A Guide to Singapore's Coolest Neighborhoods
Singapore's shimmering skyline and Marina Bay district are instantly recognizable, drawing thousands of tourists to this modern haven each year to experience its famous attractions. But beyond Singapore's stainless steel downtown, the heart of the city can be found in its thriving cultural neighborhoods. Each enclave embodies the mish-mash of Asian cultures that coexist in this city-state, and you can find the neighborhood that best fits your mood and taste.
An explosion of colors greets you the minute you step into Little India. The brightly-colored buildings line streets full of delicious food and eye-catching shops. Stop by Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples, admiring a handful of beautiful murals and public art along the way. Shop for textiles and knick-knacks at Little India Arcade, before stopping for a lunch of spicy biryani at the Tekka Centre Hawker Market.
While the draw for Singapore is its modern design and forward-thinking technology, Chinatown is a perfect blend of the old and new. This part of town comes alive when the sun goes down, and you'll find the hands-down best food in the city here. Whether you're sampling the stalls at the Maxwell Road Hawker Center, wandering Chinatown Food Street, or meeting up with friends at a hip local bar, you can't go wrong filling your stomach in this region. Definitely make a stop at Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice Noodle, a Michelin-starred spot offering plates under $3. Also on your to-do list is visiting traditional temples, like the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, which stands out against the modern skyscrapers in the background.
This riverside enclave might not look like much during the day, but it's a circus when the sun goes down. Clarke Quay is perfect for those looking for late-night action. A hotspot for nightlife, this vibrant area boasts plenty of glittering bars and clubs that will get your feet moving. From thumping dance clubs to rooftop bars, you and your friends will have plenty of places to enjoy the night, and some great stories to take home.
Aptly-named, this glamorous part of town is sure to delight. Blending Malay culture and a modern, trendy lifestyle, this area is truly unique. Don't miss the golden domes of Sultan Mosque, a central location for Singapore's Mulsim population. Then take your wallet to Haji Lane where quirky boutiques and designer stores sit beside cool bars and cafes. Finish up by perusing the colorful carpets along Arab Street before slipping into a bar for cocktails and dancing.
Dubbed the hippest neighborhood in Singapore, Tiong Bahru is just a few stops away from the city center, and features beautiful art-deco buildings that house independent shops and boutiques. Whether you're looking for a new book, chic home decor, or vintage vinyls, you'll find it all here. One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, Tiong Bahru will delight history buffs and shoppers alike. End an afternoon in this part of town in one of the many colonial-style coffee shops, reading a new book or chatting with local artists.
If you've never experienced Peranakan culture, now's your change. Peranakan culture includes Straits-born people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage. You can find this unique blend of people in the Joo Chiat/Katong neighborhoods, in the restaurants and shops that dominate the area. Not to mention, there are some truly photo-worthy corners. Snack on traditional treats while exploring the colorful homes along Koon Seng Road. Then stop into old-world coffeeshops and colonial shophouses for a quiet afternoon away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
Completely underrated and often overlooked, Everton Park is a delightful gem off Neil Road. Quaint and suburban, Everton Park may not be the hipster paradise Tiong Bahru is, but it still offers a lot for a traveler looking for something off the beaten path. Sip on local coffee before stopping by a vintage barbershop for a shave. Explore the lesser-known cafes and impress your friends with a new favorite spot.
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