Where to learn about Peranakan culture in Singapore

Where to learn about Peranakan culture in Singapore

Singapore is so multicultural that is hard to differenciate old from new and one culture from another. The bright colours of the Peranakan culture in Singapore drew my attention, so I went exploring a bit.

The Peranakans are the locally born people, descendents from the Chinese settlers to the Malay Archipelago. They are referred to as Baba (for men) and Nyonya (for women).

Door at Emerald Street
Door at Emerald Street

Peranakan houses

If you walk by and see beautiful colourful houses, they are probably Peranakan. I was walking the other day around Orchard, which is the definition of shopping, when I discovered a different street. Emerald street is an example of the Peranakan culture in the heart of a malls area.

Emerald Street
Emerald Street

There are many small neighbourhoods which still preserve Peranakan houses, like Joo Chiat and Katong. I haven’t had the chance to explore them, but I did check NUS Baba House. This one is free to visit, but you need to book the tour in advance. Because of its fragility, a limited number of visitors is allowed at once. Also, no photos are permitted inside the house.

I also went to the Peranakan Museum, but I found out it will be closed until 2021. But the National Museum of Singapore is close by, and it offers free guided tours into Singapore’s history.

Peranakan food

For foodies, I found this Peranakan food guide to help out. I also went to a Peranakan Afternoon Tea experience, which was basically trying a bit of all kinds of food. It came in three recipients decorated with flowers.

Nyonya Curry
Nyonya Curry
Peranakan savouries
Peranakan savouries
Peranakan desserts
Peranakan desserts

Since I didn’t know what I was eating, I wanted to read more about this culture. I got myself a copy of the Peranakan magazine. It looks as colourful as the houses and the delicious food.

The Peranakan Magazine
The Peranakan Magazine

The Peonies flowers on the cover symbolize wealth and honour in Peranakan culture.

Black nut Emerald Street Singapore
Black nut restaurant

Happy travels!


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