Bohemian Singapore: Holland Village and Dempsey Hill

Frequented by travelers and home to a strong expat population, Holland Village and Dempsey Hill have become lifestyle destinations, with trendy restaurants and hip shops.

Holland Village has long been a stronghold for bohemian culture and Singapore’s expatriate community while Dempsey Hill is a hip neighboring district. The former is one of the city’s top lifestyle destinations with a cluster of wining and dining establishments set in quiet and mostly residential surrounds. The latter features trendy restaurants, spa facilities and shops hidden within the conserved, colonial, black-and-white buildings of former British army barracks.

Attractions

Founded in 1859, the 63.7-hectare Singapore Botanic Gardens (1 Cluny Road, 6471-7138) is the main recreational park in the area. It has an extensive range of more than 10,000 types of plants including the most comprehensive collection of tropical orchids in the world.

There are also arts and cultural sites in Dempsey such as the Museum of Contemporary Arts (27A Loewen Road, 6479-6622) at Loewen Gardens. The intimate contemporary art space brings in top artists from across Asia Pacific including Beijing-based sculptor Jiang Shuo and Sichuanese painter Ye Yongqing. Smaller galleries can be found at Holland Village, too. A perennial favorite is TAKSU Singapore (#01-72 Blk. 43 Workloft@Chip Bee, Jalan Merah Saga, 6476-4788), which has been open since 1989 and represents works by urban artists around Southeast Asia.

Dining and Nightlife

Among Dempsey’s hottest eateries is The White Rabbit (39C Harding Road, 6473-9965), an airy European dining spot housed in a former chapel for the colonial British garrison. It has been beautifully refurbished with wrought-iron grills and stained-glass windows. Also popular is House (8D Dempsey Road, 6475-7787), a multipurpose space with a café, bar and salon. Fashionistas and creatives head to P.S. Cafe (28B Harding Road, 6479-3343), a stylish place where an eclectic mix of recipes—including gado gado salad, miso cod and poutine—are on offer. Local seafood specialties such as fried youtiao fritters stuffed with minced prawns, chili and black pepper crab can be savored at Long Beach (25 Dempsey Road, 6323-2222). For beer lovers, there’s Tawandang Microbrewery (#01-01, 26 Dempsey Road, 6476-6742), a Thai restaurant and watering hole that’s popular with the after-work crowd, as well as Taphouse (18E Dempsey Road, 6634-1229, S(249677), www.brewerkz.com) serving local craft brews.

Chez Petit Salut

Holland Village offers many dining choices and is split into two main areas: nightlife hub Lorong Mambong and the quieter residential stretch Chip Bee Gardens along Jalan Merah Saga. The former is known for its live-music venues including Wala Wala Café Bar (31 Lorong Mambong, 6462-4288), a casual two-story watering hole that hosts local music acts nightly. On the surrounding street, find everything from local hawker fare to Vietnamese pho and Mexican food. Alternatively, head to Chip Bee Gardens stalwarts such as Chez Petit Salut (#01-54 Blk. 44 Jalan Merah Saga, 6474-9788), which offers French favorites such as escargots and profiteroles, or Original Sin (#01-62 Blk. 43 Jalan Merah Saga, 6475-5605), one of the nation’s pioneering vegetarian restaurants.

Shopping

Holland Village Shopping Center

In Holland Village Shopping Center, there’s Lim’s Arts and Living (#02-01 Holland Road Shopping Centre, 211 Holland Ave., 6467-1300), a mammoth home furnishings and curios store with an array of Chinoiserie silk cushion covers, trinket boxes and African figures that make great souvenirs.

Dempsey’s Woody Antique House (#01-05 Blk. 13 Dempsey Road, 6471-1770) provides a similarly Asian-inspired mix of statues and teak furniture, while emgallery (#01-04/05 Blk. 16 Dempsey Road, 6475-6941) and Rouge French Designs (#01-01 Blk. 16 Dempsey Road, 6475-9245) stock a range of Oriental-style garments.

WhereTraveler Staff
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