Joo Chiat & Katong neighbourhood guide
Most of us know Joo Chiat and Katong as neighbourhoods that represent Peranakan culture. Throwback to the early 20th century, this enclave also used to be a weekend getaway spot for the wealthy. Now, it’s Gen Z central with trendy cafes like Petit Pain and Olsen Bakehouse, alongside IG-worthy Peranakan shophouses.
Read on for a compilation of the best things to do in Joo Chiat and Katong, ranging from activities to food and photo spots.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
– Activities –
1. Private Museums – Dive into Peranakan culture with tours & shoots
Straits Enclave – Dress up for a basic Peranakan studio shoot
If you’re looking for a place to learn more about Peranakan culture, head down to Straits Enclave. Attend their cultural talks ($60/per person, minimum 2 required) that provide an in-depth look into this rich culture and history, or join their workshops if you’re more of a hands-on person.
Beading workshops start at $84/person, with a minimum of 8 pax per session.
Food tastings, where you get an assortment of kuehs and some tea, are also available for those looking for a bite of Peranakan culture.
Those who are looking to take some pics for the ‘Gram can also look into the basic studio shoot ($60/person, minimum 2 required), where visitors get to don akebaya. Do note that visits to Straits Enclave are by appointment only – so make sure you contact them before heading down.
Address: 318A Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427569
Contact: 9789 7628
The Intan – Guided tours with authentic Peranakan tea experience
The Intan is a 2-storey private terrace owned by entrepreneur Alvin Yapp. Over here, you can see Peranakan pieces sourced from all over the world – be it China, India, or England – over the past 30 years.
If you’re looking for a more in-depth experience of the Peranakan culture, The Intan offers a variety of guided tours depending on what you’re looking for. One example would be The Intan Tea Experience ($64.20/adult, $32.10/child) which comes with a guided tour of the museum and the Signature Intan tea and Nyonya kuehs.
Address: 69 Joo Chiat Terrace, Singapore 427231
Opening hours: 7am-10pm, Daily
Contact: 6440 1148
If you love all things vintage, A Vintage Tale might just be the place you’re looking for. Carrying high-end vintage clothing and accessories from the 50s to the 90s, the museum features vintage pieces from brands such as Versace, Gucci, and Fendi.
In the boutique, A Vintage Tale also has a corner called “Kilo Tale” where items are charged based on kilograms. Refresh your wardrobe by carting out as many items as you want, starting from $100/kg. Interesting concept at a high-end vintage store, huh?
At the back of the store, you’ll notice a pink corner with a sign that reads “Carolina Bar”. This is where you can wind down with a boozy drink or two, as A Vintage Tale carries a variety of alcohol – ranging from Italian imported wine to champagne and gin. Small groups of friends are welcome to enjoy wine tastings of exclusive Italian wines and cocktails ($16/glass) as well.
Address: 277 Joo Chiat Road, #01-01, Singapore 427531
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 11.30am-6.30pm | Fri-Sat 11.30am-7.30pm | Sun 11.30am-6pm
Contact: 9187 0410
3. Cat Socrates – Find the purrfect gift for a friend
A wide variety of souvenirs are up for grabs – ranging from magnets, tableware, and fashion accessories at Cats Socrates. The front section of the store is where you can find everything cat-inspired. Some of the items you see are actually collaborations with local artists – a way to #SupportLocal while adding some cutesy spice to your home.
As you move towards the middle and back of the store, you’ll find a table of books which the store sourced according to what’s in trend, as well as animal-inspired jewellery.
Apart from having just cat-inspired pieces, Cat Socrates also features a wide variety of books, accessories, and souvenirs.
Address: 448 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427661
Opening hours: Mon 11am-6pm | Tue-Sat 11am-8pm | Sun 11am-7pm
Contact: 6348 0863
4. Lab Studios – $40 for 2 class yoga, pilates, barre for newbies
Image credit: @angelicapngc via Instagram
If you’re around the corner and looking to squeeze in some movement into your day, check out Lab Studios. There are yoga, barre, and pilates classes, and you can expect a wide variety of classes such as cardio, stretch, abs, and flow. If you wanna embrace the “That Girl/Guy” energy, sign up for their reformer pilates classes.
Image credit: @flowlabsg & @labstudios._ via Instagram
After an entire workout, feel free to freshen up using their shower amenities so that you can continue with your day. If you’re a newbie, look forward to the $40 for 2 credits or $120 for 4 credits reformer packages, which you can use to book classes.
Address: 437 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427650
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 8.45am-1.30pm, 5.45pm-8.30pm | Fri 8.45am-1.30pm | Sat-Sun 8am-5pm
Contact: 8181 3476
5. RetroCrates – New & pre-loved vinyl records
Calling all vinyl lovers. RetroCrates is one of the many hidden gems found along Joo Chiat Street. It’s located on the second level of a shophouse – and you’ll find a great variety of music genres ranging from pop, jazz, and rock. Apart from new records, they also have pre-loved ones from $6.
A few stores down, there’s Good Vibes by RetroCrates as well, selling official band merchandise as well as accessories for vinyls. They also have a selection of craft beer and house wines starting from $8.50, if you wish to chill while listening to the music selection in the store.
Address: 450a Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427663
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 12pm-6pm | Sat 11am-6pm | Sun 12pm-5pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: 8718 7370
6. Carpmael Park – Wave-shaped vertical playground
Upon seeing this structure, your initial thought might be: “What is this giant netted box doing in the middle of nowhere?” Well, unlike most playgrounds, this vertical playground at Carpmael Park will suit adventurous kiddos as they navigate their way through the upper parts of the playground.
If you’re not into climbing, this also makes a pretty creative photo spot, considering its unique structure and wave-like interiors.
Address: 166 Ceylon Road, Singapore 429728
– Food –
7. Chin Mee Chin Confectionery – Traditional, old-school breakfast
Traditional breakfasts never fail to satisfy, and this one may be more OG than the likes of chain “kopitiams” – head down to Chin Mee Chin Confectionery. Some of the must-haves here are definitely the local classic, Kaya Toast ($2.40).
If you’re looking for something that has a little more protein, we recommend the luncheon meat bun ($2.20).
There’s also a selection of cupcakes, pastries, cakes, and tarts (from $1.80) to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Address: 204 East Coast Road Singapore 428903
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 8am-4pm (Closed on Mondays)
8. Katong Mei Wei Boneless Chicken Rice – Homemade achar
Image credit: @happybellybuddy via Instagram
You’ll most probably see a long queue outside Katong Mei Wei Boneless Chicken Rice – but trust us when we say it’s definitely worth the wait. One of the many things to look forward to would be their Cantonese-style soups like lotus root and pork rib, which comes with each serving of chicken rice.
Image credit: @chairmanvoong via Instagram
They’re also known for their achar which will add a kick to your meal. A steamed chicken rice set ($7) comes with a big portion of chicken, rice, soup, and achar. If you’re sharing with your family or friends, you might wanna go for an entire plate of steamed chicken instead for just $15.80.
Address: 865 Mountbatten Road, #B1-85/87, Katong Shopping Centre, Singapore 437844
Opening hours: Tue-Fri 10.45am-7pm | Sat-Sun 11am-7pm
Contact: 9826 5197
9. 328 Katong Laksa – The laksa that defeated Gordon Ramsay
No neighbourhood guide to Katong would be complete without 328 Katong Laksa. Aside from being known as the dish that beat Gordon Ramsay at the SingTel Hawker Heroes Challenge, the laksa here is famed for the rich aroma of coconut found in their stock. You can also select various toppings such as shrimps and cockles.
Instead of chopsticks, you have to use a spoon here as the noodles are finely cut – so you can eat it the same way as you would with rice.
Address: 51 East Coast Road, Singapore 428770
Opening hours: 9.30am-9.30pm, Daily
10. Petit Pain – Freshly baked goods in small batches
We got the classic croissant ($3.20) that was light and fluffy.
Petit Pain is a small batch bakery run by a husband and wife duo. We went there a few minutes after they opened and there was already a long queue – on a Wednesday morning, at that. That only goes to show how hot their bakes are.
All their baked goods are made from scratch without the use of preservatives or artificial colourings and are fermented over 18-24 hours. Their morning bakes are usually sold out by 12pm-1pm, but don’t worry, there’s usually a second batch of afternoon bakes.
Address: 315 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427566
Opening hours: Wed-Fri 11am-5pm | Sat-Sun 10am-4pm (Closed on Mondays & Tuesdays)
11. Olsen Bakehouse – Vegetarian restaurant with plant-based cakes
Image credit: EatBook
Those with food restrictions often find it hard to find a bakery that caters to their needs. Well, Olsen Bakehouse is not only vegetarian-friendly, but it’s also a vegan bakery too. Bakes at Olsen Bakehouse don’t contain pork, lard, or gelatin – a rarity in Singapore.
Image credit: EatBook
Health-conscious parents don’t need to worry about their children munching on the cakes here as the ingredients used are all natural with no additives or artificial flavourings. Olsen Bakehouse also ensures that their bakes are made less sweet.
Some of our recommendations include the mochi donut (from $5.00), banana cake ($17) and wholewheat sourdough loaf ($9.00).
Address: 301 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427552
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 9am-4pm (Closed on Mondays)
12. Neptune – Pastel green cafe by the founders of Apollo & Atlas
If you do a quick search on Neptune, you might recognise some of the names behind it, and that’s no surprise as they are the very same people behind your well-known eateries like Apollo Coffee Bar and Columbus Coffee Co.
Apart from serving the usual cafe fare, Neptune also serves Japanese-Western fusion dishes such as carbonara ($22.20) which consists of shimeji mushroom and umami cream, as well as filtered coffee (from $7.60) for coffee enthusiasts looking for strong, aromatic coffee.
Address: 237 East Coast Road, Singapore 428930
Opening hours: Tue-Sat 8am-10pm | Sun 8am-7pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: 6970 7305
13. Awfully Chocolate Bakery & Cafe – Only flagship store in SG
Image credit: @constance_simky via Instagram
We all know of the famous chocolate brand, Awfully Chocolate. But how many of us actually know that there’s an Awfully Chocolate Bakery & Cafe? Chocolate lovers should check out their only flagship store in Singapore, located in Joo Chiat.
Image credit: EatBook
The cafe whips up semi-fine dining options with their lunch and dinner sets going at $22 and $24 respectively. Seasonal changes are made to the menu so you can expect some variety each time you head down. Most interestingly, their hot chocolate is customisable, allowing you to choose different percentages of milk and dark chocolate – it’s all up to you.
Address: 131 East Coast Road, Singapore 428816
Opening hours: Mon-Thu 11am-10pm | Fri 11am-11pm | Sat 8am-11pm | Sun 8am-10pm
Contact: 6345 2190
– IG-worthy photo spots –
14. Joo Chiat Community Club – Pastel pink Wes Anderson vibes
Okay, we’ve all heard of the Wes Anderson trend by now. Here’s your opportunity to spice up your IG with those same vibes. Every corner of Joo Chiat Community Club is covered in a light pastel-pink shade and there’s a retro vibe to the building as well, which makes it the perfect setting.
Address: 405 Joo Chiat Road, Singapore 427633
Opening hours: 10am-10pm, Daily
15. Koon Seng Road – Colourful line of shophouses
You might have seen these row of residential homes at Koon Seng Road appearing on your FYP once or twice before.
From a distance, you can already spot the bright pastel colours of the shophouses and upon closer inspection, you’ll notice intricate floral motifs – both of which are believed to welcome good fortune and longevity to families. Remember to keep your volume down and be polite as these buildings are actually people’s homes.
Address: Koon Seng Road
16. Street Art – Murals inspired by local history and culture
Another wall mutual we spotted while making our way to another shoot location.
Little India isn’t the only place where you can find wall murals. Stroll down the streets of Joo Chiat and you’ll spot colourful murals at every corner. The murals here are representative of Singapore’ history and culture – some of which are designed by local talents.
Location: Around Joo Chiat
17. The Red House – A historical landmark dating back to the 1920s
Once a historic landmark in the 1920s, The Red House is a relic of the famous Katong Bakery & Confectionery in the 1960s. Today, its iconic bright red facade houses Micro Bakery & Kitchen, known for their sourdough bread, that’s open from Wednesdays to Sundays only.
Address: 63 East Coast Road, Singapore 428776
Opening hours: Wed-Fri 8.30am-5pm | Sat-Sun 8.30am-6pm (Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays)
Visit Joo Chiat and Katong neighbourhoods
Now that we’ve covered everything from activities to food and photo spots, it’s your turn to rally some family members and friends to explore this little neighbourhood.
There are many hidden gems hidden around. And if you speak to the people living there or any of the friendly shop owners, they might share a thing or two about the past and the Peranakan heritage. Nothing better than hearing it from the people themselves.
For more neighbourhood guides:
Photography by Alvin Wong.
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