The Screening Room
Classic ‘dinner and a movie’ nights out take on a whole new meaning at Screening Room in Singapore, because here the house chef pairs the menu with the film. The open-air rooftop is a beautiful spot for after-screening drinks offering great views over the Temple of the Tooth and Club Street. Screening Room is easy to find, around a 10-minute walk from the MRT at Chinatown. The bar area is quite small and can get busy, so if you are coming with a group it is probably best to book ahead. On weekends DJs play some up tempo tunes and the lounge takes on a more party atmosphere.
Located at Scarlet Hotel near Club Street, this rooftop bar is a popular evening spot for those wanting to start the evening alfresco. It lives up to its name: the welcoming cool air providing respite from the busy streets below. From here there’s a fantastic view over Chinatown’s temples and pagodas. The intimate seating areas are surrounded by thick curtains so you don’t have to overhear your neighbours’ conversation, and there’s a decent selection of beers and cocktails. If you’re looking for sophistication and prefer music levels to be conversation-friendly then this is a good pick. We recommend booking ahead, especially at weekends.
The Cufflink Club
The Cufflink Club may suggest that this is an after work joint for the city boys, but never fear, this bar welcomes everyone. The staff behind the counter have great banter, the cocktails are excellent and the look is decidedly retro with green tiles lining the bar and dark benches lining the walls. The focus here is very much on the drinks, which all come with quirky names: Cuppa Joe is a coffee cocktail with vanilla vodka served in a takeaway paper cup and Mai Thai Bride brings together the flavours of Siam including lemongrass and kaffir lime. There’s room to sit outside and light bites if you fancy a snack.
Cow & Coolies Pub
If you are looking to pick up the microphone and belt out a ballad then this bar is the place to come. It’s easygoing and friendly with a mixed crowd of office workers, guests from the nearby backpacker hostel and those attracted by the rainbow flag that flies outside. Unlike many places in Singapore there’s no airs or graces here: it’s loud, jolly and a little bit rough around the edges. Outside, the bar fits in with the other shophouses due to its Chinese theme, and the focus inside is the karaoke machine. Don’t worry if you don’t have the vocal range of Whitney Houston, you’ll still get rapturous applause after your performance.
Ann Siang Hill is one of the best places to enjoy Chinatown’s buzzing nightlife, and if we had to pick one bar on this narrow street to visit it would have to be Gem Bar. This relaxed bar is on the corner of the road, it takes over all three floors of the shophouse. There are happy hours every evening and snacks to soak up the cheap booze, with cocktails inspired by Asia fruit including the sour plum mojito and star fruit martini. On the ground floor you can sit outside on the terrace or lounge on the red velour armchairs close to the bar. Head upstairs for live music on the second floor (from Wednesday to Saturday), or chill out in the pool hall on the third floor.
Chinatown Street Market
One of the fastest ways to acquaint oneself with Chinatown is to go on a walking tour of the shops and stalls on these streets – Pagoda Street, Trengganu Street, Sago Lane, Smith Street and Temple Street. These busy streets encapsulate all the sights and sounds visitors expect of Chinatown, with hundreds of stalls selling everything from silk robes to lucky cats. There’s also a fantastic range of street food carts amongst the shopping, with fresh dim sum and crispy duck. Remember to haggle with a smile if you want the best price. The market is open during the day, but it looks its most picturesque at dusk, with the lights shining brightly and the sound of hawkers tempting you to check out their wares.
B28 / BTwentyEight
There are only a few dedicated whisky bars in Singapore, and B28 (named so as it is found in the basement of number 28 Ann Siang Road) will satisfy even the most demanding dram drinker. This dim underground space is extremely atmospheric and has a private members’ club feel to it despite being open to the public. There are over 100 different malts from Canada, America, Ireland and Scotland here, starting at $10 for a nip and ranging up to $6,725 for a bottle of discontinued Macallan from 1965. It’s also a great place to bring your non whisky-drinking pals, with a great $15 cocktail happy hour and an interesting wine list.
Just in case you weren’t paying attention in Spanish lessons, the name of this bar means Chinatown. The prices at happy hour are some of the best we’ve seen in the area: pints for $10 and a glass of wine or house pour spirits at just $7. The bar décor walks a fine line between traditional and stereotyped Spanish, but the bargain drinks mean that the crowd here are always up for a good time. Come at the weekends for live Latin music. Even if you can’t sway your hips quite like the locals in Madrid, the up-tempo beat is too infectious to ignore.
We’ve included this street as well as highlighting some of the best venues on it because we feel that it best represents nightlife in Singapore Chinatown. This small road only runs for about 200 metres but it is right at the heart of Singapore’s indie bar revival. At the weekend this road and those nearby are closed to cars, making it one of our top picks for partying. The customers spill out onto the pavements and sometimes into the street itself, and you can hop from restaurant to bar to club, checking out some of the best mixologists, bar snacks and DJs in Singapore. It starts to get busy around 21:00 and is still buzzing at last orders (02:00).
This experimental cocktail bar on Duxton Hill transports you to another world thanks to the amazing display of glass bottles that hang from the ceiling, which have a slightly Alice in Wonderland feel to them. There’s plenty of comfortable bistro style seating here, and the friendly face behind the bar is one of the city’s top mixologists who creates out of this world cocktails. The Jolly Green Giant is a blend of gin and peas and the sweet, sour and bitter blend of vermouth and Champagne make Friend of the Night one of our favourite tipples here. If you want something original feel free to challenge the barman; he really knows his stuff. Prices are reasonable with cocktails starting at 18 SGD and there are some tasty bars snacks too.