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The latter is a particularly intriguing signpost to the future of Little India, its industrial chic in contrast to the colourful art deco shophouses that surround it.
Loh Lik Peng’s main stamping ground may be Chinatown, but the famed hotelier has done some of his best work at Wanderlust Hotel.
TIONG BAHRU There are numerous benefits attached to visiting Singapore’s first housing estate Tiong Bahru.
Other Duxton highlights include wine bar Praelum (4 Duxton Hill), tucked-away café Group Therapy (49 Duxton Road) and Littered With Books (20 Duxton Road), a two-storey repository of literary gems that garners a cult-like following.
Another upwardly mobile tract of Chinatown is Keong Saik Road and its surrounds.
Top picks include 40 Hands, Drips and café/gallery, The Orange Thimble, which is affiliated with nearby White Canvas Gallery, so the cafe regularly features contemporary art from South-East Asia.
This indie aesthetic is apparent too in the enclave’s specialty shops.
Over at Flea & Trees (68 Seng Poh Lane), designer Terence Yeung has amassed vintage collectables ranging from Japanese pottery, exotic fly-trap plants, design books and pre-loved designer clothing from around the world. The best of the contemporary bistros is arguably Open Door Policy, which purveys comforting western fare, and Two Face (56 Eng Hoon Street), a (traditional coffee house) by day, it transmogrifies into an unpretentious bistro when night comes around.
Tiong Bahru was a magnet for foodies long before the hipsters arrived and the best of the old-school options is the legendary Por Kee Eating House (69 Seng Pho Lane) which is packed nightly due to the storied reputation of Chinese fare such as cereal prawns and homemade tofu braised with mushrooms.
An eclectic soundtrack and a small retail space selling vinyl and CDs lets customers scratch their musical itch.
Other prime spots for imbibing in the area include Zsofi Tapas Bar, where a single serving of tapas is complimentary with every drink (head to the lovely rooftop terrace), and Bellwethers (120 Desker Road).
KAMPONG GLAM It could be considered somewhat ironic that one of Singapore’s most traditionally devout areas is now its epicenter of hipster culture.
Once the home to the island’s Malay aristocracy, the enclave—handily tucked away to the east of the city centre—is dominated by the grand Sultan Mosque.
CHINATOWN While tacky tourist tat and substandard food outlets have subsumed the charm of Chinatown’s most prominent thoroughfares, the fringes of this legendary district are more alive than ever, with an influx of trendy bars and cool boutique hotels.