The island nation of Singapore isn’t large. However, it has many separate districts, which are quite distinct from one another. For new visitors, when they get bored of one district, they only must pick another and transit there to enjoy a complete change of experiences. Similarly, while Singapore has excellent cuisine, there’s plenty of fusion dining options, plus both Little India and Chinatown to enjoy for variety.
Here are a few of the cultural options and interesting districts to enjoy on a visit to Singapore.
Joo Chiat/Katong is an enticing mixture of modern boutiques, hole-in-the-wall eateries, and basic houses made into small converted retail stores in pleasing pastel shades. There’s plenty of Indonesian, Malay and Chinese influence to be found here. The slim lanes and tight walkways make it a squeeze to get past in spots, so make your visit outside of the rush hour period.
The community of Peranakan people is welcoming to visitors. There are organized trails to walk through the area with a guide pointing out the highlights. The Hindu Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple is situated here. The Choice Cuts Goods & Coffee café is a good place to take the weight off your feet or beat the rain and the little Chin Mee Chin Confectionery store is packed with kids eager to get some sugary snacks before heading to school.
The Civic District has many older buildings that suggest a little of its long history. The district began in 1822 by Sir Raffles, the founder of the island. Used as a trading post initially, the Singapore River was included in the planning for port access and buildings to support local business and the movement of goods for trade.
Since this time, many older buildings have undergone restoration. There are several good museums like the Asian Civilizations Museum to visit. The National Gallery Singapore is a must-see for the most substantial collection of south-east Asian artwork anywhere in the region. There are also excellent performances to take in at both the Concert Hall and the Victoria Theatre too
Little India in the Heart of Singapore
When you need a break from the Singaporean cultural experience, then the district of Little India which the majority of the Indian community on the island call home, is an interesting place to come. It’s a part of town the buzzes along, just like the streets of India, with eager clothiers selling saris in an array of vibrant colors. The Mustafa Center operates 24-hours a day in case you need a specialty item urgently too.
In the main streets, you’ll find some tasty vegetarian street food originating from Southern India where vegetarian, not meat, is present on most restaurant menus. The classic tandoori chicken, rich in spices and flavor, from the Northern parts of India, is also available here and not to be missed for carnivores. There’s also plenty of quickly prepared roti prata, which is the local take on circular pancakes, and milky hot teas are found here too. Mumbai city dwellers will find it affordable to pick up some Mumbai to Singapore flight tickets and take in Little India for themselves.
A trip to Singapore is a varied one because in many ways it’s an island of contrasts. Old traditions and architecture mix with the latest skyscrapers and multi-million-dollar yachts at the HarbourFront. It just depends what Singapore you wish to see on your visit.