Let it be known – Haji Lane is the coolest street in Singapore and one of the best streets you can find anywhere in the world. That’s according to our annual Time Out Index, put together with the help of our global editors and experts, and 27,000-plus city dwellers globally who shared their favourite local hangouts.
Bugis came out 29th on the list of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world in the 2020 Time Out Index, knocking it out of the park with its vibrant mix of street art, culture, heritage and tons of heart. This year’s Time Out Index drilled deeper, asking 27,000 plus city dwellers which specific streets they think are the coolest too. It makes perfect sense that Haji Lane, which sits at the nexus of colourful, mural-splashed precinct Bugis, won out in the hearts of locals and experts this year.
What do we love about Haji Lane? Cool points go to its unbridled and raw creative energy. We’ve already mentioned the stunning street art – the walls at Mexican restaurant Piedra Negra, Singapura Club and the nearby outdoor gallery Gelam Gallery are painted in strange, bold and beautiful murals – topped only by Southeast Asia’s first official Hall of Fame splashed on the metal canvas noise barriers along the adjacent Bali Lane and Ophir Road. That’s not to mention the burgeoning art talent in places like the nearby Cuturi Gallery, a gallery space that has exhibited art by the likes of transgender artist Marla Bendini and emerging talent Aisha Rosli.
What keeps locals and tourists coming back are also the eclectic shops lining the narrow, car-free lane. Go vintage-shopping at Nonmainstream and Grammah, or pick up cute trinkets and handmade items at Hygge and Craft Assembly. Haji Lane is also a great gateway to other shops in the area – and into the rich Malay culture that’s so deeply tied to this precinct. Discover traditional batiks at Toko Aljunied, one of the oldest textile shops on Arab Street, and at batik boutique Galeri Tokokita on North Bridge Road. And for some real cultural immersion, head to the Malay Heritage Centre at Sultan Gate.
Is a street really cool without a great nightlife scene? The pandemic may have put a dent in Haji Lane’s sundown vibes, but when things go back to normal, we hope to see locals and tourists packing the streets with refreshing pints and bar bites again. There’s the laid-back Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall with its Asia-inspired cocktails, serene Going Om and funky Funq with live musicians crooning sweet tunes far into the night.
Among the 30 coolest streets around the world are awesome destinations like Calle Thames in Buenos Aires, Star Street in Hong Kong and Witte de Withstraat in Rotterdam, with Smith Street in Melbourne topping the chart. We’re proud to say that Haji Lane (and the Bugis neighbourhood around it!) stands tall.
Discover more gems in the neighbourhood:
The ultimate guide to Kampong Gelam
Galeri Tokokita: the batik boutique in the heart of Kampong Gelam
The Fabulous Baker Boy: a café and bakery with impressive tiered cakes and brunch plates