A local’s guide to shopping and chilling in Singapore

Whether you’re in search of retail therapy or want to mix with the cool crowd at the city’s best coffee shops and galleries, days out in Singapore can be as diverse as you wish. Add a good dollop of culture and flavour-packed culinary pit stops, and it’s easy to get under the skin of the real Singapore.  

Kick things off right with a coffee in trendy Jalan Besar. Known for its bars and nightlife, this area is also teeming with excellent coffee shops set in quaint shop houses. Choose from traditional coffee shops, new wave French patisseries and cool contemporary baristas. The General Co is a good pick; its small craft store upstairs also runs workshops.

Push on to Tiong Bahru: one of Singapore’s oldest neighbourhoods and now a hub for independent businesses, the district boasts vinyl shops, art galleries, indie boutiques and fashionable cafés. Leaf through the rare editions housed in the beloved Singapore bookshop, Books Actually. Visitors can get lost in the enchanting collections of poetry, art, new writing and old texts; the shop champions the local literary scene.

If music is more your passion point, Tiong Bahru’s Curated Records has more than 1,000 vinyls in stock. Art lovers can muse over the paintings, antiques and vintage furniture on show at Degiosart Gallery. Nearby Grey Projects is a non-profit, artist-run creative space home to two galleries, a residence apartment, a library and studio; it also offers an evolving run of events and exhibitions.

If you’re visiting over the weekend, be sure to book a table at one of Singapore’s legendary champagne brunches, where you’ll dine on lobster, steak, seafood platters and truffles – experience the most indulgent start to any day! Push the boat out at Edge on Raffles Boulevard, dine overlooking the pool at Dolce Vita or at The Clifford Pier, with fabulous city views.  

Exploring the authentic alleys of Singapore is an absolute must when in the Lion City. Weave in and out of the shophouses on Haji Lane and be spoilt for choice when it comes to clothes, jewellery and Singaporean treasures. For the fashionistas out there, pay a visit to Know It Nothing; a two-storey, industrial-style store with a seriously cool urban vibe, selling some of the hottest labels around (Nike, New Balance and COLAB, to name a few). Its stylish architecture alone makes the trip worthwhile. Many of Haji Lane’s buildings are decorated with vibrant paintings and graffiti, which make for seriously cool photos. After all that exploring, relax in one of the boho cafés with a bevvy in hand, and soak up the atmosphere.

For high-end names and department stores, make a beeline to Orchard Road. Here you’ll find all the gleaming malls, top fashion brands and boutiques – though it’s worth also taking a look at Keepers, which houses a superb edit of Singaporean designers, independents and home-grown labels: from Supermama, Naiise and Charles & Keith to Carrie K and Gnome & Bow. If you’re visiting over the festive season, don’t miss Orchard Road’s dazzling Christmas lights.

Enjoy a change of pace and get a glimpse of Peranakan culture and tradition by embarking on The Intan Tea Tour, where you’ll see antique Peranakan memorabilia in Joo Chiat and then indulge in kueh: colourful, traditional snacks and desserts.

When night falls, the city is brimming with entertainment options, from live music and open mic nights along Haji Lane to outdoor movies hosted by MovieMob around the city’s most impressive alfresco spaces. Check out performances, gigs and talks at the iconic Art Science Museum and see arthouse film screenings at the Projector, on the fifth floor of Golden Mile Tower. With more than 3,000 entertainment options on hand, this city is so rich in exhilarating experiences, you’ll be spoilt for choice.

The Best Ways To Explore

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