Yesterday, we were running errant downtown so we happily hopped in to Ibis Bencoolen Hotel for lunch. We like the local food served there and we ordered Hokkien noodles and Nasi Lemak at just $12 each. We could top up with either a Western or Chinese soup and coffee or a selection of tea ranging from Earl Grey to English Breakfast that comes in a teapot for just $6. The small piece of garlic bread that came with the soup was very good. As Accor Plus members, dining for two attracts a 50% discount which is exceptionally good.
As usual the food was great and as expected, of higher quality than the usual hawker centre fare. Of course we enjoyed our meal. The restaurant is really a convenient place to have a quick meal in air-conditioned comfort in the city and as Accor Plus members, we are paying food court prices for a nice lunch.
After lunch, we walked over to the open area outside OG Departmental Store and the Albert Court Food Centre. The place was a hive of activities during this time of the year where Mid Autumn Festival is just next week.
This place is like a mini Chinatown but with a vibes of dynamic young people from the office crowd downtown. The whole area is full of stalls selling all and sundry, especially goods related to the coming festival. Lanterns are on display and pomelo and moon cakes are on sale. A tent is also set up for cultural activities with a moon fairy statue right in the middle of the open area. It was a hot day but the whole place was busy with visitors and office crowd out for lunch during our visit.
Outside OG Store were cubicles set up with great discounts on clothes and such and at the main entrance, a specialty vendor was selling special good quality rubber slipper made to order with many different colours and accompanying strips to be fixed on site at only $12 a pair. Prices for clothes are comparable to those in Bangkok. Of course for a more comfortable shopping experience, inside the huge multi level departmental store has very strong air-conditioning to cool down shoppers suffering under the high noon heat.
Those who wish to experience local food scene and have a taste of local hawker fare could enter the Albert Court Food Centre diagonally across OG Store to sample the many local food varieties available that are cheaper than food court prices in an air-conditioned shopping mall. Some of the food stalls there are actually quite popular and long queues of people are usually formed during lunch and dinner hours.
There are also many small stalls set up outside the food centre along Fu Lu Shou Complex. Years ago, some vendors were selling good quality cartoon printed T-shirts for kids at only $2 each. Walking further down would lead to the famous Bugis Street shopping area.
The lanes inside the complex are quite narrow with many stalls selling a wide range of products from clothes and bags to snacks and souvenirs. You would be forgiven if you have mistaken this place to be Taiwan where this place is crowded with shoppers and visitors and those walking through the street to head over to Bugis Junction. This place really resembles those busy night markets in Taiwan. This is indeed a colourful place where many young people like to do some specialty shopping for clothes and accessories.
Having squeezed through to emerge over the other side, a bus stop is right outside this main entrance into Bugis Street shopping zone. Right across Victoria Street is the upmarket Bugis Junction Shopping Mall. This is a very busy place as well where an office tower and Hotel Intercontinental are part of the complex.
Besides regular and upmarket shops, restaurants and cafes, a cinema is part of the setup here. Bugis MRT station serving the East-West Line and the Downtown Line is located right below this complex. As such, this is a very busy place with shoppers, visitors as well as office crowd going about their business day and night.
BHG Departmental Store is an anchor tenant here. Great sales run throughout the year and this is one of the favourite destinations for ladies to do their retail therapy whether intentionally or in between lunch break. This is usually the first stop when we cross over from Bugis Street for a quick survey to see what is on sale as well as to cool ourselves down from the heat and humidity having braved the crowd walking through the narrow lanes at Bugis Street earlier.
The open covered area is another interesting place that is very pleasant to stroll through with many pushcarts selling all and sundry. For this time of the year, part of this open area has been occupied by vendors selling moon cakes. Some of these vendors are from established high-end hotels and so the quality of the moon cakes is good. Of course the prices of these moon cakes would command a premium.
Walking further in would lead to the entrance of Hotel Intercontinental. We used to spend staycation at this hotel years ago when the children were much younger. We like to stay here to enjoy the festive decorations and atmosphere as well as the convenient shopping location with many dining options available here. The very nice wash room in the hotel is also a good place for us to visit whenever we shop here at Bugis Junction.
Heading to the basement level is where many eateries, cafes and restaurants are located. Cold Storage Supermarket is located at this level too. It is so convenient for those who stay at Hotel Intercontinental to stock up on fruits and water as well as snacks. This place is extremely crowded during lunch and dinner time. Another reason for this place to be busy is due to the access to the underground MRT station from here.
Having done dining and shopping, here is usually the last location to hit before heading down to the MRT station for the trains to head to other areas. Of course picking up snacks and drinks before heading down to the MRT station is a good idea but remember eating and drinking inside the MRT stations and trains are not allowed. Bugis shopping area is a rather convenient location to explore with easy access to many attractions in other parts of town as well.
Bugis Street and Bugis Junction would have a different feel at night. This area would be nicely lit up and of course, it would be much cooler to roam this area whether for shopping and dining. In fact, Raffles City and Marina Square are within walking distance too if it is not too hot and humid, especially during the evening. Heading to Orchard Road for more shopping and roaming is just a few stations away.
By the way, the ultra modern National Library is located next to Bugis Junction across Middle Road from Hotel Intercontinental. For those who need to find a place to rest and do some reading, this would be an excellent place to spend a few hours as well. In addition, Little India is just two MRT stations away via the Downtown Line. Those who wish to explore Little India which is just 5 minutes away from Bugis would find it very easy and convenient.
For those who wish to take a bus or a taxi to Johor across the Causeway or Malacca in Malaysia, the bus terminal is located nearby at Queen Street. Taking exit A from Bugis MRT station, the bus station is just three minutes walk on the right ahead at Queen Street. So Bugis is a popular area much like Chinatown with a nice vibes of energetic young people in the vicinity as well as the seniors living in the housing estate near Albert Court Food Centre.
Have fun exploring this exciting area and bring home some happy memories…