The best-kept secrets of Singapore’s Orchard Road

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December 15 View of Orchard Road at night

Orchard Road might be the heart of Singapore’s high-end retail scene and the best place to enjoy festive street lights, but there is more to the stretch than bright lights and high-fashion brands. Believe it or not, it is also packed with some alternative options for foodies and shopaholics alike, mostly just a hidden turn away from all the action. Here are some of our top picks.

Aerial view of Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Singapore
Photo credit: Marklin Ang

Exotic Flavors

Generally known for its run-down appearance and abundance of KTV bars, the slightly infamous Orchard Towers also has one other claim to fame: delicious Thai food. The old office building and shopping centre is home to half a dozen casual Thai cafes, serving fiery, authentic flavors for Singapore’s Thai community. Try dishes like the krapao kai (basil chicken), green curry and other classics at one of several options, including Thai Tantric and Korat.

Believe it or not, Orchard Road also has one of the best stretches for affordable Japanese food. Turn onto Cuppage Road, just off the main shopping belt, and you’ll find Cuppage Terrace, packed with all manner of restaurants, bars and even a Bollywood dance club. To the right of Cuppage Terrace is the older, more modest building, Cuppage Plaza, also known as Little Japan. Here you’ll find casual ramen bars, izakayas and other eateries at affordable prices.

Hidden Tipples

Walking down the crowded thoroughfare full of shoppers and glittering storefronts, it’s easy to miss Emerald Hill. The turn to this historic, cobblestoned neighborhood is nestled between the Singapore Visitor Centre and Peranakan Place, half-obscured by outdoor seating for Acid Bar. But walk inside and you’ll be amazed at the beautiful Peranakan-style houses that line both sides, many of which have been turned into bars. Don’t miss the newest addition, Black Nut, which sports a colonial-meets-chinois décor and locally inspired cocktails and bar bites.

Horse's mouth bar singapore
Photo credit: Horse’s Mouth

For bespoke cocktails and delicious bar food, look for Horse’s Mouth—an atmospheric cocktail bar/Japanese izakaya whose entrance lies discreetly hidden at the basement of Forum The Shopping Mall, inside Japanese eatery Uma Uma Ramen. Order strong cocktails like the Vieux Carre and the Jack Rose to go with your fried shrimp and tonkatsu (breaded pork). You can even order ramen from upstairs.

At the back of five-star hotel Pan Pacific Orchard, Singapore right by Orchard Towers, is the first Asian outpost of the famed Montreux Jazz Café. Showcasing regional and international music talents on its live sessions, guests can also look forward to a delectable food and bar menu inspired by Claude Nob, founder of Montreax Jazz Festival. Chomp on a Mob Burger while you enjoy live jazz and blues bands, with a cocktail in hand to round up the experience.

Treasure Hunting for Shoppers

There’s more to Orchard Road’s hidden gems than eating and drinking, of course. Scott’s Square is only 10 minutes by foot from Pan Pacific Orchard, and houses top fashion labels like Alexander McQueen, Hermés, and Christian Louboutin, beauty and wellness outlets, and even K+, a multi-concept space where a rotation of exhibitions and retail pop-ups showcase the best of Singapore’s art and design scene.

Orchard Road is also great for scouting hard-to-find cult labels if you know where to look. Run by local designers, SECTS Shop is tucked away on the fourth floor of Orchard Gateway and carries edgy street wear by brands like Sugarpills from the US, Shake Appeal from Bangkok and underwear designer Migo from Hong Kong. The multi-label store also carries local names like Antidepressant and Not Cool Enough.

Wrap up your day of shopping with a relaxing spa treatment and a rejuvenating swim at Pan Pacific Orchard, Singapore‘s mineral pool, before getting some much needed shuteye in one of our rooms or suites.

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