When I have someone visiting Singapore for the first time, I tell them to put Haji Lane on their list of places to visit. When my friend asks for recommendations, I tell them Haji Lane. When someone e-mails me to ask about essential places to visit, I tell them – Haji Lane.
So what makes Haji Lane so different that you have to add it to your list to visit in Singapore?
Let’s see. Singapore is already a well-known tourist destination. In fact, a lot of activities here are pretty much geared and targeted towards being tourist friendly. Shopping? There’s plenty of malls around Singapore for that.
Do you know how many times I’ve visited the city centre at Orchard Road this year for shopping? None!! I can do my shopping closer to home in any of the malls around my neighbourhood.
So hopping down to Haji Lane when I can very well shop elsewhere says one thing. It’s different.
If you have an impression that this area is a one long corridor full of the usual shops, I’ve got to tell you that you are wrong, there is so much more than that.
For just one lane, it’s chock full of quaint cafes, quirky shops selling memorabilia, local designer boutiques and funky street art blended amongst all the nostalgic architectural buildings.
I love that some shops still maintain features of the old shophouses such as the metal gates, window shutters and more.
At night, shop decorations brighten up their spots, making for a colorful atmosphere in some areas. You have to really be there to experience it as it is.
It took me two hours to walk from one end to the other. I still gave some of the shops a miss, at that.
With the positives, there are downsides to this though. As Haji Lane’s popularity increases, there has been way much more people around. There is just enough space for a car to get through (but the lane is closed to traffic) and hardly anything else.
So you can imagine walking down this lane with huge crowds of people around is not always the easiest thing to navigate. I’ve once even had to circle around an entire spot of crowd who had stopped to take photos.
Shops there are also constantly changing due to the high rental cost. I know of shops which used to be there but have since moved out. However, there are also new shops that have added to the character of Haji Lane, although who knows how long they can remain?
Quintessentially, Haji Lane is one of the places that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend, especially to someone who is out for a place with a little bit of character. A day out here can also be paired with exploring the nearby Kampung Glam.
Is there also any unique place that you would recommend visiting in your own country? Please do share!