COMPLETE GUIDE TO ORCHARD ROAD

By LINDA JAMES | Updated JUNE 15, 2023| AREA GUIDES

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Orchard Road is the main shopping street in Singapore and is so popular because it’s lined with huge, glitzy hotels and shopping malls – you’ll find all the designer stores you could want – but all shoppers are catered for with affordable fashion, great souvenir shops, bargain buys and department stores.

There are also a variety of food options with fine dining restaurants in the hotels and food courts housed in the malls. One of the most well-known hawker centres – Newtown – is close by. And there’s some incredible history-architecture here in the terrace houses along Emerald Hill Rd.

Getting There

Orchard MRT station (NS22), which is under the ION shopping mall, or Somerset MRT station (NS23) are the closest, however, there are a stack of buses that will get you here too such as the 36, 54, 124, 126, 143, 167.

What to See & Do

Emerald Hill Road

Colourful terrace houses in the Chinese Baroque style line this road in the conservation area between Newtown and Orchard Road. This was once a nutmeg plantation owned by one William Cuppage until his death in 1872, after which it was subdivided. Wealthy Peranakans snapped up the land and made it their home, building these beautiful houses. Over the years, they have been meticulously restored and maintained.

Open: 24 hours
Cost: Free
Getting there: near Somerset MRT (NS23), 10 min walk, Newton (NS21/DT11), 16 min walk, Dhoby Ghaut (NS24/NE6|CC1), 18 min walk; buses – 106,175,502,65
More information: https://remembersingapore.org/2021/02/26/orchard-emerald-hill-history/

The Istana

This is the official residence and office of the President of Singapore as well as the working office of the Prime Minister. It’s also home to Sri Temasek, the official residence of the PM although none of the prime ministers has ever lived there.

The 18th-century neo-Palladian style building features a tropical layout like a Malay house and is surrounded by tall columns, deep verandas, louvred windows and panelled doors to promote cross-ventilation. A central three-storey, 28m tower block dominates the building.

Ionic, Doric and Corinthian orders feature on the two-storey side wings with Ionic colonnades at the second storey and Doric colonnades at the first. The building is surrounded by immaculately maintained grounds.

A changing of the guard ceremony is held on the first Sunday of each month, similar to the British Changing of the Guard, with 36 Guards and two Guard Commanders. The incoming guards march from Koek Rd to meet the outgoing guards at Istana’s main entrance. This includes the symbolic handing over duties and a rifle precision drill.

Address: Orchard Road
Open: only open to the public during Open House days on major public holidays from 8.30am-6pm
Cost: free for Singaporean residents, $S2 for others; guided tours extra
Getting there: near Dhoby Ghaut (NS24/NE6/CC1), 17 min walk; buses – 106,131,166,175,502
More information: https://www.istana.gov.sg/Visit-And-Explore

Istana Heritage Gallery

The gallery provides visitors with a great opportunity to learn about the history and heritage of the Istana especially the important events that have occurred there since it was completed in 1869.

The exhibition includes state artefacts, artworks and some of the gifts presented by foreign dignitaries to Singapore’s presidents and PMs.

Address: 35 Orchard Road, opposite the Istana
Open: Daily 10am-6pm, closed Wednesday
Cost: free
Getting there: near Dhoby Ghaut (NS24/NE6/CC1), 17 min walk; buses – 106,131,166,175,502
More information: https://www.istana.gov.sg/Visit-And-Explore

Singapore Botanic Gardens

These are expansive, very impressive – it would be easy to spend days here – and have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. However, if you don’t have that much time, check out the Orchid Garden. It’s one of the few paid attractions but it’s worth the ticket price.

On the way there, stop by Swan Lake, which is home to a swan sculpture and packed to the brim with koi.

Address: 1 Cluny Rd (there are other entrances though)
Open: 5am to midnight; Orchid Garden 8.30am-7pm daily (last entry 6pm)
Cost: Open gardens are free; Orchid Garden for residents is $S5 adults, children below 12 are free; non-residents $S15 for adults and children below 12 are free
Getting there: near Orchard MRT; buses - 7, 105, 123, 174, 174E
More information: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/sbg/our-gardens

Shopping

This is a 2.2km strip of megamalls and the centre of Singapore shopping ranging from designer brands in ION Orchard and Paragon house to bargain buys in Far East Asia and Lucky Plaza. Look out for the ice-cream sandwich carts. These are literally “sandwiches” made with ice-cream and bread in a variety of flavours for around $S1-$S2.

At the end of Orchard Road – above the MRT station – is ION Orchard. This architectural masterpiece in glass, marble and steel is not just a shopping mall. Head to the ninth-floor garden or the observation deck on the 55th and 56th floors for fantastic views. There’s also an art gallery on the fourth floor – Ion Art – that hosts free art exhibitions. 

Paragon mall also targets consumers of high-end luxury consumer goods and brands. There are six levels of fashion stores behind a dramatic glass exterior, food outlets, designer department outlets and sports boutiques.

Jewellers and fashion feature prominentlyin the four-level Knightsbridge Mall, in the Grand Park Orchard Hotel. Here retail outlets have double façade frontages. Mandarin Gallery connects to the Mandarin Orchard hotel and hosts couture brands such as Marc Jacobs and Just Cavalli.

One of the landmarks on Orchard Rd is Ngee Ann City, which is home to the seven-level Takashimaya department store with designer labels such as Cartier, Hugo Boss, Dior and Gucci.

Looking for bargain buys from up-and-coming designers? Then Far East Plaza is the place to go. The mall has more than 700 retail outlets over six floors as well as restaurants, beauty salons and souvenir shops.

313@Somerset, connected to the Somerset MRT station, is popular with the young and hip. One of the highlights here is Discovery Walk, which is lined with restaurants and bars. There’s also a food hall in the basement as well as a Food Republic outlet (a modern hawker centre-style dining option) on the fifth floor.Lucky Plaza has seven floors of stores selling everything from electronics to furniture as well as food outlets focusing on Filipino food.

Address: Orchard Road
Open: daily 10am-10pm, Saturdays 10am-11pm
Getting there: near Orchard Rd (NS22) or Somerset (NS23) MRT stations
More information: www.orchardroad.org

Where to Stay

Luxury

Four Seasons Singapore

In a quiet tree-lined street, the Four Seasons is still only a short walk to Orchard Road. Home to the fine-dining Jiang-Nan Chun, which serves up Michelin-starred Cantonese, it has a Club floor on level 3 with indoor-outdoor tennis courts, a gym and spa. There’s an outdoor lap pool as well as a family pool on the rooftop.

The rooms range from 49sqm for a basic deluxe room to 155sqm for an entry-level suite with lounge area, dining room and a kitchenette. Bathrooms have a separate tub and shower.

The hotel is connected to the Hilton Singapore via an air-conditioned walkway.

Address: 190 Orchard Blvd
Price: from $S320
Getting there: a 7-minute walk from Orchard MRT station 
More information: www.fourseasons.com

Marriott Tang Plaza

This five-star property, which has a distinctive octagonal, green-tiled pagoda roof, is directly opposite ION Orchard and is about to reopen following refurbishment. It has a spa, swimming pool, gym and half-size basketball court.

There are a range of dining options such as the Michelin-starred Singapore offshoot of Ginza Sushi Ichi and the Cantonese Wan Hao as well as Marriott Café and a Prohibition-style bar, The Other Room.

There are 392 rooms in a range of categories from deluxe (36sqm on the 5th to 14th storeys) to suites. Executive rooms have access to the executive Lounge on the 27th floor for complimentary continental breakfast and evening cocktails.

Address: 320 Orchard Road
Price: from $S
Getting there: less than 5 minutes’ walk through an underground walkway to Orchard Rd MRT
More information: www.marriott.com

The Quincy Hotel

I love the Quincy for its perks: an all-inclusive tariff that includes breakfast, evening cocktails and canapes, refreshments during the day, free minibar snacks and a limited laundry service.

At The Lobby on the ground floor, guests can get a continental buffet breakfast, gourmet sandwiches for lunch and a buffet dinner that features fried rice, pastas and cheeses. There’s also soft-serve ice cream from noon to 8.30pm each day.

And if that’s not enough, you can get free entry to Zouk nightclub.

There’s also an LED-illuminated cantilevered pool, gym, steam and sauna room.

There are two room categories – studio (26sqm) and studio deluxe (32sqm).

Address: 22 Mount Elizabeth
Price: from $S229
Getting there: a 10-minute walk to Orchard MRT
More information: www.quincy-hotels.com/en/Hotels/Quincy-Hotel-Singapore

Mid-range

Jen Singapore Orchard Gateway

The rooftop infinity pool with its cabanas and panoramic city views is one of the main reasons to stay at the Jen as well as its prime location in Orchard Road.

Dining options include Makan@Jen and the OnTheGo deli. You can also order 24-hour room service and have it delivered by robot Jeno. Grab a drink at Lounge@Jen or BayWatch@Jen, which offers great views.

The entry-level superior cityview rooms are 27sqm and the club rooms are 32sqm and include Club Lounge access for breakfast and all-day snacks.

Address: 277 Orchard Road
Price: from $S168
Getting there: a stone’s throw from Somerset MRT station
More information: https://www.shangri-la.com/en/hotels/jen/singapore/orchardgateway/

Yotel Singapore

This brand is all about fitting a lot into a compact space, however, guests still have amenities like a pool and gym (on level 10) as well as Komyuniti for meals.

The rooms are small – just 14sqm – but very functional. The bed faces the TV (with little to no room in between) and can be positioned according to whether you’re sleeping, watching TV or perhaps working on your laptop. A frosted glass door hides the toilet and shower space.

The hotel is next door to the Isetan Scotts/Shaw Centre on Orchard Rd.

Address: 366 Orchard Road 
Price: from $S158
Getting there: a 5-minute walk to Orchard MRT
More information: www.yotel.com

Budget

It’s difficult to find good budget accommodation in this area but check out the Chinatown and Bugis listings to see what’s available as Orchard Road is easy to get to from these neighbourhoods.

Where to Eat & Drink

Adam Road Food Centre

This is close to the Botanic Gardens and is known for the stalls selling nasi lemak – Malaysian fragrant rice cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves, served with a side of sambal, eggs and anchovies – and halal-certified dishes. Other popular choices are mutton soup, rojak, hokkien mee and mee goreng.

There are about 30 stalls usually open from early morning to late night.

Address: 2 Adam Rd
Open: Monday to Thursday, 7am–5pm, weekends 7am–3pm, Friday closed
Getting there: near Botanic Gardens MRT, opposite Bukit Timah Gate

Cluny Food Court

This court is also near the Botanic Gardens and has only recently reopened. There are six stalls serving traditional and contemporary cuisine.

Address: 1J Cluny Rd (near Raffles Building at Nassim Gate entrance)
Open: Daily 7am-9pm
Getting there: Near Botanic Gardens MRT

Newton Food Centre

Made famous by the movie “Crazy Rich Asians”, this centre has about 100 hawker stores. You’ll find all of the most well-known hawker dishes here from from seafood to laksa (spicy coconut noodle soup), satay (spiced skewers with a peanut sauce), ice kachang (shaved ice), and oyster omelettes.

Prices here tend to be a little higher than other centres.

Stalls to try

Kwang Kee Teochew Fish Porridge (#01-20)

Bib Gourmand

Dish: fish porridge

Open: Tuesday to Sunday 11am-8pm, closed Monday

Hup Kee Fried Oyster Omelette (#01-73)

Dish: oyster omelette

Open: Tuesday to Saturday 6pm–midnight

Guan Kee Seafood (#01-53)

Dish: sambal stingray

Open: daily 11am–midnight

Address: 500 Clemenceau Ave North
Open: Daily noon-2am
Getting there: near Newton MRT (NS21|DT11), 6-minute walk; buses – 124,143,170,48,67,972M

Conclusion

Shopping is almost the national past time of Singapore and it’s no wonder given Orchard Road has such a fantastic range of shops from top-end brands to emerging designers and budget-friendly names.

More area guides

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Link to Changi area guide
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