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A Muslim-Friendly Guide To Katong & Joo Chiat: What To See, Eat And Do In SG's Heritage Neighbourhood

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Faruq Senin  •  Mar 05, 2021

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Although travelling is off the cards and you’re staying safe at home, it’s always nice to dream about your next trip. Singapore is a great choice for a getaway when the borders open as it’s close to home! Beyond skyscrapers and modern amenities, venture out to Singapore’s heritage neighbourhoods for your next trip, such as Katong and Joo Chiat! Located in the eastern part of Singapore, Katong and Joo Chiat used to be populated by the Peranakans and Eurasians in the early 20th century. Today, you can discover more about Peranakan and Eurasian heritage in Katong and Joo Chiat, explore colourful shophouses, shop at hip boutique stores and savour delectable halal food. Here’s our Muslim-friendly guide to Singapore’s Katong and Joo Chiat! Safe distancing and hygiene tips in Singapore For your future visit to Singapore, do ensure that you adhere to these essential hygiene and safety tips when exploring the city:
  • Travel in smaller groups and maintain at least a 1-metre distance from other groups while you’re out and about. The maximum number of people allowed in social gatherings in Singapore is currently 8 people. Do check for latest updates as this might change in future.
  • Due to safe distancingmeasures, attractions and eateries in Singapore are operating at a limited capacity. Do pre-book your attraction tickets and make reservations for eateries if possible.
  • Wear a mask at all times when you’re in public and ensure that it is covering your mouth and nose. You may remove your mask only when eating or drinking but remember to put it back on immediately after you’re done.
  • For those of you travelling with kids in future, do note that children under 6 years of age are not required to wear a mask. Children 12 years and below are allowed to wear a face shield in place of a mask if they have difficulty keeping a face mask on for prolonged periods of time.
  • Download and activate the TraceTogether app when you’re out and about. Switch it on when you leave your accommodation as this will help with contact tracing if you come into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. You can just leave it on in the background of your phone! This is similar to the tracing app in Malaysia, so it won’t be hard to get used to.
  • Scan the SafeEntry QR codes at attractions, eateries, and public transport to enablecontact tracing. Compared to the tracing app in Malaysia, there’s one extra step - remember to check-out when you leave!
  • While you’re exploring Singapore next time, look out for the SG Clean mark at attractions, eateries and accommodations! The mark certifies that they have met the stringent standards for hygiene and cleanliness, including increased cleaning frequency, enforcement of safe distancing measures, and use of contactless entry methods.
1. Take IG-worthy shots at the iconic Peranakan shophouses at Koon Seng Road
Your future trip to Katong and Joo Chiat would not be complete without visiting the iconic Peranakan shophouses at Koon Seng Road! The road is lined on both sides with conserved shophouses in bright pastel colours, making it an Instagrammable spot for your travel photos 😍 The shophouses were built in the 1920s and once home to the Peranakans. Besides being a picture-perfect spot for travellers, take a closer look at the intricate details, motifs and tiles which adorn each home too and you might be able to spot some Chinese and Malay architectural influences. When snapping photos, do remember to keep your mask on at all times and ensure that it is covering your mouth and nose. While exploring the stunning shophouses in the neighbourhood, keep in groups of maximum 8 peopleand maintain a safe distance of at least 1-metre from others.
2. Immerse yourself in Peranakan culture
You might know the Peranakans as descendants of Chinese or Indian immigrants who married indigenous people from the Malay Archipelago in the 15th century. But when you’re at Joo Chiat and Katong in future, it’s time to discover more about their heritage in Singapore! Rumah Bebe is one of the places where you can learn about traditional Peranakan art and fashion. Housed in an almost 90-year-old Peranakan shophouse, Rumah Bebe still retains most of its original layout and structure. Take a look at the Nyonya Sarong Kebaya or admire its porcelain collection and kitchenware. To make your trip even more immersive, you can sign up for beading classes or a private tour of Rumah Bebe. During the private tour, you can try dressing up in Nyonya attire and witness the intricacies of Peranakan beading and embroidery. Find out more on their website. Before entering any shops or attractions on your future visit, remember to scan the SafeEntry check-in using the TraceTogether app!
Credit: The Intan on FacebookAnother spot you should add to your list is The Intan, a private home-museum with over 1,500 Peranakan household items and trinkets fromMelaka, Penang and even as far as China and England. From beaded slippers to authentic enamel “tingkat” carriers, The Intan is truly a gem for any traveller! Plan your future visit to The Intan bybooking a tour on their website. Planning to bring home some Peranakan accessories the next time you’re in Singapore? Be sure to visit Kim Choo Kueh Chang which is also the Singapore Visitor Centre at Katong and Joo Chiat! Here’s where you can shop for beaded shoes, handicrafts and more!
3. Uncover Katong and Joo Chiat’s vibrant street art
What makes Katong and Joo Chiat more vibrant is the beautiful murals and street art that you can spot around the neighbourhood. One of the newest murals is the Medley Alley, located at 107, East Coast Road. Painted by a group of art students and designers, the Medley Alley is a modern interpretation of iconic Peranakan tiles. The next time you’re here, stand in the middle of the alley and the murals on both sides of the wall will look like wings. Don’t miss a photo opportunity!
Another mural you can’t miss is Turtle Cape located at 150, East Coast Road beside Yong’s Teochew Kueh. Fun fact: The name “Katong” refers to the leatherback seaturtle which was commonly found at the beaches near the neighbourhood but is now extinct. While you’re out and about at the murals, don’t forget to activate the TraceTogether app and leave it on in the background for contact tracing.
4. Try your hand at making popiah at Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah
If you’re looking for hands-on activities to try besides visiting picturesque sights around Katong and Joo Chiat, head over to Kway Guan Huat Joo Chiat Popiah. The halal-certified and family-run eatery has been around since 1938. Here’s where you can try your hand at making popiah with their DIY Popiah Set and witness the staff making popiah skin too. Besides popiah, Kway Guan Huat serves other dishes like kueh pie tee, a Peranakan favourite, as well as chilli crab bombs, salted egg prawns, sambal petai squid and more. Save this unique experience to your list so you can visit when the borders open! #HHWT Tip: Planning to bring some food souvenirs home? The salted egg popiah poppers from the eatery are perfect as a snack! Halal status: Halal-certified Opening hours: Tue-Sun; 11AM-2PM, 6PM-9.30PM Address: 95 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427389 Contact: +6569709360 Website | Facebook
5. Explore Katong and Joo Chiat’s thriving food scene
Credit: Old Bibik’s Peranakan Kitchen & Gallery on FacebookAs Katong and Joo Chiat isa haven for all-things Peranakan, trying out halal Peranakan cuisine is a must! Old Bibik’s Peranakan Kitchen serves halal-certified Peranakan favourites like Ayam Buah Keluak, Nyonya Curry Chicken, Ayam Pongteh, Chinchalok Omelette and more. If you’ve never tried Peranakan cuisine before, be sure to add this to your list! As restaurants in Singapore are operating at limited capacity, do remember to make reservations in advance so you won’t have to wait in line.
Besides traditional Peranakan cuisine, Katong and Joo Chiat also has a thriving cafe scene! One of the places to get your fix of coffee, halal brunch and decadent cakes is Penny University. Dig into scrumptious Full English Breakfast or Eggs Benedict and wash down your meal with their Spiked Muddy, an espresso with cold milk and gula Melaka! For a value-for-money meal, get their Breakfast Sets (till 4PM) which comes with coffee, juice and oat porridge. When having your meal, remember to keep your mask on at all times except when you’re eating and keep to a maximum of 8 people per table (Disclaimer: This might change in future). Do note that intermingling between tables is not allowed. Old Bibik’s Peranakan Kitchen Halal status: Halal-certified Opening hours:Daily; 11.30AM-9.30PM Address: 328 Joo Chiat Rd, #01-02, Singapore 427585 Contact: +6584507996 Website | Facebook Penny University Halal status: Muslim-owned Opening hours: Daily; 8AM-8.30PM Address: 402 E Coast Rd, Singapore 428997 Contact: +6563459055 Website | Facebook | Instagram
6. Shop for unique souvenirs at boutique shops
The pandemic has definitely made us cherish travelling more so in future, we’re sure you’d want to bring some memories of your Singapore trip home! Cat Socrates is a charming indie store at Katong and Joo Chiat which sells Singapore-themed stickers, trinkets and other items by local designers. They even have a resident cat mascot in-store but do note that you’re not allowed to pet it due to safe distancing measures. If you’re looking for something more unique to bring home from your next trip, head over to Retrocrates which is located just upstairs from Cat Socrates! The shop has an interesting collection of new and vintage vinyls covering different music genres like pop, rock, jazz and more. The independent record store is the perfect hideout in the neighbourhood! When visiting individual stores, do remember to scan the SafeEntry QR codes before entering and check-out when you leave. Cat Socrates Opening hours: Tue-Fri; 11AM-8.30PM, Sat; 11AM-9PM, Sun; 11AM-7.30PM, Mon; 11AM-6PM Address: 448 JooChiat Rd, Singapore 427661Website | Instagram Retrocrates Opening hours: Tue-Fri; 12PM-6PM, Sat; 11AM-6PM, Sun; 12PM-5PM (closed on Mon) Address: 448a Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427661 Website | Instagram
7. Learn more about Eurasian heritage
Credit: The Eurasian Association, Singapore on Facebook Apart from Peranakan culture, there was also a huge presence of the Eurasian community in Katong and Joo Chiat back in the day. The Eurasian Heritage Gallery is where you should go to find out more about the artefacts left behind by the Eurasians and stories from the community! You’ll also get to learn more about their culture, costumes, food as well as folk songs. Sign up for the Eurasian Experience Tour on the Eurasian Association website for a more in-depth look into Singapore’s Eurasian community. When you’re at the gallery, do keep in groups of maximum 8 people (Disclaimer: This might change in future) and maintain at least a 1-metre safe distance from others. Price: $5 Opening hours: Tue-Sun; 10AM-5PM (closed on Monday) Address: 139 Ceylon Rd, The Eurasian Association, Singapore 429744 Website
8. Experience more of Katong and Joo Chiat by staying in the neighbourhood
As Katong and Joo Chiat is not in Central Singapore, we recommend staying a night or two in the neighbourhood so you can fully experience its sights and sounds.
Credit:Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong on Facebook One of the hotels that come to mind when you think of Katong is Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong! The chic hotel rooms have their decor inspired by Peranakan architecture so it’ll provide the comfy stay that you need for your future trip. Plus, you can unwind at their rooftop infinity pool which overlooks Katong and Joo Chiat! For now, Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong is still closed for bookings but before your trip, do check their website for updates.
Credit: Venue Hotel The LilyFor a more budget option, Venue Hotel The Lily will suit you. The hotel is housed in a heritage shophouse with its original facade still conserved. The modern and boutique hotel rooms are elegantly designed for travellers on a budget. The hotel is also centrally located near the colourful shophouses at Koon Seng Road, so it’s perfect to return to after a day of sightseeing and shopping in the neighbourhood. When booking your hotel in Singapore next time, look out for the SG Clean mark. The mark certifies that the hotel has met stringent standards for hygiene and cleanliness, including increased cleaning frequency, enforcement of safe distancing measures, and use of contactlessentry methods. Rest assured, you can have a safe stay at your accommodation!Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong Rate: From $199.50 (subject to changes) Address: 86 E Coast Rd, Singapore 428788 Website Venue Hotel The Lily Rate: From $59.47 (subject to changes) Address: 238 Joo Chiat Rd, Singapore 427495 Website
Doing your prayers in Katong and Joo Chiat
#HHWT Tip: Planning to do your prayers while out and about in Katong and Joo Chiat? Head over to Masjid Khalid! Though the original site of the mosque along Joo Chiat Road is currently under renovation, visitors can head to a temporary site at 97, Onan Road. Look out for updates on Masjid Khalid’s Instagram page. When praying at mosques, make sure you scan the SafeEntry check-in using the TraceTogether app. Do bring your own prayer mats and garments. You’ll also need to bring a plastic bag to store your footwear as you’ll need to keep it with you when you pray. Do pray at the demarcated prayer zones, keep your masks on at all times and ensure a safe distance of at least 1-metre from others.
Getting to and around Katong and Joo Chiat
The nearest MRT Station to Katong and Joo Chiat is Dakota which is on the Circle Line. From there, you can take buses 10,16, 32 and 33 to get to Katong and Joo Chiat. Find out more about the bus routes on theTransitLink website. While on public transport, do remember to keep your masks on at all times and refrain from talking. Do also keep a safe distance of at least 1-metre from others and travel in groups of maximum 8 people (Disclaimer: This might change in future). Once you are in the vicinity of Katong and Joo Chiat, you can easily walk from one spot to another. Already dreaming about your next Singapore trip? When the borders open, be sure to discover another side of Singapore and head to the Katong and Joo Chiat neighbourhood! With a rich Peranakan culture and history, plenty of IG-worthy spots, mouthwatering halal treats and more, Katong and Joo Chiat deserves to be on your list. Bookmark this for your future Singapore trip! This article is brought to you by the Singapore Tourism Board.