Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Singapore’s Hidden Gems

Tucked away in its culturally-rich neighbourhoods, some of the island's best-kept secrets entice true explorers.

Singapore is a destination with incredible depth and breadth of discovery, offering visitors infinite possibilities to experience the country. What’s truly valued amongst explorers are the authentic connections with locals and cultures, as well as new, not-to-be-missed activities. A walk around these vibrant heritage precincts will lead visitors to some great finds and unforgettable hidden gems with a story to tell.

Joo Chiat and Katong


Best for culture vultures and those on the hunt for local bites

In the early 20th century, Peranakan (Straits-born people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage) and Eurasian communities moved into Joo Chiat alongside the Chinese, Malay, and Indian communities. Today, Joo Chiat’s multi-ethnic influences are most evident in its architecture and dining options. In the same vicinity is Katong, an area formerly located by the sea before land was reclaimed to the current East Coast Park.

While Joo Chiat and Katong are famous for local dishes such as laksa (spicy, coconut
milk-based noodle dish) and Peranakan cuisine, it has other gems. Keeping traditional methods alive is Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah, famed for its popiah (fresh spring rolls) made with special hand kneaded popiah dough, based on a closely guarded generations-old recipe.

Visitors should also step into The Intan, a private museum that exhibits Peranakan artefacts from Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China and England within a modern home setting. This museum is open by appointment and visitors are personally hosted by owner, Alvin Yapp.

Not to be missed are the rows of eye catching, restored heritage shophouses with Peranakan influences. An iconic, photo-worthy sight, these unique, colourful pre-war structures along Joo Chiat Road feature ornate facades, intricate motifs, and gorgeous ceramic tiles in assorted patterns.

Tiong Bahru


Best for families, café-hoppers, and those with an eye for design

One of the oldest housing estates in Singapore, Tiong Bahru is now a cultural hotbed for the island's young and hip. Built in the 1930s, the neighbourhood has a look that sets it apart: low-rise buildings featuring a Streamline Modern-Art Deco architectural style.

Check out different indie stores in the neighbourhood. See the colourful murals titled ‘Pasar and the Fortune Teller’ and ‘Bird Singing Corner’ by local artist Yip Yew Chong, depicting scenes of old Tiong Bahru. 

For families with young kids, there is the Tiong Bahru Park Adventure Playground - one of the few remaining playgrounds with a large sandpit. Also experience Singapore's famous hawker culture at the recently refurbished Tiong Bahru Market and Food Centre, which is known for the wide variety of local delights available.

Jalan Besar


Best for hipster-type millennials who want a little bit of everything

Jalan Besar, began in the 1880s as a track through a nipah and betel nut plantation, before developing into a major road. As one of the oldest roads in Singapore, Jalan Besar has been gazetted as a conserved area to preserve and enhance its heritage.

In recent years, Jalan Besar and the streets around it have become a hip enclave with a growing number of independent boutiques, swish restaurants, and modern coffee houses. Explorers can experiment with their creative side through craft workshops at The Refinery. Later, they can check out The Refinery’s yakitori restaurant on the first floor and bespoke cocktail bar on the second floor.

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