The Heart of Singapore
Orchard Road is the main shopping area and also commonly known as the heart of Singapore. It is where most people choose to go to to gather with their friends, to chill out or to go for a shopping spree. However, if you’re thinking of going for a shopping spree, it would be good to note that there are also hidden finds in Singapore which remain unknown to many people and these places could very well be where you find great bargains. In any case, if you’re new to Singapore and visiting Orchard Road for the first time, here’s a guide to help you along.
Far East Plaza along Scotts Road houses shops that cater to the younger generation. There is where you’ll find lots of trendy apparels and accessories at reasonable prices. However, none of the shops sell exceptionally expensive or branded items of high quality. The prices here match the quality of the apparels sold though, so it does make a good place to do your shopping after all.
You can find most of your branded items at shopping malls like Paragon, ION Orchard and Takashimaya. Expect to find some of your favourite brands like Kate Spade, Cartier, Prada, Dior, Burberry and Miu Miu at these three huge malls. Expect impeccable service from the well-trained staff there as well. However, do also expect that prices might not be as low as you’d hope for it to be, especially since these shops are located at the heart of Singapore. If you’re looking for cheap deals for branded items, then ION Orchard and Takashimaya would not be the places you’d like to visit. Still, they do have a wide variety of items so it would be of no harm if you’d just like to go have a look.
Ngee Ann City is located just next to Takashimaya, and there is where you’ll find shops like Cotton On, La Senza, Dorothy Perkins, Esprit and many more.
Continue walking further down the road and you’ll reach Somerset MRT. Here, you’ll find some newly built malls like 313@Somerset and Orchard Central. Safe to say, 313@Somerset caters to just about anybody and everybody. It is where the third and biggest Forever 21 store is located – it is a four storey high flagship store that will literally let you shop till you drop. Other stores at 313@Somerset include Zara and Uniqlo, both of which have been increasingly popular amongst both locals and tourists alike.
Orchard Central is located just next to 313@Somerset, but there aren’t many shops in there that allows for some fruitful shopping. Most of the shops are among the likes of beauty parlours and hair salons, but if you happen to pass by, it would be worth it to go up to the rooftop garden. The rooftop garden offers a panoramic view of the city, and there are also restaurants and bars where you can sit down, relax and enjoy the ambience.
Other shopping malls around Somerset MRT include Centrepoint, The Heeren and Cathay Cineleisure.
Much of Centrepoint is taken up by Robinsons, a leading retail store in Singapore. Apart from that, there isn’t much to do at Centrepoint so you can give it a miss unless you intend to do your shopping at Robinsons.
The Heeren used to be one of the most “in” shopping malls a few years back, but it has since become a ghost town after its revamp. It is quiet both on weekdays and weekends, which is uncommon since every nook and cranny of Orchard Road is usually packed like sardines during weekends.
Cathay Cineleisure’s name is self-explanatory – it is a mall where people usually visit to catch a movie. However, it is also very much like an entertainment hub – the top few levels are dedicated to gaming and entertainment, so don’t expect much fruitful shopping from here as well. The crowd at Cathay Cineleisure is generally young, and it is not hard to see why since the top few floors of gaming and entertainment appeals mostly to the younger generation.
It would be useful to note that the Singapore Visitors Centre is located within walking distance of the above mentioned shopping malls, so help is very conveniently available if you should need it.
If you’re game enough to continue walking, you will walk past the Istana and subsequently come to Plaza Singapura (Dhoby Ghaut MRT). There, you’ll find lots of good food, a movie theatre and quite a bit of shopping to do – so it’s basically an “all-in-one” mall. There’s also a Carrefour located at the basement of Plaza Singapura – useful if you’d like to do some grocery shopping.
Further down the road is where The Cathay is located. Again, as its name suggests, it’s a mall built specially because of its cinema, and the cinema doesn’t disappoint at all. The seats are spacious and comfortable enough for a pleasant movie experience, and it is apparent that majority of the crowd who visit The Cathay go there only for its cinema. Shopping and food wise, don’t expect too much from The Cathay as it’s a mall that caters mainly to movie goers, but some of the shops do sell pretty unique items which are worth checking out, albeit not worth buying.
If you should like to have some fun after a long day of shopping, you may want to visit Orchard Plaza or Orchard Towers. These two places are where most pubs, clubs and discos are located. Don’t be surprised if you see scantily clad girls soliciting outside these places though – after all, both Orchard Plaza and Orchard Towers are well known for their Thai/Vietnamese/Philippine joints, and it is a common sight to see some of the bar girls soliciting for clients outside these malls. These places might also get quite rowdy at night, so if you’re just looking for a quiet chill out night, then it’s best you avoid Orchard Plaza and Orchard Towers.
Sounds like a day of fun? You bet. Orchard Road isn’t called the “heart of Singapore” for nothing!