Established in the early 1900s by Singapore’s Dutch community, Holland Village was the former home of British Army personnel and their families. Plantations, colonial estates and nurseries once dotted this neighbourhood, and its European-influenced legacy can still be seen in the architecture of its quaint shophouses and low-rise buildings.
The district was named after the English architect Hugh Holland, but was colloquially known as hue hng au (‘behind the flower garden’ in the Hokkien dialect), in reference to its close proximity to the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Over the years, Holland Village has garnered a reputation for being a creative commune and an incubator for local artists, musicians and entrepreneurs. The main stretch of Holland Village along Lorong Mambong exudes a subtle European charm, and is a trove of al fresco cafes, restaurants and popular lifestyle outlets.
Exploring Holland Village
Visitors who’d like an insight into traditional Singaporean businesses can pay a visit to Thambi Magazine Store at Holland Road Shopping Centre. Owned by third-generation owner Sam Thambi, this business tracks its lineage back to the 1940s, when Sam’s grandfather and father sold newspapers and magazines to neighbourhood residents and British soldiers.
For a quick reprieve from the bustling activity of Holland Village’s main stretch, take a stroll to Chip Bee Gardens, a five-minute walk from Holland Village’s Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Exit B. This area was formerly a military estate established in the 1950s to house members of the British Army, and the beautiful architecture on display here makes it ripe for a bout of urban exploration.
Current tenants include modern art galleries, a smattering of local cafes, and homegrown retail outlets offering everything from customized notebooks to statement pieces for your wardrobe. We recommend a visit to TAKSU, a Southeast Asian-themed art gallery that boasts an extensive collection of contemporary paintings from some of the region’s finest painters.
Food for body and soul
Whether you’re hungry for a hearty dinner or a decadent dessert, Holland Village’s eclectic food offerings are certain to sate your appetite.
Start your morning with breakfast at Baker & Cook. Helmed by New Zealand TV personality and celebrity chef Dean Brettschneider, this bakery is known for its artisanal pastries and home-made jams.
To indulge in a bout of shopping for organic produce, drop by Taste. Located in the cosy Raffles Holland V shopping mall, this 557-square-metre space houses ten different sections, including a cheese room and a charcuterie. Seasonal produce is flown in from France, Japan, Thailand and the United States on a fortnightly basis.
If you’re craving for a taste of local fare, visit Holland Drive Market and Food Centre. Located just along Lorong Mambong, this hawker centre serves up a smorgasbord of local dishes, including nasi lemak (rice cooked in coconut milk, served with an array of side dishes), chicken rice and laksa (spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup).