5 Retro Backdrops In Singapore That Will Transport You Back In Time

Old school #ootds in Singapore

It’s no secret that being “retro” is essentially an express lane to hipster royalty. With pastel palettes, rusted gates and paraphernalia of yesteryear, having a retro backdrop to your ootd is an instant sure-win for your Insta self.

But good things don’t come easy and we know it – looking for these vintage gems is definite hard work. We’ve made the trip down to these hotspots before, only to be surrounded by hordes of fellow ootd-seekers.

No fear, we’ve teamed up with American Eagle Outfitters (AEO) to bring you 5 retro backdrops – tried and tested – to live out your vintage fantasies. Minimal crowds, best photo spots and outfit suggestions, we have them all here.

1. Moh Guan Terrace (Tiong Bahru Estate)

No retro photo collection is complete without this vintage icon. The entire Tiong Bahru Estate, an undeniable hipster hotspot, is famously known as the place where old meets new. Hipster cafes and bookstores may abound, but the post-war flats along Moh Guan Terrace hold a special place in our hearts with their charm.

Characterised by their nude tones and round balconies, these flats exude a minimalist aesthetic that will transport you back to that Channel 8 9pm drama you used to watch.

With old-style letter boxes and grilled windows, this is retro Singapore down to the fine print.

White wall fanatics, rejoice! Visiting a block alone gave us ample of those to snap away to our heart’s content.

With all this white, add a subtle blush in your pictures by donning some pastels. Pair the look with some denim shorts to give off a cute explorer vibe. Don’t forget to drag bae into a matching outfit for a classic reenactment of your grandparents’ HDB love story!

With the many cafes just around the corner, you won’t have to travel far for your comfort cafe nosh either. Simply cross a road or 2 and you’ll find more than enough choices to sate your stomach.

Address: 50 Moh Guan Terrace, Singapore 161050

On Fauzi:
Flex Jersey Prints Tee ($39)
Light Wash Shorts ($69)

On Hashy:
Core Indigo Cabin Shirt ($79)
Sport Hi-Neck Apron Tank ($29)
Hi-Rise Shortie with Floral ($79)
Bucket Bag ($59)
Ring Bandana ($15)

2. Ang Mo Kio Dragon Playground

This is the icon of a Singaporean childhood. Terrazzo tiles, a bright colour palette, and of course the signature dragon head. No trip down memory lane would be complete without this classic.

Tiptoe down the length of the dragon’s body or slide down its slippery slides to feel like the carefree kid you were. Good times.

Certain parts of the playground – mainly the ladders and the dragon’s body – show signs of weathering, but it also enhanced the vintage, worn-down look of our shots.

And the best part: with its Toa Payoh counterpart being the more popular twin, this dragon playground is rarely crowded. Tons more space for your wide angle shots!

Tip: Throw on some greys for a casual look that won’t clash too much with the playground’s cheerful tiles. With a few playful badges and colour pops, you’ll have a laidback look that still screams fun times. Here’s to looking like our younger selves, but never losing that style!

Address: Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3, Block 570, Singapore 560570

On Fauzi:
Apres Hood ($79)
Classic Cargo – Level 2 ($69)

On Hashy:
Core Summer Military Jacket ($99)
High Neck Dress with Tipping ($39)

3. The ‘Other’ People’s Park Complex Rooftop

Take it from all the photographers flocking to this panoramic beauty. The rooftop of People’s Park Complex is the place-to-be for moody shots that hark back to an industrializing Singapore.

Here’s a little known fact: People’s Park Complex actually has two rooftops: a rooftop at its facade and a back one that doubles as a carpark. The former has been sorely overused in feeds already, so be like us – the cool kids – and head for the carpark.

Weathered yellow bars and dusty grey floors complement the ‘concrete jungle’ backdrop of People’s Park Complex.

Strong winds all the way up here make for an effortless hair flip shot.

Impress your friends with double-levelled rooftop shots like this that will stand out on your feed.

This rooftop carpark is one-of-a-kind for its retro grunge feel. With empty car lots and faded direction signs, you’ll be rewarded with an effortless old school Backstreet Boys look.

To really milk the grunge out of your backdrop, come here equipped with distressed jeans, dark maroons and killer boots. Your followers won’t know what hit them.

Address: 1 Park Road, Singapore 059108. Rooftop accessible via staircase from Level 5.

On Fauzi:
Slim Poplin Plaid Shirt ($69)
Roll Neck Crew ($89)
Slim Medium Wash Jeans ($99)

On Hashy:
Striped Rib Tank Top ($39)
Tipped Boyfriend Cardigan ($79)
360° Super Stretch Jegging ($99)

4. Kombi Rocks Diner

Retro-themed cafes abound, but Kombi Rocks takes the cake from us for its blast from the past appeal. From the fleet of Kombis parked outdoors to the elaborate collection of vintage paraphernalia lining its walls, we found Kombi Rocks to be an authentic road trip back in time.

Stepping in, we knew this was an establishment that took its aesthetic seriously. Pin-up girls and vintage phones hark back to 1960s retro aesthetic, while album covers from The Beatles’ era will appeal to old souls.

The trip down memory lane continued outside. We had tons of fun weaving between the parked kombis, which made us feel a lot like excited kids seeing their new family car for the first time.

Situated along Yio Chu Kang Road, the diner is far removed from the heartland hustle of nearby Nex. Whip out a ukulele, drag your squad along and live out a nostalgic afternoon.

To be perfectly matchy-matchy with the diner’s retro walls, make the trip down clad in deep greens and khakis, and throw on some faded floral for a summery vintage look.

Address: 66 Yio Chu Kang Rd, Singapore 545568

On Fauzi:
Beach Tee Pocket Crew T-shirt ($39)
Military Bomber ($159)
Flex Jogger ($79)

On Hashy:
Double Strap Keyhole Dress ($59)
Camo Jacket ($109)

5. Keong Saik Road

Keong Saik Road may today be dolled up with swanky secret bars and hotels, but the character of the place remains.

From the traditional Chinese characters that grace many of the buildings’ facades to the antique flower motifs carved into their sides, this road showcases the most eclectic of Singapore’s retro landscape.

When we got there, there were already photo shoots underway by fellow ootd-ers, but not too many to spoil it for us.

Pose for the camera in front of Potato Head Folk – this building’s the undeniable highlight of our shoot here.

Keep your eyes peeled for the kampung rattan sheets on the sides of the building, reinvented with adorable animal murals.

Even as we ventured off the beaten path into the recesses of shophouses, we still found many photo-worthy spots that brought us back to the times when 2-storey buildings were the norm. No offence to skyscrapers, but there’s nothing like a relaxing walk along a five foot way.

These shophouses steal our hearts every time for their pastels and intricate oriental trimmings. Spotless walls and clean floor tiles also make them a perfect place for an afternoon stroll.

Another well-known hipster food street, Keong Saik is not short of cafes to reward yourself for your hard smizing work. There’s practically one every corner so knock yourselves out!

Tip: For an effortless street style, this is the time to whip out those flannels. Pair them with some bold reds and blues to stand out against the pale colours of the building facades.

Address: 36 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089143

On Fauzi:
Active Island Set in Tee ($39)
Mock Windbreaker ($139)
Skinny Faded Black Wash Jeans ($99)

On Hashy:
Spring Classic Tee with Ringer ($39)
Core Spring Plaid Heather ($69)
New Mara Hi-Rise Jegging ($99)

Vintage places to experience old Singapore

There’s always been something about vintage places that makes us look around in awe and nostalgia. Whether it’s the memory of simpler times or the familiar feeling of a carefree childhood, retro places have always retained a spot in our hearts. And stay in our hearts, they always will.

Many of these places may be taken over by glitzier counterparts, but there are still plenty more lingering around Singapore waiting to be discovered. We never know when the next redevelopment project may be underway, so hurry down to these retro backdrops – and your favourite old school hangs – while they’re still there.

Stay retro chic with AEO’s new collection

Finding a backdrop to channel your inner old soul is only half the story. The other essential is of course, a stylish new look to rock it in front of that vintage shophouse.

With American Eagle Outfitters’ (AEO) latest lineup, we all can unleash our retro vibes while keeping that delicate balance between chic and comfort. From faded floral prints to old school distressed jeans, some of these vintage icons are absolute wardrobe staples. Take it from us – having a little vintage in your wardrobe space is an instant upgrade in the fashion department.


Head down to American Eagle Outfitter’s #SayYesToSpring Event on 18th March (Sat) at VivoCity and 19th March (Sun) at Suntec City from 2pm to 5pm. Enjoy exclusive offers of 30% off (minimum 2 pieces), 2 customizable denim patches with every $100 spent and more sweet treats, plus a free makeover!

You also stand to win a pair of FREE denims and $150 worth of Birkenstock and AEO vouchers. Like American Eagle Outfitters on Facebook or Instagram to enjoy an extra 5% discount during the event!

So stop sitting at home and scrolling through online catalogues, head down to grab some of AEO’s new threads and elevate yourself from casual explorer to hipster fashionista.

Address: VivoCity #B1-06/07, Suntec City West Wing #01-375/376/377

Find out more about AEO’s new collection here!

This post was brought to you by American Eagle Outfitters.

Gwendolyn Lovina Oh

If HDBs had a fireplace, you'd find Gwen curled up there under a mountain of soft toys, clutching a good book and binging on ice gems. The top of a rollercoaster or a horror movie showing are good places to find her too.

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