When it’s 2 AM in Singapore, and you need dried apricots, fresh dill, baby knee pads, a souvenir from London, a winter coat, printer paper, and a new shower head, you head to Mustafa. It’s kind of like a 24-hour Super Walmart, but with an Indian cultural flair. It is a place where you can get it all, and it is a Singapore institution. From its humble beginnings in 1973 with a 900 sq ft shop, to its current 150,000 sq ft location, the store dazzles, amazes and frustrates its 15,000 visitors that come every weekend. They even have a rooftop restaurant that I find to be very good. Anthony Bourdain has visited Mustafa on his visits to Singapore, and he likens it to “an eternity of kitsch: a Costco, Ikea, Dress Barn, grocery store, and souvenir stand all in one.”
Personally, I like to avoid those 15,000 weekend visitors, though I am sure they are all very nice people. I have found weekday mornings before 11 and mid-afternoons to be the best times to shop, though I am sure the wee hours of the morning are very good as well. No matter the hour, Mustafa visits have always exhausted, due to the enormous selection of products, hidden elevators that don’t go to B2, and stairways that only go to certain levels. I generally only go when I need specialty items that I cannot find at my nearby stores, or when I need to stock up on beans and spices. The prices on groceries and electronics are good, great on beans, spices, olives, and dried apricots, but I don’t find the rest of the products there all that competitive for price. I wish they would change that. Their stock levels are overflowing—better prices would turn over A LOT of merchandise.
I feel very badly for my friends who have inflexible work schedules and must visit on a weekend. So, I have created a guide. All the entrances, stairways, and elevators are mapped out, along with a general location for items. Please let me know if you find they have shifted things around. There a few things you need to know besides the map:
- You can find the bathrooms near the elevators between entrances 5 and 6 on all levels (on levels 2 and 3 nearer to escalator above entrance 6). There is a ladies-only bathroom on level B1, below entrance 2. Also in line with entrance 2, there is a bathroom on level 2 (WITH A BABY TABLE!), and also on levels 3 and 4. Bring your own tissue or have some coins to buy it in the machine.
- If you are a tourist in need of typical traveler items like luggage locks, plastic ponchos, umbrellas, etc, go to entrance 6, level 1, for the most easily accessible selection of stuff.
- Level one is deja vu land, with a nearly completely repeating selection of toiletries between the first building and the second, especially toothpaste. From entrances 2 to 6, things keep repeating, so no need to walk the entire level to see all, unless you really love squeezing through crowded corridors (building 1 more than 2).
- Utilize the luggage check areas by bringing a rolling cart and storing there before you shop. As you make purchases that are too large to carry, stop by the luggage area to store them. Then collect on your way out.
- Travel to Mustafa by taking the purple NE MRT line to Farrer Park. Walk through City Square Mall, stopping at the bathroom then for coffee or bubble tea, then head up to level one at the escalators at the other end. Go out there then right on Kitchener Link/Verdun Road to hit the middle of Mustafa between entrances 3 and 4.
- THIS IS CLOSING IN FEBRUARY OF 2017!!!! THERE IS ALSO A MINI MUSTAFA! Serangoon Plaza, along Serangoon Road, has an entrance to what I call “mini Mustafa,” as it seems to have everything but the groceries, bookstore, hardware, kitchen-wares, and fabric. This is much faster if you are not looking for groceries, and is probably far less crowded on an average day. Here is a quick smattering of what each level contains:
- Level 1: Electronics, watches, jewelry, pens, appliances, some food, cold drinks, nuts, snacks, chocolate, souvenir type foods. The bathroom is a long walk from here; you should have gone at City Square Mall.
- Level 2: Umbrellas, hair dye, hair accessories, shoes, Toiletries, supplements, pharmacy, medical supplies and braces/canes, wheelchairs, cosmetics, body shapers, sports equipment, helmets, pads, shoes, traveler stuff, hats, backpacks, luggage, ladies bags, men’s bags, swimwear, coats.
- Level 3: Mens’ clothes, belts, underwear, slacks, coats, jackets, dress shirts, ALL KIDS and BABY STUFF, gift sets for babies, toys, kids’ clothes for winter too, trivets, coasters, blankets, rugs, towels, linens, a few pillows, bathroom accessories, random home accessories, and dress up clothes for kids (western and eastern styles). You can connect to Big Mustafa near the kids clothes and toys section here.
- Want the PDF version? Mustafa Map.
The last escalator here splits at level 2. You can continue up to level 3 and all the way up to the roof, but it is in the back right corner of level 2 to continue up.