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Singapore: Orchard Road

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Looking for Rants and Raves and Neat Things to do along or near Orchard Road. Do you have a favorite food stall? What is a good start and end point for a casual stroll? Not a big shopper, but i like to poke around places looking for unusual items.

And what's this I hear about Orchard Towers at night? I'd hate to find myself in a rowdy or risque place! LOL!

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    Forget Orchard Road *lol* One whole side is under construction and there's nothing to see but around-the-clock bulding work. We stayed there about 6 weeks ago (only a 12 hour stopover) and wished we had stayed elsewhere. It was pathetic.

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    Hi degas -

    I spent a lot of time in Singapore during our four years in Indonesia, but I never actually witnessed the flesh market around Orchard Towers. Heard about it from a lot of my male friends, but never saw it for myself (I must've been oblivious).

    A good start and end point for a casual stroll is to begin up near Tanglin Mall and work your way down to Plaza Singapura. If you do that, you've pretty much covered Orchard Road.

    I'm not an adventurous eater, but friends rave about the food hall in the basement of the Meredian Hotel (near Plaza Singapura). You'll pass loads of food halls on your Orchard Road stroll.

    There's also a nice food hall in the basement of Takashimaya Department Store(Ngee Ann City) across the street from Lucky Plaza and the Paragon.

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    Orchard Road is not really a focus of any trip I make to Singapore, as I am not a big shopper myself, especially for clothes, shoes, bags, costume jewelry or Hello Kitty paraphernalia which seem to make up a lot of what is on offer. (I would totally agree about not staying there, esp now with the state of construction and have often recommended against staying in this area.) However, it is pleasant to stroll the boulevard just to take in the nice wide sidewalks and trees, and you can stop like every 20 yards where the is a Starbucks or a bar or a McDonalds or a restaurant (many with outdoor seating) -- and you will need it with the heat and humidity…The Marriott has a nice outdoor café for cake or lunch as well with good people-watching potential. Hawker stalls are mostly on top floors or upper floors in places like Lucky Plaza or Far East Plaza (on Scotts Road) which are the more budget malls.

    Starting from the south west end at Tanglin Shopping Centre, my favourite store there would be Antiques of the Orient (19 Tanglin Road, Shop #02-40, Aoto.com.sq) which has old maps, prints and travel posters. This Mall has several antique shops and is definitely worth a look, as it offers more than the usual Body Shops and Bennetons which you will find further down the road. Another good shop here is the Tang Horsefull of small antique pieces, or Mata Hari for larger antiques. (Before or after you do the Orchard Road walk, you might want to walk up Nassim Road which starts across the street from the Tanglin Shopping Centre to see the “black and white” bungalows which I mentioned in another post to you.) Also across the street is a Hasten’s Mattress store, the only retail shop for these mattresses I have seen, go see what US$15,000 or so will buy you (or see who is buying them….) Further down on the corner of Scotts Road and Orchard Road, on the left you can admire the pagoda which is the Marriott hotel and the Tangs Department Store; Tangs has a nice kitchen department and the usual fashion departments as well, but not sure you need to go in. On your right on the corner is a huge multi-level Borders Books (may not thrill you, but we have nothing like it in Hong Kong), however they have a good Asian author section and they also have a nice picture book selection (also take a look at Julian Davison’s booked called “Black and White: The Singapore House 1898-1941”, which is a picture book of black and white bungalows).

    You can detour from here up Scott’s Road if you want to go see Goodwood Hill Road and some more “black and whites”. At the corner of Scotts and Orchard, with the pagoda of the Marriott on your right, cross Orchard and walk up Scotts, keeping on the left side of the road. Walk up Scotts about half a mile, bear left at the fork onto Stevens Road, go past the Tanglin Club on the left (private club with a long history, but hard to see much from the outside), and after the light, cross the street wherever you can, looking for a tiny street on the right called Goodwood Hill Road. Walk into this street et voilia! you are back in Singapore in about 1915 or so when these houses were built.

    You can also continue up Scotts to the Song of India restaurant (33 Scotts Road), or even further up to reach the Newton Circus hawker centre. The Goodwood Park Hotel is also on Scotts, they have tea in the afternoon and also a very good Chinese restaurant, Ming Jang.

    Speaking of eating, at some point along Orchard, you might want to stop into a Bengawan Soloand try some Malay deserts, my favourte is the Kueh Lapis which is a moist thousand layer cake (takes hours to bake! I would never do this myself!) Pineapple tarts are darn good too. See http://www.bengawansolo.com.sg/outlets.aspx for locations.

    Continuing down Orchard Road on the right at Ngee Ann City Mall is another shop I always make a pilgrimage to British India(Shop #B1-31-32). Casual cotton and linen clothing for men and women, sort of safari Raj (wish someone would open one here), there is an outlet also in Millennia Walk Mall which sells house wares which is interesting (They have three other outlets on Orchard Road, at Wisma Atria, Plaza Singapura and Tanglin Mall, as well as an in Raffles Shopping Centre.) Ngee Ann City is also home to an enormous Takashimaya (talk about Hello Kitty, but you can get all those Japanese snacks and candies here, and their basement food area is worth a look.) There is a Bengawan Solo here as well.

    Continuing down Orchard Road, you will pass the Mandarin hotel on the right (no relation to the Mandarin chain) and Peranakan Place (discussed in your other post) will come along on the right, leading to Emerald Hill Road.

    Coming back out, the next intersection you come to is Killiney Road, if you turn right onto Killiney and walk down a block crossing Somerset Road, you will come to a row of actual (as opposed to restored) shophouses, there are some casual and inexpensive restaurants here including the original Killiney Kopitiam where you can get kaya toast, laksa and their traditional Malay-style coffees and teas (67 Killiney Road, there are other outlets including on Orchard Road, see http://www.killiney-kopitiam.com/). There are also some representative shophouses along Exeter Road after Devonshire and before Grange, and a modest black and white or colonial bungalow at 7 Grange Road, corner of Exeter and Grange.

    If you come back out to Orchard
    Road and continue east, you are almost in the home stretch. You will pass Dhoby Ghaut MTR on your right and some more shopping centres, and then on the left you can look for the gates of the Istana (home of the President of Singapore, i.e. the guy without any power, it’s the PM that has the power), you can see the grounds and a bit of the house from the road. On about 5 public holidays a year, the grounds are open to the public, see http://www.istana.gov.sg/IstanaGrounds/OpenHouse/ for dates.

    At this point you are at the end of Orchard, you can go onto Bras Basah road, which will take you to the Singapore Art Museum, worth a visit, or if you really have energy, you can walk to Raffles Hotel or the Padang area.

    There is sales tax in Singapore, but you can get this refunded for most items; be sure to ask about this and get the proper forms; there is a place downtown where you can get the refunds, you don’t have to lug all the stuff to the airport when you are leaving to do the refund process.

    As for prostitution, yes, Singapore has it, and quite a lot. It always surprises me that people are surprised about that, I guess S’pore is pretty good about promoting the squeaky clean bit. (Drugs are there too, including a not inconsiderable amount at the American School.) Not sure about whether Orchard Towers is better or worse than other places (I have seen it in the venerable Shangri-La). I don’t think there is much that is unsafe about it in terms of personal safety (other than your personal health perhaps).

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    Thanks for the additional feedback. Thinking of doing a long afternoon exploring along Orchard Road and the Emerald Hill area. Need to check out those Malay deserts. Might take a quick peek into Orchard Towers to see what its all about.

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    Wow - what an endless collection of stores, shops and malls. Did some people watching and bought a few small items. Agree that it would not be my primary focus on later trips.

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    We didn't spend much time around Orchard Road either as shopping isn't really our thing. We too like poking around for interesting stuff, but not the standard mall type merchandise.

    We did spend a little time at Orchard Towers though - some friends have a band which had a couple gigs at a bar there while we were in town. We saw plenty of prostitution, but didn't feel unsafe at all. Much of the surrounding crime that we usually associate with prostitution in the US seemed to be absent.

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