Besides hawker haunts, budget buys and hidden gems, Queenstown is also home to a couple of firsts in Singapore – think satellite town, public library and housing estates. Named after Queen Elizabeth II, the area was formerly a swampy valley that Hokkien, Teochew and Hakka settlers called home before the British military set up camp at Alexandra Road. During the 50s, it was cleared to make way for housing estates. And with that brought plenty of things to eat, drink, see and do.
Not all of Queenstown’s British past has been demolished, some black-and-white colonial houses still exist in scenic Wessex Estate. Stroll past blocks of apartments and semi-detached houses that were previously occupied by non-commissioned British officers and soldiers. Today, these houses are mostly residential, with some transformed into studio spaces for artists.
Switch up your home essentials for new ones from the Swedish furniture giant. While you’re at it, check out the showrooms for ideas to jazz up your crib. If all that shopping worked up an appetite, stop by the restaurant for Swedish meatballs with mash and broccoli, starting from $6. It also has local dishes like mee siam, mee rebus or carrot cake at $2.50 a pop.
Pick a book and make yourself comfy at Singapore’s first full-time public library that’s chock-full of nostalgia. But don’t judge a book by its cover – this 49-year-old library has been keeping up with the times, hosting new titles, interesting talks, DIY sessions and movie screenings for bookworms of all ages to enjoy. Go on, get lost in a book and lose track of time.
This two-storey shopping centre is a gem for bargain-savvy shoppers. Revamp your wardrobe with steals from Cotton On, Charles and Keith and Pedro, or stock up on stationery from Typo. When it comes to food, head to Fish Mart Sakuraya and fill your shopping basket with Japanese rice, fresh sashimi, sake, sushi and more.
Did you know that Colbar is short for ‘Colonial Bar’? This old-school kopitiam used to be a canteen for the British Army when it first opened in 1953. Back then it served a selection of British beers and Asian-Western comfort food. Now, its menu has expanded to include curry, Chinese dishes, sweet treats and milkshakes. Regulars swear by its prawn cocktail ($11) and T-Bone steak with chips and peas ($25).
This coffee joint has been roasting and brewing beans for more than half a century and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, it just opened a second outlet within FairPrice Xtra VivoCity. Tiong Hoe offers beans and blends from all over the world. Ask for a brew from its rotational range of single-origin coffee beans roasted, ground and brewed in-house. Can’t get enough coffee? The team also hosts coffee appreciation workshops and sells roasted and raw beans.
Opened in 1974, ABC Brickworks has long been a favourite among Westies for hawker food. With nearly a hundred stalls offering everything from Penang assam laksa and Hokkien mee to prawn noodles and oyster omelette, you’re spoilt for choice. And if late-night hunger pangs kick in, this hawker centre makes a great supper spot as several stalls open past 11pm.