On my first visit to Singapore I stayed near Orchard Road, a great base for visitors. And when I lived in Singapore, I would go regularly to shop, eat, see movies or run errands. While Singapore has grown and malls and entertainment centers are springing up everywhere, Orchard Road is still a great place to go when you are visiting Singapore – there’s a lot to see, do and buy, something for everybody! And it offers it in style!
The main stretch of Orchard Road is between the Orchard and Somerset MRT subway stations. To the North West of Orchard station are a number of luxury hotels, from the Four Seasons, St. Regis, Shangri-La and Pan Pacific, to the Hilton and Marriott Tang Plaza. If you are staying at one of these hotels, you are in luck – you’ll have a very luxurious stay and have all of what Orchard Road offers on your door step.
If you are arriving by MRT at Orchard Road, your will be welcomed by what must be the most confusing mall in Singapore, the Ion Orchard. I still get lost on the many levels of shops with winding hallways and escalator banks, with level numbers that defy any logic – that’s my excuse anyway. Just wander and look – there is a wide variety to browse! The Ion Mall connects to the Wisma Atria with more stores and some nice coffee and pastries on the basement level. Across the street you’ll find the upscale Tangs department store and the decidedly less upscale Lucky Plaza, one of the oldest malls on Orchard and a favorite among the many Filipinos living in Singapore. So, if you are looking for some Filipino food treats, need a budget haircut or equally budget airline tickets on Cebu Pacific, you’ve come to the right place. If budget is not your thing, then pass right by Lucky Plaza to the Paragon Mall, with some of the most upscale stores in town, including Gucci, Prada and countless more. You’ll also find a great spa, Adeva, at the top level for a relaxing massage, to recover from all the walking and bag carrying! Make sure to be early for your appointment – you can relax in a nice wellness area or one of their massage chairs before your treatment starts! And if you enjoyed the local food too much and need a workout, Fitness First has one of their nicest gyms at Paragon as well!
Next to Wisma Atria and across the street from the Paragon, you see Ngee Ann City, with it’s massive towers. The first few levels are another mall, with the Japanese Takashimaya department store as an anchor. Another stand-out feature is the “activity area” that hosts fairs with different themes, sometimes by country of products or categories of goods, sometimes quirky, always interesting!
If your feet hurt, you should take a break – because you are only halfway down Orchard Road! Here at the center, you do have a hotel alternative that is much more affordable than the luxury hotels at the top of the street: The new Holiday Inn Express has a great location and offers stylish rooms and a free breakfast for ⅓ or less than what the luxury hotels charge, one of the best hotel deals in town!
On the same side as Ngee Ann City, you’ll find the upscale Mandarin Hotel and shopping mall and behind it, the Cineleisure Complex, with a large movie theater at the top and funky stores targeting younger shoppers below.
Next up is 313@Somerset, one of my favorite malls on the strip. It has some mid-scale stores, like Zara and Uniqlo, a handy Apple retailer, and – most importantly – some great restaurants in an indoor/outdoor setting. My favorite is Brotzeit, offering some of the best German food outside Germany and of course great beer to go with it. You’ll get free people watching with your food on this busy stretch leading to the MRT Station Somerset.
If the Ion Mall at the beginning is the most confusing mall, Orchard Central must be the most over-the top design. With a funky layout, art displays and multi-level open spaces, it’s a must see, even if you don’t find anything to buy… After all this walking and shopping, and hopefully some dining, you’ve probably done enough damage to your credit card and can head back to the hotel from the Somerset MRT station. If you are thinking – that’s it?? – don’t worry, you can head back out and explore a more stores along Orchard Road all the way to Plaza Singapura with more stores and movie theatres, and catch the subway home from Dhoby Ghaut!
So, does Orchard Road offer the best shopping in Asia – maybe not. But you have a huge selection, you get good prices (especially during the Great Summer Sale) and you can be certain to buy genuine articles, something not always a given in the cities across South East Asia. If you are looking to buy luxury goods, Singapore is a great place to do it with peace of mind!