Joo Chiat Photowalk

Cyclist on Koon Seng RoadBefore I spent more than an hour watching the really fascinating Javanese “horse trance” dance performance I chanced upon in Joo Chiat, I had been on a self-initiated photowalk down Joo Chiat Road. As a long-time Katong/Joo Chiat resident, I was walking a route I already knew well, but had rarely bothered to photograph.

If you’re from this part of town as well, I hope my photos will reflect what you know and love about our neighbourhood. And if you’re not familiar with it, I hope you’ll like what you see in my photos and come visit!


I got off the bus opposite Holy Family Church on East Coast Road and walked back towards Joo Chiat Road. Although I usually charge straight into the Santa Grand Hotel to stuff my face at Peramakan, today I took a moment to enjoy the five-foot-way tiling outside their doors.


Next, I took a short detour, crossing East Coast Road soon after the Santa Grand Hotel to visit one of my favourite streets in the area, a little cul-de-sac so seemingly insignificant that it doesn’t even have its own street name (look for the road between Mount Pleasant Animal Hospital and Yong’s Teochew Kueh). Although I was only able to admire its beautiful old terrace houses from the outside this time, the visit brought back happy memories from when my friend Jacob used to live there.

Two Homes

Retracing my steps towards the main road, I glanced to my left to see I12 from an unexpected perspective.

A different view of I12

Some bits of this part of town may have gotten a bit glitzy, but at least its back streets haven’t changed much.

Side Street Smoke Break

Back on the main road, I headed left to the junction, crossed and started walking up Joo Chiat Road. Outside Casa Bom Vento, even the roadside power box had been decorated with a Peranakan motif.

Power Box, Joo Chiat Style

Trendyish places come and go on Joo Chiat Road, but there are plenty of other shops which look as if they’ve been there a long time.

Bike ShopRattan Shop Proprietor

I hope it is still a place where long-time residents feel comfortable.

Joo Chiat BikerKopi Time

Of course, no photowalk of Joo Chiat Road is worth its salt without some time also spent on Koon Seng Road.

Koon Seng Road Tableau

Back on Joo Chiat Road, at the junction with Dunman Road there is a shop which sells nothing but commercial freezers and food display cases.

Freezer Shop

If you keep walking up Joo Chiat Road from here, you get into what could be described as its sleazy stretch, though things are a little more balanced there now, and there’s still plenty of charm to be spotted. Like the sort of little no-frills greengrocers which abound in the back streets of Little India.


And gorgeous architectural details above the rows of neon signs.

Shophouse Facade

As the sun set, Joo Chiat’s bars opened and its girls came out to play. But the real heart of all the action was this spot on the pavement outside a Vietnamese eatery, where three children had made themselves a train out of chairs.

Pavement Playground

By now, I could hear the music in the distance for the “horse trance” dance I would soon witness, and that is where my photowalk continued, and ended. It was one of those days when I felt lucky to live where I live.


  1. Thanks for posting this…. I live along Dunman Road and recognise a lot of the stuff you posted…cos I pass them almost every day.

    The pics were beautifully taken. :)

  2. Ahhhh. Love this post :) Thanks so much for the photos! I’m a long time Joo Chiat resident too (I didn’t know you live around here!) and all the photos absolutely reflect why I love this area so.

  3. Thanks Julia and Melissa!

    Joo Chiat tends to be a place I visit at night much more often than daytime (because the bus route through it doesn’t work for me and I basically have to walk there from my place, which is more pleasantly done after sundown), so this glimpse of its “day face” was actually quite rare for me. You’re lucky to live in the heart of it and see all this every day. :)

  4. Thanks. :) Was using the kit 18-55 zoom. The stairs shot probably wasn’t taken long because I’d have zoomed with my feet if I needed to, but the second-last photo would have definitely required me to go long to focus in on that detail.

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