Orchard Road got its name from the nutmeg, pepper and fruit orchards or the plantations that the road once led to. Such plantations were common in the area in the 19th century. Other sources attribute the name to Mr Orchard, a gardener and the owner of plantations which were located at the corner of present-day Scotts Road and Orchard Road.
The Orchard Road area was also known to Chinese Singaporeans as Tang Leng Pa Sat Koi or "Tanglin Market Street". The Tamil people in Singapore gave the area the name Vaira Kimadam or "Fakir's Place". They also called the area Muttu Than (High Ground), in a reference to the area's hilly terrain.
After more than a century as a two-way thoroughfare, Orchard Road became a one-way street in 1974. The ever-lively street starts at the junction with Orange Grove Road which is the location of the Orchard Hotel. It then stretches southeast across the Scotts Road–Paterson Hill junction, Orchard MRT Station, Bideford Road, Somerset MRT Station, Central Expressway, Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station, and ends at the junction with Handy Road (just before Prinsep Street), where it becomes Bras Basah Road. It has an extensive underground infrastructure, including underground pedestrian walkways between the malls running underneath the street and other streets in the vicinity. The numbers begin at Handy Road and end at Orange Grove Road.
Orchard Road was already cut in the 1830s, though the new road was not named in George Coleman's 1836 Map of Singapore. In the 1830s the Orchard Road area was the scene of gambier and pepper plantations. Later, nutmeg plantations and fruit orchards predominated, hence its name.
By 1846, the spread of houses had reached up to Tank Road. There were none on the left side and only three or four houses went past Tank Road on the right side of Orchard Road.
One major sight during this period was a Dr Jun tending his garden, which helped endorse the road's name. He had a garden and plantation at the corner of what is now Scotts Road and Orchard Road.
Towards the later part of the 1840s, graveyards began to appear along the road. By 1846, the Chinese had a large graveyard around what is now the Meritus Mandarin Hotel and Ngee Ann City, while the Sumatrans from Bencoolen had their burial ground where the current Hotel Grand Central stands. Later a Jewish cemetery was established; it was located where Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station is now and was demolished in 1984.
In the 1860s, Orchard Road had a great number of private houses and bungalows on hills looking down through the valley where the road passed through. Early in the 1890s, King Chulalongkorn, the then King of Siam, acquired "Hurricane House" in the vicinity of Orchard Road through Tan Kim Ching, the Thai Consul in Singapore. Two further pieces of adjoining property were added later and these subsequently became the site of the Royal Thai Embassy at 370 Orchard Road.
In the early 20th century, it was noted that Orchard Road "present[ed] the appearance of a well-shaded avenue to English mansion[s]," comparable in its "quiet but effective beauty to Devonshire lanes."
Flash floods occurred at the road's iconic junction with Scotts Road on 16 June 2010 after 100mm of rain fell from 8am to 11am, reportedly the worst flood at the junction since 1984. Shopping malls along Orchard Road such as Lucky Plaza and Liat Towers were affected. The flood had caused some shopping mall and car park basements to be submerged. Around 70 people had to be rescued from cars and buses, as flooding shut down Orchard Road. Some people sustained injuries.
The Istana is at Orchard Road's eastern end. Nibong palms survive near its entrance, with a plaque that reads, "As the nibong is a mangrove palm, this site must have once been a mangrove swamp." This information leads many to believe Orchard Road was once a muddy swamp and these palms are remnants of that original habitat.
To the south of Orchard Road is former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's house, located at 38 Oxley Road. It was slated for demolition when Lee Kuan Yew died or when his daughter, Lee Wei Ling, decided to sell and move out.
On the western side of Orchard Road is the Botanic Gardens. Along Scotts Road is Goodwood Park Hotel, a fine example of colonial architecture and a monument. At the junction of Scotts Road and Orchard Road is Tangs, the first upmarket department store in Singapore.
About halfway down Orchard Road are Cairnhill and Emerald Hill, where the rich Chinese built their residences, now prime properties sought after by affluent professionals and expatriates. Next to Emerald Hill is Centrepoint, which houses the supermarket Cold Storage, possibly the oldest surviving business establishment in the area. Other establishments have not been so fortunate. Amber Mansions, one of the earliest apartment blocks in Singapore, built around the turn of the 20th century, was torn down in the 1980s to make way for the Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station.
Specialists' Shopping Centre was one of the earliest redevelopment projects on Orchard Road. It occupied the site of the former Pavilion Cinema, which was demolished in 1979. Its 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 itself demolished in 2007 to make way for a new development, Orchard Gateway.
Elsewhere just off Orchard Road on Scotts Road, Scotts Shopping Centre housed Singapore's first food court, which sat below the Ascott Singapore. It was torn down in June 2007 to make way for a new building.
The first shop of note on Orchard Road was Tangs founded in 1934 and established on Orchard Road in the 1950s.
Orchard Road is flanked by hotels and pedestrian shopping centres housing numerous upmarket restaurants, coffee chains, cafés, nightclubs. It is the site of the official residence and office of the President of Singapore, the Istana.
Tanglin Mall is located at the junction of Tanglin Road and Grange Road. Its customer base is made up of expatriates, yuppies and professionals. Anchor tenants include Tanglin Market Place, a gourmet supermarket and bakery, and Tasty Food Court where up to 15 varieties of local cuisine can be found.
Orchard Central distinguishes itself from other shopping centres on Orchard Road with architectural and design forms. Fronted by an exterior featuring local artist Matthew Ngui's digital art membrane, the shopping centre offers cluster concept shopping by grouping complementary offerings for shoppers. The shopping centre houses the world's tallest indoor Via Ferrata climbing wall, a large collection of public art installations by international artists and a 24/7-operational Roof Garden and Discovery Walk. The Roof Garden offers dining options on an open-air veranda.
[email protected] is directly linked to the Somerset MRT station and features a concentration of mid-range retail and dining outlets. Retail options are made of a mix of local and global fashion labels including Zara, Uniqlo, New Look, Esprit and a Forever 21 flagship store that spans four floors.
Visitors in Singapore (from 27 May to 24 July 2011) qualified for Great Singapore Sale tourist privileges and discounts at shopping complexes along Orchard Road. During this period, a number of shopping centres extend their opening hours till 11pm.
American fashion retailer Abercrombie & Fitch opened a flagship store on Orchard Road on 15 December 2011. The store was marked by controversy over an ad during its construction phase.
Every first Saturday night of each month, a section of Orchard Road will be closed and the road will be used as a temporary pedestrian street between Scotts Paterson Junction and Bideford Junction between 6pm -11pm from October 2014 to May 2015 and extended bit by bit. Known as Pedestrian Night on Orchard Road, this six-month pilot initiative aims to inject street vibrancy into the precinct by creating an integrated community space with activities such as street tennis and mass yoga.
Orchard Road's shopping centres will never face death of tenants every year. Broken tenants (which in the case of losing business or the shift of demand) are replaced into proper tenants. Most of the demand began to fluctuate with the newer shopping malls since 2009 (such as Westgate/JEM/JCube, Waterway Point, Seletar Mall, Tiong Bahru Plaza, Nex, Bedok Mall, Clementi Mall, Changi City Point and Tampines 1).T Galleria by DFS – This duty-free shopping shopping centre is on Scotts Road, and mainly sells luxury goods, including products from Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Hermès, Loewe and Bvlgari.
ION Orchard – ION Orchard opened on 21 July 2009 and houses six double-storey flagship stores of close to 9,000 square feet (840 m2) each, including Prada, Giorgio Armani, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Dolce & Gabbana, Cartier, Patek Philippe, Jaeger-LeCoultre, and Vacheron Constantin. Its signature glass façade doubles up as a giant media screen as well.
Ngee Ann City – The shopping centre opened in 1993 and is the largest in the Orchard Road shopping belt. It houses branded boutiques such as Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Burberry, Loewe and Chanel as well as Japanese department store, Takashimaya. The complex is home to Southeast Asia's second largest bookstore, Books Kinokuniya.
Wisma Atria – Opened in 1986, it has since undergone construction replacing its trademark blue facade with a glass facade. There is a 900-seat food court on the 4th floor which is run by the BreadTalk Group. The shopping centre is directly connected to Orchard station. It stands on the former site of Wisma Indonesia which used to house the Indonesian embassy.
Plaza Singapura – Located next to the Istana, the shopping centre opened in 1974 with a now defunct Yaohan department store. It was revamped thrice, in 1998, 2003 and 2012 with the former being a total revamp, and the latter a new mix of tenants. It currently houses a Golden Village cineplex, Cold Storage and Uniqlo. A Carrefour branch used to be located here until Carrefour pulled out from Singapore.
Lucky Plaza – A shopping complex that somehow became the main focal point for domestic Filipino workers to meet their friends during their off days. The place is known to be very crowded on Sundays with many shops selling products from the Philippines.
Far East Plaza – Far East Plaza opened in 1982 with a Metro which has since closed down. Popular with students due to its cheap fashion items as well as inexpensive food, the plaza is also known for its cheap food outlets. The shopping complex has since undergone renovation.
Mandarin Gallery – Located inside Meritus Mandarin Singapore housing international high-end brands like Y-3, Bape and Hugo Boss.
Cathay Cineleisure Orchard - a cinema in Singapore, in addition there is a 7-Eleven and a food court there.
Orchard Central – Singapore's first and tallest vertical shopping complex, which replaced the former carpark and opened on 2 July 2009.
Orchard Gateway - Replaced Specialists' Shopping Centre, also opened on the year 2014.
Orchard Point – Before being home to local department store OG, the complex used to have art galleries.
Orchard Towers – A shopping centre consisting of twin blocks with small shops and nightclubs as well as a reputation for promiscuous activity after-hours.
The Paragon – The Paragon is a high-end shopping centre selling branded items such as Gucci (whose flagship store operates here), as well as Miu Miu, Prada, Coach, and Burberry with a Metro department store and a Marks & Spencer store as well. The place has a Toys 'R' Us and a number of restaurants. It underwent expansion around 2002, taking over the land once occupied by another shopping centre, The Promenade. The Promenade was built on the former location of Fitzpatrick's supermarket.
Tang Plaza – Tang Plaza is where the homegrown department store, Tangs, is located.
The Centrepoint – The shopping centre opened in 1983 and has Robinsons and Marks and Spencer as its anchor tenants. It underwent renovation and built a new extension in 2007. Metro had taken over The Centrepoint since 2014.
The Heeren Shops – 'Heeren' means 'Gentleman' in Dutch, and as such, this shopping complex targets fashionable, young, working age shoppers. It is also popular amongst teenagers, and has a variety of niche shops. It is currently home to one of two T.G.I. Friday's on the island. The site was formerly a colonial building, and is currently largely under renovation. Robinsons secured a largest tenant at The Heeren to replace one, finally it had been changed to Metro in The Centrepoint.
Forum The Shopping Mall – Forum sells mainly branded children's clothes and accessories with a Toys "R" Us on the third floor. It also has a number of branded boutiques such as Emporio Armani and Dolce and Gabbana.
Shaw House and Centre – Shaw House is home to the Isetan department store, and on the fifth and sixth floors the one of the largest cinema halls in Singapore, Lido 8 Cineplex, resides. This mall is also home to a number of shops such as Fendi, Loewe and Celine.
Hilton Singapore – Located inside the hotel itself, the Hilton Shopping Gallery houses branded boutiques such as Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Bulgari, Lanvin, Donna Karan, Balenciaga and Dolce & Gabbana. It also includes Club21, a high-end Singapore based company that sell luxury items such as Mulberry, Comme des Garçons and Dries van Noten.
Palais Renaissance – Palais Renaissance was completed in 1993 and mainly houses upmarket branded boutiques such brand like Donna Karen and Valentino.
Liat Towers – International names such as Audemars Piguet, Massimo Dutti, Hermès and Zara are housed in the building. The building once housed Planet Hollywood and Singapore's first McDonald's. At one point in time it also housed the Isetan department store.
[email protected] —[email protected] is one of the first major fully integrated retail developments undertaken by Lend Lease in Asia. It is a significant milestone for the Lend Lease Group as it marks its first green field development in Asia and its first development in Singapore's premier shopping street – Orchard Road. Houses Singapore's largest Forever 21 and Zara retail store and a HMV which moved from The Heeren. There are also a food court, "Food Republic" situated on the 5th Floor of [email protected]
Wheelock Place – Used to house the Borders bookstore, one of the largest bookstores in the country until its closure in August 2011. It has a large Marks and Spencer outlet in the basement, as well as several other retailers, cafes and restaurants on other floors. It was formerly known as "Lane Crawford Place" which housed Lane Crawford until it closed during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.
Each Christmas, Orchard Road is decorated with Christmas lights. The lights have been switched on by the following celebrities:2003 – Nanyang Girls' High School (11 November 2003 to 2 January 2004)
2004 – Toshiba Corporation (11 November 2004 to 2 January 2005)
2005 – Bedok View Secondary School (13 November 2005 to 4 January 2006)
2006 – Vivek Ganesh (12 November 2006 to 5 January 2007)
2007 – Angeline Wong, Kimberlee Lim (11 November 2007 to 6 January 2008)
2008 – Saw Yan Naung, Suttikit Ittipalanukul (10 November 2008 to 7 January 2009)
2009 – Yseult Yeo, Neo Meusia (4 November 2009 to 4 January 2010)
2010 – 4 Raffles Girls' School students (11 November 2010 to 5 January 2011)
2011 – Deborah MegaGeek (13 November 2011 – 4 January 2012)
2012 – Leng Yuk, Gwendolyn Ng, Claudia Sim, Jingwen Zhang (10 November 2012 – 6 January 2013)
2013 – Charmaine Tang, Samantha Lovell Tan, and 2 School of Science and Technology students (20 November 2013 – 5 January 2014)
2014 - Gwendolyn Koh (14 November 2014 - 4 January 2015)
2015 - Angelica Muk, Sheryl Teo (15 November 2015 - 4 January 2016)
There are three major MRT stations in the Orchard Road vicinity: Orchard, Somerset and Dhoby Ghaut MRT stations. These stations are important hubs for commuters, locals, students and tourists who travel to the Orchard Road shopping and business district.
Bus services provided by SBS Transit, SMRT Buses and Tower Transit Singapore provide access to Orchard Road. Bus stops are staggered to avoid causing congestion, with the scheme being implemented on 13 May 2004 (1st Phase, Mandarin Orchard Singapore) and 28 May 2004 (2nd Phase, Midpoint Orchard). A bus lane was introduced in 2005, operational from 7.30am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday. It was extended to 24 hours in 2016. The major bus stops along Orchard Road are situated at:Delfi Orchard
Royal Thai Embassy, Singapore (opposite House of Hung Jewellers)
opposite Mandarin Orchard Singapore
Concorde Hotel Singapore
Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station
Westbound passengers can board their buses at Penang Road (Dhoby Ghaut Station), Somerset Road (Somerset Station), Orchard Turn (opp Ngee Ann City/Takashimaya), Orchard Turn (Orchard Station), Orchard Boulevard (opp Orchard Station) and Orchard Boulevard (Wheelock Place).
Orchard Road has numerous taxi stands, which are mostly found at shopping centres and hotels. It is prohibited to hail taxis at locations other than these official stands.
Those driving into Orchard Road may enter from the west via Napier Road. Vehicles from Dunearn Road that travel via Scotts Road can turn left into Orchard Road at the Marriott Hotel junction. Vehicles coming from the opposite direction on Paterson Road can enter Orchard Road by turning right. There are also a number of other roads leading into Orchard Road. Orchard Road is one-way heading south and leads into Bras Basah Road which is a one-way street heading south.