Orchard Road is best known for its malls, but if you’re looking for things to do in Orchard Road other than shopping then never fear – there’s plenty to do here. These days, the malls aren’t just focused on shopping, they have plenty of entertainment too: cinemas, bowling alleys, and game arcades are just some of the cool attractions available along Orchard Road.
For something a bit more cultural, the area around Orchard Road also delivers, with the National Museum of Singapore, the Singapore Art Museum, and Istana (the old governor’s mansion). End the day checking out the beautiful old buildings on Emerald Hill Road. Here, we’ve put together what we believe are the best attractions in Orchard Road and its surroundings.
What are the best things to do in Orchard Road?
Emerald Hill Road
Among the giant shopping malls along Orchard Road is one of the most attractive streets in the city: Emerald Hill. It’s located just behind Orchard Central and was once an upmarket residential area for peranakans (descendants of Chinese and Malay immigrants). The main reason to take a quick walk down this street is that it remains almost frozen in time, with most buildings constructed between 1900 and 1920.
There’s a blend of art deco and Chinese Baroque styles and it’s extremely picturesque – a contrast with the modern concrete of Orchard Road. Not only is it nice to marvel at the architecture, but there’s some great bars here with happy hour offers.
Location: Emerald Hill Rd, Singapore
Singapore Art Museum
Singapore Art Museum is in the centre of Singapore’s major shopping district on Bras Basah Road. The museum is an ideal place to see close to 8,000 pieces of Singaporean and Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art. With over 10,000 sq m of exhibition space, this museum, run with international standard museum facilities, offers 14 fully climate-controlled galleries.
There aren’t only paintings on display but also photography and installation pieces. It’s interesting to see the different messages conveyed by the artists from the region, and the exhibitions are well set up for learning more about the countries that make up Southeast Asia. The museum also has a small shop as well as a cafe and restaurant.
Location: 8 Queen St, Singapore 189555, Singapore
Open: Monday–Friday from 9am to 6pm
Phone: +65 6589 9580
National Museum of Singapore
The National Museum of Singapore is not only the oldest museum but also one of the most prominent national monuments in the city-state. Formerly known as Raffles Library and Museum, the National Museum of Singapore was initially a segment of Singapore Institution’s library from 1849 to 1887 when it was moved to the present building by Colonel Sir H.E Mc Callum.
After undergoing renovation for more than 3 years, the museum was again opened for the public in 2006. With collections spread throughout its 18,400 sq m of exhibition space, The National Museum is the biggest in the country, with exhibits that largely reflect the rich history of Singapore as well as Asia.
Location: 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897, Singapore
Open: Daily from 10am to 7pm
Phone: +65 6332 3659
Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning Park is a surprising green space close to Orchard Road, right in the heart of Singapore. The park is also one of the city’s most significant historical landmarks. You can escape the busy city for an afternoon here, with plenty of walking trails and unusual plants in its surroundings.
Fort Canning is also home to Battle Box, an interesting underground tunnel complex that dates back to WWII. Situated behind the Singapore History Museum at Stamford Road, you can get into Fort Canning via several accesses. These include the Park Mall underpass, the National Library underpass, the Hill Street Food Centre, and the River Valley Swimming Complex.
Location: 70 River Valley Road, Singapore 179037, Singapore
The Istana was formerly known as the Government House. The regal landmark on Orchard Road is where the Singaporean President’s office is located. It was built between 1867 and 1869 by Sir Harry St George Ord, Singapore’s first governor.
Constructed in the neo-Palladian Anglo-Indian style, it has beautiful surroundings and landscaping including a 105mm Japanese cannon, a 6-ft high statue of Queen Victoria hewn from Sicilian marble, 4 ponds and an old well. The Istana grounds are open to the public annually in celebration of the following occasions: Chinese New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya Puasa, Labour Day, and National Day.
Location: 35 Orchard Rd, Singapore 238823, Singapore
Open: Special holidays from 8.30am to 6pm
Cinema at The Cathay
The cinema at The Cathay opened in 1990 as The Picturehouse, an arthouse cinema. The cinema brought alternative movies to the centre of Singapore, and strangely enough, remained the only place to see arthouse movies in the city. It has now evolved to also present daily screenings of the latest Hollywood blockbusters.
The cinema at Cathay also hosts festivals, director talks and special events. The cinema is located in the Cathay Building, a short walk from the MRT at Dhoby Ghaut. Cathay Cineplexes also operates several other cinemas throughout Singapore.
Location: Handy Rd, Former Cathay Building, Singapore 229233, Singapore
Open: Movie screenings from midday to 11.30pm
Phone: +65 6337 8181