Let’s get one thing straight: Singaporeans have an unwavering love for all things Japanese. It begins with our passion for delectable sushi and extends to the admiration for their innovative yet practical inventions such as lightweight umbrellas and cooling sheets. But what we love best is cheap, quirky, tasty Japanese things that we can get conveniently.
Lucky for us, we’re blessed with renowned affordable Japanese stores like Muji and Takashimaya, which we can flock to whenever we crave satisfying Japanese shopping experience. However, the burning question is: when it comes to Daiso vs Don Don Donki, which of these two popular megastores reigns supreme?
Charged with the task at hand, I combed through every aisle of both establishments and took diligent notes to conduct a thorough comparison. Here’s what I’ve gathered so far:
Table of Contents
To begin, let’s dive into a bit of history.
RIP “always $2”.
Back in 2012, Daiso made its debut into our sunny island, opening its first and largest store at IMM Jurong.
The concept was simple: everything for just $2 flat. It was a convenient grab-and-go shopping experience. However, with the introduction of GST into the price tag in May 2022, most items are now priced at $2.16 each.
Don Don Donki Jewel Changi Airport.
In 2017, Don Don Donki made its mark in the Singapore market, opening its first store at Orchard Central. Positioned as a grocery store specialising in Japanese products, they tantalised shoppers with a wide selection of fresh produce, meats, and even alcohol.
First impressions do count, especially when it comes to shopping. The atmosphere and layout of a store can sometimes make or break the experience.
When it comes to Daiso, one thing that stands out is their clean and organised look. Their products are clearly categorised and neatly displayed. This consistency is evident across all their stores, ensuring a seamless shopping journey no matter which location you visit.
The different sections are clearly labelled so you can easily find what you’re looking for.
Image credit: Daiso Singapore via Facebook
If you have a mental shopping list and a clear objective, you can conquer your shopping mission in record time by heading straight for the aisle that houses your desired item.
Some of their price tags are A4-size, so it can get quite confusing to identify the cost of a product when they’re overlapping each other.
Image credit: DON DON DONKI Singapore via Facebook
Filled with vibrant posters and massive Japanese signs, Donki stores can be a little overwhelming when it comes to finding your way around. Chances are you’ll need to seek assistance from the staff to locate specific items.
However, this adds to the charm of an authentic Japanese shopping experience, reminiscent of a tourist exploring the depths of a Donki store in Japan. And if it’s all too much to soak in, you can refer to our guide to the best items to buy at Don Don Donki Singapore.
Now if there’s one thing every shopper who has stepped into a Donki store can attest to, it’s the iconic jingle that is played on an infinite loop.
Hats off to the staff who can tahan the same tune throughout their entire shifts. Even a mere 15 minutes in the store might leave some of us with a touch of musical-induced PTSD, forever haunted by the catchy chorus – Don Don Don Donki, Don Don Donki…
Food holds a special place in the hearts of Singaporeans – it’s practically woven into our DNA. For most of us, a place is instantly deemed a winner if it serves good food that satisfies our taste buds and cravings. And this is where Donki wins, hands down.
My favourite moment is when the price of sushi and dons gets slashed in the evening.
Image credit: Pat Yuan Teng
At Donki, a complete ready-made meal is just within reach. Imagine starting with sweet potato as an appetiser, then savouring crispy karaage as a side dish, followed by salmon don as your main course. Not forgetting ending your feast with a delightful daifuku dessert. They have it all.
You can get made-to-order sushi from the sushi bar at Don Don Donki JCube.
But if you’re feeling a little more indulgent and have some extra cash to spare, certain Donki outlets even have mini in-house restaurants and bars. You can treat yourself to a Hamburg Steak when you crave a freshly-prepared Japanese meal without the hassle of cooking it yourself.
Image credit: Pat Yuan Teng
While Daiso may not be your go-to to satisfy your hunger pangs, it might come to the rescue when you find yourself waiting for your perpetually tardy friend to arrive for your dinner plans.
There is a selection of Japanese snacks and canned drinks, enough for a pre-meal snack to keep you from being hangry from the wait.
When my inner Amy Santiago took over earlier this year, Daiso was my go-to place to grab all the organisers to aid me in decluttering my room.
There are sturdy plastic boxes in all shapes and sizes to help me pack my craft supplies, closet storage to house my socks and belts, and cork boards to paste my post-it notes. I probably got a lot more items – some I didn’t even know I needed prior to stepping into Daiso.
This pastel-coloured tableware are beckoning you to bring them home.
New homeowners can also rely on Daiso’s Jurong Point store when it comes to preparing their new abode. After shelling out for that dreamy BTO reno, check out their “Standard Products” brand which has got your back with a wide range of budget-friendly yet pretty homeware to furnish your new place.
You can grab laundry bags of different shapes and sizes all for the same price of $2.16.
You can also find practical household items for the kitchen, laundry needs, and stationery for your study area. To liven up the atmosphere and add a burst of vibrancy to your space, there are artificial flowers available in the home decor section too.
Other home decor items you can get for cheap at Daiso include photo frames, 3D tile stickers, and even cute wall stickers to decorate kids’ rooms.
Image for illustrative purposes only.
Image adapted from: Daiso Paradigm Mall Johor Bahru via Facebook
Daiso sure knows how to throw a good party. Whether you want to deck the halls for Christmas or add a touch of spooky flair for Halloween, Daiso has the accessories and decorations to turn your place into the life of the celebrations.
While Donki has seasonal decorations as well, it’s definitely not as extensive as Daiso’s.
Pro tip: Daiso carries the same products, but you can maximise your value by purchasing larger bottles from Don Don Donki.
But when it comes to household items, the things you’ll find in Donki are more similar to what you’d find at other supermarkets. It has a variety of cleaning agents from Japan such as dish washing soap and toilet bleach to keep your home squeaky clean.
That aside, you can also find some essentials like sponges and dish cloths to aid you in the cleaning, and tools like hooks to organise your home.
Image credit: DON DON Donki via Facebook
And if you’re looking for kitchen appliances like toasters or pottery, you might stumble upon more Japanese brands. However, the availability of these varies across selected outlets.
I must admit, I had some reservations when I first laid eyes on Daiso’s cosmetics range. Based on the low price tags, I couldn’t help but feel sceptical about the quality of the products. After all, these products would be going onto my face.
While I haven’t personally tried them, a friend couldn’t stop raving about Daiso’s gel eyeliner, describing it as the best make-up product she has ever used.
Daiso also has nail art supplies and colourful hair ties and pins for the girlies.
Image adapted from: Pat Yuan Teng
Don Don Donki City Square Mall.
Image credit: DON DON Donki via Facebook
When it comes to cosmetics and skincare though, Donki takes the lead with a wider range of products from Japanese brands that are priced between $2.80 and $30.90. It’s not limited to the ladies either; men can also find facial washes and bath soaps on their shelves.
However, if your main purpose is to explore their cosmetic and skincare range, it’s recommended to visit their larger stores such as City Square Mall and Suntec City. The smaller stores may not offer as wide of a selection in these categories.
When sudden inspiration strikes and you’re itching to pursue a new hobby or interest, ordering equipment or tools online may not be the snappiest option. By the time the package arrives, you might have already moved on to your next impulse hobby.
Daiso may be able to fuel your newfound passion – whether it’s gardening, fishing or even yoga – and get you started immediately.
Those into journaling or want to document their travel experiences through scrapbooking can find washi tapes and stickers to add that creative touch at Daiso.
Image credit: @evry.thingoes via Instagram
For example, those who have prepared a list of must-explore cycling routes in Singapore can grab bicycle accessories like a trusty bell and a sturdy lock to aid in their upcoming adventure.
While Donki primarily focuses on food-related products – it is a supermarket after all – their larger stores offer a diverse range of stuff including stationery.
Image adapted from: DON DON Donki via Facebook
You might come across a very colourful pen rack display as well as travel essentials such as suitcases at their Orchard Central outlet or even stumble upon exercise equipment at Don Don Donki HarbourFront Centre.
Even Donki himself has gotten swole.
Image credit: Pat Yuan Teng
To date, Daiso has established a presence with 34 stores across Singapore. While they may not operate 24 hours, their stores are open till 10pm so you can still pop by to grab what you need after work.
Additionally, with multiple outlets spread across different neighbourhoods including heartland malls, it’s convenient to find one near your home, workplace, and even your grandma’s cousin’s place.
Donki has a smaller footprint with just 15 stores in Singapore. However, they compensate for this by offering late opening hours – Don Don Donki Clarke Quay Central and Waterway Point open till midnight, while the store in Orchard Central is 24-hour.
Each Donki store also carries different ranges of products; do note that the selection can vary from store to store. To avoid the disappointment of leaving empty-handed, it’s essential to plan your trip strategically by shortlisting the stores that align with your shopping list.
Travel-sized bottles from Daiso for your upcoming short vacations or beach excursions.
As the saying goes – you get what you pay for. Daiso may not boast the highest quality products, but they excel in providing a wide range of options, particularly for travel or party essentials that are affordable.
You might find treasures like a portable beer foam maker, or peach-scented toilet papers.
Donki, on the other hand, is known for its better quality items, but this is reflected in the price tag – catering to those who prioritise durability and long-term use.
Besides, there are some unique and quirky Don Don Donki products you can grab off the shelves.
When it comes down to the ultimate showdown between Daiso vs Don Don Donki, it’s a tough call. I can’t definitively declare one as superior to the other, as they both possess their own unique charm and cater to different needs.
THREEPY by Daiso carries seasonal items.
Daiso offers a delightful exploration of their diverse offerings, including their seasonal items that always pique curiosity. Since their rebranding in 2018 and the introduction of THREEPPY, Daiso has expanded their range beyond the traditional $2.16 price point, showcasing products that boast better quality with a 15-tier pricing system.
Image credit: Pat Yuan Teng
Personally, I have a trusty list of best items from Daiso that I can vouch for in terms of quality. As a crafter, I must confess that I’ve been a loyal fan of their range of glue and have discreetly amassed an entire stash at home.
Don Don Donki is known to be slightly pricier overall, but they sweeten the deal with a free membership programme. By signing up, you gain access to shopping deals through exclusive coupons, or even earn points to offset your future spending. Besides, with more food-related products, it might be a favourite shopping spot for foodies.
So, tl;dr: if you love Japanese snacks and food, no doubt Donki is going to be your pick. But if you love browsing cute home decor and arts and crafts items, then Daiso would be your go-to. Either way, we can say we’re happy we can find both easily in Singapore.
Daiso vs Don Don Donki – which one’s your supreme megastore?
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