Sometimes you just want to get off the tourist trail and discover those places that only the locals know about. Here’s an insider’s guide to five such places in Singapore… just don’t tell too many people about them!
This sign-less, sage-green shophouse spans the corner on what could be Singapore’s most picturesque street. Tucked away at the far end of Chinatown, this is a lot further than most tourists would normally venture, but is garnering quite a cult following among those in the know. Intimate gatherings of friends share bottles of red from the quirky wine list, or sample vintage recipe prohibition-era cocktails. So if you’re looking for a rowdy night of beer-swilling and dancing, go to Clarke Quay instead.
This narrow little back alley in the Arab Quarter may not look like much, but is in fact a hip and trendy shopping destination for young Singaporeans, who come here looking for cult labels and vintage clothing in the offbeat boutiques that line the lane. It is also one of the few places in Singapore where you will see graffiti. If you prefer the predictability of high street fashion and shopping malls, head to Orchard Road instead.
This glorified rustic shack with its plastic chairs, creaking ceiling fans and aging sporting memorabilia offers up a glimpse of Singapore’s colonial past. It’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but die-hard fans flock here for its greasy spoon-style fare, and to knock back a surprising variety of (very cheap) British beers. If you like to sip your drinks from a cocktail glass to trendy music, try the New Asia Bar instead.
Singapore’s first independent contemporary arts centre showcases a wide selection of exhibitions, events and performances, ranging from dance and theatre, to poetry recitals, rock band gigs and screenings of art house films. It prides itself on supporting young, emerging Singapore artists. If you prefer admiring work from established and well-known artists, visit the Singapore Art Museum instead.
Yixing Xuan Teahouse
Yixing Xuan translates as ‘happy and relaxing small house’ and is where you can buy some of the finest Chinese teas in Singapore. The welcoming staff will often invite you take a seat and sample some of the produce before you buy, and will have you distinguishing between an Oolong and a Lung Ching in no time. If you prefer a grande skinny soy hazelnut latte, perhaps go to Starbucks instead…
For more great Hidden Gems in Singapore, see the Hidden Gems guide on NileGuide here