Fuel up, strap on your running shoes and pound the pavement at the island’s beloved shopping district.
Orchard Road running trail
Duration: approximately 1 hour 30 minutes
Distance: 4.4 kilometres
Difficulty level: Easy (Flat terrain along a straight route)
Think of Orchard and Tanglin, and retail therapy will spring to mind. But in the early morning, before the shoppers throng the shopping belt, the street is surprisingly tranquil—which makes it perfect for a quick run. So set those shopping bags aside and follow this easy, 4.4-kilometre trail along the stretch that is also peppered with attractions.
The route begins outside of the 1 Istana (it takes its name from the Malay word for “palace”), the official living quarters for the President of Singapore. While the Istana grounds are only open on selected public holidays (such as Chinese New Year, Hari Raya Puasa and Deepavali), the Istana Park opposite the national monument is accessible every day.
Warm up beside the Istana Heritage Gallery at the Istana Park, which exhibits artefacts and artworks that chart the history of the residence from its days as a Colonial Governor’s house. Once you’re done, speed things up and run westwards along Orchard Road, whose fleet of shopping malls and hotels flanks the street.
Emerald Hill Road
Continue straight ahead until you spot Orchard Central and The Centrepoint, then cross the street to land on 2 Emerald Hill Road. Originally a Peranakan settlement and nutmeg plantation, the quaint stretch still features the intricate architecture from the days of yore, including Chinese-style baroque terraces, that melds Chinese and European architectural styles.
Be treated to pops of red, yellow and blue of the flamboyant Peranakan shophouses that line the strip, now homes to hip restaurants and bars. Make a mental note to return to Acid Bar and enjoy its live bands that take the stage every night. While you’re jogging down the lane, be sure to whip out your phone for a quick Instagram-worthy snap.
Now, turn onto Emerald Link to return to Orchard Road, then head straight towards Grange Road, where mammoth fashion flagship stores, such as Victoria’s Secret and H&M, greet you. Dash past them and you will find the vibrant youth park, 3 *SCAPE.
Splashed with bright murals, the youth village champions the work of emerging local artists by offering various programmes, such as open mic sessions, craft workshops and art exhibitions. As you run through the area, catch the young’uns in a friendly match of basketball, or see mini daredevils perform tricks at the skateboarding park. Every Friday to Sunday, the hub transforms into a bustling marketplace that hawks artisanal knick-knacks, handicrafts and pre-loved goods.
After the detour, cut through Orchard Link and carry on across the shopping belt. Look up, and admire the striking mall façades that tower over 4 Orchard Road. Among them, you’ll surely spot ION Orchard from afar, thanks to its jewel-like glass exterior. The shopping centre has everything you would need. Fashionistas can go wild at Dior and Zara, homemakers have MUJI’s clean furniture to check out, and foodies can dine at fine dining restaurant Salt grill & Sky bar.
ION Orchard’s façade stands in stark contrast to TANGS at Tang Plaza’s distinct pagoda-style green roof opposite it. Established in 1932, TANGS is one of Singapore’s oldest department stores, offering everything from local fashion labels to homeware. At this junction between Orchard Road and Scotts Road, you’ll also find Wheelock Place, whose cone-shaped façade resembles glass pyramids. Niche boutiques such as footwear label Dr. Martens, luggage specialists Samsonite and accessories brand Crumpler fill the mall.
Jog down the road past the Hilton Singapore and Forum The Shopping Mall, among other hotels and shopping centres, and you’ll arrive at 5 Tanglin Road. Here stands Tanglin Shopping Centre, the second-oldest retail complex of the district—it is stocked with authentic Asian antiques, including carpets, jewellery and artwork. In a premier shopping precinct that brims over with modern skyscrapers, the iconic Tudor Court located beside Tanglin Shopping Centre is a hidden architectural gem. It’s known for its architecture that’s inspired by medieval England, and receives a fair amount of adoration from tourists and locals alike, who can usually be seen posing for photos outside the building. Inside, the mall houses spas, antiques dealers and jewellers.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Leave the Tanglin district and sprint up Nassim Hill, where you’ll pass by a few condominiums. Your reward at the end of the stretch is worth the sweat: the 6 Singapore Botanic Gardens. Surround yourself with swathes of green within the UNESCO World Heritage Site in your final lap, as you make your way to the National Orchid Garden. There’s no better place to catch your breath and cool down than at the Asia’s largest orchid collection.
If you’re not too drenched in perspiration, sort out your brunch at the restaurants and cafés in the Botanic Gardens. Zip into Food For Thought and refuel with the Chinese-style Caesar salad (SGD 13), with a ginger sesame dressing, or the honey hoisin baby back ribs (SGD 25). Looking for a taste of local cuisine? Then head over to Canopy Coffee Club, where you can tuck into a very Singaporean breakfast of kaya (a traditional jam made from coconut and eggs) toast, soft-boiled eggs and