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, sari 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
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 0300/6396 7395.
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 Yakader 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.
Housed within the chic Wanderlust boutique hotel, this hip spot is well known for its communal dining where massive platters of meats and pots of mussels get passed between friends and family. Its fabulous weekend brunch trolleys offer free-flow French-inspired sweets and savouries too.
Cocotte, 2 Dickson Road, Singapore 209494, p. 6298 1188.
Jewel Cafe and Bar
The guys from Jewel Coffee are keeping up with the coffee craze with their second outlet, Jewel Café + 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.
Zsofi Tapas Bar
In the midst of Little India’s frenetic buzz, it’s possible to kick back and enjoy some downtime at Spanish-themed bar, Zsofi. This offbeat chill-out spot offers a true blue tapas experience by serving complimentary plates of tasty nibbles with every drink ordered – can’t say no to that. We recommend heading up to the breezy rooftop bar and getting well acquainted with their drinks menu. Always first on our order: the potent sangrias.
Zsofi Tapas Bar, 68 Dunlop Street, Singapore 209396, p. 6297 5875.
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 café 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.
Think shopping in Little India and one name springs to mind: Mustafa. 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.
Choice Cuts Goods + Coffee
Founded by longstanding DJ collective, Matteblacc, Choice Cuts Goods + Coffee champions soul music and fresh beans. Come in for a brew and don’t expect to leave in a hurry – you’ll want to wile away the afternoon with the well-stocked racks of vinyls and street merch. We hear the store-slash-cafe frequently organises impromptu vinyl sessions too, so keep clued in by following them on their Instagram page.
Choice Cuts Goods + Coffee, 486 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218151.
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.
Three words: Parisian swank factor. hôtel vagabond 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.
hôtel vagabond, 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.
Bid adieu to the days of working from Starbucks, and start hustling from Little India’s first co-working space. It’s no surprise that this converted three-storey shophouse was conceptualised by award-winning local design studio FARM – the industrial-chic décor is pure design heaven. With both open-plan and semi-private workspaces, Workhouse ‘citizens’ can also enjoy rad features like a zen courtyard, outdoor terrace, central pantry, shower facilities, and weekly social events.
Workhouse, 60 Upper Weld Road, Singapore 207413, p. 6291 2650.
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. 6295 4538/6293 4634.
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.
Singapore Insider is published quarterly, in partnership with Singapore Tourism Board. Pick up the printed edition for free at Singapore Visitor Centres island-wide, including Orchard (junction of Cairnhill Road and Orchard Road), orchardgateway, ION Orchard (Level 1 Concierge), and Chinatown Visitor Centre (2 Banda Street), or download the digital version.