Visiting Emerald Hill Singapore
Emerald Hill Road is a petite neighborhood just across Singapore’s shopping district, Orchard Road. Surprisingly, the Hill is calmly nestled among the hustle and bustle of the malls and traffic. And because of this, it has become a popular detour for tourists and locals who’d like to just take a serene walk in the afternoon or take a break from shopping at the Orchard.
Emerald Hill’s Significance in Singapore’s History
Beginnings of Emerald Hill
It is believed that Emerald Hill was once a rainforest until Chinese immigrants arrived and turned the land into a pepper plantation. After the plantation died down, Postmaster General William Cuppage took legal ownership of the land in 1837, where he established his nutmeg and fruit orchard. Unfortunately, his business operations failed in the 1860s but he continued living there until he died in 1872.
Cuppage’s two houses, along with the rest of the land, were passed on to his two daughters. Soon after, lawyer Edwin Koek, his son-in-law, bought the land where he built another house and turned it into another orchard. Sadly, his orchard was also unsuccessful, and he eventually went bankrupt. Koek ended up selling the land in 1891 to Thomas Rowell.
The Peranakans’ Architectural Influence
The area was sold to Seah Boon Kang and Seah Boon Kiat, and the duo decided to demolish the old houses. The demolition paved the way for the construction of the new terrace houses we know today, which were built by occupants who were mainly Peranakans. The Peranakans perfectly incorporated vibrant Chinese architecture with European architectural elements into their houses, creating the Sino-Baroque style.
The homes feature intricately carved timber windows and half-length timber doors called Pintu Pagar and along the walkways are beautiful Peranakan tiles. A conservation program was announced in 1985 to preserve over 150 of what is now considered to be some of the greatest exhibitions of the Straits Chinese style of housing.
The Shophouses Today
Due to the conservation efforts, many of the homeowners have also restored their houses. Most have retained the original Sino-Baroque architectural designs on the exteriors of their abodes but have incorporated a more modern style in their interiors. Today, tours and visitations to these houses are allowed upon special request.
Best Restaurants and Bars in Emerald Hill Singapore
A number of these houses have remained residential, while some of them were turned into restaurants and bars which are now frequently visited by tourists and locals alike for their fabulous vibe, wonderful food, and a plethora of alcoholic drinks both traditional and international. The bars usually open at 5:00 p.m., so you can start your stroll just before that and then head to your chosen bar or restaurant to have a snack or a drink.
Top 3 Highly-Rated Bars and Restaurants
- Acid Bar (No. 180, Orchard Road). Probably the most talked about in the area, there’s a reason why the people keep coming back. Acid Bar’s hallmark is its great ambience. While you sip on your drink, you are serenaded by wonderful music from the live band. The prices are more expensive here, though, but the great selection of cocktails compensates for it. They offer classic drinks and local signatures. The food quality is great too, but they mainly serve snacks and not full-on meals. So, if you are looking to feel stuffed, this might not be the place for you.
Operating hours: 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m., daily
Customer rating: 4.00/5 stars via TripAdvisor.com
- Ice-Cold Beer (No. 7, Emerald Hill). With 22 years in the business, Ice-Cold Beer is already a staple in the name of serving the frostiest beer bottles in Singapore. They have their own unique ice tanks which ensure that every bottle is ‘too cold to hold’. They serve an array of the best beers from around the world but their most prized product is Singapore’s own, Tiger Beer! But what’s a great beer without good food, right? Well, don’t worry because aside from their drinks, ICB is well-known for its chicken wings! A plus point to this bar is the fact that they have activities for you to do whilst waiting for your drinks to come in. They have a pool table, electronic darts, and television where customers can rally around as they shout ‘GOAL!’ in unison.
Operating hours: Monday 5:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Tuesday 5:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Wednesday 5:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Thursday 5:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Friday 5:00 PM – 3:00 AM
Saturday 5:00 PM – 3:00 AM
Sunday 5:00 PM – 2:00 AM
Customer rating: 4.00/5 stars on Yelp.com
Menu: Not available online. Reviews state that prices are reasonable.
- No. 5 Emerald Hill Cocktail Bar. If your taste is more on the higher end, this cocktail bar might just be the olive to your martini! No. 5 prides itself as a pioneer for cocktail bars, serving classier drinks from mojitos to martinis to chili-infused vodkas. For those who are not quite familiar with their drinks and are simply there for the experience, their Strawberry Martini is a fan favorite! The food is equally good as their martinis and is fair-priced. What’s fun about No. 5 is that they have promotions such as the buy-one-get-one martinis after 9:00 p.m., so you will have to stay long enough for you to avail the offer! Other gimmicks include mixing and garnishing your own premium house pour for S$55. And if you have booked your event, you’ll have a chance to be your own bartender!
Operating hours: Monday to Thursday 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Friday to Saturday 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 a.m.
Sunday 2:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Customer rating: 5.2/6 stars on Quandoo.sg
How to get to Emerald Hill Singapore?
It’s actually very easy to go to this quaint neighborhood, thanks to its close proximity to major sites.
Direction from Somerset MRT Station via Orchard Road
- Head on Somerset Road toward Killiney Road until you reach the first stoplight.
- Turn left to Killiney Road, walk straight until you reach the second stoplight.
- Turn left onto Orchard Road and walk straight, passing by Cuppage Road, until you reach the third stoplight by Emerald Hill.
- Turn right onto Emerald Hill Road.
Emerald Hill is simply the best place to quickly unwind from the overwhelming energy of Singapore. May it be a stroll or a full-on night out at the bars, the time you’ll spend here will surely be worthwhile!
For a more in-depth guide on what to do in the Garden City for your next trip, check out our 5-day itinerary here!