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Published on December 22, 2019

The Peranakan Shophouses are a Southeast Asian subculture rooted in the intermarriage between Malay brides and Chinese traders. The blend created a community that took the best from each parent tradition, creating a dynamic culture that eventually formed the core of Singapore and Malaysia’s merchant class.

Walkthrough their historical heartland in Singapore’s Katong district to find their immaculately-preserved shophouses: two-story townhouses adorned with intricate motifs and colorfully decorative finishes. Koon Seng Road is home to the most beautiful shophouse examples. These 1920s-era shophouses are a riot of patterned tile and pastel paint. 

Most family-owned shophouses did business on the ground floor and housed the proprietor’s family on the upper level. Many of these shophouses have since been repurposed into shops, boutique hotels, and high-end restaurants—the latter selling the area’s famous Katong laksa!