Luxury malls, hotels, galleries, and a thriving dining and entertainment scene make Orchard the mother of all retail paradises in Singapore. Looking at the ritzy buildings and glamorous decor of the street today, you’d find it difficult to imagine the world famous shopping belt’s humble beginnings as a country lane cutting through nutmeg and fruit plantations, owned by a certain Mr. Orchard.
Apart from scores after scores of modern buildings, the district also has plenty of urban green spaces, traditional architecture and even the President’s Palace. The tastefully preserved cultural elements makes Orchard stand out – its an interesting marriage between tradition and modernity – quite characteristic of Singapore’s vibrant, cosmopolitan personality.
The best way to discover Orchard Road is by foot, so as to soak up the sights and sounds of the cosmopolitan playground. Walking along the street would allow you to behold Singapore’s most iconic streetscapes, known for its diverse mix of architectural types. Imagine the street lined with slick, futuristic shopping malls like ION Orchard and Orchard Central, juxtaposed with distinctly traditional buildings like Tangs and Peranakan Place – definitely reflects Singapore’s identity as a melting pot of cultures.
You can also beat the heat by exploring the area through the extensive network of air-conditioned underground tunnels. Most, if not all of the malls and MRT stations are conveniently linked via underpasses and sheltered walkways.
Right at the heart of the city, the 2.2 kilometre-shopping belt stretches across 3 MRT stations – Dhoby Ghaut, Somerset and Orchard, serviced by the North-South (Red) Line, making it very easy to travel to and from. It is also a 10 minute cab down from the Central Business District. In addition, the area’s prime location is connected by many bus routes.
What to expect
Undying spirit and excitement
As Singapore’s main shopping street, Orchard Road is indisputably one of the most vibrant neighbourhoods in Singapore. In addition to its ostentatious display of stunning malls and iconic flagship stores, along with luxury hotels and restaurants, expect exciting events and celebrations to be held in this area. During festive seasons and special events such as Christmas and Chinese New Year, the entire boulevard would be decked in dazzling lights. Other large-scale annual events include Singapore Fashion Festival and the Great Singapore Sale, where the road would be teeming with culture and vibrance.
So much more than just a shopping paradise
Upon closer inspection, looking beyond the glitz and glamour of Orchard, you’ll find the telltale signs of Singapore’s unique cultural identity. Tucked away behind a frontier of bars and pubs in Somerset, is Emerald Hill Road – home to colourful, newly restored Peranakan houses standing tall. These cultural icons were home to affluent Peranakan (Straits Chinese) families for many generations. In the same area, lies Cuppage Terrace, another row of quaint 1920s Peranakan shophouses – refurbished and uplifted to house a commercial strip of restaurants, bars and al fresco dining.
Living in Orchard
Orchard is home to trendsetters and professionals drawn to the neighbourhood’s prime location, as well as its fun and diverse lifestyle options. Beyond its bustling city vibe, the lifestyle in Orchard can be quite a peaceful one, as most of the residences are tucked behind the shopping belt, nestled in plenty of lush green spaces.
Grange Road, Killiney Road, Leonie Hill and Scotts Road, to name a few, are home to plenty of luxury high-rises – ideal nesting spaces for folks looking for upmarket residences in a prime location. The people who settle in this area are generally well-to-do locals or expat professionals.
Good to know
If you’re looking for a restful respite from all that shopping, drop by the art galleries that the area has to offer. Just to name a few: check out the Museum of Art & Design (M.A.D) for modern art and real time work by residential artists, Yang Gallery for contemporary Chinese art and Vue Privée for modern art prints and photography.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to find out more about how Singapore progressed to become a melting pot of cultures, drop by the National Museum of Singapore, the nation’s oldest, progressively-minded museum. Wander down the halls of the Singapore History Gallery to discover how the sleepy fishing village developed into a first world city-state. Apart from housing national treasures and precious cultural artefacts, the museum also contributes heavily to the arts and entertainment scene with annual festivals, film screenings and outdoor theatre performances.
Hidden Gems (must try!!)
This swanky neighbourhood is overflowing with hidden establishments you probably have not heard of and definitely should be on the agenda on your next trip to orchard.
ABC Cooking Studio – Japanese Cooking Courses
ABC is one of Japan’s most popular cooking schools and offers lessons to make Japanese cooking easier for all. Set up with the aim to spread awareness of the importance of handmade food and the joy and happiness that it provides, ABC Cooking Studio offers lessons for beginners and novice students to learn to cook Japanese meals. The lessons range from the different techniques to cooking methods, promising to provide an engaging, hands-on experience. Its a great place to master Wagashi – traditional Japanese confectionery or even to take the kids aged between 4-8 for some weekend fun. Participants are free to bring their creations home for their family and friends to enjoy.
ABC Cooking Studio is located at Takashimaya S.C. Studio, 391A Orchard Road, #03-12, Ngee Ann City Tower A.
Upside Motion – A new way to do sport.
The perfect place to give fitness a twist. This place infuses aerial acrobatics with dance and yoga to provide a truly unique fitness regime. Combining natural alignment exercises of the body with breathing techniques for calming and balancing the mind, Upside Motion provides 3 core programmes – Pilates, Xtend Barre and Antigravity Aerial, to help build strength, flexibility and focus. The classes are designed for all levels, from beginners to experienced students, generally one hour in length. Introductory sessions are available from $45 onwards.
Upside motion is located at Orchard Shopping Centre, 321 Orchard Road, #04-05, Singapore 238866.
Kilo & Pact
Serving up fascinating fusions of Japanese, Mediterranean, European and local foods, Kilo promises hearty, interesting meals in an eclectic yet casual space. Their menu is ever changing according to seasonal ingredients’ availability, but they never fail to deliver fresh flavours with their modern fusion cuisine. Housed within Pact, the chic lifestyle concept store, Kilo provides an alternative lunch experience as you dine atop minimalist concrete and wood bars, with a quaint cacti garden on the side. At night, the main dining area transforms to a lively bar setting, where you can have a couple of drinks while soaking in the laid back, contemporary ambience.
Kilo & Pact is located at Orchard Central, 181 Orchard Road, #02-14/16/19, Singapore 238896
If you are looking to rent in Orchard, get in touch with Greyloft’s property consultants for the best advice and service.