Being a teenager in Singapore has its perks. Not only is the Red Dot incredibly safe to be out and about in at practically any hour, there are also plenty of cool neighbourhoods, enclaves and laid-back spots to hang out at. We roped in expat teenager IMOGEN BOWYER to share some of her favourite places to visit with her mates.
#1 Holland Village
One of the most popular ‘hoods among teens is Holland Village, which is conveniently located near an MRT station and several bus stops. While it’s calm during the day time, once the sun goes down it gets packed full with teens and young adults. Although it’s mainly a place to eat and drink, and boasts many cafes and restaurants, it’s also a great place to hang out among the roads, as the police come and close off the main street, making it a pedestrian-friendly place to sit and talk with friends all night long.
Try grabbing a vegan-friendly acai bowl or smoothie at Project Acai, Singapore’s first acai-exclusive cafe. Or, if you’re wanting something a little more substantial, you could make your own burger at Fat Boy’s Burger Bar.
#2 Orchard Road
The best place by far for expat teens to shop and eat is Orchard Road. From start to end, this road boasts many shopping malls containing all the well-known brands, as well as some independent cult favourites. Whether you’re looking for clothes, makeup, or anything for that matter, Orchard Road will likely have it. Many teens like to gather at Scape. The shopping complex has a skatepark, quaint little stalls and a market on the weekends where you can buy all kinds of knick-knacks.
Shop ’till you drop in popular chain stores like Brandy Melville, Pull & Bear, Forever 21 and H&M, or in independent, locally-owned ones like Actually and Naiise. If you start to get hungry, you’re in luck! Orchard has a really great selection of restaurants and snack spots, like Marmalade Pantry, Wild Honey, Din Tai Fung and the Magnum Pleasure Store, where you can design your very own ice cream.
#3 Sentosa Island
If you’re looking for a relaxing beach day, head to Sentosa. For the most memorable experience, you can take the cable cars from VivoCity and enjoy astounding views during the journey up. Or, if you prefer a bit of a walk, the Sentosa boardwalk is another great way to get to the island – and it’s probably the cheapest too. It only takes about 5 minutes to walk from Vivo to Sentosa and you get to enjoy some pretty views of the harbour on the way.
The island has three different beaches – Siloso Beach, Tanjong Beach and Palawan Beach – where you can have a swim, do water sports or simply have a rest on the sandy shores. The beaches are lined with tons of places to get food and drinks. These include Coastes on the Siloso stretch, and Tanjong Beach Club. There are also many attractions, such as Universal Studios, the S.E.A. Aquarium, Adventure Cove Waterpark, the Luge and the Megazip, all of which make for a fun-filled day out.
#4 Clarke Quay
In your later teens and looking for an awesome night out? Clarke Quay has plenty of good nightclubs, including Attica and f.Club. However, if you’re underage, don’t fret, as this is also a wonderful place to go to in the day. Daredevils can take on the GX-5 Extreme Swing that operates daily, and there’s also a river taxi along the Singapore River for those looking to relax with friends.
A short walk will bring you to Fort Canning Park and reservoir. It’s a really great place to walk around with friends, especially if it’s not too hot. The park also hosts loads of events throughout the year, like Films at the Fort and Rockestra.
#5 East Coast
For teens who are craving some physical activity, I’d recommend East Coast. This breezy coastal haven has great views of the vast container ships dotting the ocean. You can have a stroll along the beach or hire a wide variety of bikes, in-line skates, segways, and skateboards for a ride on the designated pathways. If it’s a hot day (it usually is in Singapore!), you can grab some cool refreshments or ice creams from the small cafés lining the stretch, or have a bite in the local food court.
The East Coast, though often ignored by west-coasters, is home to some really great shops and restaurants. Cat Socrates, a sweet knick-knack shop inside one of Joo Chiat’s colourful townhouses, and Egg3 on East Coast Road are two quirky little shops selling home décor, art, and accessories that feel unique. As for food, Rabbit Carrot Gun (which doubles as a B&B) and Awfully Chocolate’s Ninethirty are unmissable spots.
#6 Arab Street
If you’re after a bit of culture, as well as a spot of a shopping, then Arab Street is the place to go. The rich Muslim culture can be experienced and explored in the Sultan’s Mosque, and the traditional shophouses make for some beautiful photos. Independent and unique vintage clothing stores are sprinkled along the little alleys that make up the Arab Quarter, and it’s very easy to find a good bargain. In the evenings, Arab Street is a great place to hang out with friends, but do be warned that a lot of restaurants will be full to the brim.
Haji Lane is definitely a personal favourite – it’s best to have a wander down and see what you find but there are some shops and restaurants that stand out. There’s Modparade, a little lifestyle shop with a cool Scandinavian design; and Hygge is a really sweet, cosy spot that sells coffee and desserts on the ground floor, and cute home and lifestyle goods on the second.
#7 Gardens by the Bay
A favourite among both adults and teens, Gardens by the Bay is home to a marvellous variety of plants from everywhere around the world. You can explore the different regions, go for a jog or even have a little picnic.
The Garden’s two conservatories – the Flower Dome, the world’s largest greenhouse, and the Cloud Forest – are spots you really can’t miss. They’re air-conditioned as well, which is definitely a major plus! There are loads of dining options, including Satay by the Bay, with individual food stalls selling local and international options.
#8 Tiong Bahru
Tiong Bahru is widely known for being a ‘hipster paradise’, and has grown massively in recent years thanks to all the weird and wonderful spots that have opened up there – still, the cute Art Deco shophouses and century-old Qi Tian Gong temple give the area an old-Singapore feel to them that’s hard to find anywhere else. It’s the go-to-spot for foodies, shopaholics and history lovers alike – and for good reason.
One spot that’s great for a browse is Books Actually. Inside, you’ll find racks of non-fiction and fiction titles, many written by Singaporean authors. Through the back, a jumble of vintage knick-knacks await for you to dig through. Another shop you really can’t miss out on, whether you own a record player or not, is Curated Records. They sell a wide variety of records from Taylor Swift to Metallica, and, like Books Actually, are strong supporters of local artists. Plain Vanilla Bakery and 40 Hands Coffee are both sweet places to have a bite, but finding a great little café is far from difficult in Tiong Bahru, with every street offering new tastes to enjoy. The neighbourhood also has some really great street murals by Yip Yew Chong, depicting ‘Old Singapore’.
#9 Marina Barrage
Marina Barrage is a great spot to sit and admire the Singapore skyline, or to have an active day out. Bring some friends, a picnic, a ball to throw around and some kites, and you’re set. If you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch some stars at night, despite the bright lights of the busy city.
Because of its location, you could even walk over to Gardens by the Bay, or a little further to Marina Bay Sands and the ArtScience Museum to make a full day out it.
Bugis is easily one of the most culturally rich areas of Singapore. Over time, as it has transformed from red light district to a shopping and dining paradise, the different nationalities and religions of the people who’ve inhabited the area have left their mark.
Bugis Street Market, right next to the MRT, is a fun spot to browse or buy some of the cheapest souvenirs, clothes and accessories the country has to offer. For slightly pricier (and more air-conditioned!) shopping, head to Bugis+ and Bugis Junction shopping malls. The malls have a lot of the same shops you might find along Orchard Road, but mixed with a selection of independent boutiques and restaurants. If you carry on walking down Victoria Street, you might find yourself right by Chijmes, where you can grab food from places like Giardino Pizza Bar & Grill and Privé, or at the Singapore Art Museum.
For more helpful tips, head to our Living in Singapore section!