Travel

7 “Little Singapores” & SG-Inspired Places Around The World That Feel Like Home Sweet Home

Singapore-inspired places around the world


Singaporeans are known to be one of the most well-travelled nationalities in the world – but as much as we love exploring the globe, sometimes we do miss home. With architectural icons like Marina Bay Sands and a diverse selection of local food, there really is no place like Singapore. 

In fact, our lion city is so pop that it’s become the setting of Hollywood movies like Crazy Rich Asians and K-dramas like Little Women. It comes as no surprise, then, that it has sparked ideas for many Singapore-inspired places around the world. Here are some that we found: 


1. CitraLand Gama City – “Mini Singapore” with ERP in Indonesia


Image credit: ASEAN Skyline Facebook

It’s got the Merlion, an ERP gantry, its own version of Orchard Road, and even the Fountain of Wealth – which bears an uncanny resemblance to the one in Suntec City. You could say CitraLand Gama City replicated our Little Red Dot pretty well. 


Image credit: CitraLand Gama City Medan via Google Maps

This integrated development, situated just 20 minutes away from Medan in North Sumatra, is known as the “Singapore of Medan”. What’s even more interesting is that Indonesian citizens can own houses in an alternate version of Raffles Place, Dempsey Hill, and Fullerton. 

The best part? Property prices are significantly lower here, with a 300sqm townhouse in “Raffles Place” going for around IDR637,827,6750 (~$569,837). For context, that’d be the price of a resale 5-room HDB flat in the heartlands.

Address: Kenangan, Kecamatan Percut Sei Tuan, Kabupaten Deli Serdang, Sumatera Utara 20371, Indonesia


2. Haymarket – Singaporean food enclave in Sydney’s Chinatown


Haymarket area.
Image credit: @itmn_xx via Instagram

There’s a running joke that Sydney is Australia’s version of Singapore. It’s home to a rather large Singaporean community – hey, you probably even know someone who’s studying or living in this city. Naturally, you’re going to find a plethora of Singaporean food options here. Specifically, in a district called Haymarket.

But first, we’d like to preface that Haymarket’s not exclusively a Singaporean enclave – but more of an Asian one. It’s where Sydney’s famed Chinatown is located, and you’ll find Singapore-inspired restaurants such as Nanyang Tea Club, Ho Jiak, and even Singapore Famous BBQ Pork for some bak kwa. 

Singapore Chilli Mud Crab from Nanyang Tea Club.
Image credit: @nanyangteaclub via Instagram 

Sydney-based Singaporeans who are homesick can get a taste of home at Nanyang Tea Club, which has local dishes like char kway teow (A$19, ~S$17.46) and chicken laksa (A$18, ~S$16.54). They’ve even got their signature Nanyang High Tea Set (A$88, ~S$81.04), which includes Nanyang macarons, kuihs, Hainanese chicken nigiris, blue rice tarts with curry chicken and beef rendang, kaya toast, satay chicken, and tea of your choice.

Nan Yang Tea Club
Address: Shop 3.11/9-13 Hay Street, Haymarket NSW 2000, Australia
Opening hours: Tue-Thu 11.30am-3pm, 5pm-8.30pm | Fri 11.30am-3pm, 5pm-9pm | Sat 11.30am-4pm, 5pm-9pm | Sun 11.30am-4pm, 5pm-8.30pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: Nan Yang Tea Club website


3. Stulang Darat – Dakota Crescent “replica” in Johor Bahru


​​
Image credit: Zeitgeist Photos via Facebook

Dakota Crescent may be long gone, but it lives on through its doppelganger in Stulang Darat, Johor Bahru. Pop by for a visit and you’ll see a replica of the famous Old Dove playground – even the details of the old-school stairwells have been nailed down to a T. This neighbourhood is really a throwback to pre-demolished Dakota Crescent.

The suburb is located only about 10 minutes away from the immigration checkpoint – so nostalgic Singaporeans can always make a pit stop whenever. After that, have a meal at the nearby San Lou Cafe, which serves up affordable zi char. 

Address: 6, Jalan Stulang Laut, Taman Stulang, 80300 Johor Bahru, Johor, Malaysia (nearest landmark)


4. Singapore Township, Hyderabad – HDB-style apartments in India


Image credit: @v.bunsu via Instagram 

HDBs are definitely one of the unspoken icons of Singapore. Who would’ve thought that we can also spot them in India? 

In fact, this HDB-esque building cluster called “Singapore Township” also inherited the name of our motherland. Even the void decks draw inspiration from our typical HDBs – with lots of greenery and mini gardens reminiscent of our garden city. 


Image credit: Prop Tiger 

If you’re wondering if Singapore has anything to do with this urban project, we do. Singapore Township, officially called Sanskruti Township, is the brainchild of a collaboration between the government of Andhra Pradesh state and the Singapore government to develop a new capital city.

Fun fact: India isn’t the only country that has done an urban collaboration with us. In China, Sino-Singapore Tianjin Eco-City is a planned development – helmed by the Chinese government and our own – that houses around 100,000 Chinese citizens. 

Address: Singapore Township, Pocharam, Secunderabad, Telangana 500088


5. Hamad International Airport – Jewel Changi vibes in Qatar


Image credit: @hiaqatar via Instagram 

If you’ve ever done a layover at Hamad International Airport (HIA) on your way to Europe, you’ll find that there’s a section of it that’s reminiscent to our Jewel Changi. It’s called The Orchard, and it’s an indoor garden at the airport’s newly expanded terminal. From the similar concave ceiling, water vortexes, exterior skeleton, and indoor garden – made of 300 trees and more than 25,000 plants – it can be hard to tell them apart at first glance. 

A quick Google search will bring up articles that question if any “copying” had taken place in the design of both projects, especially since they were led by different architects. Tbh, we can’t be sure either – but all we know is that the Jewel vibes are undeniable here, and gives many homesick Singaporeans a feel of home. 

Address: 7J57+WPM, Doha, Qatar
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: +974 4010 6666 | Hamad International Airport website


6. Urban Hawker Market – Singaporean hawker centre in NYC


Image credit: @aallan via Instagram

Chicken rice is one of our most iconic dishes. Those based in New York don’t have to power through on a 19-hour flight just for a taste of authentic chicken rice. Urban Hawker Market is where you’ll find chicken rice and other Singaporean dishes.

Image credit: @l1vetoeat via Instagram

Out of 17 vendors here, 11 of them are from actual hawker centres in Singapore – that’s how you know it’s going to taste legit. Notable stalls include Hainan Jones – which serves up their signature roasted chicken rice set (from US$22, S$29.70) – and Daisy’s Dream, a family-run business that offers laksa (from US$18, S$24.30) and Nonya nasi lemak.

Image credit: @urbanhawker via Instagram

Afterwards, wrap up your meal with some cakes and kuih (from US$17.85, S$24.10) from NYC’s favourite Southeast Asian dessert chain, Lady Wong. If you find the name familiar, that’s because they have an outlet at East Village in Singapore.

Address: 135 W 50th Street, New York, NY 10020, United States
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10am-10pm | Sun 10am-9pm
Contact: +1 212-381-1245 | Urban Hawker Market website


7. Merlion Park – Almost identical replica in China



Merlion in Chuzhou (Left). Merlion in Singapore (Right).
Image adapted from: Xiaohongshu & Huynh Ha Thuc via Google Maps

As the national mascot of Singapore, it’s not uncommon for the Merlion to be found on souvenirs like keychains and biscuit tins. It’s so iconic, that you may even spot it a few times outside of Singapore, such as in Hakodate, Japan and the aforementioned CitraLand Gama City.

Chuzhou’s Merlion Park, however, is a replica of the entire Merlion Park in Marina Bay. The park in China comes equipped with a cycling track, boardwalks, basketball courts, and badminton courts for residents who want to keep an active lifestyle. 


Image adapted from: Reddit

The Merlion Park isn’t the only Singapore-inspired place you can find in China, though. There’s also a miniature GBTB Supertree in Shanghai. So, China-based Singaporeans can still have a sight of home despite being overseas.


Bonus: Singapore, Michigan – Abandoned ghost town in USA



Image credit: Archives of Michigan

If hantu-hunting and abandoned mansions are your passion, this bonus point will definitely spark your interest. There was once a port town built in Michigan in 1836 to challenge Chicago and Milwaukee. If you do the maths, our lion city is only a mere 10 years older.

At its peak, “Singapore” had 23 buildings, including 2 banks – Bank of Singapore and Bank of Allegan – and Michigan’s first schoolhouse.

The Bank of Singapore even printed their own notes, and had a total of $50,000 in circulation by 1838.
Image credit: Pristine Auction

This ghost town still exists today, though you’ll probably only spot a desert with a few trees – since it’s currently buried under the sand dunes of Lake Michigan’s shoreline. 

Image credit: @allensibarani via Instagram 

Otherwise, take a trip to Saugatuck, a city in Michigan – where 4 relocated buildings from “Singapore” were saved from the doom of the dunes. These include Saugatuck Gallery – which used to be the Bank of Singapore. 


Explore these Singapore-inspired places


There you have it, 7 Singapore-inspired places scattered all around the globe. Not only do these enclaves serve as a much-needed respite of comfort food for Singaporeans who are travelling, they also help to spread our unique culture to those who perhaps haven’t had the chance to visit our beautiful city. 

So if you ever find yourself near these spots, pop by for a visit and snap a photo while you’re at it. 

For more content on travel:


Cover image adapted from: @hiaqatar via Instagram, Zeitgeist Photos Facebook, CitraLand Gama City Medan via Google Maps

Ong Yee Ching

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