If you’re hoping to go off the beaten track, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of places in Singapore that are considered under-the-radar to many. Check out these four neighbourhoods and visit their hidden gems for amazing sights, sounds, and of course, food! 


Holland Village

The district of Holland Village, aka Holland V, is named after Hugh Holland, who was one of the area's early residents and a well-respected architect.

Also part of this precinct is Chip Bee Gardens on Jalan Merah Saga, which is lined with semi-detached and terrace houses that were once homes to members of the British army in the 1950s, when the country was under colonial rule.

Today, Holland V and the neighbouring Chip Bee Gardens is mainly known for its F&B outlets, including ramen specialists Sanpoutei, Mediterranean-vegetarian restaurant Original Sin, and late-night sweet spot 2am:dessertbar. The vibrant watering holes are a hit with locals as well; there’s the Australian-inspired bar Barossa, Germanic pub Baden, and live music venue Wala Wala, so take your pick.  


Queenstown

One of the oldest housing estates in Singapore, Queenstown – which was once an agricultural zone – is actually named after Queen Elizabeth of Great Britain. The royal figure was Singapore's head of state until the nation gained its independence.

Now a heartland area, Queenstown boasts several not-to-be-missed features, including Queenstown Public Library (a slice of history for you as this is Singapore’s first public library) and Queensway Shopping Centre, where affordable sporting goods from past seasons and collections of brands like Nike and Adidas abound.

Over in the nearby Wessex Estate, there are noteworthy sites as well. Check out art galleries like Joy Clay Studio & Gallery ceramic sculptures and installation art before dropping by the charming Colbar for a feel of old Singapore and a myriad of Western and Asian delights.


Toa Payoh

Toa Payoh may seem like a normal heartland area at first, but look further and you'll find that it's steeped in rich history. The neighbourhood, which translates to "big swamp" in the Hokkien dialect, is the second oldest satellite town after Queenstown and is the site of many firsts – first town to adopt the neighbourhood police post system, first MRT station to be built, and first mosque to be established under the Mosque Building Fund (MBF).

When you’re in the ‘hood, drop by key venues like the aforementioned Masjid Muhajirin mosque, Toa Payoh Town Park for a spot of greenery, and the iconic Dragon Playground for a look at one of Singapore's most beloved landmarks.

If you’re feeling peckish, there are cafés and restaurants like waffle-and-ice cream joint Creamier and famous seafood dining spot Mellben, where you can sample chilli crab, a classic local creation.

Want to find out even more about Toa Payoh? Bookmark this heritage trail guide and explore the town with ease


Jalan Besar

The shophouse-lined streets of this colourful district was once a simple track through a betel nut and fruit orchard, which was established in the 1830s by the Norris Brothers. Years later, the Municipality decided to expand the road before aptly naming it Jalan Besar, aka "big road" in Malay.

Now a conserved area, Jalan Besar is home to an eclectic range of eateries, cafés, enterainment venues, and religious sites. It’s also a hostel hotspot and backpackers constantly flock here.

This is one of best areas to go café-hopping so check out hangouts like Butter Studio for its incredible baked goods and Chye Seng Huat Hardware for some potent coffee (or a cold brew on tap). Don’t miss other highlights like Tyrwhitt General Company for artisanal products; they make for great souvenirs.

If you’re sticking around for dinner, hit up places such as The Refinery for Japanese yakitori (grilled skewered food) and bespoke cocktails, or if you want some local delights, make a beeline for Jalan Berseh Food Centre for orh luak (fried oyster omelette) and, for the adventurous, turtle soup. 

 

Now that you’re equipped with the right knowledge, you’re all set and ready to go explore the secret side of Singapore! For more walking trails and neighbourhoods to visit, check out these guides.