on March 17, 2009
Being tiny, Singapore is crowded with attractions that usually demand a much bigger country. Yet, the traveler doesn’t get a feel of crowdedness due to an excellent planning. I know no other city of such dimensions that has managed to create ultra-modern areas and yet keep colonial neighborhoods that feel authentic, though a bit over-scrubbed. Or even to combine both, like in Bugis Junction (see that entry I this journal).Yet, not everything can be planed. Certain areas grew up into local creations that are difficult to classify. Orchard Road is one of them."It’s just a shopping area! What are you talking about?" some readers would exclaim by now.They are right. Orchard Road definitely is a shopping area, and the biggest one in the city. However – as the name hints – not only that. "In the beginning were the orchards…" begins the story of the area. In essence, the orchards are still there.The wide avenue is lined up with lush trees that give plenty of shade and hide the shopping mastodons’ higher levels. The traveler can begin a massive session of shopping or stroll under the green canopy and enjoy nature in the tropics. Having spent long period in the island, I’ve learned to enjoy both sides of Orchard Road.Reaching Orchard RoadBy far, the best way to travel around in Singapore is by the MRT; there are three MRT stations on Orchard Road: Orchard, Somerset and Dhoby Ghaut. Orchard RoadOrchard Road begins at the intersection with Orange Grove Road, next to the Orchard Hotel, and advances southeastwards until it ends at the intersection with Handy Road, where it becomes Bras Basah Road. It is a one-way street and has an extensive underground infrastructure, including underground pedestrian walkways between the malls. Since the street is short and the malls are next to each other, I avoided giving the exact addresses for the sake of reading clarity.The street got its name from the nutmeg, pepper and fruit orchards that delimited it in the nineteenth century; only in the 1970s it became a shopping area. Yet a lush trees canopy still covers the street creating an especially pleasant environment for the shopper in the tropics.Hotels and MoreThe street is home to many upmarket restaurants, coffee shops, nightclubs and hotels. The last category includes the Holiday Inn Park View Singapore, the Sheraton Towers Singapore, the Royal Plaza, the Grand Hyatt, the Shangri-La and other favorites.Orchard Road Shopping MallsCentrepoint is next to Emerald Hill and houses the local branches of Robinsons and Marks & Spencer, as well as the Cold Storage Supermarket. Far East Plaza is a cheap fashion and food outlet.Forum - The Shopping Mall is aimed for children and mothers. It includes a branch of Toys "R" Us as well as an Emporio Armani and a Max Mara. Heeren Shops hosts a HMV store and is aimed mainly for young people; it is placed within an attractive colonial building.Hilton Shopping Gallery is located within the Hilton Singapore and hosts exclusive shops; those include Cartier, Louis Vuitton, Bvlgari, Donna Karan and Dolce & Gabbana. Liat Towers hosts Audemars Piguet, Massimo Dutti and Zara. Mandarin Gallery is within Meritus Mandarin Singapore, offering to its guests The Link and Esprit.Ngee Ann City is the largest shopping mall in Singapore; it hosts mainly Books Kinokuniya and the Japanese department store, Takashimaya, but also exclusive boutiques such as Vacheron Constantin, Louis Vuitton and Channel.Orchard Point houses mainly the OG department store.Palais Renaissance is another place for visiting exclusive boutiques. Paragon is one of the biggest malls in the area and houses such names as Marks & Spencer, Metro, and Toys 'R' Us.Pinoy Place specializes in shops selling products from the Philippines. Plaza Singapura offers one of the main cinema complexes in the area, the Golden Village Cineplex, as well as Carrefour and other shops. Shaw House and Centre hosts the huge Isetan department store – very similar to the one in Bangkok - and the Lido 8 Cineplex. Specialists' Shopping Centre is one of the main malls in the area for electronic products, selling everything from a digital camera, through laptops to pocket computers; the prices are rather high here. Even if planning to buy in the electronics’ shops mentioned below, I strongly recommend visiting this one before and comparing the products offered; in Singapore new models appear by the hour, thus being updated may get especially tricky.Tangs is at the Scotts and Orchard roads junction; founded in 1934, it was the first supermarket mall in Singapore.Wheelock Place is a very important place in Singapore since it hosts a huge branch of Borders books chain. Wisma Atria offers a large aquarium at its basement which is popular with children and one of the biggest food courts in the area which is managed by BreadTalk.
©Travelocity.com LP 2000-2009