ve ever been to. You can get visas at the Indian and Malaysian embassies, change money, book holidays and eat at a range of places, especially the kitsch rooftop restaurant, Kebabs n Curries, with great views over Little India. 145 Syed Alwi Rd. MRT: Farrer Park. Open 24 hours.
Golden Mile is culturally interesting and People’s Park passable – but Mustafa is an institution. Forget Harrods, Bloomingdale’s and all that Ralph Lauren and caviar – the brilliant, ramshackle Mustafa is one of the world’s great department stores, and our winner – 24 hours a day, at that.