There was a time when Singapore was considered a little sterile. But Lion City is now roaring with cosmopolitan diversions. Dip into the city's fusion of old and new by following our guide to five humming districts.
1. Haji Lane
Small in stature but large in character, this retail-lined strip in Singapore's Arab Quarter has long been a magnet for visitors and locals. It's a repository of colourful buildings, eclectic stores and buzzy cafes. Start your outing with a caramel latte at Maison Ikkoku (maisonikkoku.co). Check out the vivid wares at Dulcet Fig (dulcetfig.com), including printed dresses, resin jewellery and vintage clutches. Tangers (tangers.com.sg) is a Seoul-based brand with wearable clothing tricked up with just enough surface detail. Mondays Off (mondays-off.com) is a collection of homewares and gifts. Conclude with a custom-designed cocktail at Bar Stories (facebook.com/pages/Bar-Stories).
2. Tiong Bahru
One of the city's oldest public housing estates has morphed into a locus of cool. The locale, near Chinatown, is teeming with cafes, stores and restaurants. Indie bookstore Books Actually (booksactuallyshop.com) focuses on fictional works, literary publications, and stationery. One of the neighbourhood's leading multibrand stores is Nana & Bird (shop.nanaandbird.com), stocking everything from lace dresses to brass earrings. For quirky homewares, like hedgehog-shaped lamps, head to Strangelets (strangelets.sg). Open Door Policy (odpsingapore.com) serves delicious food that happens to be free of gluten and dairy. Toast the day with mojitos at the saucily named bar, Coq & Balls (coqnballs.com).
3. Jalan Besar
This historical locale is studded with a dizzying array of foodie options. For exemplary burgers, head to Suprette (suprette.com), while fluffy pancakes are the specialty of the house at The Bravery (facebook.com/The-Bravery-Cafe). The Refinery (therefinery.sg) is a trio of establishments in one-yakitori restaurant, cocktail bar and craft workshop-arrayed on three different levels. Coffee connoisseurs swear by the single origin brews at Chye Seng Huat Hardware (cshhcoffee.com), while pastry fans adore Antoinette, (antoinette.com.sg) for its decadent sweet treats.
4. Keong Saik
Perhaps it's fitting that this one-time red light district has evolved into a nocturnal hub. A password posted weekly to Facebook gets you into The Library (facebook.com/pages/The-Library-Bar), a boite hidden behind a pop-up store. Head to Potato Head (ptthead.com), an offshoot of the Bali bar, for burgers and more drinks. The Beast (thebeast.sg) pairs fried chicken with bourbon, while Sum Yi Ta (sumyitai.com) serves Chinese tapas such as curry fishballs. Keong Saik demands multiple visits.
5. Everton Park
With its charming blend of cafes, stores and dessert meccas, this emerging locale is gearing up as the next big thing. Nylon Coffee Roasters (nyloncoffee.sg) source beans from around the world for their tailor-made caffeinated beverages. Grin Affair (grinaffair.com) offers mousse cakes in eye-catching little jars, while Seriously Ice Cream (facebook.com/seriouslyicecream) is the place for experimental flavours like coconut and pandam and purple yam. Shop for high-tech cosmetics at Kew Organics (keworganics.com).