The phrase 'Shop 'til you drop!' may as well have been invented in reference to Singapore's famous Orchard Road. The nearly 2mi (3km) stretch of shopping malls and connecting walkways has come a long way from its roots as a dusty pedestrian street along nutmeg and pepper plantations in the 19th century. Today you can find any store or brand imaginable along with a plethora of restaurants and bars. New developments, including luxury condos and sleek hotels, have kept this area on the cutting edge. However, there are great sights here besides the newest little black dress. Nearby Emerald Hill has a number of 19th century Chinese-Baroque style homes that have managed to avoid the bulldozer. These houses with their colorful ceramic tiles, carved swing doors, pasted walls, and shuttered windows sit glamorously decaying on a former nutmeg plantation.
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a beautiful 52-hectare park that originally started out as a laboratory for cash crops in the late 19th century. Today the gardens host over 600,000 different species and a library with materials dating back to the 16th century. The gardens are undoubtedly best known for the National Orchid Garden which has over 60,000 plants and is a center for hybrid breeding. There is also a beautiful lake on the grounds, almost as old as the park itself, a colorful ginger garden, and a small piece of the surviving rainforest that once covered the entire island.