There are more and better hangout spots in Singapore now
Back in the 90s, there weren't as many centrally-located places where people could hang out. Many of the most popular hangout spots didn't exist in their current forms.
Hipster cafes did not exist, Tiong Bahru was just a residential estate full of old people, Arab Street was known for the mosque and old school fabric shops instead of sheesha, and the Marina Bay/Marina South area was known for its bowling alleys and kite flying.
Orchard Road was pretty much the only place where you could buy nice clothes or find many mid-range restaurants in one place. While other shopping and dining precincts like Holland Village and Siglap still existed, they were quieter and without the internet people who didn't live close by had few ways of knowing their way around.
These days, let's face it, there are about a million places more appealing to spend your weekend at than Orchard Road. If you're into cafe hopping, you head to Tiong Bahru. If you want to buy hipster clothes, you head to Haji Lane. If you want to buy luxury goods, you head to Marina Bay Sands. If you want to eat at a nice restaurant, you can head almost anywhere else.
Doreen, a 32-year-old marketing manager living in the Upper Bukit Timah area, no longer spends as much of her free time in the city centre.
“My area used to be quite dead, but now with the opening of the new HillV2 mall and the influx of cafes and restaurants at Lorong Kilat, Chun Tin and the Old Fire Station, I prefer to hang out here on weekends than travel to town. I used to spend quite a lot of time at Orchard in my JC and uni days, but go there only once every few months now,” she says.
While Orchard Road is bigger and brighter than it ever was before, so is the rest of Singapore. And frankly, the brashness and boldness of the Orchard Road malls is starting to wear a little thin in comparison.