District Guide: Orchard

Orchard Road

The retail and commercial heart of Singapore, the Orchard district is where every visitor to the city-state ends up at least once, and is a perennial favourite of Singapore residents too. At its’ heart is Orchard Road itself, Singapore’s premier shopping street and one that strives to rival  Oxford Street or Fifth Avenue. Big brand name shops, department stores and malls, hotels, and dining, drinking and entertainment options of all descriptions can be found here. More of the same can be found on the roads and streets, including Scotts Road, Tanglin Road, the area around Cairnhill, and River Valley Road.

Explore a bit further though, especially at the eastern end, and you can find the seat of government, the Istana, near to Dhoby Ghaut MRT.  In close proximity are the Singapore National Museum, probably Singapore’s best museum; the National Museum of Art: a gorgeous building, but its exhibitions are limited; and Fort Canning Park, a diverting and pretty area that houses the Battle Box, the former WWII HQ now turned into a museum.

Live: You are really paying for location here, and as with any big city, a central location means buying or renting here is going to be expensive. The main residential area is Cairnhill, just to the north of Orchard Road, where popular developments include Cairnhill Plaza and Casa Cairnhill. Other impeccably designed and equally expensive places include St. Thomas Suites, 8 @ Mount Sophia, and The Cathay. You will be hard-pressed to find any HDB estates in this area. For more affordable housing, private apartments, without any additional facilities, are your best bet.

Eat: Orchard has food to cater to all tastes and budgets – although prices do tend to be somewhat inflated compared to the heartlands. A full list would be impossible here, given space constraints, but for budget eats check out the food courts that inhabit the top floor or basement of almost all the malls. They might be chain restaurants, but Crystal Jade, serving up Cantonese dim sum, and the conveyor belt of decent sushi at Sushi Tei, both deserve a mention.

Drink: The biggest concentration of bars is around Somerset MRT, where the little pedestrian street of Emerald Hill plays host to some cool little bars housed in shophouses, including the ever popular No. 5 and Ice Cold Beer. Around the corner is trendy watering hole KPO. There are drinking options all along Orchard though, with garishly fronted KTVs right next to expat-heavy Irish pubs like Muddy Murphys.

Shop: Singaporeans enjoy shopping as much as they love eating, and there’s simply no room to list all the retail options available. In general, ION, Wisma Atria, Paragon and Ngee Ann City/Takashimaya house the flagship stores of luxury brands, as well as a fair number of more moderately priced high-street stores too. More idiosyncratic malls, such as Far East Plaza and Lucky Plaza stock standalone clothing stores and, in the latter’s case, dodgy looking electronics. Singapore’s biggest bookstore, Borders, can be found at Wheelock Place.

Transport: Orchard is incredibly well connected, with three MRT stations along its length, and a whole host of buses making their way to or around the district.

Resident’s View
Two residents of Orchard talk about their experience of living in the Orchard district

Expert Eye
A real estate expert provides insight into the wisdom of purchasing an Orchard property now