All you need to know about Singapore’s Heartland Malls

What are heartland malls and why do they matter to Singaporeans? Let's explore the wonders of the shopping mall just in front of your HDB flat.

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It’s hardly a stretch to label Singapore as a shopping paradise – just look at the abundance of shopping malls over here! We Singaporeans definitely enjoy our shopping in all its forms, from high-end brands like Coach and Chanel to heartland favourites such as CK Tangs and Value Dollar, even our beloved pasar malams (or night markets), such as the Chinatown Chinese New Year Bazaar, and the Geylang Serai Hari Raya Bazaar.

In the past, suburban malls and shopping centres in the heartlands were known for household necessities such as kitchen appliances and daily goods. High-end and mid-range shopping, on the other hand, was confined to traditional malls. These traditional malls are synonymous with the shopping belt along the luxurious Orchard Road.

The usual Malls

For many years, shoppers flocked to malls such as 313 Somerset, Ngee Ann City and Paragon Shopping Centre. 313 Somerset remains a favourite of teenagers, which houses many brands including Forever 21, The Editor’s Market, and Cotton On. 

Similarly, Ngee Ann City is unquestionably a family favourite, with its bustling basement full of delicious tidbits and snacks, and Takashimaya Square, a massive event hall well-known for thematic and promotional events. 

Paragon Shopping Centre is another long-loved favourite of high-rolling fashionistas and harried parents alike. These malls and massive air-conditioned complexes also house foreign departmental stores including Isetan and Takashimaya, and a wide range of brands from all over the globe.

However, in recent years, with increased development of suburban areas and regions, heartland malls have seen a definite increase in status. So what exactly are heartland malls? 

Having evolved from drab malls to lively mini metropoles, many heartland malls boast restaurants serving international food, a host of amenities including libraries, playgrounds and rooftop parks, and even the occasional high-end store! While traditional malls still remain popular, heartland malls are family-friendly, conveniently-located and infinitely more casual.

Heart of the South

Heartland malls have definitely wormed into the hearts of many, offering a place close to home where patrons can have a meal, stock up on home necessities or catch a movie. To those living in the South of Singapore, Harbourfront Centre is an underrated mall that has its own unique shopping experience. 

Often seen as a less glamorous cousin of the enormous Vivo City, Harbourfront Centre is the home of many quaint shops selling jewellery, clothing, incense and diffusers – all of which are, to a large extent, quite affordable. Harbourfront Centre is also home to an array of dining establishments, including Song Fa Bak Kut Teh, Han’s and Ban Heng Pavillion Restaurant. 

You will notice that all three of these dining establishments are true-blue Singaporean. Harbourfront Centre showcases some of the best of Singaporean foods and is one of the reasons why many have become so enamoured with heartland malls in general. 

Enjoy the best food that Singapore has to offer, all in the comfort of air-conditioned malls and the absence of the sweltering Singaporean heat (not to mention the large crowds).

Aside from that, Harbourfront Centre is also home to many services, including tuition and enrichment centres, such as the formidable Kumon, the Cristofori Music School, and The Ballet and Music Company.

If you need to get your teeth cleaned, would like a massage, would like to hit the gym or buy accessories for your phone, you can get all this done at Harbourfront Centre! Catering to all ages and members of the family, this makes Harbourfront Centre extremely convenient.

One particular draw is the Shine Korea Supermarket, which stocks snacks and drinks that can only be found in South Korea (and Shine Supermarket, of course!) And no discussion of Harbourfront Centre is complete without mentioning its Ticketing and Travel services. After all, what other shopping malls in Singapore allow you to catch a ferry to Batam?

Harbourfront Centre is a heartland mall – a perfect gem for those living in the Southern Region of Singapore.

If you’re looking for a serviced apartment in the South, check this out! It’s only a 10-minute drive away from Harbourfront Centre (and Vivo City)!

Go West!

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Live in the West? Then you would know that no discussion of heartland malls is complete without mentioning IMM. Short for International Merchandising Mart Mall, it is located in Jurong East and is Singapore’s largest outlet mall.

Shopaholics rejoice, as IMM offers tantalising pieces from international outlet stores including Calvin Klein Jeans, Club 21, Adidas, and even Coach! Not only does it carry an array of brands, IMM is also extremely accessible (yes, even though it’s in far-far-away Jurong)! 

Located near Jurong East MRT station, patrons can use the covered J-Walk link bridge, allowing you to visit come rain or shine! Catered towards all customers, you can also find a dry cleaner, a shoe and bag repair shop, and even a florist, perfect for when you need to express your appreciation or to apologise (for dragging your girlfriend all the way to Jurong).

That’s not all! IMM is closely situated to Jurong East’s many other bustling malls, including JEM, Westgate and Jcube. Jurong East’s many malls make it a microcosm of Orchard Road and allows West-side shoppers both convenience and entertainment.

The busy and lively malls of Jurong East are an intersection between suburban shopping and international retail, drawing shopaholics from all across the island!

Enticed by the glory of Jurong East heartland malls? This serviced apartment is smack in the middle of the Jurong triangle-of-malls. You’ll always 5 mins away from the many offers these heartland malls hold. 

Pointing North

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And of course, those living in the northern part of Singapore would be very familiar with Northpoint City. Considered by many to be the first heartland mall in Singapore, it is definitely a source of bragging rights for many living in the area – come on Yishun! The first heartland mall in the country! 

Northpoint City is exceptionally convenient, providing something for everyone – from a $2 store (move over Daiso! Nomi Japan is in town!) to a local favourite; Beauty Language. And if you need a little makeover? No need to travel all the way to town! Northpoint City has a plethora of beauty services such as brow shaping services, facial treatments. 

It even has more niche services including a chiropractor clinic and a therapy centre, catering to the health and wellness needs of people of all ages. After its recent revamp, Northpoint city has become HUGE. Literally. So prepared to get lost in the seemingly endless number of stores and walkways. It might even rival the maze that is ION Orchard.

Eastside is where it’s at

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Many heartland malls, each with their own unique personality traits have become a godsend to many residents living in the regions. Consider the myriad of malls located in the vicinity of the Tampines regional centre, such as Tampines 1, Century Square and Tampines Mall.

The three are extremely accessible via bus and MRT. The cool thing about Tampines Mall is it offers many amenities, including free loans of wheelchairs, baby strollers, and even free wifi! With a combination of names like Uniqlo, ALDO, Bobbi Brown, Adidas, Challenger and Cold Storage (just to name a few!), it offers literally more than what you need. 

Those living in Katong only believe in one true heartland mall; Parkway Parade. This mall has withstood the test of time and still serves generations of east dwelling Singaporeans. From local favourites such as Cotton On and Swensens to a new cinema and huge hypermarts, Parkway Parade has a place in the heart of many Singaporeans. 

The east side of Singapore has become especially energetic and dynamic in recent years due to their heartland malls, beloved by many residents.

So if you would like to join them, why not check out this eastern serviced apartment. It sits in the green solitude of Tanah Merah!

Heartland malls have become as ubiquitous to Singapore as hawker centres and HDB flats. They offer an alternative to the oftentimes inaccessible luxury of Orchard Road and Marina Bay. These malls are friendly to Singaporeans from all walks of life – from children to wheelchair users. 

With new malls continually being constructed, and old malls constantly undergoing revamps, heartland malls offer competition and dynamism to the Singapore shopping scene. So visit your nearest Singapore heartland mall and support the cause!