Orchard Road Walkabout will take you through the major tourist and shopping belt of Orchard Road. This walkabout will take you back in time to Singapore's first McDonald restaurant; Yaohan; The Promenade; The Government House; The Cold Storage Milk Bar; Orchard Road Market; Glutton's Square and much more.
Tours: The whole journey is about 2.8 kms, you may just take part of the trail or come back again to continue. This walkabout will begin right after the map below. Click here to skip History.
History: Orchard Road supposedly got its name from the many nutmegs plantation, fruit orchards and pepper farms that existed in the area until in the 1880s. The road began as a country lane lined with bamboo hedge and shrubbery. Other references to the street name have pointed to a Mr Orchard, a keen gardener who owned plantation which stood at the corner of what is now Scotts Road and Orchard Road. In the 1900s, a mysterious disease swept through the nutmeg plantations, wiping them out within a year.
Because of its location in a valley, floods were also common. They were controlled in 1965 when Stamford Canal - part of which runs below the pedestrian mall fronting Wisma Atria Shopping Centre (opened in 1986) today - was deepened and widened. Commercial development sprouted up in the area in the early 1970s and it soon became the shopping hub of Singapore. Busy Orchard Road became a one-way street from 1974.
After exiting Orchard MRT Station (NS 22), take Exit E and head into ION Orchard (Operational on 21 July 2009), still underground, and follow the sign to Wheelock Place via underpass, once into ION Orchard (Basement 2) follow the sign to ION Paterson Link, after entering Wheelock Place head up to the street level and walk alongside Orchard Road ...
1. Wheelock Place (伟乐坊) houses Borders, one of the largest bookstores in the country until its closure in 2011. Formerly known as Lane Crawford Place which housed Lane Crawford but closed in 1997. This building was completed in 1994.
3. Far East Shopping Centre was the first in Singapore to feature an atrium, the most number of escalators, and a pair of external escalaotr. Having developed the Singapura and Hilton hotels on Orchard Road, Far East Organisation ventured into the retail market with this shopping centre in 1974.
4. Hilton Singapore (希尔顿大酒店) opened in 1972. There are two menacing Chinese warriors, 2.7m tall ceramic sculptures, from the Tang dynasty in front of the hotel, they were commissioned in 1975 to serve as symbolic protectors of the hotel. Paris Hilton is the great-granddaughter of Conrad Hilton, founder of the Hilton hotels. Beside this building is Forum The Shopping Mall that was built on the site of the Singapura Forum Hotel.
Walk further ahead and cross the traffic light in front of the Forum The Shopping Mall...
6. Palais Renaissance building was completed in 1993. From 2008 to 2009, it embarked on an upgrading exercise, the highlight of the upgrade was a world's first - double-skin glass facade with musical dancing lights which was created by renowned design consultant Kajima Design Asia.
7. Royal Thai Embassy - Thai King Chulalongkorn who made visits to Singapore acquired Hurricane House in early 1890s through Tan Kim Ching. Two further pieces of adjoining property were added later and these subsequently became the Royal Thai Embassy.
8. Shaw House (邵氏楼) was completed in 1993. It features the flagship Lido Cineplex in the building, started out with only five screens but transformed into an eight-plex by 1997. The largest hall, Lido One, has a capacity of over 900, it was the first hall in Singapore to bear certification as a THX hall. The original building was completed in 1958 and demolished in 1990 to make way for the present Shaw House.
Near the road junction, beside Shaw House, you will see a Bell Clock Tower (1994).
Scotts Road was named after Captain William Scott, who once owned a plantation at the corner of Scotts Road and Orchard Road.
To cross over to Tang Plaza, go to the entrance of Isetan of Shaw House, facing the entrance take the escalator on your right side to get to the underpass to cross over to Tang Plaza. Walking through the underpass, you may take the first escalator on your left to get to street level of Scotts Road.
9. Tang Plaza is one of Singapore's most prominent homegrown departmental stores. In 1958, a former lace-peddler CK Tang foresaw that the area could become a bustling shopping district. So with roof tiles brought in from his hometown in the Swatow province of China, Tang built a department store on what was then a cheap, isolated plot of land. The plot of land faced a cemetery, which is considered a bad omen in Chinese culture. Even when the old building was torn down in 1982 to give way to the present superstore and skyscraper hotel, it retained its unique Chinese architecture.
10. Wisma Atria (opposite side of Orchard Road) (威士马广场) was opened in 1986. In 2012, Wisma Atria completed a S$31 million asset redevelopment, revealing a sleek, modern frontage with double-storey shopfronts designed to showcase the latest flagship stores of international retailers.
11. Lucky Plaza opened in 1978, served by 26 two-ways escalators has had the most number of escalators of all shopping centres throughout Malaysia and Singapore. 8 high-speed passenger lifts and numerous spacious staircases all located in key positions provide convenient passages to all shopping floors. The installation of 2 sets of glass-walled lift or bubble lift has been the most unique feature of this shopping complex. Being the first of its kind ever introduced in the Republic it attracts resident shoppers and tourists.
Cross the slip road, after passing by Tong Building (construction completed in 1978), you will reach ...
12. The Paragon (百利宫) - The left portion of The Paragon building was where The Promenade (1984-2002) stood. Promenade, besides being known for its hair salons, is also remembered for its high car park charges - S$3 for the first hour, compared to $2 for other car parks in the area. Fitzpatrick's Supermarket opened on 9 August 1958, occupied this area, was the first to operate a supermarket system in which buyers browsed long shelves of goods while pushing around a trolley cart.
13. Ngee Ann City (opposite side of Orchard Road) emphasizes the continuous philanthropic concern of Ngee Ann Kongsi in its efforts to work for the future of Singapore and the Teochew community. The grand entrance of Ngee Ann City is reminiscent of the majesty of a Chinese Imperial building, while the twin towers symbolize Chinese door gods which safeguard the city, representing strength, generosity and unity. It also imparts a Western European feel with its highly-polished maroon granite, marble and stainless steel which adorn the building. The 27-storey Ngee Ann City was opened on 21 September 1993 by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong at a cost of $520 million complex and is the largest shopping mall in the Orchard Road shopping belt. This was the site of a Chinese cemetery previously.
Cross Bideford Road, opposite of Grand Park Orchard (rebranded from Park Hotel Orchard, formerly Crown Prince Hotel) ...
14. Mandarin Orchard Singapore (opposite side of Orchard Road) (文华大酒店), formerly the Mandarin Singapore, and Mertitus Mandarin Singaporearangan opened in 1971 when the second block opened in 1973, it became the tallest development in the area. Samsui women (construction workers from Sanshui district in Guangdong, China) built this Chinese-styled skyscraper when it first opened. The Chatterbox restaurant at the hotel is well know for its award winning Hainanese chicken rice.
15. The Heeren site was formerly a colonial building. 'Heeren' means 'Gentleman' in Dutch. Robinsons after spending nearly three decades at The Centrepoint since 1983, secured a largest tenant at The Heeren, soft opening on 8 November 2013.
16. Faber House is a 12-storey office building along Orchard Road, would be remembered by some as the site of two explosions in the mid-1980s. The first - and largest - occurred on 17 March 1985 and the second on 21 December 1986, both Sundays. No one was injured. The building is owned by United Overseas Land (UOL), a subsidiary of the United Overseas Bank group.
17. Peranakan Place entrance is on Emerald Hill Road, at the Orchard Road junction. Urban Redevelopment Authority in August 1985 announced that Emerald Hill Road was to be a conversation area, having Peranakan buildings and dwelling houses in Singapore. At the turn of the 20th century, Emerald Hill Road became a fashionable abode for the Peranakans who have settled here for more than 50 years. URA restored the original double-storey shophouses dating back to 1902 and re-opened six of the buildings, renaming the development as Peranakan Place in 1985.
18. The Centrepoint (先得坊) opened in 1983 as Centrepoint Shopping Centre (or just Centrepoint) until its renaming in 2006 as The Centrepoint. In 2005, Fraser & Neave announced that the mall would be going under a major revamp, the first since its opening, renovation works were completed in December 2006. In 1917, Cold Storage took over a building which was later replaced by Centrepoint Shopping Centre. The Cold Storage Milk Bar was a popular hangout in the 1960s and offered ice-cream, cake and other refreshments.
19. Orchard Central (opposite side of Orchard Road) (乌节中央城) is Singapore's tallest vertical mall and was officially opened on 2 July 2009. It sits on the land previously occupied by Specialists' Shopping Centre, former Pavilion Cinema, and Glutton's Square. Specialists' Shopping Centre flagship store was John Little, which has been in Singapore since the mid-19th century, when it opened its first outlet in Commercial Square (now Raffles Place). Specialists' Shopping Centre was demolished in 2007 to make way for Orchard Central. Beside Specialists' Shopping Centre was Glutton's Square (Orchard Road Carpark), hawkers would wait till the open-air car park closed at 5pm before setting up their stalls, opened in 1966 and closed in 1978.
20. Orchard Point is where Orchard Road Market used to be located. It was a popular market in the 1960s selleing fresh produce to residents, built in 1891, and was torn down and replaced by Orchard Point in 1982. The site, where the Orchard Road Market used to stand, was part of William Cuppage's estate in 1837. There used to be a six metre tall cast-iron fountain originating from Glasgow placed in front of the Orchard Road Market. The fountain originally stood in the centre of Telok Ayer Market but was relocated to Orchard Road Market in 1902, now graces the courtyard of the Raffles Hotel. Before being home to local department store, OG, the complex used to have art galleries. In March 2001, OG bought Orchard Point and began renovation works in June 2003 and the new OG Orchard opened on 15 January 2004.
21. The Istana (Malay for "palace") is the official residence and office of the President of Singapore. It was once part of the extensive nutmeg plantation of Mount Sophia. In 1867, the British colonial government acquired the land and built a mansion to be the official home of the British governor, it was known as The Government House. It was designed and built by Colonial Engineer, Major John Frederick Adolphus McNair. This continued until 1959 when Singapore was granted self-government, and the governor was replaced by the Yang di-Pertuan Negara, who was in turn replaced by the President. The name was changed to Istana Negara Singapura (Palace of the state of Singapore) in December 1959 when Singapore was a part of Malaya. In 1965, it became The Istana.
22. Plaza Singapura was completed in 1974 and was one of the largest malls in the island. The mall included a Yaohan department store and supermarket, which was opened on 14 September 1974, a Yamaha store, Swensen and a Yaohan Best (now Best Denki) as its major tenants. It is one of the oldest malls located along Orchard Road. Yaohan (八佰伴) had one of the first in-store bakeries, which popularised the "an-pan" (a soft bun filled with Japanese red bean paste). Forty years later, and after a major renovation in 2012, it now boasts a new extension, and is directly connected to one of Singapore's largest MRT interchanges, Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, which serves three main train lines.
Information is correct as at 28 June 2015. Please visit the destination website for latest updates.