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Singapore Sports Hub
Photograph: T.natchai/Shutterstock

The ultimate guide to Kallang

Beyond the longest river in Singapore lies a massive sports hub, a café with a robotic barista, and a Decathlon megastore

By Cam Khalid
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Ever wondered where the Kallang wave originated from? If you guessed anything but Kallang, you need to get your head checked. The name ‘Kallang’ derives from an old Malay reference to a certain group of sea nomads who lived by the Kallang River. It was also home to Singapore’s first civil airport and the old National Stadium. 

Now, a trailblazer, it features the mega Singapore Sports Hub which is easily spotted by its iconic dome. If that’s not enough, Sport Singapore (SportSG) has plans to develop the precinct within the next six years with the inclusion of the Youth Hub which includes an indoor cycling track and spaces for non-traditional sports like speed-climbing and parkour. The Kallang Theatre and its adjoining areas are also set to be an integrated sport, entertainment and lifestyle centre. Other plans include a multi-purpose arena for e-sports events, a themed hotel, and an international sports medicine centre. Can we get Kallang cheer, please?

RECOMMENDED: Ultimate guide to Singapore's neighbourhoods and the ultimate guide to Marine Parade and East Coast Park

Do

Kallang River
Photograph: Wengang Zhai/Unsplash

Kallang River

Things to do Rochor

Fun fact: the Kallang River is the longest river in Singapore. It stretches for 10-kilometres from the Lower Pierce Reservoir to the Kallang Basin. Before making a name for itself as the top spot for water sports, it used to be home to the sea nomads who lived on boats in the Kallang Basin. Today, you'll find canoes and dragon-boats instead. And if you prefer being on foot, jog or walk down the running tracks by the river. Check out the Kolam Ayer Waterfront and its unmissable bridge bathed in vibrant hues which makes a perfect 'gram moment.

Singapore Sports Hub
Photograph: Singapore Sports Hub

Singapore Sports Hub

Sport and fitness Kallang

This massive enclosure has hosted a myriad of sporting events including the HSBC Rugby Sevens and the International Champions Cup at its 55,000 seat National Stadium. And with a name like Singapore Sports Hub, you can expect everything from an Olympic-sized pool, a sheltered running track, a water sports centre, a sports library, and more house here for you to get your fitness on. It also hosts various sports programmes and mass exercise sessions like Zumba and yoga.

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Old Kallang Airport
Photograph: Shutterstock

Old Kallang Airport

Things to do Kallang

The first civil airport built in Singapore back in 1937, the now de-commissioned space is now a recreational area for events – and perhaps a cool, mini-photoshoot for the 'gram. Today, you can still find the Terminal Building, Hangar and entranceway gates on-site, giving you major throwback vibes and excellent backdrops. It's definitely a must to check out if you're within the area. In her second attempt to fly around the world, Amelia Earhart landed at Old Kallang Airport – her 24th pitstop – and called it the “aviation miracle of the East”.

The Cage

Sport and fitness Stadiums Kallang

Deemed as Singapore's "first indoor football stadium", The Cage allows football enthusiasts to bend it like Beckham on six 5-a-side pitches – rain or shine. The space is perfect for small practices, friendly matches, free-flow footies, and simply to show off those fancy footwork you've been working on for some time now. Open on a regular, the venue has energetic music pumping through its speakers to keep the ball rolling.  

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Onsight Climbing Gym
Photograph: Onsight Climbing Gym

Onsight Climbing Gym

Sport and fitness Geylang

More than 2,000-square-feet of bouldering surface and climbing walls dominate this massive facility dedicated to the rope and carabiner. There are 43 lanes, with more than 100 possible routes, and a 15-metre speed climbing wall to flex your Spidey senses, from speed-climbing to bouldering. Even if you haven’t scaled walls before, Onsight offers sport climbing courses and provides all the necessary equipment.

Leisure Park Kallang

Things to do Kallang

This indoor entertainment centre is home to one of the oldest bowling alleys in Singapore, one of two ice skating rinks in the city, and an independent cinema. Hit a strike at the refurbished, 22-lane Kallang Bowl. Nothing but ice, ice, baby – Kallang Ice World boasts superior ice surface, gallery-style spectator seating, and classes that will convert you from a side clinger to a semi-pro skater. For a dose of local and international blockbusters as well as independent films, grab some popcorn at Filmgarde Cineplex.

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Goodman Arts Centre

Things to do Marine Parade

This former grounds of LASALLE College of the Arts is now a  cultural centre of sorts with a Black Box theatre, art spaces, rehearsal studios and rooms for hire. Located within a charming ground surrounded by old school buildings and lush greenery, the art space makes a great setting for you to get those creative juices flowing.

Eat

Camp Kilo Charcoal Club
Photograph: Camp Kilo Charcoal Club

Camp Kilo Charcoal Club

Restaurants Barbecue Kallang

Getting messy with a saucy slab of barbecued pork ribs is best done outside, the sun in your face and grass under your feet. And you’ll have the whole hog at this out-of-the-way American BBQ joint along the Kallang River. We mean that literally: Camp Kilo Charcoal Club is famed for its boneless lechon ($12), barbecue pork ribs (from $15.50), and roast jerk chicken (from $12) that come fresh off the grill.

Cafe Melba
Photograph: Cafe Melba

Café Melba

Restaurants Marine Parade

At some point, you have to take your kids out for a meal, so why not order comforting treats at this Aussie-inspired restaurant located at Goodman Arts Centre? The young ’uns can dig into stacks of pancakes with fresh berries and maple syrup, or French toast with honey at this cosy nook. Kids eat free with every main course ordered on Mondays. But first: let them jump around the bouncy castle (from 3pm on weekdays, and 8am on weekends).

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Banchong Cafe
Photograph: Banchong Cafe

Banchong Café

Restaurants Raffles Place

For starters, Banchong is "a gathering call for the neighbourhood." So gather the gang and start the day with a good ol' breakfast set – freshly made kaya toasts, soft-boiled eggs, and hot kopi or teh – which only sets you back $6 altogether. And if it's past the brekkie hour, satiate your hunger with local dishes like mee siam ($5.60), laksa ($6.90) and curry chicken ($6.90) which comes with either prata or French loaf. What sets this apart from your regular kopitiam, however, is its modern, minimalist setting.  

Old Airport Road Food Centre

Restaurants Hawker Geylang

If it's any indication, the countless snaking lines at the stalls will tell you that this is possibly the most renowned hawker centre on the island. Good food can be had even if you hate standing in queues. Start with the soft, smooth handmade rice rolls from Freshly Made Chee Cheong Fun or chewy pork-stuffed fishballs at Meng Kee Minced Meat Noodle & Foo Chow Fish Ball’s. Be sure to save space for Toa Payoh Rojak, Nam Sing Hokkien Fried Mee and Mattar Road Seafood Barbecue too.

Drink

Crown Coffee
Photograph: Crown Coffee/Facebook

Crown Coffee

Restaurants Cafés Kallang

What sets Crown Coffee apart from other cafés in the city is its robotic barista named Ella. Order a latte, flat white or cappuccino (from $4.50) and watch Singapore's first fully automated barista prepare it with premium Buscaglione coffee beans – that are ground-to-order – and freshly frothed milk at the small kiosk within the café grounds. While waiting, you can also have a go at the augmented reality photo booth or the quick and easy games on its interactive transparent OLED screen. For a boozy sesh, check out its Happy Hour from 5pm to 9pm (p.s. gal pals can enjoy one-for-one housepours and Heineken on tap on Ladies' Night every Wednesday).

Good Cheer 2
Photograph: Good Cheer 2/Facebook

Good Cheer 2

Bars and pubs Beer hall Kallang

Karaoke is a communal activity that's usually done in a private room with some of your close friends and family but not at this joint. At Good Cheer 2, you can have a drink or two (about $12 for a bottle of beer), play a friendly game on any one of its 24 electronic dart machines, and then belt out your favourite tunes at the karaoke corner. The bar is also proud to serve zero degrees premium Sapporo beer.

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Al Capone's Kallang
Photograph: Al Capone's Kallang/Facebook

Al Capone's Kallang

Bars and pubs Sports bars Kallang

It's criminal to not stop by Al Capone's when you're in Kallang. Drinks here are relatively cheaper than other sports bar – a three-litre tower of Heineken, Monkey Shoulder, and Glenfiddich sets you back $39, $85, and $105 respectively. But if it's a pint of Guinness draught you're after, it's only going to cost you $8.80. Grub-wise, it dishes out Italian favourites like pizza and pasta. And what's a sports bar without live screenings of football and rugby matches? Support your favourite team with a drink in hand at Al Capone's.

Shop

Decathlon Singapore Lab

Shopping Lifestyle Kallang

Decathlon Singapore Lab is the biggest one yet. At 5,000 square metres, the sporting goods store packs more than just equipment, gear, and everything you need to be living your best active life. The best part of this sprawling store is the active stations located around the store, allowing visitors to try the products out themselves (and squeeze in some fun and exercise) before making the purchase. It's also open 24 hours (shorter opening times during Phase 2) if you ever need a wholesome place to practise archery, skating or shooting some hoops. 

Second Charm

Shopping Home decor Kallang

Second Charm takes you down memory lane with its vintage furniture and homeware that range from mid-century modern, art deco, Scandinavian, and decorative French styles. Most of its vintage chairs, ottomans, coffee tables, and chests (from about $150) have been refurbished – some have even been re-upholstered – as have its home accessories such as lamps, doors, windows, and other salvages. Second Charm takes custom orders, too, perfect for if you want a reproduction done.

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Weston Corp
Photograph: Weston Corp

Weston Corp

Shopping Kallang

It doesn’t matter which football club you’re rooting for – Weston Corp does not discriminate. The homegrown brand has seven stores across Singapore, but Kallang Wave Mall houses its biggest, with crowds swarming in ahead of the big European and local matches to snap up their team's jerseys. It's also loaded with Nike, Adidas, and Puma football boots as well as accessories, so you can get kitted out under one roof.

Climb Central
Photograph: Climb Central

Kallang Wave Mall

Shopping Kallang

Adjoining the Singapore Sports Hub is this three-storey mall named after the classic crowd gesture seen at football matches during Singapore’s footballing heydays. Kallang Wave is a one-stop destination to shop, dine, and play. It's home to Singapore’s first sports-themed hypermart FairPrice Xtra, fashion icons H&M and Cotton On, halal foodcourt run My Kampung, Japanese onsen and spa Yunomori Onsen & Spa, as well as water park Splash-N-Surf, and the city's the tallest indoor air-conditioned rock face Climb Central.

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