Singapore has it all. From gorgeous tropical green spaces to modern skyscrapers, hipster cafes to colorful shophouses. Above this, the architecture and general design around the Lion City is unique, inventive and absolutely photogenic. Don’t forget your selfie stick and extra battery pack as you’ll be snapping pics like never before.
While most of the Little Red Dot will have you pulling out your camera, we’re here to help you find the most unique and the most beautiful places in Singapore to snap a selfie or pose for your #OOTD. Follow us on a journey of the most instagrammable spots in Singapore.
True to its name, Emerald Hill is a true gem. What makes Emerald Hill so Instagram worthy is the blend of gorgeous Peranakan architecture on the exterior with fantastic bars inside, your camera will be working overtime here.
Formerly a nutmeg plantation that was wiped out in the 1860s due to disease, Emerald Hill was transformed into a residential area dominated by the who’s who of Straits-Chinese like physician Lim Boon Keng. The surviving houses along Emerald Hill Road were built between 1902 and 1925. The Chinese Baroque and art deco houses are beautifully picturesque among the hanging foliage of the area.
After restoration works, the houses have gained their former glory, still making the area home to upscale Singaporeans where rental for one of the smaller properties is an astounding S$12,000 a month. Sitting on the patios at one of the bars lined with palm trees, fantasizing about living like a real Crazy Rich Asian is a great way to pass the day.
Due to the quiet and lovely surroundings just off busy Orchard Road, some very unique bars have popped up along the road. No. 5 Emerald Hill Cocktail Bar is the perfect place to try a martini which they specialise in, Ice Cold Beer Bar for the eponymous drink or Alley Bar which is the gateway to Orchard Road. Antique shop One Price Store is a fantastic place to find Singaporean souvenirs like snuff bottles and marble dragons.
People’s Park is one of the most well known landmarks in the Chinatown district of Singapore. It was the first complex of its kind in the entire Southeast Asia and was the blueprint for many other malls in Singapore. The bright green, yellow and red make this spot pop in any image which makes it a great pic for your IG portfolio.
The structure itself is steeped in history and knowing the story behind it will make visiting the space extra special. Before a fire destroyed the former popular People’s Park Market in 1966, the area was filled with cheap housing and run-down shop houses. In 1967 the site was redeveloped by Singapore’s first Urban Renewal Department Sale of Sites which focused on creating urban regeneration.
After the initial 6-floor shopping mall was built in 1970, 25 more floors were added in 1973 and those are purely residential with affordable rental prices. This change from low-rise to high-rise transformed Singapore from street food stalls to convenient shopping malls.
The design of the interior was also quite groundbreaking in the time. Like its former market, the building has a central atrium (or “city room”) in the mall section designed as a public living room for social activities. A place for people to gather, sit, chat and eat.
Today the atrium is always crowded with demonstrations from eager salespeople trying to sell their ware. While inside and on the lower floors of the mall area it is always chaotic, the exterior is what you’ll want to capture. The block-like brutalist architecture and Chinese characters, 珍珠坊, on the side facing Eu Tong Sen Street is the perfect addition for your #picoftheday.
You used to be able to climb up to the carpark rooftop above the mall to take stunning pictures. But the area became far too popular with photoshoots and the car park management company decided to reclaim their privacy and put up signs against photography without permits. Admire this building from the crossing between North Bridge Road and Cross Street like the photo above, or from Smith Street in core Chinatown for the best perspectives.
If there ever was a street that most represents Singapore, this would be it. Why? The architecture is a blend of different styles and designs, much like the melting pot that is Singapore. You’ll find an eclectic mix of Peranakan shophouse design and tiles blended seamlessly with European influences like the French shutters alongside floral plaster friezes.
After the restoration and gentrification of the area in Tanjong Pagar and Outram in the 1970s, Blair Road became a hub for the wealthy. The residents today are a mix of expats and locals and the interiors showcase the often eccentric tastes of those who dwell inside.
The exteriors of this highly Instagrammable spot in Singapore are absolutely stunning. Expect pastel colors lined with floral patterned walls, gorgeous greenery and beautifully clean floor tiles (even the driveways are tiled!) on the five foot way under the overhanging first floors.
One road up is the trendy Kampong Bahru Road with a multitude of cafes and eateries that are equally as aesthetically pleasing as Blair Road. Top recommendations include Strangers Reunion, Highlander Coffee Espresso Bar and Highball Singapore.
Murals in Tiong Bahru
Functional murals are lined along the walls of Tiong Bahru which tell a story of the area’s lively past. After the move from kampung style living, Singaporeans were moved into HDB public housing. The HDB housing in Tiong Bahru is the first in the country and instead of the usual concrete blocks, the buildings here had a more Art Deco feeling also worth a stroll.
After the move, residents formed a close-knit community where they would often go from house to house to spend time with their newly acquired friends.
The murals in Tiong Bahru are the vision of artist Yip Yew Chong (YC). His art evokes a time in the past where life was simpler, slower and more community based. You will see stories of fortune tellers, singing birds, kampung life and merchants of old as you stroll through the quiet backstreets.
The best part of visiting these murals in Tiong Bahru is that they are partially immersive. This means that they are life size renderings, so you can pose perfectly in front of any mural and totally submerge yourself in them. It will look as though you are visiting olden days, definitely one of the most Instagrammable places in Singapore.
Here is a list of all of YC’s murals so that you can plan which one’s you want for your #TBT feed.
Merci Marcel Cafe
All the walking around Tiong Bahru finding YC’s murals will surely make you peckish. You won’t want to just visit any old cafe, but rather a beautifully Instagrammable cafe in Singapore. That’s why you should head over to Merci Marcel Cafe, the bohemian-chic French eatery in the heart of Tiong Bahru.
Arriving at the cafe, the grey awning and small seating area on the outside will have you thinking that it’s just another spot with nothing especially visually pleasing to offer. But once you enter the large airy 135sqm interior, you’ll instantly have your thumb on the photo button.
The cafe is actually divided into three separate areas including the Lounge, Café Chic, and the Garden Patio, each as pretty at the next. The yellow diamond tiles and light wooden bar are the start of your visual journey with painted walls enticing you onward. There is a beautifully designed menu adding an elegant touch.
The food is plated delicately on floral crockery and is both pleasing to the eye and the tummy. By day Merci Marcel is a brunch cafe and by night it becomes a lively tapas-style eatery and wine bar. Take a seat at the open-air section in the back, which is the most photogenic and has beautifully painted blinds.
Row of shophouses in Joo Chiat
When people talk about shophouses in Singapore, they are most probably referring Joo Chiat Road in Katong, home to Peranakan culture in east Singapore. A former coconut plantation, the area was named after Chinese landowner Chew Joo Chiat transformed into a residential neighborhood.
Its claim to fame is its colorful pre-war double storey shophouses that are equipped with ornate facades, intricate motifs and beautiful ceramic tiles.
Joo Chiat is also one of the best foodie destinations in Singapore, so you can pop into any of the eateries for a quick snack and snap. You’ll want to try the famous Katong laksa (spicy coconut milk-based noodle soup), kueh chan (dumplings) and other Nonya (authentic Peranakan) delicacies. Hop over to East Coast Park for sunset after you’ve got all your shophouse photos for your IG feed.
Haji Lane and Arab Street are probably the most Instagrammed places in Singapore after the Merlion and Marina Bay Sands. The popularity of the hipster street is due to the colorful graffitied walls, unique boutique stores and scrumptious cafes that create a sense of fun, youth and excitement. The murals along these streets are reason for visiting alone.
Situated in colorful and historically-rich Kampong Glam, Haji Lane is the epicentre of indie culture in Singapore. The hole-in-the-wall boutique stores have visitors browsing for hours, so expect this to be an all-day visit. Pop over to the Masjid Sultan Mosque just off North Bridge Road which is also absolutely stunning and it is one of the best temples in Singapore.
Haji Lane is bustling in the day, but it really comes alive at night with music pumping, drinks flowing and exotic scents wafting from the restaurants. Try visit during one of the street parties thrown by Mexican eatery Piedra Negra, also very Instagrammable thanks to its Mayan inspired wall murals, as it is always a super fun time.
Street murals of Little India
Art lovers who can’t get enough of street murals should head off to Little India for a unique walking tour. You may think that Haji Lane and Tiong Bahru are enough, but you’ll regret missing out on capturing these beautiful murals spurred by ArtWalk Little India arts festival. Where else are you going to see a wall of rainbow-colored buffalos?
Little India is for the culture vultures who want to experience exotic smells, authentic tastes and alternative sights. The murals not only provide great captures for your feed, but also tell about the history of the area. From the parrot astrologers, dhobi (washerman), and the many traders and merchants to a glimpse into the past of Racecourse Road, you’ll definitely learn something new as you stroll the streets.
House of Tan Teng Niah
Little India also has tons of landmarks that are totally #OOTD worthy like the super colorful House of Tan Teng Niah to the exquisitely intricate gopuram of Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, one of the most beautiful temples in Singapore.
It’s seems contradictory to say that one of the best sights in Little India is a Chinese villa, but this house built in 1900 is as historically significant as it is unique. The last surviving Chinese villa in Little tells passersby about the often overlooked history of the Chinese community in Little India.
Tan Teng Niah was a towkay, translated as a Chinese businessman of good standing, who ran a few sweet factories Serangoon Road. He used sugarcane to make the sweet and then used the by products of that sugarcane as fuel for his rubber drying furnace.
You’ll instantly fall in love with this multi-colored Malay-cum-Chinese villa. Look out for the Mandarin inscription on the doors that read Siew Song meaning elegant or refined pine, a term used for endurance and expressing aspirations. Many say that Siew Song referred to Tan’s wife, a love letter that has lasted to this day.
The Chinese Gardens were officially opened in 1975, and modelled after the northern Chinese imperial style architecture and landscaping. The seven-tiered pagoda makes for a perfect architecture shot surrounded by nature. You can also climb up the pagoda to take in the views of the traditional Suzhou-style courtyard and extended Jurong Lake.
Walking into the Gardens will feel like you have been transported back in time to Imperial China with mythical lions guarding the gates, stone bridges and even a tea house. Come during Chinese New Year and the tranquil gardens turn into a lively entertainment hub.
You’ll want both your wide-angle lens to capture the 13.5 hectare grounds and your macro-lens for the multitude of miniature trees in the Bonsai Garden. Live Turtle And Tortoise Museum, home to more than 200 turtles and tortoises in over 60 different species, is one more reason to travel to the less visited west.
Skip the overly posted Marina Bay Sands and explore the Avatar-ish park with glimmering Supertrees, a marvelous Flower Dome and an impressive greenhouse which house the exquisite Vanda Miss Joaquim, Singapore’s national flower.
You can choose to go earlier in the day, but the best tip is to go just before sunset. The park only closes at 2am (with paid areas open until 9pm on weekends), so it becomes quieter and more romantic in the nighttime. Honeymooners can choose to eat at Indochine at the top of one of the Supertrees or the fine-dining Pollen.
There are trails with maps, lakes, sculptures, pavilions, grassy areas and even a 25 meter mountain with a waterfall! From the moment you enter the Gardens until the time you leave, your camera will not be switched off. Hopefully you have enough memory to store all the snaps you’re going to take.
Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery and Temple (formerly Siong Lim Temple)
Lian Shan Shuang Lin Temple started out as an omen and ended up as being one of the most beautiful temples in Singapore. A wealthy Hokkien merchant, Low Kim Pong, dreamt of a golden light rising from the west, which is a symbol of the origination of Buddhism, India standing to the west of China.
The following day, Low happened to meet a devout Buddhist family making their way to Fujian. It took a lot of convincing, but Low finally got the family to stay. The head of the family, Xian Hui, became the first abbot of the temple, which started construction in 1898, only to open its doors a decade later in 1907.
The temple itself is absolutely stunning where carpenters, architects and builders have maintained the original look and feel after millions of dollars were spent on restoration works. It is now a national monument.
Modelled after the Xi Chan Si Temple in Fuzhou, Fujian province, China, the temple utilises feng shui to create an inner harmony and flow. The best spot for your #photooftheday is definitely the 9m high main gate. Be sure to get a close up shot of the intricate bronze dragon doorknobs.