Definitely hit charming Haji Lane in the Arab Quarter! Better known as Kampong Glam, this pedestrianised lane cuts through the Malay-Muslim enclave near the Sultan Mosque. Lined with former 19th-century shophouses transformed into trendy little boutiques, it’s a mix of heritage architecture, modern boutiques and hip hangouts. Browse open-fronted shops selling textiles, rugs, wicker baskets, perfumes and spices and trendy boutiques. Don’t miss the Blog Shop at 35 Haji Lane, which champions cutting-edge creations from local fashion designers.
Hip and historical
Tiong Bahru is one of Singapore’s oldest residential areas; recently, it’s also become one of its coolest. Here, you can simultaneously admire heritage architecture and Singaporean hipsters; when you tire of building-spotting and people-watching, take a break in one of the many cute cafés – 40 Hands Coffee, for example, which takes pride in its sustainably sourced beans. The guys behind 40 Hands (Spa Esprit Group) also own Open Door Policy – where chef Ryan Clift rustles up modern bistro fare – and Tiong Bahru Bakery, famed for its squid-ink sandwiches and Paris-rivalling pastries. Shop off the calories with a browse in Nana & Bird, which stocks a covetable array of women’s fashion and homewares, or thumb through obscure titles at the characterful independent bookstore, BooksActually. (This is also the place to stock up on beautifully designed back-to-school stationery, even if your school days are long gone.) Fancy the sound of champagne pork ribs and home-made silken tofu? Have a memorable meal at Por Kee Eating House 1996 (+65 6221 0582), at 69 Seng Poh Ln #01-02.
Boho Dempsey Hill
It may be close to Orchard Road, but the vibe of Dempsey Hill is more bohemian Need a special dress for a special occasion? Try Rouge, where designer Romyda Keth showcases her statement frocks (along with creations from other local talent). We’re talking bright pops of colour and dramatic tailoring. For something more low key, go for a drink at the Rabbit Hole bar, set in a former chapel and with a lovely, foliage-fringed outside area.
Stay up all night
If you’re loathe to go to bed, head to nocturnal (and aptly named) Club Street. You could spend a week in 1-Altitude (+65 6438 0410) alone – this three-level pleasure palace at 1 Raffles Place hosts several vertiginous galleries and bars. It’s also the world’s highest al fresco bar. Stay in the clouds for LeVel33 restaurant-cum-craft-brewery at 8 Marina Blvd (+65 6834 3133) and the Singaporean outpost of world-famous Ku De Ta (+65 6688 7688) at 1 Bayfront Avenue.
INSIDER TIP ‘Keepers boutique started as a pop-up shop on Orchard Road and can be easily missed if you’re not in the know, which is surprising given its position on the main strip of Singers town. The shop stocks one-off pieces by local Singaporean designers – the jewellery selection is outstanding, and perfect if you’re looking for something different,’ says fashion journalist Tahirah Conliffe.
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