Whilst they may not be as high-profile or as well-known as other parts of Singapore, such as Chinatown, Little India, and Bugis, the neighbouring areas of Joo Chiat and Katong are perfect for visitors who want to learn more about the country’s Peranakan heritage.
Joo Chiat takes its name from an affluent Chinese landowner. With brightly coloured shop houses and rows of colourful terraced houses, it is an attractive area to take a stroll. The residential area of Katong was formerly filled with coconut plantations. There are many great places to eat, drink, and shop in this part of the country, which is just a short drive from the pulsating heart of downtown Singapore. Offering plenty of charms and a sense of how things were in times gone by, here are some top spots to seek out in Katong and Joo Chiat:
Kwan Im Temple
Located on Tembeling Road, Kwan Im Tong Temple is still an active place of worship for members of the local community. Dating back to the early 1900s, the temple was renovated and expanded over following years. Merging Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist beliefs, the main features of each religion are blended to create balance. The main hall is home to many religious and spiritual statues and pictures, and the smell of incense permeates the air. A large statue of the Goddess of Mercy stands by the main doorway. People go here to pray and make merit.
Koon Seng Road
Koon Seng Road is a fabulous place for photographers and fans of eye-catching architecture. The heritage shop houses look like something from a pastel painting, and you’ll notice that they are adorned with many traditional Peranaken designs and embellishments.
Ernest Zacharevic Mural
Ernest Zacharevic is the artist responsible for much of the fantastic street art in Malaysia’s Penang, and he has also produced some terrific works in Singapore as well. Close to Joo Chiat Terrace, you can see a large painting on the side of a building that depicts two young boys riding scribbled animals and jousting with household objects. This piece is called the Jousting Painters. Right next to it, there are three bollards that have been painted to look like Minions!
Geylang Serai Market
If you love trying lots of different local food on your travels and adventures, Geylang Serai Market is one place you don’t want to miss! Dishing up an exciting array of Malay Singaporean fare, you are all but guaranteed to find something to tempt your taste buds. Browse the stalls on the ground floor and see how the locals shop, and then head upstairs to dig into a variety of dishes.
Joo Chiat Terrace Park
A recommendation for families who are travelling in Singapore with the kids, take a break and let the youngsters run and play at Joo Chiat Terrace Park. A relatively new and modern play area, you’ll find plenty of places to chill out in the shade, as well as fun play equipment, and exercise machines.
Joo Chiat Complex
Shopaholics will enjoy browsing in Joo Chiat Complex. Although it isn’t as modern or as high-brow as some of the swankier shopping outlets in Singapore, you can get a taste of times gone by and pick up some traditional items. With clothing, textiles, accessories, crafts, artwork, and more, it’s well worth a peek when you’re in the area.