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Nanyang Primary School
Photograph: Valeriy Eydlin/Shutterstock

10 colourful spots in Singapore perfect for Instagram

Take some time to discover these cheerful corners of Singapore

Cheryl Sekkappan
Written by
Cheryl Sekkappan
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There’s nothing like a splash of colour to brighten your mood (and Instagram feed). You may be familiar with iconic landmarks like the Peranakan Houses at Koon Seng, but there are many other vibrant spots dotted around Singapore that have equally rich and interesting backstories. Besides upping your social media game, it’s a great opportunity to get reacquainted with the surrounding neighbourhoods too.

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Sim Kwong Ho Shophouses
Photograph: Roots

Sim Kwong Ho Shophouses

Next time you're in Balestier, stop to admire the Sim Kwong Ho Shophouses. Built in 1926 by a female developer named Madam Sim Cheng Neo, these colourful buildings are an example of the Chinese-Baroque or Singapore Eclectic style. The bright yellows, reds, greens and blues may be what first catches your eye, but look closer and you'll see Eastern architectural influences in the moulded wall columns, pediments and glazed floral wreaths. Familiar Eastern motifs like peacocks, bats and other mythical creatures can also be observed. 

Nanyang Primary School
Photograph: Valeriy Eydlin/Shutterstock

Nanyang Primary School

Nanyang Primary School looks like a cross between a spaceship and a kueh lapis (rainbow sweet layer cake). This stunning building was built in 2015 as an extension of the existing school by Australian architectural firm studio505 with local practice LT&T architects. The design mimics a valley, creating a shared space for student activities at the heart of the school, while remaining closed off and private to surrounding residential blocks. Snap a shot from a distance (we wouldn't want to disrupt any learning after all), before heading off for a cuppa at nearby Atlas Coffeehouse or Botanic Gardens further away.

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The Peranakan houses on Koon Seng Road
Photograph: Shutterstock

The Peranakan houses on Koon Seng Road

The Peranakan Houses on Koon Seng Road are famed for their pastel hues. Once used as coconut plantations, the land was eventually developed as more Peranakan merchants and families moved into the Joo Chiat area in the early 20th century, leaving behind these distinctive terrace houses. Some of them are still occupied, so take a quick shot at a respectful distance before going on your way. If you’re early, remember to snag some delicious, crispy prata just down the road too.

Rainbow Block of Hougang (Block 316)
Photograph: National Heritage Board

Rainbow Block of Hougang (Block 316)

There are many old HDB buildings in Hougang and for some reason, there is more creative license exercised when it comes to the exterior paint colours for these older flats. Visit the popular rainbow mural at Block 316 in Hougang or behold the large sky mural on the Block 25 as you enter the mature estate on Upper Serangoon Road. 

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  • Things to do
  • Rochor

Fun fact: the former house of Tan Teng Niah used to be all white – hard to believe when you look at its colourful facade today. Said to be the last Chinese villa of its kind in Little India, it was built by businessman Tan Teng Niah for his beloved wife, and was only given a makeover when the house was restored for commercial use in the 1980s. While you’re there, try to find the whimsical Cattleland 2 mural down Kerbau Road.

Spiral stairs at Bugis
Photo Credit: @brookehopdu/Instagram

Spiral stairs at Bugis

You would normally think twice before heading down a narrow back alley, but this one behind Bugis Village is anything but seedy. Instead, you’ll find a row of candy-coloured staircases jutting out the back of traditional shophouses. They were meant as fire escape routes for night soil carriers, but these days, their cheerful, retro-cool vibe makes them perfect for the gram. The stairs are also a stone’s throw from Bugis Street, where you can get street snacks and bargain shop.

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Alkaff Bridge
Photograph: Shutterstock

Alkaff Bridge

Internationally acclaimed Filipino artist Pacita Abad painted Singapore’s first “Bridge of Art” in the final months of her fight against cancer. Her hope was to bring art into the everyday lives of Singaporeans, and we dare say she’s achieved it. Take in all 55 colours of the bold design and try to spot the artist’s signature on one of the beams while you’re at it. Afterwards, it’s a short jaunt to the Book Café for some food and rest.

  • Art

It’s not uncommon to see locals and tourists alike stop across the road from this rainbow-coloured building for a selfie. Originally built to house an expanded police force investigating secret society activities, it is now home to two Singaporean ministries. The building looks best in the golden sunset light, so be sure to squeeze that photo stop in before heading for dinner and a tipple at Clarke Quay.

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Haji Lane
Photograph: Singapore Tourism Board

Haji Lane

Singapore’s hippest neighbourhood Haji Lane is also one of the most colourful. Many visit for its eclectic mix of cafés and shops, but you can’t miss the big and bold murals on the walls. Standouts include the art by Ceno2 outside The Singapura Club, by Prettyfreakyfantasy (Pff) outside Juice Clinic and the iconic El Lío artwork by Jaba on the giant wall facing Ophir Road. If you’re down for some shopping, you can pick up vintage-inspired apparel at Grammah, funky knick-knacks at Spoilmarket or even tarot cards and healing stones at Life by Design.

  • Things to do
  • Tanglin

Get a taste of the four seasons at the National Orchid Garden. Perched on the highest hill of the Botanic Gardens, this sanctuary houses 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of our national flower. You can spend a few hours exploring all four zones of the garden, grouped and designed to reflect the colours of spring, summer, autumn and winter. Entry is $5 for adults and $1 for students and senior citizens.

For more instagrammable places in Singapore

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