Bras Basah Complex considers itself home to the Arts & Culture in Singapore, and its easy to see why — many of its shops share a unique identity of selling knowledge, novelty and artisan goods.
You might have even come here in the past to buy textbooks and exam papers for school!
The complex was constructed in the 1980s, and maintains that vintage ‘old mall’ feel, with HDB blocks located right above the shopping spaces! Open air exploration, tiled corridors and winding staircases make exploring the complex not just fun, but a nostalgic experience.
And it isn't just fun to walk around - there are a ton of shops to explore to buy books and heritage goods! Here are some of the more interesting ones that we found.
Guan Yun Zhai Chinese Art Materials
It takes a real specialist to buy something from this shop, but it won't cost anything to go in and take a look!
Guan Yun Zhai Chinese Art Materials sells an interesting stock of Chinese books, implements and calligraphy supplies. While the owners only speak Mandarin, they were accepting of me looking around their shop.
If you already have an existing interest in calligraphy, the shop is sure to provide anything you need from Bristol Paper to ceramic inkpots and brushes. If not, it's still a fine place to visit and see some traditional Chinese artistry.
Address: 231 Bain St, #01-39, Singapore 180231
Operating Hours: Unlisted
You'll want to keep an open mind for this novelty shop. Gemstory sells a wide variety of crystals like amethysts, quartz and pyrite, believing in their unique identity as proponents for happy living.
The owner is a staunch believer in the healing and supportive power of his crystals, so he's more than willing to help you if you decide to wander into his shop! He's very friendly, and happy to chat about any questions you might have about his products.
Whether you believe in it or not, the Crystals do make a very curious and attractive display. The environment of sparkling stones, gentle music and scented air invites you to stay and look around!
Address: 231 Bain St, #01-73, Singapore 180231
Operating Hours: Tuesday to Friday: 12PM - 7PM
Saturday to Sunday: 12PM - 6PM
Contact: 9366 8836
Today Fine Art Museum
Bras Basah Complex wouldn't be much of an Art & Culture centre without some Art museums and displays!
Today's Fine Art Museum is just one of the many independent galleries at Bras Basah Complex, hosting a wide collection of exclusively local pieces.
Shops like these are mostly set up to buy and sell pieces from collectors, so the atmosphere can be quiet and intimidating. However, it's worth it to brave the shop fronts and look inside for some traditional canvas art!
Just put away your phones and cameras, as most will forbid photography of their precious pieces!
Address: 231 Bain St, #01-75, Singapore 180231
Operating Hours: Unlisted
A small, unassuming shop front hides a distinctive attraction! Qimu Arts hosts a collection of wooden sculptures from different wood species, beads and other statuettes.
Here, I was quite welcome to look around and take photos!
The first thing you'll notice when you step into the shop is the minty fragrance of Yabai Wood - a rare species of cypress grown on the Tai Hang mountain in China.
A number of their pieces are natural growths from this unique flowing wood, which is said to improve sleep conditions and purify the environmental air.
Other than that, the shop carries very interesting carved pieces, and its worth your time to look at each individual piece! The owners are very friendly as well - more so if you can speak Chinese!
Address: 231 Bain St, #02-87, Singapore 180231
Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday: 12PM - 7PM
Contact: 9670 1870
While I've picked out Book Point specifically, there are a plethora of other independent book stores to explore, and you definitely shouldn't pick just one as your favourite!
A commercial Popular dominates the upper floors, but they definitely don't offer the same products and price ranges as the independents do!
As a self-declared bookworm myself, I've frequented many of the different shops and come away with a variety of second hand novels for $4, some I'm not even sure are in publishing anymore.
Book shopping in Bras Basah is an experience of going around, looking for the best prices and deals, finding a title that clinches your interest, and going home happy with a new set of literature to tide you over until your next visit!
And if you have the need, many of these stores are willing to buy second hand books from you, so long as they're still in good condition, of course!
Address: 231 Bain St, #02-69, Singapore 180231
Operating Hours: Monday to Thursday: 10AM - 7PM
Friday: 2:30PM - 7PM
Saturday: 10AM - 7PM
Sunday: 10:30AM - 6PM
Contact: 6338 9106
When I Was Four
Tucked away in the upper corner of the entire complex is a quirky yet attractive little shop selling nothing and everything.
Walking through the shop, I was unable to pinpoint just what it was that ‘When I Was Four’ was selling, until the owner described it to me: simple, nostalgic lifestyle products.
It's trendy, it's unique, it's amazing. They sell everything from cards, to earrings, to desk planners - all with unique designs that somehow capture the day to day Singaporean attitude of living.
If you're looking for gifts or just something to identify with in your everyday life, pay ‘When I Was Four’ a visit! Even their decorated shop front might inspire you to buy something.
Address: 231 Bain St, #04-41, Singapore 180231
Operating Hours: Monday to Friday: 12PM - 7:30PM
Saturday: 12:30PM - 6.30PM