From a converted railway to a popular local food haunt and the city’s original hipster hangout, the best of Singapore can be found off the beaten path.
From one of the many ethnic enclaves of Singapore rises the city’s coolest neighborhood: Haji Lane. Known as the Muslim Quarter, Kampong Glam has long been home to Indonesians and Malays, who settled here in the 1960s and ’70s.
Today Haji Lane is lined with an eclectic collection of cafes, restaurants, boutiques and watering holes—a refreshing detour from Singapore’s malls and high streets. The colorful street art and quaint shop houses also make it a hot spot for Instagrammers.
Start the day with a lazy lunch at one of the quirky cafes, followed by a stroll through the dozens of boutiques. Then take a break with a teatime snack or even an ice cream to cool down.
Old Bukit Timah Railway Station
For a dose of unexpected tranquility in the concrete jungle that is Singapore, head for a stretch of old railroad tracks running between Woodlands and Tanjong Pagar. The 15-mile defunct railway, once connecting Singapore and Malaysia, is now aptly named the Green Corridor thanks to the lush vegetation that grows along it.
The Old Bukit Timah Railway Station, with its cast-iron bridge, is most photogenic at dusk. Start your route here and walk southward along the tracks toward Bouna Vista. The walk takes less than an hour, and the stretch is lined with greenery, photo-worthy spots and unique community spaces.
Amoy Street Food Centre
Singapore’s hawker culture is every globe-trotting foodie’s dream. Offering affordable and richly diverse cuisines, hawker centers such as Maxwell Food Centre have attained international fame and are so flooded with tourists that getting a plate of delicious chicken rice would mean joining a long line of hungry diners.
But just three minutes away is Amoy Street Food Centre, where a variety of stalls dish up equally delicious street fare with half the crowd. The char kway teow (fried flat noodles) and lor mee (noodles in braised gravy) are must-tries but other lip-smacking dishes include Teochew porridge, nasi lemak and even Singapore-style ramen are just as famous.