The best way to ‘escape S’pore’ is to head east. Try this one-day Katong itinerary.

Local tourism to re-discover the charm of the east.

| Nigel Chua | Sponsored | January 27, 2021, 06:57 PM

[UPDATE on Jan. 29 at 3:00pm: A previous version of this article stated that the end date of a promotion for those who spend S$25,000 at ION Orchard was Feb. 28, 2021. The correct end date is Feb. 26, and this article has been amended accordingly]

In spite of its small size, Singapore is home to various neighbourhoods and regions that boast their own unique quirks.

It is entirely possible to live, work, shop, and go to school without crossing from one corner of the island to the other.

As someone who lives in the north of Singapore, I hardly ever find myself needing to head east to areas like Katong/Joo Chiat, the least-accessible part of the island for me.

A bus ride, two MRT interchanges, and another bus ride?

No, thank you. It’s just too much trouble most of the time.

But this is exactly why the Katong area makes for an interesting trip, every time I do manage to find the time (or reason) to visit — it’s that part of Singapore that I don’t encounter much, which still preserves a sense of mystery and adventure for me.

Here’s a one-day itinerary in Katong for those with leave (or a weekend) to burn.

Start your day right with a cuppa from Rabbit Carrot Gun (47 - 49 E Coast Rd, Singapore 428768) for breakfast or brunch, anytime between 9am and 3pm.

Photo via Rabbit Carrot Gun on Facebook.

One of the brunch options, called “Hands of Fatima”, is an unconventional variant of the conventional toast-and-eggs option, containing spiced yogurt, edamame, poached eggs, sourdough toast, beet, dukkah, sumac, lemon oil, and fresh parsley.

Photo from Rabbit Carrot Gun on Instagram.

The less-adventurous can go for the “Gamekeeper’s Shooting Breakfast”, a reliable breakfast dish with sausage, bacon, baked beans, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, toast or fried bread, and two eggs done to your liking.

Or go for a pancake stack, topped with burnt white chocolate and nut crumb, strawberries, blueberries, vanilla bean ice cream and maple syrup.

Photo via Rabbit Carrot Gun on Facebook.

Rabbit Carrot Gun is also a boutique hotel with a small number of heritage rooms where you can stay the night — if you’re keen on a longer stay in the east side.

Photo via Rabbit Carrot Gun.

From now till 28 Feb 2021, get S$10 off when you book your hotel room via with UnionPay, with a minimum spend of $100. Find out more here.

When you’re done soaking in the vibes and slurping up the caffeine, head down the road and around the corner to XPIDEMIX and Cat Socrates (63 E Coast Rd, #01-03 and 448 Joo Chiat Road respectively).

Stop by XPIDEMIX, a board game retailer just a few units down for some shopping.

They have an extensive collection of boardgames available for sale, or for rent, which gives you the handy option of trying out a new game or two with your friends before deciding whether you want to commit to purchasing it.

Photo via Xpidemix on Instagram.

And their exquisite tabletop game figurines might just inspire you to pick up your next hobby or game.

Photo via Xpidemix on Instagram.

Cat Socrates just around the corner is an independent retail shop stocking a range of books, art, homeware, and other eclectic items. You might just be able to pick up a unique gift for someone special.

Photo via cat socrates on Instagram.

You can continue to walk down the rest of Joo Chiat Road and explore the other shops along the stretch as well.

As the day heats up towards noontime, duck into the Eurasian Heritage Gallery (139 Ceylon Road), where a Virtual Joseph Schooling will introduce you to the Eurasians of Singapore.

Photo via

Entry for Singaporeans and PRs is free, and the gallery is open from 10am to 5pm from Tuesdays to Sundays, including public holidays.

You can also book a guided tour from S$6 — just make sure to make your reservation at least two weeks in advance via Peatix.

After your deep-dive into Singapore’s cultural heritage, take a walk down to Sinpopo Brand (458 Joo Chiat Road) to deep-dive into Singapore’s culinary heritage.

The quaint eatery, by the creators of local chocolate brand Awfully Chocolate, offers a culinary experience with a playful, modern take on traditional dishes in a charming retro setting.

For example, one of the dishes on offer is “Muah Chee Salad”, which looks similar to the traditional dessert made with glutinous rice flour and peanuts.

This reinterpreted version is made with vegetables and parmesan shavings instead, making for a one-of-a-kind starter.

Photo via Sinpopo Brand’s website.

By this point, you’ve earned yourself a good lunch from all of the walking, so don’t miss out on their Crab Bee Hoon dish, which features wok-fried bee hoon with a “strong wok hei”, in a rich broth with peeled crab meat to top it off.

Photo by Jasmine Lim on Burpple.

And don’t forget to grab dessert as well — Sinpopo Brand is known for its baked goods.

Sinpopo Brand’s “Putu Piring” cake. Photo by Veronica Phua on Burpple.

If Sinpopo Brand and its quirky interiors isn’t enough to satisfy your Instagram feed, head down to Koon Seng Road for photos with the colourful pastel facades of the Peranakan Houses.

It’s worth the while to stand around for a few minutes to admire the exquisite details of the pre-war architecture.

Photo via meyoutravels on Instagram.

And while you’re on the topic of Peranakan culture, what more Singaporean way is there to experience Peranakan culture than through its kueh?

Kim Choo Kueh Chang (60 Joo Chiat Place), established in 1945, offers traditional rice dumplings with various fillings such as pork, chicken, chilli prawn, and even a vegetarian version.

Photo via hotelindigokatongsg on Instagram.

You’ll also be able to get some Nyonya kueh, such as Kueh Lapis (a colourful sticky rice flour pudding), Kueh Salat (a double-layered kueh made with steamed glutinous rice and coconut milk, with a layer of custard on top), and Bengkang Ubi, a baked tapioca cake.

Tori Biru (19 E Coast Rd), a Japanese barbecue restaurant, is the last stop on the itinerary.

Photo via Tori Biru on Facebook.

Soak in the vibes of its eclectic interiors, with various colourful posters from Japanese pop culture plastered on its walls.

Tori Biru offers a selection of flame-grilled items on wooden skewers, known as kushiyaki, as well as other dishes like rice bowls and fried rice.

Photo via Tori Biru on Facebook.

The chef’s selection is available at S$32 for 11 pieces, and S$22 for seven, for those who might feel too spoiled for choice.

Photo via Tori Biru on Facebook.

Cashback and promotions by UnionPay

UnionPay offers cashback for your spend across various merchant categories, covering popular attractions, eateries and restaurants across Singapore, such as Giant, Guardian, Shaw Theatres, Crystal Jade restaurants, SPC, Esso, and more.

The UOB UnionPay Platinum Credit Card gets you 2 per cent cashback on all local spending, while the the ICBC Horoscope Credit Card gets you 2 per cent cashback on local dining and shopping, and 1 per cent cashback on all other spending.

UnionPay also offers two other cards, the DBS UnionPay Platinum Debit Card and BOC Zaobao Credit Card, which have their own unique perks too.

And there are other promotions going on now as well.

Register your UnionPay card on UnionPay’s microsite to enjoy attractive online shopping offers at Krisshop, iShopChangi, Giant online, Cold Storage online, Klook, and many more, till Feb. 28, 2021. Note that the offers are valid for 3 days after registration.

UnionPay is also running a promotion from now till Jan. 31, 2021, where UnionPay cardholders who spend at least S$70 via PayPal with a Singapore-issued card will receive S$7 credit.

From now till Feb. 26, 2021, UnionPay is also offering S$750 of ION Orchard vouchers and a S$100 Violet Oon voucher for those who manage to rack up S$25,000 in purchases at ION Orchard in a single day.

This works out to a 3.4 per cent cashback, and any number of receipts is accepted. However, there is a limit of 50 redemptions per month.

Find out more here.

This sponsored article by UnionPay gave the writer an excuse to plan a day out “for work”.