Go street art hunting through Singapore’s off the beaten back alleys and busy streets through Little India, Chinatown, Bugis, Kampong Glam, The Quays and Tiong Bahru. Discover how the street art in Singapore are not only superficially attractive but teeming with stories of Singapore’s history and culture, as well.
Street Art in Singapore
Street art in Singapore may not be as famous as the murals in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia. Singapore is more popularly known for modern architecture and having one of the cleanest streets in Asia. However, hidden within its lively streets and many within unassuming alleys is the Singapore street art scene.
People nowadays may perceive street art as Instagram-worthy spots but more than that, street art is a reflection of a place’s culture. It’s a non-spoken form of art but it transforms public walls into a canvas that speak different messages.
You will be surprised how much public murals in Singapore there are. I have walked the popular spots and several inner lanes in Singapore for about three days. Still, there are many more murals I haven’t seen. Want to know where to spot street art in Singapore while you fill in your Singapore itinerary? Here’s a guide to Singapore street art, in case you’re on a mission to see as many wall paintings in Singapore as you can.
Singapore Street Art Map
Below is a map of street art in Singapore. It includes those I’ve personally encountered and also those which I have missed. The sites are clustered into color-coded points according to their area.
I have also tagged the nearest MRT station, for reference on how to get to the area.
Little India is the place to be if you only have a day to spend hunting for murals in Singapore. Here are some of the murals in Singapore’s Little India:
Race Course Road
Most tourists flock at the nearby Tan Teng Niah house for those pose-inducing backdrops courtesy of this brightly colorful heritage house. A little further away close to the Race Course Road is a narrow alley where you will spot a wall painting.
The wall art entitled “A Ride Through Race Course Road” by Jaxton Su depicts a horse race scene typical of the period 1842 to 1933. What is now Farrer Park had previously been a race track.
The 20-meter long street art also includes a street market featuring an Indian woman selling spices, flowers and tin biscuits.
Kerbau is a Malay term for carabao, which also rings a bell because it is similar to our Filipino word “kalabaw”, also translating to carabao. Surprise! Look what we’ve found in Kerbau Road! Eunice Lim’s Cattleland 2 is right behind the Little India MRT Station Exit E.
Indians do not use the expression “holy cow” as westerners do but Indians do regard cows as holy, as many already know. The patterns used to color the cows are very much characteristic of Indian prints.
Not far away in the corner of Kerbau Road and Chander Road is a black and white wall painting called “In the Clouds”. This Singapore street art depicts different types of flowers that are normally sold as garlands along Buffalo Road.
A series of six murals called Cricket and Classical are painted on the pillars of Tekka Center, at the wet market side, along Buffalo Road. When already at the Tekka Center, don’t forget to visit their hawker stalls for some cheap but delicious local Singaporean food.
Near Tan Teng Niah House
Right next to Tan Teng Niah House is “Diff/Fusion”, an interpretation of the sensory overload one experiences when in Little India. It illustrates the sense of smell, sight and sound that is reminiscent of India.
A few meters away from Tan Teng Niah is Belilios Lane where a large mural called Traditional Trades of Little India by Psyfool. This Singapore street art depicts images of various Indian merchants, particularly parrot astrologer, dhobi (washermen), garland seller and street snack vendor.
Be careful not to miss the wall paintings at the eatery next to this large mural. The wall art is not easily noticeable because part of the wall is obscured by the tables and the plastic overhead sheet of the Village Curry eatery. The artwork by Yip Yew Chong strongly speaks about Indian culture – homemade curry and prata making, cattle farming and a window view of the famous Taj Mahal.
Near the Indian Heritage Center, along Clive Street is a series of wall art. Alive @ Clive by TS1 at the corner of Clive Street and 106 Dunlop Street illustrates a traditional female Indian dancer. The colorful artwork is not hard to miss, as long as no cars are parked along the sidewalk.
Just opposite the artwork of TS1 is a large wall painting of an Indian man in turban sipping chai by Ceno2. The mural definitely belongs to Little India.
I am Still Here alongClive Street corner Dickson Road is created by Dyn. It is located at one end of an open grass park. This mural of an Indian lady expresses the co-existence of old traditions and modernism.
There’s another one at Clive Street called A Scent of Lights by Song, which I haven’t photographed unfortunately. The wall mural is the artist’s interpretation of the smells and sights that is typical of Little India.
Upper Dickson Road (Near Serangoon Road)
Another artwork by Eunice Lim is Book-A-Meeting located along Upper Dickson Road, across Serangoon Road. The mural featuring a bookstore is interestingly located next to a real bookstore. Apparently, the artist was inspired by this bookstore, which exists for 30 years now.
In an alley past the Kathakmural is another wall art called Loops of Precious by Priyageetha D/O Diayalan. The artist got her inspiration from her late grandfather who came to Singapore from Southern India and worked as a goldsmith.
Hindoo Road and Serangoon Road
Festival by Izzad Radzali Shah is located along Hindoo Road’s narrow alley, near the junction with Serangoon Road. The wall art is like a collection of “Humans of Little India”, as interpreted by the artist from his interactions with the local residents.
Parallel to Hindoo Road and at the corner of Baboo Lane and Serangoon Road is the huge mural titled Daily Delivery by Jaba. It features a man delivering meals packed in tiffin containers (stacked metal containers).
Tiffin is a typical Indian in-between meals, which I could also associate as merienda (light snacks) in my country. Looking closely at the wall art, you will notice that the cart is propelled in the air, like that of a jet, depicting the fusion of old tradition and new technology.
Like Jasmine of the City, Working Class Hero by Zero pays homage to the migrant workers in this district. The portrait in this wall art is a famous Tamil film star by the name of Rajinikanth, who is popular among the migrant workers. The wall art is located at 11 Hindoo Road.
At 107 Rowell Road in an alley between the Rowell and Desker Roads is Light in Little India by Elmac. Next to it is a graffiti-style work of art by Tyke Witness AWR. I don’t know whether these murals were already retouched or repainted because amazingly, these had been around since 2010.
Not far along the same alley, but closer to Rowell Road is Flavours by Shah Rizzal. This is another interpretation of the sensory overload that is characteristic of what one experiences when in Little India.
Near the junction at Serangoon Road along Desker Road is another large mural called Layers. This portrays actual buildings in Little India. Sadly, I wasn’t able to see this personally.
Have you been to India or wanted to go to India? Read some stories of India here:
Bugis and Kampong Glam
Bugis and Kampong Glam is Singapore’s Malay and Islam district. It has also the most vibrant murals in Singapore blending with its chic cafes and attractive boutiques. Ready to find out where the street paintings are? Let’s go!
Ernest Zacharevic, a Lithuanian artist who became internationally known from his interactive street art works in Penang, Malaysia also gave life to some of Singapore’s otherwise empty walls. He had four street art installations along Victoria Street.
Unfortunately, we were able to view only one out of the three (Even if the one we’ve seen is barely two small blocks away! Sigh!). Here are those that we haven’t visited:
- Boy peeking out of the window (near corner of Jalan Sultan)
- Two children in trolley (beside boy peeking out of the window)
- Children somersaulting and climbing from boxes (beside two children in trolley)
Hurray! Here’s the Ernest Zacharevic mural I did see – A Girl and A Lion Cub. All murals are located close to each other along Victoria Street.
There is also a large mural between Zacharevic’s Children somersaulting and climbing from boxes and A Girl and A Lion Cub, along Victoria Street, as well. It is of a man holding a camera by artist Ceno2. The mural is painted on the wall of Vintage Camera Museum.
One block away from Zacharevic’s A Girl and A Lion Cub, along Jalan Pinang in Hotel Nuve is the Satay Club and the Kampung scene from Thian Hock Keng mural. This mural depict scenes of satay (grilled pork on skewers) sellers.
In the past, customers would eat at the low wooden tables. In this mural, Yip Yew Chong drew attap dwelling in kampung (village) setting as backdrop. The scene is resonant of the kampung locale around Kampung Glam in the days past.
Haji Lane is a narrow alley that is bursting with colorful street art. If there’s such a thing as color overdose, then Haji Lane qualifies as its precursor. The lane is lined with trendy bars and cool boutiques. I could imagine the place will be much more crowded and alive during the night.
I’ll let the photos tell you how diversely colorful Haji Lane is.
While you’re at Haji Lane, don’t forget to explore Arab Street. It’s the street next to Haji Lane, rimmed with colorful shophouses, near the impressive Sultan Mosque. Seeing the mosaic colors of Turkish lamps in many of the boutiques brings me back to the sights and sounds of Istanbul.
If you don’t like much crowd, you can walk along Muscat Street and experience a unique gallery-type street art. This back alley is unassumingly a hidden street heading towards Sultan Mosque’s entrance. Artists behind Muscat Street’s artworks are professional artists and graduates of art institutions in Singapore such as Lasalle College of the Arts and Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
51 Waterloo Street
At the corridor of The Private Museum in 51 Waterloo Street, right across the Church of Saints Peter and Paul are heritage murals that illustrates scenes from Singapore’s past.
The murals, painted on six doors along the building corridor, are created by Yip Yew Chong and Yuen Kum Cheong. Opening and closing the doors will give different scenes because each side is painted with artwork.
I just love how street art and doors, two of my favorite things, teamed up together in a display of interactive art the old-fashioned way. The scenes portrayed in the paintings may not be relatable to millennials, though. As for me, some of the pictures brought me back to my younger years (A proud Gen-X here, haha!). See the photos below to know what I mean.
Also read about doors photography:
222 Queen Street
Queen Street sits next to Waterloo Street. We haven’t had the chance to look closer at the street art, which looked like a graffiti style painting. The street was closed by some production team while video shooting a scene.
Two underpass along the Singapore River, one in Elgin Bridge underpass and one in Coleman Bridge, are painted with murals.
Elgin Bridge Underpass
Elgin Bridge crosses the Singapore River between The Riverwalk and Boat Quay. The artwork adorning its walls were designed by Raffles Design Institute. The paintings speak about Singapore’s historic trade along the Singapore River. The mural's glossy painting made it look like stickers on the wall. As such, it felt like looking at huge printed posters.
Coleman Bridge Underpass
Coleman Bridge is located between Clarke Quay Central and The Riverwalk, linking New Bridge Road and Hill Street. The mural embellished on both sides of the underpass walls is a collection of scenes depicting Singapore’s colonial history. The work is a product of Social Creatives, a non-profit organization engaged in promoting community art to make a positive change in the society.
If you are heading to Chinatown for hawker foods and cheap souvenirs, might as well venture into the district’s lively street art.
Probably the most notable among the street art in Chinatown is the 40 meter long mural by Yip Yew Chong. This street art in Singapore, entitled Singapore River gives a picture of the life stories of the early Hokkien immigrants to Singapore. I just wish the street was void of parked cars. Find this mural at the back wall of Thian Hock Keng Temple.
This artwork (photo shown below) in a shophouse owned by the Nugit company is not usually mapped as a street art anywhere else but I’ll put it in here, anyway. I particularly like the clean artwork of the sailboat, matched by the painted walls of the arched walkway below it. The street art is located at 55 Amoy Street, south of the Thian Hock Keng Temple mural towards Ann Siang Hill.
Ann Siang Hill
This mural in Ann Siang Hill was first created in 2017 during the Chinese New Year Season, year of the rooster. The first wall art depicts a rooster and was changed to a dog in 2018. Because the current year 2019 is the year of the pig, you know what to expect.
Around Chinatown Complex
Located side by side are these two murals called Our Past, Present and Future by artist Belinda Low. The mural of The Marina Bay Sands is partly obstructed by a tree, while that of three Samsui women is sadly blocked by a genset. This artwork is located just across the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
Anyhow, these paintings pay tribute to Samsui women, Chinese immigrants who came to Singapore to find construction jobs between 1920s to 1940s. They represent Singapore’s past infrastructure while the famous Marina Bay Sands represent current infrastructure development.
Learning something about the Samsui women, reminded me of the old women laborers I saw in Yunnan, China. They were carrying backload of basket containing heavy sand for a construction within a Tibetan monastery. It was one of the strange things about China that I witnessed in my short stay there.
There are other works by Belinda Low along the back alleys of 336 Smith Street:
- Welcome to Our World
- The Back Lane
- Bridge Over Calm Waters
I did not personally see these but their location is tagged in my Google map above, in case you want to check them out.
Tiong Bahru is a relatively quiet area in Singapore where the oldest housing estate is located. Aside from the unique art deco architecture, the corners of Tiong Bahru are also ornamented with interesting street art. Yip Yew Chong, who you will be familiar by now, did the fantastic wall art along the streets of Tiong Bahru.
Seng Poh Lane
The first street art we spotted was Birds Singing Corner. It depicts a now bygone scene where the titos (uncles) of Singapore gather together with their caged birds, over a cup of coffee. While the titos are chatting, the birds would go chirping.
Also found this beside the Birds Singing Corner. It’s a piano school and the artwork is surely eye catching.
73 Eng Watt Street
Pasar and the Fortune Teller are two sets of artworks combined into one mural. Pasar or market in Malay illustrates the bustling scenes of the market place in the past. The Fortune Teller is part of the market scene. Read about Yip Yew Chong’s interesting story about the making of these Tiong Bahru murals.
Tiong Poh Road
I really regret that I wasn’t able to see Yip Yew Chong’s Home mural. It would have been interesting to personally see the details of this mural. The old-fashioned television, window and telephone brings to life childhood memories.
That’s it! I hope you enjoyed Singapore’s street art galore. There are more I haven’t covered here due to limited time and “feet ache” but I have tagged as much street art that I can in My Google Maps (click link to see map).
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