Tanjong Katong is an interesting neighbourhood in Singapore that’s rich in both history and culture. There’s plenty to see and do; you can visit historical places of worship, browse in a museum, or view the beautiful heritage shophouses in Joo Chiat. You’ll also find a bunch of notable cafés and eateries – some that have been serving customers for decades – to satisfy your taste buds. Here are 10 highlights!
#1 Colourful Shophouses
Koon Seng Road, which crosses Joo Chiat Road, is probably Singapore’s most colourful thoroughfare, as well as its most Instagrammable! Many of the shophouses here are around a century old, and feature a Peranakan or Chinese design style. A number were gazetted for conservation 30 years ago. Klook’s Peranakan Heritage Tour includes a walking tour of the area, along with Peranakan high tea, and the chance to try your hand at tile painting.
Koon Seng Road
#2 Eurasian Association
You don’t have to be a member to visit the Eurasian Association and have a look at its Heritage Gallery; however, it’s best to check opening times in advance. You can also take part in the four-hour Origin Journeys Eurasian Heritage Tour, which includes a bus tour and a bento set lunch.
139 Ceylon Road
#3 Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple
This temple was originally a shrine built by poor labourers from Sri Lanka. In the 1850s, they found a little statue of the Hindu god Ganesh among the roots of a ylang-ylang tree. This auspicious omen led them to construct the first shrine; it’s been rebuilt a number of times over the years since then. Today, a series of murals shows the building’s development over the years. The main prayer hall is set within four granite pillars.
27 Ceylon Road
#4 Straits Enclave
This is a home-turned-private museum and event space in the heart of the Joo Chiat heritage district. It allows visitors to get a glimpse of the Straits’ “golden era” in the early 1900s, as well as learn more about Peranakan culture through various art classes, including painting and beading. You can arrange an appointment for a private visit – see the Facebook page for details.
318A Joo Chiat Road
#5 328 Katong Laksa
Don’t miss out on indulging in a famous bowl of Katong-style laksa while you’re in the area. The delicious and aromatic version at 328 Katong Laksa has not only satisfied the tummies of its customers for years and years, but also earnt the respect of Chef Gordon Ramsay when he lost out to the restaurant in a Hawkers’ Heroes Challenge in 2013!
51 East Coast Road
#6 Little Farms
If you’re looking for a cosy place to dine while exploring the area, Little Farms Bistro opened at Katong Point in April 2021 and features a bistro, supermarket, butcher counter and bar – it’s the gourmet grocer’s fifth and largest outlet in Singapore. Grab a great coffee, a healthy smoothie or a brunch or lunch favourite like smashed avocado on toast, or vegan lasagne.
451 Joo Chiat Road
#7 The Intan
Another private haven for discovering more about the history, traditions and lifestyle of Peranakans, The Intan is described by owner Alvin as “an ambitious attempt to reconcile the beauty of the past into a modern home setting”. The space is full of Peranakan treasures, and can also fit up to 40 guests for events. By appointment only (the-intan.com).
69 Joo Chiat Terrace
#8 Gurdwara Katong Sikh Temple
Reflecting traditional Sikh architecture, this two-storey temple has a wide dome and a flat roof. Today, it runs an outreach program to donate funds, cook and deliver food to the needy in Singapore. Regardless of your faith, you’re welcome to eat the communal meal of “langar“, served in the Langar Hall. Refer to the website for info on guidelines, including the attire allowed in the temple.
17 Wilkinson Road
#9 Choice Cuts
Stop by Choice Cuts and browse the collection of vinyl records while enjoying a relaxing cup of coffee, or something from the all-day breakfast menu. You can also enjoy music from different DJs on Saturdays, covering all kinds of genres, from hip hop to soul, funk and house. Go to Facebook for info on events and sessions.
446 Joo Chiat Road
#10 Chin Mee Chin Confectionery
After closing for a three-year hiatus from 2018, this famous Hainanese-style coffeeshop (chinmeechin.sg) has been revived and has opened for business once again. And it’s still in the same spot in Katong as it was back in the 1920s! The menu includes renowned charcoal-grilled kaya toast, plus a range of simple buns and pastries, and every variation on kopi that you might expect.
204 East Coast Road
Katong Fact File
- Tanjong Katong means “turtle point” in Malay; it’s also a reference to a kind of mirage that can be seen at sea.
- In the 19th century, the area had a big marine yard that was full of boats; later, it was home to an enormous coconut grove (Mountbatten Road was once called Grove Road).
- Tanjong has the lowest point on the main island of Singapore and was prone to flooding from the Geylang River until the 1990s, when the river was deepened.
- A famous old cinema once stood in the suburb – Hollywood Theatre. It closed in 1995.
- The Sea View Hotel was built in 1906 in Katong; the building it was housed in was owned by Jewish businessman Manasseh Meyer who today has an international school (SMMIS) named in his honour.