Peranakan culture in Singapore has roots tracing all the way back to Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival in 1819. However, despite the initial hype after Channel 8’s wildly popular drama “The Little Nyonya”, Peranakan culture is slowly ‘losing its soul’.
It may take a ‘muggle’ years to fully learn and appreciate the intricacies of a dying culture BUT a walk down this trail in the Katong/Joo Chiat enclave will give you a crash course on what you should know about the Peranakans (and give you many great photo opportunities to boot).
Katong/Joo Chiat was somewhere I’d never been to before until it randomly became a regular meeting spot for a school project. If Katong Laksa is the only thing you know about this area, it is time to change that.
Starting off at the Katong Antique House, step into this fully restored Peranakan home.
Opening his house to the public, fourth-generation Baba Peranakan Peter Wee will take you back to an era you never knew about through his stories of yesteryears and dedication to the preservation of Peranakan culture in Singapore.
What better way to learn about a culture than through its artefacts? Inside, traditional Peranakan furniture, antiques and heirlooms are displayed on both levels of the house, each with its own story to tell.
Before visiting, do take note that an appointment has to be made to ensure that Peter will be at home to show you around.
Price: S$15 for a tour
Katong Antique House: 208E Coast Rd, Singapore 428907 | Opening Hours: 11am – 4.30pm (Daily) | Tel: +65 6345 8544
Located just beside Katong Antique House, Chin Mee Chin (CMC) Confectionary is a Hainanese coffee shop that has been serving up traditional breakfast for the past 60 years.
However, not many know that the shop’s premise was originally owned by Peranakans before being bought over in the 1950s by the eldest son of CMC’s founder; transforming into the well-loved coffee shop it is today. Before that, CMC was actually a bread delivery business!
Retaining its old school vibes, the strong aroma of coffee brewing and piping hot kaya buns over at CMC is more than enough reason to head in for a break. Also, did you notice the marble tables in there? Time travel back to the 1950s for that perfect flat lay!
Chin Mee Chin Confectionary: 204 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428903 | Opening Hours: 8.30am – 3.30pm (Tues to Sun) | Tel: +65 6345 0419
Now that you’ve had your kopi and kaya buns, it is time to continue your discovery of Katong/Joo Chiat. Although the next location is not explicitly linked to the Peranakans, it is an Insta-worthy stop that’s only five minutes away from CMC.
Fun fact: Katong was where the wealthy went to for a weekend seaside retreat in the past before it became increasingly populated. Located beside what used to be a beach, these rows of pastel-coloured conserved terrace houses were built on raised ground to protect its occupants from rising tides.
Incorporating traditional architectural styles with a hint of Western influence, the unique design of these houses is something you rarely get to see in the Singapore our generation grew up in — with towering blocks of HDBs now ruling the heartland.
Something I found really cute about this stretch of houses is that each one is painted in a different shade, adding an instant burst of colour to an otherwise dull street. Feel free to pose for an OOTD too, you won’t be able to resist the temptation when the backdrop is this aesthetic.
Start at 150 East Coast Rd, Singapore 428837
The final spot on our map may be a bit of a walk from the terraces but I guarantee it’s gonna be worth it especially if you are a sucker for pastels. Prepare to feel like a unicorn running on rainbows ’cause these conserved Peranakan houses along Koon Seng Road are also painted in pastel colours!
Located at the core of Peranakan culture here in Singapore, many shophouses in this area that have been around since the early 1900s have been conserved. However, the most iconic ones are unmistakably these two rows found along Koon Seng Road.
Start at 1 Koon Seng Rd, Singapore 426951
If you find yourself constantly scrolling through articles that promise amazing getaways for under $XXX during the week, you know you need a break.
But instead of these ‘cheap getaways’, why not spend some time taking a walk through Katong/Joo Chiat and in the process learn something new about the Peranakans? There’s nothing wrong with being a tourist in your own country.
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