Set in the central south part of the island, Orchard Road is Singapore's shopping hub. Much of the one- kilometre stretch is populated by palatial, air-conditioned shopping malls and quick-fix cafes to fuel shoppers. This consumer paradise sells every designer label, household brand name and electronic gadget imaginable. Shoppers start at the top with home decor at Tanglin Shopping Centre then head south towards the towering pagoda of the Marriott, which pinpoints the junction with cosmopolitan Scotts Road. Cold local Tiger beers are on tap in the traditional Chinese shophouses on Emerald Hill, a quiet turning off Orchard Road.
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The Singapore River starts at the southern harbour near Marina Bay, meandering through districts south of Orchard on its way. From the quaint greens of The Padang cricket ground, it curves past the grand facades of the Asian Civilisation Museums and Parliament. The banks are illuminated at dusk with the river's bar-front nightlife at Boat Quay and Clarke Quay's. Take a taxi boat past the party people for tranquil dining at low-key Robertson Quay.
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Singapore's business area is a huddle of glinting skyscrapers on the south bank of the river above Raffles Place MRT Station. Walk further south into neighbouring Chinatown where architectural giants merge with the timber-clad shophouses and low-storey Chinese shopping centres. Food stalls sell savoury carrot cake while street opera singers chant at the Chinese night market on Trengganu Street and Pagoda Street.
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Marina Bay, just south of Orchard Road near the Singapore River's mouth, is home to a cluster of five-star hotels. The unmistakable armadillo shape of the giant Esplanade concert hall brings Singapore arts to the bay. The quadruple office towers of Suntec City mark the islands second largest mall. One of the world's tallest hotels - the cylindrical Stamford – gives panoramic views over the harbour and across the island.
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North of Orchard Road, perched above the Rochor Canal, lies Singapore's slice of Indian culture. Walk the length of Little India's main vein, Serangoon Road, where banana-leaf-curry cafés line the jasmine-scented street. Further on, see Little India institutions - Mustafa, the old- fashioned India department store and the colorful Hindu temples thick with incense. Street life is just as vibrant for the Muslim community on nearby Arab Street on the other side of the Rochor Canal where gems and silks lure discerning shoppers.
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