Alternative Singapore: Heritage Houses at Kampung Bahru

This post was originally written for my old travel blog Dream Explore Wander.

As you know I have been going to Singapore a lot recently. With my recent condition, Singapore has been my “therapy”, firstly because I get to see my sister and I also stay at her place which is more homey than the place I am staying in Kuala Lumpur during my chemo (which depresses me as it is a reminder of me being sick). Secondly, Singapore is a great place for me to wander around. It has great pavements and easy transportations. As you know, apart from battling with cancer, I am also suffering from some muscle problems and I have been working hard to get back into shape. It was initially very hard for me to walk but now it’s getting easier. Thirdly, sometimes a trip to Singapore is cheaper (from Kuala Lumpur) than going home to Jogja, especially during big holidays like Eid.

This time around my dad suggested the Kampong Bahru area as he knows I love heritage house, especially ones with gorgeous doors and windows. So last week we took a bus and explored this area.To my amusement, this place is not crowded at all. Honestly, it has been really hard for me to find a quiet place in Singapore. People are just everywhere and sometimes it’s hard to enjoy a place with a lot of people around you (especially right now that I am more “socially awkward”). This place was a total bliss and I really enjoyed the quietness of it.

I wandered around Spottiswoode Park, Blair Road, Everton Road and around. I was really giddy and excited as I could see rows and rows of heritage homes. Singapore is a place where a lot of people live in flats, and so seeing old houses like this is truly a breath of fresh air.

It turns out out that most of these houses are private homes, but there are some which are available for rent too. As I was snapping pictures of one of the houses, a man greeted me as he was cleaning the front porch, he offered me if I’d like to see the inside of his house which I agreed on immediately.

The inside of the house is quite something. I asked permission to take pictures of the inside of his house but he declined politely and I completely understood, he said I could take as many pictures as I want of the outside of the house though. The man was really kind as he explained how he renovated the house when he bought it. I was surprised to learn that the house has been around since 1860. He kept the original structure of the place and it was really cool inside the house even though it was blazing hot outside. He explained this was due to the good air circulation of the house.

The man said that the mural covering the facade of the house was discovered after he bought the house. Initially the wall was painted in plain white, he explained to me as he showed me a picture of the house when he bought it. Quite boring I must say. Then as he peeled the white paint, he discovered the amazing mural hidden behind it. He then decided to keep the mural or rather return the house to its original glory. You can see this mural from outside and I can say that his place has one of the most interesting facades in the area.

He told me that he rents the upstairs of his house. It has 6 rooms and I think it’s a great area to stay in and not to mention an interesting experience to stay at an old heritage house. When I asked him the price of the rent, he said around 2500SGD/month if you stay for a long period and around 120SGD for daily stays. As I went around, I saw more and more places being rented out, so you can definitely check this area out if you want a quiet neighbourhood and prefer to stay “locally”.

Though most of the houses have been renovated and painted with a fresh coat of paint, the owners have definitely kept its original charm. The houses there proudly represent Peranakan style architecture and I love the details of the houses, like old “elastic band” chairs, charming doors and windows, vintage tiles covering its front porch, traditional lamps hanging from its ceiling – all these little details are the true gems of this place.

If you’d like to see a different side of Singapore, this is your place. Be ready to be transported back into the past and be mesmerized by its charming heritage residential houses.

I was browsing through the internet for some information on NUS Museum and I found that one of the houses there belongs to NUS (Baba House) and you can see the inside of the house by guided tours organized by NUS. I didn’t take the tour as I only found out after I went there, but you can certainly check it out if you are interested.


8 thoughts on “Alternative Singapore: Heritage Houses at Kampung Bahru

  1. While I have heard and read a lot about it, everytime in Singapore I never really did an “architecture tour” just to enjoy the buildings, hahaha. Perhaps for my next visit then 😀 .


    • You really should! It’s great, especially when you like architecture 🙂 It’s also very refreshing as you see lots of high and modern buildings in Singapore so when you see all this heritage houses it’s a breath of fresh air!


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