You may not look twice at these grittier areas of Singapore, best known for funeral parlours, dingy karaoke lounges and a red-light district.
But, upon closer inspection, you’ll see that Jalan Besar, which means “big road” in Malay, and the adjacent Lavender, are peppered with unique landmarks, cool cafes and quirky shops.
Founded in 1927 by an owner “whose identity remains unknown today,” the hotel was restored in 2012 with Art Deco and other architectural details. Even the interior oozes an old-world charm!
383 Jln Besar, Singapore 209001
NEXT: Sin Hoe Huat Cafe →
Even if you don’t stay overnight at this boutique hotel, drop by the Sin Hoe Huat Cafe on the ground floor for some chicken curry ($8.90 with a drink) or kaya toast ($6.00 with soft boiled eggs and a drink).
383 Jln Besar, Singapore 209001
NEXT: Chye Seng Huat Hardware →
Enter through a big gate that was previously the entrance to an actual hardware store, and you’ll find a giant coffee bar where baristas brew some of the best joe in Singapore (from $4 a cup). This third-wave coffee shop pays homage to the hardware companies once common in this industrial area of the past.
150 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207563
NEXT: Swee Choon Tim Sum Restaurant →
Open through the night till 6 a.m., bustling Swee Choon serves up hot longs (dim sum baskets) of bao (filled buns) and siew mai (pork and shrimp dumplings), among other items on its extensive menu (from $1.40 to $8). Don’t be put off if there’s a long queue – it moves quickly!
191 Jln Besar, Singapore 208882
NEXT: Petain Road shophouses →
Be sure to snap a picture as you pass by the row of pretty shophouses along Petain Road. Built in 1930 in a Chinese-Baroque style, the façades feature European and Japanese tiles and plaster reliefs of birds, flowers and more.
Petain Rd, Singapore
NEXT: Jalan Besar Stadium and Swimming Complex →
One of Singapore’s largest football stadiums, it’s considered to be the birthplace of Singapore football. While the stadium itself is not open for public use, you can hang out at the adjoining swimming complex, which has a full-sized pool and a smaller one for kids (from $1 for adult citizens and permanent residents, $1.30 for everyone else).
100 Tyrwhitt Rd, Singapore 207542
NEXT: Mighty Velo →
The friendly staff at little Mighty Velo are the folding bike specialists in Singapore. They carry Brompton bikes (from $1,640), bike accessories like bags and saddles, and offer repair services.
259 Lavender St, Singapore 338793
NEXT: Antoinette →
Non-descript surroundings hide this atas (high-class) French-inspired cafe. Go for the macarons (from $2.50 each) and cakes (from $8 per slice), or fusion salted egg yolk croissant (from $2.50). They’ve also got classical French food great for lunches.
30 Penhas Rd, Singapore 208188
NEXT: Char Restaurant →
You know you’ve struck gold when you find a place that serves glistening, fatty char siew (roast caramelised pork) with an addictive, sticky sweet sauce ($6 per 100g). Also try: prawn paste chicken wings ($12) and roast duck (from $14).
363 Jln Besar, Singapore 208994
NEXT: City Square Mall →
Singapore’s first eco-mall is packed with all the essentials – a cinema, supermarket and sizeable Daiso outlet. It also has a large number of home stores. Fact: Once upon a time, the site housed New World Amusement Park, complete with cabarets, open-air cinemas, a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round.
180 Kitchener Rd, Singapore 208539
NEXT: Kam Leng Hotel →
By Andre Theng, The Finder (Issue 284), July 2017
Like this? Read about other things to do here.