Discovering Singapore Beyond the Usual : Hidden Neighbourhood Gems (2024)
While the bright lights of Marina Bay Sands and the bustling streets of Orchard Road are certainly iconic attractions in Singapore, there’s much more to the Lion City than meets the mainstream eye. Nestled within its high-rises and well-trodden pathways are lesser-known neighbourhoods, brimming with character, history, and charm. For travellers looking to delve into the heart of Singapore, here’s your guide to some hidden gems.
1. Tiong Bahru
History Meets Hipster
Tiong Bahru is Singapore’s oldest housing estate, but don’t let its age fool you. This neighbourhood seamlessly blends the old with the new. From Art Deco-style flats to indie bookstores like “BooksActually”, it’s a haven for history buffs and hipsters alike. Don’t miss out on the Tiong Bahru Market, where you can savour local delicacies.
2. Joo Chiat/Katong
Joo Chiat and Katong are the epicentres of Peranakan culture in Singapore. Walking here is like stepping back in time, with pastel-coloured shophouses lining the streets. Savour traditional Nyonya cuisine at one of the local restaurants and explore the intricacies of Peranakan tiles and architecture. Katong is a charming neighbourhood in the eastern part of Singapore with a rich Peranakan heritage. The Peranakan people are descendants of Chinese immigrants who married Malay or Indian women. Their unique culture is reflected in the neighbourhood’s architecture, food, and arts.
Some of the things to do in Katong include:
* Visiting the Katong Antique House to browse its collection of Peranakan antiques and artifacts.
* Taking a walk along Koon Seng Road to admire the colourful Peranakan shophouses.
* Visiting the Peranakan Museum to learn more about Peranakan culture and history.
* Sampling the delicious Peranakan cuisine at one of the many restaurants in the neighbourhood
3. Kampong Glam
While the Sultan Mosque is a known landmark, the streets surrounding it are brimming with culture. Haji Lane, for instance, boasts an array of eclectic boutiques and street art. Indulge in Middle Eastern cuisine or shop for Persian carpets; Kampong Glam is an amalgamation of cultures that deserve more than just a cursory glance.
Once a British military base, Seletar has evolved, yet retained a rustic charm. The Seletar Aerospace Park is a must-visit, with colonial bungalows turned cafes and restaurants. The Oval, the central hub, feels like a step back into the British era, complete with sprawling greens.
5. Punggol Waterway
This might come as a surprise, but Singapore does have its quiet, serene spots, and Punggol Waterway is testament to that. Ideal for nature lovers, you can rent a bike or take a leisurely walk while enjoying the sunset. The Punggol Settlement is nearby, offering delicious dining options with a view.
6. Bukit Timah
A stark contrast to the city’s urban landscape, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve holds 40% of Singapore’s flora and fauna. For hiking enthusiasts, this is an unbeaten path to explore the native biodiversity.
7. Tiong Bahru
Tiong Bahru is one of Singapore’s oldest housing estates. It’s known for its art deco architecture and trendy cafes and boutiques.
Some of the things to do in Tiong Bahru include:
* Taking a walk around the neighbourhood to admire the art deco architecture.
* Visiting Tiong Bahru Market, a hawker centre where you can sample a variety of Singaporean dishes.
* Shopping for vintage clothes and accessories at one of the many boutiques in the neighbourhood.
* Sampling the delicious coffee and pastries at one of the many cafes in the neighbourhood.
8. Holland Village
Holland Village is a laid-back neighbourhood with a mix of restaurants, bars, and shops. It’s a popular spot for locals and expats alike.
Some of the things to do in Holland Village include:
* Dining at one of the many restaurants in the neighbourhood, which serve a variety of cuisines, including Singaporean, Western, and Japanese.
* Enjoying a drink at one of the many bars in the neighbourhood, which have a lively atmosphere.
* Shopping for clothes and accessories at one of the many boutiques in the neighbourhood.
9. Changi Village
Changi Village is a sleepy seaside village located in the eastern part of Singapore. It’s a great place to relax and escape the hustle and bustle of the city.
Some of the things to do in Changi Village include:
* Taking a walk along the Changi Point Coastal Walk to enjoy the views of the sea.
* Visiting the Changi Air Force Museum to learn about the history of the Singapore Air Force.
* Sampling the delicious seafood at one of the many restaurants in the neighbourhood.
These are just a few of the many lesser-known neighbourhoods in Singapore that are worth exploring. If you’re looking for a more authentic Singaporean experience, be sure to check out some of these hidden gems.
Tips for Exploring Lesser-Known Neighbourhoods in Singapore:
- Do your research. Before you visit a lesser-known neighbourhood, take some time to learn about what it has to offer. This will help you to make the most of your visit.
- Be prepared to walk. Many of Singapore’s lesser-known neighbourhoods are best explored on foot. This will give you a chance to wander around and soak up the atmosphere.
- Be open-minded. One of the best things about exploring lesser-known neighbourhoods is discovering new and unexpected things. Be open to trying new foods, visiting new places, and meeting new people.
- Be respectful. When you’re exploring a lesser-known neighbourhood, it’s important to be respectful of the locals
Tips for Exploring Singapore’s Lesser-Known Neighbourhoods:
- Public Transport: Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) is efficient and extensive. Most of these neighbourhoods are accessible via the MRT, making them easy to reach.
- Guided Walks: To get an in-depth understanding, consider joining guided heritage walks offered by local organizations.
- Respect Traditions: As always, it’s important to respect local traditions and customs, especially when entering religious or culturally significant sites.
Singapore, while compact, is a treasure trove of diverse experiences. Stepping off the beaten track allows travellers to uncover its multifaceted charm. So, the next time you find yourself in the Lion City, remember, adventure often lies in the hidden corners.