Often featured as a major tourism spot, the lively Joo Chiat, no matter how crowded any day of the week, we cannot deny that it deserves the attention it enjoys from locals and tourists.
Steeped with storied culture and history, Singapore’s first heritage town is not taking a down-slow anytime soon.
The quaint cafes, busy restaurants, thriving galleries & museums, and the distinct Peranakan legacy maintain a prominent footing that is unwavering and worth celebrating. Here’s our local’s finest recommendation for a straight-to-the-heart heritage visit.
1. Start The Day With Nyonya Dumplings and Kueh from Kim Choo Kueh Chang
What could be a better introduction than a delightful selection of rice dumplings with a history dating back to 1945? The staple is a rice morsel filled with chicken, chili prawn, and pork and enrobed with bamboo leaves in the shape of a pyramid. A presentation that has stayed the same way since its creation.
To diversify the palate, other Nyonya kueh in various colors, shapes, and flavors are just delightfully dainty, particularly the kueh salat, made of rice and pandan egg custard. Get your fill to energize!
Address: 60 Joo Chiat Place, Singapore 427784
Hours: 9:00 AM – 9:00 PM Daily
2. Marvel at the Dazzling Architecture of Koon Seng Shophouses
Inarguably, the most colorful street in Singapore with its iconic pastel terrace houses were built in the 1920s in the distinct Peranakan tapestry of ornate details and characteristic influences of Chinese and Malay. While they are built in the same style, no two shophouses are alike.
Take the time to spot the subtle differences and appreciate the candy-colored charm of these long-storied edifices that were lovingly conserved. Possibly one of the most photographed streets in the country, it’s a shame to skip a selfie with this stunning background.
Address: 257 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427540
Hours: 24 Hours
3. Learn the Art of Peranakan Beading & Embroidery at Rumah Bebe
From bespectacled shoes and matching bags with distinctly Peranakan flair, connect with the deep history of this art through the meticulous handwork of glass beads, thread, and choicest fabrics. Housed in an almost 100-year-old Peranakan home, it’s almost a meditative treat to create beaded pieces that are full of character and are truly one of their kind.
The house also offers a full range of activities, including the in-house bake-cook shop and a heritage boutique selling ceramicware and fashion pieces.
Address: 113 East Coast Road, Singapore 428803
Hours: 9:30 AM – 6:30 PM (Tue-Sun)
4. Afternoon Tea at Straits Enclave
Among the elaborate shophouses is a private museum and workshop that exudes elegance and offers a sophisticated afternoon tea experience like no other.
A perfect place to catch up with friends, you’ll learn how to make kueh pie tee, and other kueh delights with a specialty brewed tea amidst the daintiest Peranakan grandeur.
At $38 each, a minimum of 4 people book this riveting experience through their Facebook page.
Address: 318A Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427569
Hours: Book your schedule here
5. Grab Some Souvenirs from Cat Socrates
For a sweet break from the heritage experience, this modern store full of interesting and quaint finds is not just for cat lovers alone. Don’t be surprised if you’ll be welcomed by the charm of the resident cat as it gracefully socializes with visitors.
It sure feels like Christmas here with so much pretty merch to get your hands on. From ceramics, sundries, stationery, books, trinkets, totes, and some artful decor. It’s also a great place to hunt for gifts and interior design pieces. Such a fuzzy, welcoming space to cheer you up.
Address: 448 Joo Chiat Street, Singapore 427661
Hours: 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM (Tue-Sat), 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM (Sun), & 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM (Mon)
As the country progresses rapidly, it’s great to know that we don’t leave our heritage and culture behind. And Joo Chiat is a wonderful representation of the rich past that shaped our identity. If you haven’t seen Joo Chiat fully, these five recommended activities will give you an in-depth look into the past, the present-day Joo Chiat, and the future full of potential.
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