A Guide to Where You'll Find Iconic Shophouses in Singapore



Welcome to Singapore, a vibrant tapestry of cultures and a treasure trove of architectural gems. Among the most loved and iconic buildings in the city are shophouses. They colourfully blend the best of Chinese, European and Malay architecture, making them a brilliant example of how cultural diversity has shaped Singapore.

The archetypal Singapore shophouse is symmetrical, ornate and features a five-foot way facade designed to protect people from the relentless sun and tropical rains. Property taxes in Singapore were calculated on the width of buildings so to reduce the taxes, shophouses were typically built narrow at the front, and widening out towards the back. It's not the only clever design feature through. Most shophouses also include striking internal courtyards, open stairwells and skylights to provide natural ventilation and lighting in the middle of the house. 

One of the things you have to love about Singapore is their commitment to preserving culture, and to date, Singapore has conserved about 6,500 shophouses across the island. Not only does this ensure that future generations have important links to their community's heritage and unique story, it also makes for a damn pretty city. 

At Strait Lights, we share Singapore's passion for preserving its cultural identity. Many of our Strait Scenes bracelet designs draw inspiration from the kaleidoscope of hues found on shophouses.

We thought we'd share some of our favourite locations to find Singapore shophouses so that you can discover them for yourself.


The Historic District of Chinatown includes four sub-districts: Telok Ayer, Kreta Ayer, Bukit Pasoh, and Tanjong Pagar, trasforming the areas into the country’s largest heritage precinct. Filled with a meld of hip haunts, cultural treasures and architectural gems. This shophouses in this neighbourhood are like living chapters in Singapore's story, offering a unique blend of history, architecture, and culture.

Add to your walking trail Pagoda Street, Telok Ayer Street and Chinatown Heritage Centre.


2. Joo Chiat/Katong: A Peranakan Paradise:

Hed to this hip neighbourhood in the east coast, where pastel-hued shophouses adorned with colorful tiles line charming streets. These Peranakan shophouses, a fusion of Chinese and Malay influences, showcase unique architectural details like geometric motifs and ornate balconies.

Key locations include Joo Chiat Road, Koon Seng Road, Tembeling Road and Everitt Road.

A beautiful stretch of white shophouses can be found a little further up on the corner of Everitt Road and Joo Chiat Place. 

Want to learn more? Visit Baba House, a restored Peranakan shophouse-turned-museum. 

Looking for a Joo Chiat keepsake? Our Joo Chiat bracelet is inspired by the shophouses on Everitt Road. 

3. Emerald Hill: 

Emerlad Hill is a picture-perfect enclave that sits quietly hidden in Singapores Orchard area. A lot less touristy than Joo Chiat, here you can take a leisurely stroll, soaking in the peaceful ambiance and capturing postcard-worthy shots. Filled with architectural details like louvered windows and cast-iron grilles, Emerald Hill transports you to a bygone era. 

Our Emerald Hill bracelet was inspired by this neighbourhood. 

4. Blair Plain 

Looking for an less known area with exceptional shophouses? Blair Plain's is it. This neighbourhood is a tranquil enclave tucked away near the popular Tanjong Pagar. Here, two-storey shophouses painted in pastel tones line a quiet road. Bonus points for exploring the hidden art galleries and charming cafes tucked away within these restored gems! 

Have a look at our Blair Plains bracelet, inspired by a shophouse on this street, here. 

5. Little India: A Riot of Colors:

Say hello to the vibrant energy of Little India, where shophouses painted in a kaleidoscope of colors line bustling streets. Wander down Serangoon Road, spotting traditional textile shops and spice vendors housed in unique examples of shophouses. Explore Tekka Place, a historic market housed in restored shophouses, for a truly immersive experience.

Tip: Avoid Sunday's. They are extra busy in Little India. 

5. Beyond the Usual Suspects:

Venture beyond the popular districts and discover hidden gems. Explore shophouses with Art Deco influences along Neil Road in Chinatown. Admire the restored shophouses lining Telok Ayer Street near Amoy Street for a glimpse into the city's commercial past. Don't miss the shophouses in Robertson Quay, transformed into trendy restaurants and bars, offering a vibrant nightlife experience.

Pro Tips:

    • Embrace the "Five-Foot Way": Walk along these covered walkways flanking the shophouses, offering shade and unique perspectives.They have beautiful exmaples of Peranakan tiles. 
    • Look Up: Admire the ornate details on the upper floors, from intricate plasterwork to decorative balconies.
    • Step Inside: Many shophouses house cafes, boutiques, and museums, offering a glimpse into their interiors.
    • Join a guided tour: Learn more about the history and architecture of shophouses with a knowledgeable guide.


We hope you love exploring these neighbourhoods as much as we do. 

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