Singapore Orchard Road shopping guide

Ngee Ann City boasts all the top designer brands

Ngee Ann City boasts all the top designer brands

Taking its name from the many fruit and spice plantations that were the lifeblood of early Singapore trade in the mid 19th century, Orchard Road is the much vaunted shopping epicentre of Southeast Asia. It is worshipped by serious shoppers almost as much as New York’s Fifth Avenue or Oxford Street in London. It covers a near two mile long stretch of prime real estate filled with almost 40 modern multi-storey shopping malls and countless flagship five star hotels.

There are three MRT metro stations conveniently located close to all the Orchard Road action but, unless you have planned a day of shopping like a military exercise, it is best to simply walk around and see what catches your eye. The many malls that line this long elegant boulevard are outstanding works of art in their own right, showcasing some of the most exuberant architecture you could hope to see in Asia.

Recommended Orchard Road shopping in Singapore

Although shopping is the primary pursuit here, many malls are self contained entertainment complexes with cinemas, mammoth food courts and even rooftop bars and discos. Distractions for kids are available at some places such as Centrepoint (Open: 10:00-22:00 (daily); 176 Orchard Road, tel: +65 6737 9000, Somerset MRT, email: promo@fraserscentrepoint.com, website: www.fraserscentrepointmalls.com) which has carousel rides and an amusement arcade – a welcome relief for stressed parents.

High priced designer glamour is generally the order of the day here but it is possible to find decent bargains and Lucky Plaza (Open: 09:00-18:00 (Monday-Friday), 09:00-13:00 (Saturday), closed Sunday, Plublic Holidays; 304 Orchard Road, tel: +65 6235 3294, fax; +65 6734 4764, email: feedback@luckyplaza.com.sg, website: www.luckyplaza.com.sg) is definitely the best bet. It may be looking a little frayed at the edges, but is a good place to search out cheap Batik shirts, Malay handicrafts and functional household items. Just behind here on Scotts Road is Far East Plaza (Open: 10:00–22:00 (daily); 14 Scotts Road, tel: +65 6732 6266, fax: +65 6732 5132, email: enquiry@fareast-plaza.com, website: www.fareast-plaza.com) which does a roaring trade in cheap street fashions.

If you are easily seduced by designer labels like Gucci, Prada or Cartier, the grandiose surroundings of Ngee Ann City (Open: 10:00–22:00 (daily); 391A Orchard Road #08-05 Ngee Ann City Tower A, tel: +65 6733 0337, fax: +65 6735 0243, website: www.ngeeanncity.com.sg) and the adjacent Mandarin Gallery (Open: 11:00-21:30 (daily); 333A Orchard Road, tel: +65 6831 6363, email: concierge@mandaringallery.com.sg, website: www.mandaringallery.com.sg) malls will keep you enthralled for hours, although expect to pay premium prices that are only marginally less expensive than Europe. They do, however, house boutiques from some of Southeast Asia’s most celebrated young fashion designers such as Ashley Isham.

Plaza Singapura is always full of people

Plaza Singapura is always full of people

There is a wealth of IT and electronics gear on sale in almost every shopping mall and items such as high end digital cameras and gaming equipment are especially good value compared to the West. Plaza Singapura (Open: 10:00-22:00 (daily); 68 Orchard Road, Dhoby Ghaut MRT, tel: +65 6332 9298, email: marcom.ps@capitaland.com, website: www.plazasingapura.com.sg) has the widest selection of brand name stores. ION Orchard Mall (Open: 10:00-22:00 (daily); 2 Orchard Turn, tel: +65 6238 8228, email: customercare@ionorchard.com.sg, website: www.ionorchard.com) situated above Orchard MRT, is also worth a browse for the latest computer gear.

There are better places than Orchard Road to seek out unique local gifts and souvenirs but you can always be assured of high quality goods. Elegant locally produced crystal glassware and pottery are popular buys along with ‘Peranakan’ brooches and Chinese ornamental masks. Check out the smaller independent outlets in the basement of Pacific Plaza (Open: 10:00-22:00 (daily); 9 Scotts Road, tel: +65 6733 5655) which still welcome hagglers.

Tips for exploring Singapore's Orchard Road

To really explore in detail every mall on Orchard Road would take the best part of a whole weekend and that is before you start factoring in all the other rewarding distractions on offer.

Take it all leisurely and enjoy the relaxing café culture in the many food courts and street side café-bars that line the boulevard. Weekends often see events such as fashion shows, book signings and new product launches plus several malls also have interesting art exhibitions and sculpture in situ.

Mall fever really takes hold during the months of June and July for the annual Great Singapore Sale. Virtually all stores in Orchard Road and beyond offer major discounts on a limited stock of designer labels and giftware and some fabulous bargains can be had for early risers. It happens with all the pomp and fanfare that is typical of Singaporean life and some places can get very frenzied and overcrowded, especially at weekends.

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