Part of Singapore’s rich heritage, Peranakan culture offers fascinating insights for travellers and here’s what you need to know and some of the highlights to experience.
During the 15th century, many Chinese immigrants began to settle in Malaya which is now Singapore and Malaysia; in the 19th century, Chinese traders also found a home in the ports of Singapore and Penang. ‘Peranakan’ in Malay means ‘locally born’ and was the term used for descendants of these Chinese immigrants who married local women.
Those based in the Civic District of the city at properties like Grand Park City Hall can easily access locales with traditional Peranakan architecture. A key area is Joo Chiat where you will find two-storey shophouses with colourful facades located in a row; more vibrant Peranakan homes can also be found at Emerald Hill near Orchard Road.
A great place to visit is the Peranakan Museum walking distance for those staying at a City Hall hotel. Singapore discoveries at this museum include a chance to see textiles, furniture, jewellery, interactive exhibits and more about Peranakan culture and traditions. Closed for renovations, the museum will open soon so check before you visit.
The Peranakan community also contributed flavour-filled cuisine which is popular to this day. Nyonya food is the name given to traditional Peranakan fare that has Indonesian and Malay influences. Foodies can look to try dishes like beef rendang, babi pongteh that features braised pork, dumplings called kueh chang and Katong laksa.