SINGAPORE: Congratulations, Chinatown! The enclave located in the Outram district has been included in the annual list of coolest neighbourhoods in the world by global media and hospitality site Time Out. Around this time last year, Little India was ranked the 19th Coolest Neighbourhood in the world, and now, Chinatown has been similarly honoured. This is Time Out’s sixth annual list of coolest neighbourhoods, culled from the opinions of more than 12,000 people who named the neighbourhoods “where everyone wants to be right now”.
“The world’s coolest neighbourhoods this year are, therefore, places with big personalities. Each area’s diversity is reflected in its food, culture and festivals. Community is key: locals have banded together to rebuild their neighbourhood after disaster, to protest the demolition of much-loved cultural venues or simply to create spaces where people can come together and have some fun. Be it at an all-nighter or on a nighttime bike ride, these neighbourhoods are where the city comes to play,” writes Time Out.
This year’s first place goes to Laureles in Medellín, Colombia, followed by Smithfield in Dublin, Ireland taking second place. The number three spot goes to Carabanchel in Madrid, Spain, while Havnen in Copenhagen, Denmark, and Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, respectively, round out the top five.
Singapore’s Chinatown comes in at number 14. This is what Time Out has to say: “Chinatown encapsulates the multifacetedness of Singapore. On the one hand, this culture-rich precinct is home to multiple temples, traditional pastry shops, calming tea houses, and hawker hotspots like Amoy Street Food Centre and Hong Lim Food Centre.
But at the same time, it’s teeming with chic nightlife haunts and gay bars – along with some of the best new cafés and restaurants in town. A fresh set of art studios (check out the colourful WOAW Gallery), vintage stores like The Née, and independent boutiques selling everything from pottery to soy candles have emerged in recent months, adding even more flavour to Chinatown’s charming mishmash.”
For the perfect day, Time Out suggests starting the day at Pearl’s Hill Terrace, with shokupan (milk bread) and coffee for breakfast at Paaru, a Japanese bakery. After that, it suggests following this up exploring the enclave’s hidden treasures, which include “a taxidermy studio, pottery spaces, and even a tattoo parlour that conducts tattoo art jamming sessions using faux skin”.
Other places in Chinatown that won a mention from TimeOut are the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, the street stalls at Pagoda Street, and then a nightcap at the four-storey bar White Shades. The more well-heeled among Chinatown’s visitors may want to stay at Mondrian Singapore Duxton, one among a number of luxury hotels which opened in Singapore earlier this year. Time Out also suggests scheduling a visit to Chinatown during the Lunar New Year celebrations, of course, when the enclave shines even more brightly.