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Little India
Photograph: Unsplash/Keane Chua

The other coolest neighbourhoods to explore in Singapore

Katong can keep its crown but these other neighbourhoods deserve some recognition too

Delfina Utomo
Written by
Delfina Utomo
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We're happy for Katong to be recognised as one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world – and it's truly a deserving title for the charming heritage neighbourhood by the sea. But we also have our sights (and hearts) set on these other neighbourhoods in Singapore that we feel are equally as cool and exciting in its own way. What is your favourite neighbourhood in the city? 

RECOMMENDED: The ultimate guide to Katong and Joo Chiat

  • Things to do

Jalan Besar simply translates to literally mean 'big or wide road'. How big is the neighbourhood, you ask? Jalan Besar is a tale of two former swamps – one by the Rochor River and the other by the Kallang River. Stretching between the two points, most of it has been reclaimed and now houses a myriad of wallet-friendly restaurants and cafés, as well as cool shops worth stretching a dollar for. It's also home to the Jalan Besar Stadium which has hosted some major sporting events. 

GUIDE TO JALAN BESAR

The perfect day
A visit to Jalan Besar warrants a coffee stop at Chye Seng Huat Hardware where you should opt to sit at the outdoor courtyard for some people watching. Spend the day walking in the neighbourhood where you will see temples, an old-school fish shop and of course Jalan Besar Stadium. Pick up some indoor plants at The Nursery and then treat yourself to a bowl of fried porridge at Dynasty Fried Porridge.

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One of Singapore's oldest residential estates, Everton Park was constructed in 1965 and housed the Singapore Harbour Board staff until its renovation in 1979. It's separated into two rows of flats, blocks 1-3 and 4-6. Today, Everton Park has transformed into an area with a charm of its own. The estate and the surrounding Spottiswoode area is brimming with character – with cafes, spas, boutiques, pottery studios and art galleries calling the area home. Not to mention the heritage street murals that can be found around every street corner.  

GUIDE TO EVERTON PARK

The perfect day
Get ready for an art day out at Everton Park and visit a couple of private galleries in the area like Art Potters Gallery and Art Agenda. Perk up your day with a trusty cuppa from Nylon Coffee Roasters. Before you leave the neighbourhood, remember to pick up some traditional ang ku kueh from Ji Xiang Confectionery.

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  • Things to do

Did you know that Little India once had a racecourse, cattle herders and brick kilns? Before it was given its current name in the 1980s, the cultural and historical district was simply known as Serangoon. It wasn't even assigned in the Raffles Town Plan as an area for the Indian community in Singapore. In fact, it was mostly inhabited by Europeans in the 1840s before cattle trading took root in 1860. Business started booming, and the area became a mostly Indian trade as traders employed Indian migrant workers. 

GUIDE TO LITTLE INDIA

Today, the vibrant ethnic enclave retains its unique heritage with a tantalising blend of restaurants dishing out traditional South Asian dishes, buildings stamped with contemporary street art, and age-old temples like the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple. Whether you're looking to learn more about Singapore's Indian community, get your fill of biryani, or shop for beautiful sarees, Little India is the place to be.

The perfect day
Join the early morning queues to get some fresh produce at Tekka Market – and then wind down with a cup of teh tarik at the food centre there. Take a walk around the neighbourhood to take in the old shophouses with loads of history and colourful murals around the area before dropping by the iconic Mustafa Centre for more shopping. When you're done, head to the corner of Verdun Road for some crispy ghee rava masala dosa from Nagercoil Arya Bhavan.

  • Things to do

While Seletar might be one of Singapore's more undiscovered neighbourhoods, there's still more to the area than just the Airport. It's named after the Orang Seletar, a group of indigenous people who practised a nomadic way of life in the mangrove forests in the area. Seletar was also used for rubber plantations before redevelopment works saw both mangroves and plantations being cleared to set up a military airbase for the British. Today, the former colonial estate retains a rustic vibe and often doesn't feel like you're in Singapore. Explore the wetlands and cycle by the waterside – Seletar is also home to plenty of swanky eateries and cosy cafés. Here's what you can do at this chill 'hood.

GUIDE TO SELETAR

The perfect day
Things can start a little later in this quiet neighbourhood. Cycle to the Hangar66 Cafe to get some coffee and light snacks before exploring the tranquil Hampstead Wetlands Park. When the golden hour hits, cycle over to Seletar Fishing Village to explore the hidden beach at low tide and catch the beautiful sunset. 

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  • Things to do

It was once the centre of quarrying activities of Singapore, but these days Bukit Batok and the neighbouring Bukit Gombak is a tranquil residential town full of hidden gems. The former quarries are now attractions in the neighbourhood and make for some of the most picturesque spots in Singapore. 

GUIDE TO BUKIT BATOK AND BUKIT GOMBAK

The perfect day
If you don't already know, this West side precinct is packed with many sights to see so strap on those walking shoes and check out the quarries at Bukit Batok Nature Park and Little Guilin. After that, explore the hidden Seng Chew Quarry near Bukit Gombak MRT station for its "magical" water.  

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