Things to do in Orchard Road you never thought of

Let’s shed some light onto the shadows of Singapore’s more overrated road. Orchard Road is synonymous with the little red dot; stretches laden with luxury brands, food and shopping. But this piece doesn't want to talk about the Orchard Road that we all know.

Unknown to many, Orchard does hold home interesting spots which allow for a different but comfortably familiar outing in Singapore’s central business district. Prepare to forget the department stores and shopping malls.

Here’s a planned guide for those who are too busy to think about what to do on the weekend and for those travellers or locals who are sick with the hyper-shopping district that we know. Allow me to plan your weekend around this overhyped, ‘atas’ shopping street.

 

Itinerary outlook:

  • Breakfast in the outskirts
  • Urban farming
  • A bird’s eye view
  • Lunch by the park
  • Art with a presidential view
  • Nonya chill sesh

 

I’m starting this one off with the most important meal of the day, doing it local-style. Yup, it’s a classic Singaporean breakfast. Off the reach of Orchard Road, close to 313 Somerset, it’s the well-known Killiney Kopitiam.

I know, I know, this one isn’t ‘unknown’ at all. But listen, this is a full day guide and there is no way I’m planning you a day out in Singapore without this essential breakfast touchstone.

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Breakfast at Killiney Kopitiam

Leave your serviced apartment and start your day by slathering up a slice of warm toast with a beautifully delicate and smooth spread that tastes like Katong in a bite (otherwise known as Kaya). It’s how the locals do it. So step one, immerse yourself in the Singaporean breakfast life (or rather, really how it should be!)

Sip on a thick and rich cup of coffee that hums in your mouth as your dilating pupils greet the sunkissed Somerset district. The area is surprisingly calm and tranquil on early weekends. Your pick me up ends when that plate of half-boiled eggs is clean. Now that you’re ready, let’s move on.

If a fully furnished serviced suite is more suited to your needs, Orchard Suite Premier might be worth a look.

Killiney Kopitiam (Killiney Road)
Contact: 6291 2668
Opening Hours: 6 am to 10 pm
Closest MRT: Somerset MRT (NS23)

 

After breakfast, have a walk down to Orchard Road and head towards Orchard Link to find *SCAPE. In the spirit of sustainability and Singapore’s boundless sunshine, your next stop is great for engaging kids and those with a green thumb.

Green education at ComCrop

This hidden green gem is an urban farm located on the roof of *SCAPE. Who knew?

ComCrop is an urban farm that runs effortlessly to provide produce to the many eateries around the area, on weekdays. On weekends, it opens its doors to volunteers and visitors as a community farm.

Aside from the tours, ComCrop also educates on sustainable farming practices and even farming at home. Bring your kids along and you’ll have a fun interactive activity for the whole family. You’ll leave the place with endless ideas on what to do with that patch of dirt under your block.

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Comcrop Singapore
Contact: 6634 2826
Opening hours: not available
Closest MRT: Somerset MRT (NS23)

Farm tours are strictly by registration only. Registration forms and updates can be found on Comcrop’s Facebook page.

 

Sightseeing at ION Level 56

Time to build up that appetite. And when I say up, I mean UP. From *SCAPE, head up the road towards ION, opposite Lucky Plaza. Now, ION is known for its plethora of major fashion brands and expensive dining options. Amongst these lux lifestyle names is a view that not many people know of.

On the 56th floor of ION Orchard, past the shopping centre, is a viewing gallery like no other. It’s called ION Sky.

This isn’t really an activity but it’s worth the trip to ION. From the viewing gallery, you will be able to have a wide view of the CBD and more! You can even see the Singapore Flyer and will have camera binoculars at your disposal. Some say that if you go on a clear day, you might even be able to see a bit of Malaysia.

ION Sky
Contact: 6238 8228
Opening hours: 2 pm to 8.30pm
Closest MRT: Orchard MRT (NS22/TE14)
Admission is free, doors close at 7.30pm

 

Picnic at Fort Canning Park

Fort Canning isn’t the most unknown place in Singapore. Actually, it’s pretty popular. However, there are certain spots in the park that are not frequently visited. Beautiful spots to have a weekend picnic.

One great spot is located close to the Fort Canning Service Reservoir; walk towards Fort Canning Hill, past the Gate and continue following the path. You’ll come to a beautiful clearing with a small colonial structure. There, sit under a gorgeous crown of rain trees and enjoy your wholesome picnic.

Another is the Spice Garden in Fort Canning. Often overlooked by locals and foreigners, the Spice Garden is a great little pocket of selected greenery in the park that gives you a peek into the life of Singaporeans. Some of the spice plants were of old medicinal use and others are still apparent now.  

As you walk along the stone path, you will be stimulated by the subtle and distinct aroma of spices. Just in time for your picnic! Set up shop on one of the many benches and dig into lunch while you daydream about a time when spices flowed like water.

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Fort Canning Park
Contact: 1800 471 7300
Opening hours: Open 24 hours
Closest MRT: City Hall MRT (EW13/NS25)

Spice Garden is found within Fort Canning Park (Hill Street entrance)

 

Drinks at Emerald Hill

Your picnic should have taken you into mid-afternoon. The warm sun is now heading towards the horizon and you start thinking, “Hmm, a drink would be nice right about now.”

Head over to Emerald Hill. This street encrusted with Peranakan shophouses and chill vibes will embrace you with lounge music, a warm ambience and great drinks.

The neighbouring houses down the alley provide sight-seekers with a glimpse into the life of wealthy Peranakan families of yesteryear. Good times and laughter fill the Emerald Hill of today as you’ll find a great selection of bars restaurants along the way.

One bar you might want to check out is Acid Bar. Touted for its great service, ambient lighting and a wide variety of snacks and drinks, this watering hole is a local favourite. Nights include live music and it’s even pet-friendly (at their alfresco neighbour: Hej Kitchen & Bar)!

Acid Bar
Contact: 6738 8828
Opening hours:
5 pm – 2 am (Sun-Thurs)
5 pm – 3 am (Fri & Sat)

Closest MRT: Somerset MRT (NS23)

Another option would be the No.5 Emerald Hill Cocktail Bar. This establishment has been around since 1991 and it has been furnished to let you know. Decorated along its walls are pieces and accents of historical and cultural value.

Walking into the bar transports you to a time capsule representation of the building it’s housed in. With a happy hour that will make your wallet smile and martinis that would make James Bond do the same, this cocktail bar is a great pick for an evening in Emerald Hill.

No.5 Emerald Hill Cocktail Bar
Contact: 6732 0818
Opening hours: 12 pm to 2 am
Closest MRT: Somerset MRT (NS23)

 

Getting cultured at My Art Space (Istana Park)

Tucked in the often overlooked Istana Park, just after Orchard Central, is an establishment that gives its patrons more than just great fruit juice. My Art Space is a joint that holds art programs such as painting and sketching sessions and enrichment programs.

With a focus on teaching, it aims to instil learning, appreciation and enjoyment of art. After booking a class with them you’ll be glad to find a great community of fellow art lovers, wrapped up in an inviting atmosphere, it’s a great way to end your day out in Orchard.

If you’re proud of your van Gogh piece, then perhaps it might be even featured in the Art Space gallery! What a great way to end your weekend in Orchard Road.

 

My Art Space
Contact: 6222 1662
Opening hours: 11 am to 9.30 pm (closed on Wed, Sun & PH)
Closest MRT: Dhoby Ghaut MRT station (NS24/NE6/CC1)

Bonus

Come May, Orchard Road will be looking to turn car-less. You’ll be able to attend a vibrant night scene monthly. This pop-up art and entertainment event will feature food trucks, street, arts and fashion performances under the stars.

Another great activity to add in your weekend itinerary.

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