Once filled with coconut plantations and used as a weekend retreat by wealthy city dwellers, Katong developed into a residential suburb by the early 20th century. It became populated by a growing English-educated middle class, including Peranakans* and Eurasians.
The neighbouring Joo Chiat area is named after Chew Joo Chiat, a wealthy Chinese landowner in the early 20th century. The area’s identity is especially shaped by its unique pre-war architecture – colourful two-storey shophouses and terrace houses with ornate facades, intricate motifs and ceramic tiles.
*The term is an Indonesian/Malay word that means “local born”, which generally refers to people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage.
The plantations have since gone, but you can still admire this vibrant neighbourhood’s many well-preserved Peranakan shophouses and a scattering of colonial bungalows. The area is just a quick ten-minute drive from the city centre.
As one of the country’s best foodie destinations, Joo Chiat/Katong is also well-loved by many Singaporeans. Your culinary choices are endless: explore cool cafes that sit next to old-world coffeeshops selling the famous Katong laksa (spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup), kueh chan (dumplings) and other Nonya delicacies.
Keen on shopping? Snap up a traditional Nonya outfit—kebaya (traditional nonya dress) and sarong (traditional Asian garment), beaded slippers and accessories, or poke about in the little shops offering Peranakan wares and handicraft.
To fully appreciate Joo Chiat/Katong, you’ll need more than a few hours to fully enjoy the area—so for a leisurely experience, why not stay at one of several hotels there? Choose from refurbished hotels decked out in Peranakan-inspired décor, or comfortable budget stays.