There's a reason why Little India has earned a rep as a hip neighbourhood in Singapore. Check out our guide to hipster cafes, restaurants, boutique hotels, shopping and more
The name says it all. This vibrant neighbourhood is a slice of India in multi-cultural Singapore. Blending the old and new, the buzzing ethnic enclave is peppered with spice shops, jewellery stores, flower vendors, saree specialists, trendy cafes and hip watering holes; each offering a heady experience like no other. Don’t worry if you missed the dazzling Deepavali lights here in October, ‘cos there’s still plenty to see and do in this lively district.
Eat & Drink
Madras New Woodlands
This South Indian restaurant has a vegetarian VIP thali meal fit for a king. A thali is a selection of vegetables and curries in mini metal pots served on a large platter. We’d recommend sharing with a friend unless you don’t mind the food coma that comes after. You can also find a selection of honest vegetarian delights like appam, paper dosa, parootha and curd vadai. Wash it all down with a satisfying cup of masala chai.
Madras New Woodlands, 14 Upper Dickson Rd, Singapore 207474, p. 6297 1594
Cheekily named Winederlust (the restaurant is located at Wanderlust Hotel), this casual wine and bistro bar boasts over 300 labels of wines at pocket-friendly prices. Satisfy the wine connoisseur in you with a varied range of wines sourced directly from wineries in Uruguay, Morocco and Japan. Purchase a bottle off the shelf or celebrate hump day on Winos Wednesdays where senior sommelier, Amir Solay takes you through a delectable 3-course wine dinner.
Winederlust, Hotel Wanderlust 2 Dickson Road, Singapore 209494, p. 6396 3322
The Great Mischief
Catalonian cuisine in Little India? Save us a table please! From the creators that brought you (Working Title) and Afterwit, comes yet another gastronomical adventure. Sprawled across the lobby of The Great Madras hotel, The Great Mischief is an Instagrammer’s paradise with neon letter signs and tropical-printed wallpaper. The aesthetics are top-notch, but the food is great too. Devour Halal-friendly tapas dishes like the Gambas Al Ajillo, Patatas Bravas Trufadas and Carne Desmechada Sliders.
The Great Mischief, 30 Madras Street, Singapore 208423, p. 9392 2762
For those who struggle to get up for breakfast, this cafe is for you. Brunches Cafe serves up a mean all-day breakfast menu as well as gourmet sandwiches, waffles and freshly baked bread. Dying for a change in setting? Just make a reservation for affordable high-tea sets. Vintage furniture collections are available around the cafe and you can even purchase those with a price tag attached to it. The highlight of the cafe however, is the vintage mini cooper repurposed as a 4-seater sofa set.
Brunches Café, 96 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218381
Old Chang Kee Cafe
You know you love a curry puff from Old Chang Kee, which recently opened a flagship outlet at its original location where it all began 60 years ago. Nestled along Mackenzie Road, the Old Chang Kee Cafe can be easily spotted from afar, thanks to a giant curry puff planted right outside the store. Reminisce about the glory days with star dishes like Flower Bread served with a choice of lip-smacking chicken curry, chicken stew or beef stew, local delights like Nasi Lemak and Burbur Cha Cha and of course, some fluffy curry puffs.
Old Chang Kee Flagship, #01-01 19/21/23 Mackenzie Road, Singapore 228678, p. 6732 1665
Genesis Vegan Restaurant
If you’ve recently jumped on the vegan bandwagon, you’ll soon realise that affordable and accessible vegan food can be hard to find. What if we told you there’s such a place right at Farrer Park? Serving up a slew of Asian and Western vegan dishes, Genesis Vegan Restaurant could convert even the biggest meat eaters. Vegan Bak Kut Teh, Chicken Rice, Nonya Laksa, tofu cheesecake and the 7 Layer Haystack are some must-try dishes.
Genesis Vegan Restaurant, 115 Owen Road Singapore 218922, p. 6438 7118
MTR Mavalli Tiffin Rooms
Serving up Karnataka cuisine for over nine decades, MTR Mavalli Tiffin Rooms is the numero uno South Indian restaurant for a quick snack or light meal. Tuck into a plate of steamed rice cakes (idli) or a savoury doughnut (uddin vada) or opt for the hearty masala dosa if you’re feeling peckish.
MTR Mavalli Tiffin Rooms, 438 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218133, p. 6296 5800
Situated at The Daulat boutique hotel, Santap offers wholesome Muslim-friendly rice bowls, pizza, sandwiches, acai bowls and an all-day brunch menu. The dishes are packed with indian-inspired flavours and elements. Take the pizzas and rice bowls for an example: the pizza dough is substituted with a naan base while the lamb rice bowl comes with a homemade mint chutney and a side of papadum. The al fresco area makes for a great catch up with the girlfriends.
Santap, 16 Madras Street Singapore 208413
If you’re craving scrumptious Indian fare, Sakunthala’s will charm you with every bite. The menu is packed with North and South Indian and Chinese cuisine dishes – plenty to choose from for fussy eaters. Try the biryani meals, tandoori platter, masala chicken, prawn masala and fish head curry and cool down from all the spices with a refreshing glass of lime juice. Bring the whole family along because trust us, you’ll have a lot to taste before you leave.
Sakunthala’s, 66 Race Course Road Singapore 218570; 151 Dunlop Street Singapore 209466; 88 Syed Alwi Road Singapore 207667
Opened by the folks from The Banana Leaf Apolo, one of Singapore’s oldest Indian restaurants, Apolo Bistro offers a delectable mix of international fares like Indian, Mexican, Thai and Mediterranean. With its hearty lunch buffet and enticing happy hour deals, Apolo Bistro is definitely a must-visit for the ravenous.
Apolo Bistro, #02-13, Little India Arcade, 48 Serangoon Road, Singapore, p. 6291 4646.
Khansama Tandoori Restaurant
For unbelievably tasty North Indian cuisine, Khansama does it best: we’re talking piping-hot servings of palak panner, aloo ghobi, chicken tikka masala, and spicy curries washed down with a cold bottle of Kingfisher beer. The cheese naan here is a definite winner – just think of it as a slice of cheesy heaven on a plate!
Khansama Tandoori Restaurant, 166 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218050, p. 6299 0300.
This 69-year-old establishment is the closest you’ll get to authentic South Indian vegetarian cuisine. It’s always packed as diners can’t get enough of its signature masala dosai (pancake made from rice and lentil batter, filled with mashed potato) served with free-flow sambar (lentil based vegetable stew).
Komala Vilas, 76-78 Serangoon Road, Singapore 217981, p. 6293 6980.
Savour an array of eye-watering, lip-tingling spicy fare at this longstanding restaurant, known for its fish head curry. For less spicy options that won’t leave you sweating, Muthu’s Curry also serves up a range of tamer, flavour-packed Indian fare, from North to South Indian, with plenty of vegetarian options.
Muthu’s Curry, #01-01, 138 Race Course Road, Singapore 218591, p. 6392 1722.
A wet market, food centre and shopping complex in one, Tekka Centre is the go-to for your Indian cuisine fix. Specialties here include the biryani (a spicy rice dish served with chicken or mutton gravy) from Hanifa’s or Allauddin; and the Indian rojak (a salad made up of fried dough fritters, boiled potatoes, cuttlefish, hard boiled eggs, and more) from Temasek Indian Rojak. Finish your meal with a glass of teh tarik (frothy hot milk tea) from any of the drink stalls!
Tekka Centre, 665 Buffalo Road, Singapore 210665.
Jewel Cafe and Bar
The guys from Jewel Coffee are keeping up with the coffee craze with their second outlet, Jewel Cafe + Bar on Rangoon Road. Gotta love their intriguing java menu: you can take a milky trip to San Francisco or go back to black with a Portland cuppa. Don’t be surprised if someone yells, “OMG!” – that’s just the name of one of their burgers. But what really had us at hello is their homemade bacon jam.
Jewel Cafe and Bar, 129 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218407, p. 6298 9216.
Old Hen Coffee Bar
If there’s anything that can make us stray from our usual order of lattes, it’d be Old Hen Coffee Bar’s ingenious bottled cold brews. Just pop them open (like you would a bottle of Heineken) and savour the chilled caffeinated goodness of Oriole’s smooth Raven blend – in either smooth black or creamy white. Feeling a little er… peckish (pun intended)? Then Old Hen’s decadent buttermilk waffles served with blueberry compote, strawberries, and honey-infused Greek yogurt should satiate you quite nicely.
Old Hen Coffee Bar, #01-03, 88 Rangoon Road, Singapore 218374, p. 6341 5458.
Prince of Wales
You may know it as a no-frills hostel but the adjoining alfresco bar is really where the party’s at. Sticking true to its Aussie roots, Prince of Wales ticks all the right boxes: cheap craft beers, live indie music, weekly quiz nights, and a laid-back clientele of backpackers and locals alike.
Prince of Wales, 101 Dunlop Street, Singapore 209420, p. 6299 0130.
Want vegetarian dishes that are a little out of the ordinary? Pay a visit to Cafe Salivation’s vibrant fuchsia- and tangerine-themed shophouse cafe for its fun take on international vegetarian cuisine. Here, you’ll find a smorgasbord of vegetarian dishes including burgers (veggie ones, of course!), pastas, baked dishes, quesadillas, eggless cakes and more! The menu also offers items suitable for vegans, Buddhists and Jains.
Cafe Salivation, 176 Race Course Road, Singapore 218607. p. 6298 1412.
Breton Restaurant & Bar
Little India might not be the first place that comes to mind when you’re on the hunt for French food, but Breton Restaurant & Bar has gained quite a following for its affordable and authentic French dishes. While its rebranding has placed a focus on affordable lobsters ($39!), the French classics that earned this restaurant its name still remain. The crowd-pleasing favourite, the lamb shank in Breton “BBQ” sauce, still goes for a pocket-friendly $26.
Breton Restaurant & Bar, 544 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218166. p. 6299 3544.
The Malayan Council
If you’re hitting a cafe more for food than coffee, The Malayan Council offers some truly eclectic menu items featuring local twists. Tuck into hearty mains like the salted egg mud crab and soft-shell crab linguine, or the perennial favourite, duck lemak and chilli padi linguine. For dessert, choose from the cafe’s wide selection of cakes that include the ondeh ondeh and gula melaka cake
The Malayan Council, 22 Dunlop Street Kampong Bugis, Singapore 209350.
Little India Arcade
Take a walk around this bustling shopping destination to pick up souvenirs such as beautiful silk saris, handicrafts, and dazzling jewellery.
Little India Arcade, #02-07, 48 Serangoon Road, Singapore 217959, p. 6295 5998.
Looking for a saree to suit any occasion? Ask any local and all fingers will point to Haniffa Textiles. You’ll find a treasure trove of sarees in various colours, designs, patterns, materials and price ranges to suit all your saree needs.
Haniffa Textiles, 60 Serangoon Road, Singapore 217967
Pottu Kara Maami
Founded in Singapore by sisters Sindu and Shruti Suria, Pottu Kara Maami (PKM) is the saree haven to be if you’re seeking something out of the ordinary. Slip into chic with a range of modern silhouettes like embroidered sarees, sequin sarees and block print sarees to classics or opt for traditional pieces like mangalagiri cotton sarees and kanchipuram sarees. Follow their Instagram page for fun and cheeky IG stories and stunning photo sets like the one pictured above.
Pottu Kara Maami, 121a Serangoon Road, Singapore 218026, p. 9698 6408
Think shopping in Little India and one name springs to mind: Mustafa Centre. This 24-hour shopping behemoth sells just about anything. From affordable electronics to delicious Indian food, this is paradise for bargain-hunters and hardened shopaholics.
Mustafa Centre, 145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207704, p. 6295 5855.
The Great Madras
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the latest hotel opening at Little India. The Great Madras is a breath of fresh air with picturesque frames taken right out of a scene from The Grand Budapest Hotel. The rooms range from a hostel-style co-living space with king sized beds to a cosy suite with a circular bathtub. Wallpaper-heavy walls and quirky interior décor aside, this aesthetically pleasing boutique hotel also has a barber and bistro at the lobby.
The Great Madras, 28 Madras Street, Singapore 208422, p. 6914 1515
One Farrer Hotel & Spa
The leading 5-star urban hotel gives major resort vibes with a – believe it or not – a fully operational farm and an award-winning collection of over 700 pieces of original contemporary abstract art. The “hotels within a hotel” concept allows you to select from chic rooms at the urban hotel, loft style apartments, a sophisticated penthouse and luxurious villas. Now this is what we’d call value for your buck.
One Farrer Hotel & Spa, 1 Farrer Park Station Road, Singapore 217562, p. 6363 0101
Park Hotel Farrer Park
Situated right on top of Farrer Park MRT Station, this 300-room hotel is set amidst a thriving enclave. A harmonious blend of old and new, the building’s facade and classic silhouette sits tastefully with the surrounding heritage pre-war shop houses. Rooms and lofts are equipped with organic Australian-owned Appelles amenities. Make a splash at the outdoor pool on the rooftop terrace and end your night with a gastronomical encounter at the Blue Jasmine restaurant.
Park Hotel Farrer Park, 10 Farrer Park Station Road, Singapore 217564
Hostels may get a bad rep for being dodgy fleapits – too many bad memories from our backpacking days – but oh no, not this one. Easy on the eyes and on the wallet, Bunc is a 233-bed boutique hostel (emphasis on boutique) with all the fixings of a swish establishment: a sleek Scandi décor, custom-made beds, free Wi-Fi, recreation rooms, an outdoor tanning deck, and a ladies-only floor. Room rates start from just $39.10 a night.
Bunc Hostel, 15-18 Upper Weld Road, Singapore 207372, p. 6262 2862.
The Vagabond Club
Three words: Parisian swank factor. The Vagabond Club began knocking the boutique hotel game out of the park when it opened. For starters, each of the 41 rooms is super swish; think boudoir chic havens of tranquility. To help you scratch your arty itch, regular pop up events – like macaron-making and crinoline classes by French designer Mireille Minier – are held. And if you’re on an all-girl staycay, the Lady Boss High Tea is complimentary every day – yup, you read that right, tea and scones for free, on the daily.
The Vagabond Club, 39 Syed Alwi Rd, Singapore, 207630, p. 6291 6677.
Staycation in Little India? Yes, it’s possible! This hip boutique hotel houses 29 different and uniquely decorated rooms with themes like Spaceman, Pop Art, and Pantone – a clear indication that it ain’t your average Holiday Inn. But Wanderlust isn’t just a pretty face – her rooms offer fab extras like Shanghai Tang toiletries, monsoon showers, and a rooftop jacuzzi – and let’s not forget about Cocotte, the casual French bistro serving up hearty servings of rustic fare.
Wanderlust Hotel, 2 Dickson Road, Singapore 209494, p. 6396 3322.
Hilton Garden Inn
If you’ve got a weakness for luxury staycays, Hilton’s first Garden Inn in Singapore may just be your new go-to sanctuary. The newly-opened 328-room hotel features 10 room categories, with the top-tier ones being the King Deluxe rooms, with varying views of the old race course or neighbouring shophouses. No matter what room you pick, one thing’s for sure: you’re guaranteed plush furnishings, like the ultra luxurious and renowned Suite Dreams by Serta beds, bay window seating area as well as large HDTVs.
Hilton Garden Inn Singapore Serangoon, 3 Belilios Road, Singapore 219924.
A Dose of Culture
The Temple Of Thousand Lights
Also known as Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple, the focal point of this popular temple is the 15-foot seated Buddha that is surrounded by numerous lightbulbs. There’s also a statue of the sleeping Buddha in a room below the main temple hall.
The Temple Of Thousand Lights, 366 Race Course Road, Singapore Singapore 218638, p. 6294 0714.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple
Dedicated to Kali, the Hindu Goddess of power, the grand, intricately-designed Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple has a South Indian architectural style and was established in 1855 – making it one of the oldest religious sites in Singapore.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Hindu Temple, 141 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218042, p. 62954538.
Indian Heritage Centre
The galleries within this ultra-modern museum are chronologically arranged and spans the period from 1st century CE to the 21st century. Here, visitors can learn about the historical links between the Indian sub-continent and Southeast Asia, as well as the experiences of South Asians in Southeast Asia.
Indian Heritage Centre, 5 Campbell Lane, Singapore Singapore 209924, p. 6291 1601.
Parrot astrology fortune tellers
For just $5, get a glimpse into your future, courtesy of an adorable little critter with clairvoyant powers. Parrot astrology fortune tellers is a fun way to get the kids involved and introduce them to this ancient South Indian practice.
Along Serangoon Road.
Cool spots for your Instagram feed
House of Tan Teng Niah
Sitting along the Kerbau Road and Buffalo Road, the last surviving Chinese villa in Little India is hard to miss. If you look closely, you’ll find that this cultural monument has a mix of southern Chinese and European influences, including a bamboo tiled roof. But the vibrant medley of colours is what attracts hordes of tourists to get the perfect shot.
Tan Teng Niah, 37 Kerbau Rd, Singapore 219168
Murals in Little India
To add to its beauty, Little India doesn’t shy away from beautiful murals by local artists. We thoroughly enjoyed scouting for these beauties in our Singapore wall crawl.
Sights & Scenes
Like this story? Check these out:
What’s hot in Dhoby Ghaut
A guide to Duxton, a hipster enclave you shouldn’t neglect
Why Tiong Bahru has our heart
Jalan Besar: The quiet foodie haven