Five photo spots in Joo Chiat that capture both tradition and fun
A double-take of Joo Chiat’s creative and cultural heritage.
I’ve only been to Joo Chiat twice in my life. The first was for a family reunion dinner at a restaurant before COVID-19 hit. The second was this shoot that made me realise that that restaurant was now closed.
And because all I’ve known Joo Chiat for was that restaurant, I never knew there was so much to learn and see about this traditional urban area.
But this shoot opened my eyes to the true nature of Joo Chiat.
Rows of shophouses rich with Peranakan history are now occupied by various eateries and odd little services, enjoyed by people from the nearby residential areas and beyond.
Here are five places you should check out while you’re there!
1. Koon Seng Road Shophouses
Shophouses can be found everywhere at Joo Chiat, but the truly special ones are at Koon Seng Road. A quick Google search will give you these colourful shophouses Joo Chiat might be most known for.
Inspired by an array of cultures, these shophouses are easy to find, yet difficult to photograph as they are located close to the road.
Fortunately, there is more than just one row of colourful shophouses at Joo Chiat, so there’s no need to worry about finding the exact same ones seen on Google because all of them are just as fascinating.
Don’t be shy to dress up as much as you like here. Have fun matching your OOTD to each shophouse!
2. Wall Murals at Everitt Road and Koon Seng Road
Besides its colourful shophouses, Joo Chiat is also known for its wall murals that can be found at almost every corner.
The Singapore Tourism Board began this initiative under the Katong Joo Chiat Art Circuit in an attempt to revitalise the area, which definitely worked.
Thanks to the project, these stories told on walls now bring life to the area as these murals are favoured by tourists and locals alike.
Not only do these murals make for aesthetic backdrops, but they also leave room for dynamic and fun shots, so try to think out of the box when you’re here.
3. Vertical Playground at Carpmael Park
Adding on to the whole childhood theme is the Vertical Playground at Carpmael Park.
I have a fear of heights, so that definitely stopped me from indulging my inner child too much, but I still enjoyed myself more than I expected.
Climbing around and popping in and out of the holes in the slides brought out the daredevil in me, and it was thrilling challenging my fears. If anything, I began to fear the mosquitoes there more than the height of the playground.
Apart from remembering to bring mosquito repellent, do also take advantage of the playground’s design to come up with interesting optical illusions while you’re here.
4. Five-Foot Way at the Black Earth Art Museum
A five-foot way is a continuous roofed walkway in front of shophouses that can be found almost everywhere at Joo Chiat. They often resemble a mix of European and Asian architecture and give off a traditional yet urban feel to the area.
This charming red corridor is actually the Black Earth Art Museum, which specialises in oriental art such as Calligraphy and traditional Chinese ink and wash.
Ironically, the gallery is more known for its colours of black against red, but taking a look at the artworks there might help you appreciate the history of the place too.
5. Connecting bridge at Joo Chiat Complex
Ending off with where it all begins, Joo Chiat Complex is a short walk from Eunos MRT and is home to many traditional works and wares of different cultures.
Joo Chiat Complex is definitely not your usual air-conditioned mall. Once an important trading point in the 1960s, it continues to sell products from Malay, Chinese and Indonesian cultures, including jewellery, fabrics and food.
A flight of stairs up the building would lead you to the connecting bridge, where you can experiment with angles.
From horizontal to high-angle shots, the connecting bridge’s distinct design provides endless photo options.
There’s something romantic about the timelessness of Joo Chiat. Over the years, some things may change, such as the restaurant I ate at for the first and last time, while other things like the blend of cultures from early Singapore endure.
Every moment at Joo Chiat is a modern glimpse into Singapore’s past. So if you ever visit these spots, do take a moment to slow down and appreciate these national roots.