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Orchard
Photograph: Shutterstock

The ultimate guide to Orchard Road

Orchard Road is home to swanky shopping malls, intriguing food and drink options, and emerging local labels

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In the early 1830s, Orchard Road was an unnamed road home to fruit orchards, nutmeg plantations and pepper farms. But walk along the glitzy street now and you'll be treated to futuristic shopping malls, an occasional cocktail bar, any type of food you're craving, and smaller boutiques with emerging local labels. The options are endless, so here are the best places to go to in Singapore's famous shopping precinct. 

RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Singapore's neighbourhoods 

Do

Library@Orchard

Things to do Orchard

The perfect pitstop when shopping in the city, library@orchard is a bookworm's haven. Taking over two floors of Orchard Gateway, the library is home to a massive amount of books and resources centred on lifestyle, design and applied art. The library splits into two sections: The Studio and The Loft. Plus, its gorgeous interiors is a great excuse to grab a paperback or a magazine and chill indoors.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

Attractions Parks and gardens Tanglin

On the edge of Orchard Road is the Singapore Botanic Gardens, a tranquil respite from the city buzz. This UNESCO World Heritage Site features attractions like a swan lake where visitors can feed the black Australian swans and the Evolution Garden Walk, a well-landscaped plot containing the fossilised remains of ancient trees. It's also home to the world's largest collection of orchids – some 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids, plus the national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim – at the National Orchid Garden. 

Don't miss the Mingxin Foundation Rambler's Ridge, a 350-m long hiking trail that takes you to the highest point in the park, 40 metres above sea level. 

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Orchard Central Rooftop Garden

Attractions Arcades and amusements Raffles Place

Want to appreciate nature nearer to the MRT station? There's a rooftop garden right in the heart of Orchard. Nestled on the top of Orchard central lies an unsuspecting garden overlooking gorgeous views of the city. Chill out and enjoy a quiet evening coupled with the soothing sound of waterfalls in the background, making a great respite from humdrum day of work. You might even find sculptures by Yayoi Kusama. 

Eat

Luke's Lobster
Photograph: Luke's Lobster

Luke's Lobster

Restaurants Orchard

From New York to Tokyo, and now, Singapore. Seafood shack Luke’s Lobster is now ready to welcome diners at its first Singapore outpost, located on the first floor of Shaw House.

Just three rolls and two types of soups are available as part of its debut menu – a selection of the restaurant’s greatest hits. And only sustainably sourced seafood, flash-frozen and air-flown to ensure peak freshness, is used. Try it in a signature roll, which can come stuffed with chilled shrimp ($21.50), crab ($23.50), or lobster ($25.50) chunks. To sample everything, consider Luke’s Trio ($33.50) which comes with halves of all three rolls. And of course, don't miss the main highlight, the lobster roll. 

Wash everything down with some lobster bisque ($12.90) or clam chowder ($11.50), or sip on drinks of homemade lemonade ($6.50) and pomegranate cold brew tea ($7). Wines by the glass, and draught beer from Little Creatures and Hoegaarden, are also available.

Halcyon & Crane

Restaurants Cafés Orchard

That Orchard Road has no decent food options is something you hear uttered too often. Halcyon & Crane at The Paragon aims to change that phallacy. Sister restaurant to Birds of a Feather, the menu is made up of fresh, full-flavoured dishes with a touch of trademark Mala heat, but in small doses. You can never go wrong with the Tenderloin ($38) with Shoyu glaze, mash potato and maple miso sweet potatoes; or the Dan Dan Spaghettini ($24) with pork ragu, peanut sesame butter, onsen egg and kale. That the setting exudes a pretty and minimalist vibe (ergo, great for Instagram) is another feather in its cap, so next time you're out shopping along Orchard Road, don't complain that you've got nowhere to grab a bite.   

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Hai Di Lao

Restaurants Orchard

Decorated in grand shades of gold and red, this upscale hotpot restaurant comes with plenty of bells and whistles – hot towels, plastic covers to protect your phone, and even glasses cleaners are all politely proffered by the attentive staff. But the tots are well looked after here, too: the restaurant offers a small play area for younger kids to burn off excess energy, and accommodates them during the meal with high-chairs and easy-to-use utensils, plus, a performance by a resident noodle master that is sure to delight both children and adults. And if they get tired, borrow a baby cot so they can nap while you finish off your meal.

The Coffee Academics

2 out of 5 stars
Restaurants Orchard

Tucked away on the second floor of Scotts Square where it is almost lost in the dazzlingly expensive and colourful shoe shops of fellow Hong Konger, On Pedder, the café for coffee nerds is an Instagram-ready space with its paraphernalia of a high-tech coffee laboratory displayed in all their brewing glory. While there's a variety of preparations on offer – Clever Cup, Chemex, Ice Drip, and AeroPress – sticking with a lively café latte ($5.90) is good enough. 

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Shake Shack Liat Towers
Photograph: Shake Shack

Shake Shack (Liat Towers)

Restaurants Burgers Orchard

The Orchard outpost of Shake Shack takes inspiration from the great outdoors: it showcases an open-air patio – a nod to the original Shake Shack outlet in Madison Square Park – as well as a mural by local artist Danielle Tay depicting a lush Singapore landscape. The Orchard outlet also features an open-air drink kiosk available for convenient grab-and-go.

Inside the restaurant, two paintings line the walls of the restaurant. Danielle painted them during the ‘circuit breaker’ period, drawing inspiration from her strong memories of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The outlet is also the first to feature self-order digital kiosks – a timely addition in today’s socially distant environment.

The menu is rooted in the same tropical theme. Exclusive to the new store is a series of lemonades ($5.30): sample the hand-shaken series, in flavours of lychee, blueberry, and mango; or sip on sparkling lemonades made using soda water and passionfruit, or raspberry. There are also two new Concrete (from $7.50) creations that can only be found at this outlet: the Orchard Traffic Jam, blended with blueberry lavender jam, lemon curd, and shortbread; and the Pie-Oh-My that’s made with bits of treacle pecan tart from local baker Cheryl Koh.

Classic creations of the Shack Stack ($14.30) and its latest Chick’n Shack ($9.20) are also available.

Greyhound Café

Restaurants Orchard

One of Bangkok’s most beloved cafés is now on our shores. The brand first launched in 1980 selling men's casual wear but has since expanded into women's wear, leather goods, accessories and food. There are 15 Greyhound Cafés in Thailand and you can expect the same recipes and quality of food at its Singapore outpost. Greyhound Café serves Thai food with a twist like spicy spaghetti ($26) seasoned with fresh peppercorns and holy basil as well as more traditional dishes like Tom Yum Soup ($18). Don’t miss its famous chicken wings ($14) either, each wing is split into two for your snacking convenience and is marinated in fish sauce before being deep fried ‘til golden brown.

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Chatterbox

Restaurants Singaporean Orchard

Bright colours with earthy hues of green and beige welcome all come here to taste the famous Hainanese chicken rice (from $27), made from bigger and heavier 65- to 75-day-old broiler chickens. Only four chicken rice servings are made out of each one. The famous dish is marked by marvellously oiled rice and softly poached chicken paired with the classic trio of dark soy, garlic-infused chilli and grated ginger dips.

Cafe&Meal MUJI

Restaurants Japanese Orchard

The Japanese advocates for thoughtful living, MUJI, brings its Cafe&Meal concept to Singapore after feeding fans in Hong Kong, China, Japan and Taiwan. The woody space at Paragon is a chance to temporarily live life their way, sat with its clean-lined furniture while digging into the mix-and-match rice plates, desserts and cold drinks. The standard meal set ($12.80) offers one hot and two cold deli options with rice (add $1 for ten-grain rice) from a selection of cooked meats and salads at the self-service counter while the 4 Deli set is priced at $16.90. Tea time options like the Honwakatou custard pudding, popular at their other outlets, also feature alongside their fair trade coffees and teas, and iced drinks. 

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Salt grill & Sky bar

Restaurants Australian Orchard

With a sky-high view of Orchard Road, no other restaurant along the stretch boasts a better view. Not that Chef Jake Kowalewski is banking on that to bring in the crowds. The menu showcasing modern Australian fare with Asian touches includes dishes like the Geraldton Kingfish with Yarra Valley Salmon Pearls ($32++), or the Westholme Wagyu Rump Cap 200g, MBS 3-5+ ($68++) a quirky ‘surf and turf’ with a prawn-infused butter. Paying homage to its Aussie roots, end the meal with the Ondeh-Ondeh Lamington ($9++) which marries the rich flavours of pandan and gula melaka with a classic lamington cake. 

Mezza9

Restaurants American Orchard

If you're looking for a Halal eatery along Orchard Road, the Mezza9 does not disappoint. Situated on the mezzanine level of Grand Hyatt Singapore, this semi-casual space showcases nine unique dining concepts (thus the name) – namely the western grill and rotisserie, sushi and sashimi bar, yakitori grill, the steam basket, the European deli, Thai deli and crustacean bar, the patisserie, the martini and cigar bar and a gourmet boutique – in a contemporary environment for lunch, dinner and Sunday Brunch.  

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PS Cafe - Paragon

Restaurants Fusion Orchard

The small menu has barely changed in years, but why fix what ain’t broke? The warmly lit, dark-timbered space is perfect for a session with the girlfriends or a business meeting. There are daily specials but it’s the standards like a hearty pesto laksa and a stack of seared tofu sandwiching chicken pieces that keep loyal fans coming back. Especially winning is the wall of current fashion, lifestyle and glossy magazines: perfect for sitting alone and sipping a herbal tea while digging into their superb steamed lemon pudding. 

Akashi

Restaurants Japanese Orchard

There is plenty to enthuse about Akashi. The service staff is well informed, while the menu is a comprehensive blend of fresh seafood paired with a satisfying mix of fried meats and soupy noodles. Better yet: orders arrive at a clip, even during busy periods. The smoky scented, fatty tuna belly sushi – both the fresh and seared versions – melts in the mouth like top-grade foie gras. Garlic fried rice dazzles with its heady flavour and golden specks of egg, while a thick side of grilled mackerel, its thin skin lightly charred, astonishes with simple sweetness.

Drink

Manhattan

Bars and pubs Cocktail bars Orchard

Cocktail lovers, do yourself a favour and make tracks to the top of Orchard Road. On the second level of Regent Singapore sits a portal to 19th-century New York City, where ladies are decorated in pearls and gentlemen dressed to the nines. Under lowered lights, large leather armchairs and sofas gather around tables to offer enough privacy for a clandestine rendezvous. 

The menu, which is broken down into the different periods New York has experienced from the 1520s to the 1970s, has an extensive selection of all-American cocktails and dishes. Try the Scarface ($24), a smoky and bitter concoction of mezcal and Fernet-Branca inspired by the gangsters of the 1920s or Mad Men ($29), a cocktail the Don Drapers of Madison Avenue would approve of.

No. 5 Emerald Hill
Photograph: Facebook/No. 5 Emerald Hill

No.5 Emerald Hill

Bars and pubs Newton

An oldie but a goodie, No. 5 on Emerland Hill remains an any day of the week favourite of those in the know looking for a cold draft beer or a decent beer bucket deal (two bottles of Carlsberg or San Miguel for $12 s not unusual).  The European-style pub situated in a restored 1910 Peranakan shophouse also gets marks for its unassuming ambience - the peanuts accompanying your drinks? the floor is littered with the empty shells – and let's not forget its addictive fried chicken wings. If sitting and sipping isn’t quite entertaining enough for you, there is a busy pool table upstairs where you can rack up, and shoot a ball or two. 

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Horse's Mouth

Bars and pubs Orchard

Before dismissing Uma Uma Ramen as yet another Japanese noodle house, take a closer look at the other door by the entrance. It snakes down into The Horse’s Mouth, a sleek basement bar lit by boxy paper lanterns and peppered with quirky objets d’art, such as a hanging origami display.

The concoctions are just as classy and relatively spirit-forward, a style that stems from the bar staff’s training in Japanese techniques. Most drinks are crafted to showcase various Nihon ingredients and, of course, sake exclusive to The Horse’s Mouth. 

Shop

Love Bonito

Shopping Fashion Orchard

Millennial pink is everywhere but you probably won’t find another store that’s more pink than Love Bonito’s flagship outlet – no, seriously. Dubbed the ‘pink room’, the aesthetically pleasing clicks-to-bricks space is where you can browse the local label’s first-ever capsule collection and join in styling workshops with like-minded women. Of course, you’ve got to take #ootd shots against their Instagram wall plastered with hundreds of intricate dried flowers.

Surrender

Shopping Designer Orchard

Locally owned Surrender is the top choice among tastemakers here. This hipper-than-thou store stocks a slew of obscure brands including Fxxing Rabbits, Denim by Vanquish and Fragment, Mindseeker, Readymade and A-Cold-Wall among others, making this quiet boutique a heavy-hitter in the youth culture scene. The store gives off the air of ‘look-but-don’t-touch’ – but spend enough time browsing its racks (or its site online) and you’ll discover gems.

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Off-White

Shopping Orchard

The brainchild of American music producer Virgil Abloh (perhaps better known as the art director of Kanye and Jay-Z’s Watch the Throne album), Off-White can be described as a gallery space, party area and shopping destination rolled into one sleek architectural package designed in collaboration with architects Dong Ping Wong and Oana Stanescu. Come for the clean, minimalist design which boasts concrete walls and floors in the heart of Orchard Road, but stay for the myriad of possibilities this space offers and the one-off special releases. 

Bynd Artisan
Photograph: Bynd Artisan

Bynd Artisan

Shopping Art, craft and hobbies Bukit Timah

Born from a strong legacy of stationery makers celebrating the joy of traditional bookmaking and leather craftsmanship, Bynd Artisan has grown from strength to strength opening stores around the island - their latest at ION Orchard - and chalking up collaborations with some of Singapore's coolest design talents: Larry Peh, Ong Shunmugam, Olivia Lee, Cherin Sim, just to name a few. Beyond offering luxurious paper and leather accessories in the form of notebooks, card-holders, greeting cards and the like, it provides services for customisation. Choose from an overwhelming array of coloured and textured options for clasps, elastic bands, rivets, buttons, wires and covers. Pick your ingredients before a skilled craftsman makes the notebook on the spot in under 30 minutes. Bynd Artisan also holds enriching bookbinding and leather crafting workshops for aspiring artists conducted by its master craftsmen.

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Apple

Shopping Electronics Orchard

Make this giant flagship store your go-to for all things Apple. The Apple store offers a complete range of Apple products – including desktops, notebooks, displays and software – together with the full range of iPads, iPhones and phone accessories. The double-story space also hosts a regular calendar of events, talks and workshops which are free for the public to attend.   

TANGS at Tang Plaza

Shopping Orchard

The brainchild of local retail pioneer CK Tang remains a shopping mecca for tourists and locals alike. Housed in the iconic Tang Plaza on Orchard Road, the original department store can be a rather nostalgic place for many Singaporeans and is still fit to boast the Tangs slogan ‘All The Best Under One Roof’. That said, they're far from being stuck in the past. Keeping their eye focused on championing Asian fashion talent, their second level space is home to a number of fashion-forward local brands like In Good Company, Ling Wu, Aijek and Elohim. Both the VivoCity and Orchard locations feature a hotel delivery service, which allows shoppers to send packages back so they can continue shopping handsfree.

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Sephora

Shopping Orchard

At Sephora, you'd find cult brands like Fenty Beauty and Anastasia Beverly Hills on display next to renowned hair products by Frédéric Fekkai, award-winning make-up bareMinerals by Bare Escentuals and not forgetting the highly lauded in-house Sephora brand itself. 

Crate & Barrel - Orchard Gateway

Shopping Orchard

We'll be honest, sometimes we pop into Illinois-based Crate & Barrel's five-level Orchard Gateway store just to play house. After all, each floor is themed after a particular room type. The sprawling store packs the brand's much-loved and manufacturer sourced range of kitchen-, glass-, and serve ware, as well as a range of eco-friendly furnishings and carpets. The local store stock 80 per cent of the US chain's home goods, and features twice-yearly drops of seasonal goods. Prepare to spend yourself silly.

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