History of Bugis

Bugis is located in the Central region of Singapore under the Downtown Core planning area. Often associated with its infamous past featuring transvestite shows at Bugis Street, the authorities have since the 1980s cleaned up the act. Home to many historic buildings like the former Rochor Centre, Sultan Mosque Singapore as well as gleaming skyscrapers, Bugis is now a hip and happening heritage enclave that attracts a good mix of tourists and locals.

Under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) 2008 Master Plan, the government has laid out plans to inject new life to Bugis under the Ophir-Rochor Corridor with a vibrant mixed-use cluster with attractive streetscapes and seamless connection to the MRT network in the next ten to 15 years.

Over the years, Bugis gentrification is bearing new fruits like Ole Scheeren’s iconic building called DUO, the upgrading of Bugis MRT station to an interchange station with the Downtown Line as well as an upcoming $2.4 billion mixed-use development called Guoco Midtown by GuocoLand.

With the implementation of URA’s Draft Master Plan 2019, Bugis will welcome new park spaces and streetscape improvements to connect the arts and cultural precinct at the Bras Basah-Bugis, Fort Canning and Civic District that stretches from Kampung Glam to Rochor River. Meanwhile, Kampong Bugis, which faces the Kallang River, will be developed as a car-lite residential precinct with about 4,000 dwelling units.

What’s in Bugis

Bugis is a rich cultural tapestry of the old and new making it one of Singapore’s most Instagrammable district. From well-known local eating places to night markets, one can never get bored when exploring Bugis. Named after the Bugis people who established a settlement here during the 1800s, Bugis was and still remains a thriving commercial district. There are quite a number of eating establishments that can still be found here. One example is Warong Nasi Pariama which is known for its tasty nasi padang dishes. Founded in 1948, it has since expanded from a stand-alone stall to full-fledged coffeeshop.

Over the years, new shopping malls have made inroads in Bugis to cater to a more sophisticated demographic. There are two shopping centres here namely, Bugis Junction and Bugis+ (formerly known as Illuma) which are connected to each other via a pedestrian link bridge. Bugis Junction is a mixed-use development that incorporates three blocks of preserved pre-war shophouses and boasts a myriad of entertainment and dining options under one roof. Some of its notable anchor tenants include Cold Storage, McDonald’s and Books Kinokuniya. Meanwhile, Bugis+ has an exciting F&B and stylish fashion trade mix comprising well-known brands such as Calvin Klein and Uniqlo.

Photo: Bugis Street (Photo: Jfkjaya., Wikimedia Commons)

Photo: Bugis Street (Photo: Jfkjaya., Wikimedia Commons)

There is also something for the entire family to enjoy at Bugis Village. Located just next to Bugis+, this sleazy enclave has since reinvented itself as a night market with a strong Chatuchak market vibe. From souvenir shops to food vendors and fruit stalls, there is much to see and do within this row of two-storey conservation shophouses. Ladies can head upstairs to shop in boutique stores or get their hair or nails done at the various beauty and hair salons.

Meanwhile, fitness enthusiasts can work out at Fitness First Bugis at Bugis Junction or Gold’s Gym and The Fesique Lab which are both located at Middle Road. If dancing is your thing, then head over to a session at Bolly Dancing Studio or Bobbi’s Pole Studio.

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Bugis in the next 10 years

According to the URA Master Plan 2008, the Ophir-Rochor corridor is a special one as it comprises the Bras Basah arts, culture, entertainment and education hub. As such, Bugis will be rejuvenated by extending the existing vibrant, street-level experience with a series of active courtyards, linkways and plazas lined by pedestrian-orientated activities and uses. Meanwhile, the existing Central Business District (CBD) will be grown to complement the Marina Bay area.

To be developed in the next ten to 15 years, Bugis will feature mixed-use developments with a mix of offices, hotels, residential and other complementary facilities set within a park-like environment. The development of the district will build upon Singapore’s signature tree planting programme by creating a series of developments in a park-like setting with an attractive, lushly landscaped, green environment.

Bugis is also a strategic transportation hub that is well connected to the current MRT and road networks via the Central Expressway (CTE) and East Coast Parkway (ECP). The newly opened Bugis MRT station of the first phase of the Downtown line now serves as an interchange station to the East West Line. When fully completed in 2024, it will comprise 44 stations and will connect commuters from Bukit Panjang to Marina Bay, CBD and all the way to Sungei Bedok.

The Ophir-Rochor area will be a strategic transport hub, well connected to the rail and road network. The first phase of the new Downtown rail line will have an interchange at the existing Bugis MRT Station, offering easy access to the rest of the CBD, Marina Bay and the major shopping, dining and entertainment areas at Orchard Road and Singapore River. The site is also conveniently located with direct access to Changi Airport via the East Coast Parkway (ECP).

Get the Guru View

Bugis is an exciting district as it located within easy access to the CBD with many places of interest, heritage buildings, a vibrant arts enclave, towering commercial developments as well as gleaming condominiums and HDB flats.  As such, Bugis will appeal to those who want to live a stone throw’s away from the CBD yet within easy access to the conservation area of Beach Road, Kampong Glam and Little India.

As part of Bugis’s rejuvenation, new office spaces have been added which include South Beach and DUO Towers. Others in the pipeline include Guoco Midtown and the redevelopment of Shaw Tower which are both expected to be completed by 2023. Therefore, Bugis is ideal for those who love the buzz of city life yet located within the vibrant arts, culture and heritage belt or for working professionals who want to live close to the CBD.