Bugis has just about everything — from historical landmarks to modern skyscrapers, Michelin-star hawker fare to one of the world’s best bars. It is mural-splashed, gloriously-colourful, yet classy and posh. This artsy neighbourhood is one of the quirkiest in town, with little to no trace of its frisky past.
Back in the 1950s, Bugis Street was what put Singapore on the world map, albeit for all the "wrong" reasons. The street was notoriously unkept and sleazy, with tourists, European sailors and British servicemen flocking to the area to catch a glimpse of the transvestites and transgendered women who entertained and walked its streets. Wow.
Today, Bugis is nothing like its past self. It is a shopping, food and art paradise filled with refurbished shophouses and state-of-the-art buildings. Here is a guide on what to eat, drink and do in one of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world:
Alley on 25
A multi-cuisine all-day dining venue located on the 25th floor of Andaz Singapore, Alley on 25 recreates the spontaneous experience of Singapore street dining in the sky. It houses five different restaurants and offers a view of the heritage Bugis area, City Hall, or the downtown CBD depending on which restaurant you are dining at.
Location: Andaz Singapore, 5 Fraser Street, Singapore 189354
Serving French food with an Asian twist—and without the hassles of fine dining—Chef Dylan and his team offer an ever-changing menu (almost every four months) of exquisitely-plated creations. What’s more, the food tastes as good as it looks!
Location: 85 Beach Road, #01-02, Singapore 189694
A name familiar to most locals, this Indian-Muslim restaurant has been selling one of the best nasi briyani and murtabak in Singapore for well over a century — since 1908. Ask any local and they will tell you that the food here is definitely worth pressing pause on a healthy diet.
Location: 697/699 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 198675
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle
This one Michelin-starred hawker stall is no stranger to snaking long queues. Its Bak Chor Mee is something to watch out for; springy noodles laced with a blend of vinegar and several other secret sauces accompanied by a rich and flavourful bowl of seaweed soup.
Location: Tai Hwa Eating House, Block 466 Crawford Lane, #01-12, Singapore 190465
Bugis has a myriad of food options, from burger joints to high-end restaurants, it is nearly impossible to list them all. Try out these places we've recommended, or simply explore the choices available on your own! (There is almost always a cafe or restaurant at every turn!)
No. 4 on the World’s Best Bars 2020 list and the best bar in Asia, this Art Deco 1920s-inspired bar is located in what we locals like to call ‘the Gotham building’. Its lavish interior and biggest gin collection in the world make this a place not to be skipped.
Location: Parkview Square, 600 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188778
A hidden cocktail bar on the second floor of a traditional shophouse in Haji Lane, Oriental Elixir offers bespoke cocktails with a distinctly Asian flair. The place is filled to the brim with vintage curiosities and jars of ingredients soaked in gin. Paying homage to Singapore’s melting pot of identities, find yourself tasting Laksa Leaf Infused Gin or Bak Kut Teh flavoured syrups in their one-of-a-kind cocktails.
Together with Culturally, they also offer bespoke workshops and experiences for you to taste the first gin made in Singapore and try your hand at making your own cocktail! Find out more here.
Location: 10A Haji Lane, Singapore 189203
Just opposite Bugis Junction (where the original Bugis Street is located), is a ‘new’ Bugis Street, the closest thing to a street market here in Singapore. It is the place for bargain shoppers, or wanderlusters who miss Bangkok and Bali, with plenty of shops along small alleys that range from selling apparel and accessories to food stalls such as Neds Crepe on Level 2.
Location: 3 New Bugis Street, Singapore 188867
Visit the shophouses in Haji Lane, Singapore’s OG indie neighbourhood. Together with the neighbouring Bali Lane, these two streets are full of cool boutiques, bars, cafés, and restaurants. Shop for trinkets and knick-knacks in the many quirky boutiques lining the streets or spend the afternoon in a cat cafe with fluffy felines. Lined with colourful murals on every wall, Haji Lane is impossible to miss and perfect for your Instagram!
What’s more, get to craft your own leather cardholders embossed with Singapore icons with Culturally x Crafune, right in the heart of Haji Lane.
Location: Located in the Kampong Glam district, Haji Lane is only a short walk from Bugis MRT station.
For the film buff or the old soul, hidden on Level 5 of Golden Mile Tower is an old-school cinema — the last of its kind in Singapore! Dedicated to showing indie and foreign films, The Projector is very much unlike your usual cineplex. Watch award-winning indie films while sitting on retro cinema seats and check out the poster-clad bathroom walls.
Location: Golden Mile Tower, 6001 Beach Road, #05-00, Singapore 199589
Visit a modern letterpress studio filled with traditional typesetting equipment located in the iconic Golden Mile Complex, an architectural marvel from the 1970s with its unique stepped-terrace design. Learn from YY of TypesettingSG about the basics of typography, the anatomy of type and tools in a composing room. Go analog and design/make your own poster using a printing press!
Location: Golden Mile Complex, 5001 Beach Rd, #06-62, Singapore 199588
Try midnight prawning on the rooftop of Bugis+, at [email protected]+, Singapore’s only indoor air-conditioned prawning joint that also functions as a bar. Open daily till 6am, catch prawns to bring home or barbeque them on the spot to have them fresh!
Location: Bugis+ Shopping Centre, 201 Victoria St, #07-05, Singapore 188067
Of course, there is a lot more to do in Bugis, especially in its Kampong Glam district! In fact, we had to write a separate guide just to introduce the beauty of Kampong Glam on its own. Read our eat, drink and do guide to Kampong Glam here.
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At Culturally, we offer customised hands-on cultural experiences for you and your loved ones to enjoy and have fun whilst learning about other cultures! For more things to do in the area, check out our full list of experiences available in Bugis here!