Singapore’s Ethnic Heritage: Kampong Glam

No doubt one of the country’s most colorful streets, a visit to Singapore is not complete without checking out the Muslim quarter of Kampong Glam.

Once a residence of Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor, Kampong Glam grew from cultural exchanges thanks to diverse immigrant communities of Malays, Indonesians, Baweanese, Banjarese, Arabs, Indians and Chinese.

Today, its glorious past can be seen from the majestic religious architecture, vibrant shophouses and delicious gastronomy. Kampong Glam is also renowned for its young arts scene and beautiful street arts hidden in various corners of the alleys.

How to Get to Kampong Glam

Set very close to the CBD area, Kampong Glam is very accessible via the main MRT line. Simply alight at Bugis station and a short walk will get you to the key attractions.

Haji Lane, Kampong Glam, Rochor, Singapore

[Image Credit: cegoh]

Parkview Square

Designed by DP Architects in Art Deco style reminiscent of New York’s Chanin Building, this commercial square right next to the Bugis MRT is worth making a quick visit to admire its granite, bronze, lacquer and glass exteriors. You will also notice effigies of influential figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Salvador Dali, Albert Einstein, Shakespeare and many more!

600 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188778

Haji Lane

Formerly a site where the Arab pilgrim-brokers would arrange haj for the Singaporean Muslim community, Haji Lane has transformed into the most hipster street in Singapore. This precinct is brimming with unbridled creative energy with vintage memorabilia such as Craft Assembly and Hygge. You can also find fashion boutiques, cool eateries and bars draping around the street art-heavy shophouses.

Haji Lane, Singapore

Gelam Gallery

No one would think of visiting a backlane, but Gelam Gallery just at the back of Muscat Street is bursting with colorful dustbins, drain covers and walls thanks to work of over 30 artists.

Muscat St, Singapore 198833

Arab Street

One of the vehicle road-facing street of Kampong Glam, we recommend to check out the shophouses along this street for those with special interests in textiles at Molkan Fabrics or custom-made perfumes at Sifr Aromatics. There is also the interesting Motion Art Space where you can learn to create abstract art using pendulum and spin painting, or grab one of those sinful cookies at Guilt!

Arab Street, Singapore

Bussorah Street

You would be forgiven to think that you have stepped into a Middle East country. Framed by palm trees and an iconic mosque, this pedestrian street has an electrifying atmosphere thanks to the mouth-watering Middle Eastern cuisine options and handicraft stores at every corner.

Another interesting stop in the street is the Malay Art Gallery where you can learn about artefacts such as keris daggers, plates and brooches.

Bussorah Street, Singapore

Sultan Mosque, Kampong Glam, Rochor, Singapore

[Image Credit: Erwin Soo]

Sultan Mosque

Completed in 1928 by architect Denis Santry in a Saracenic style to cater to the strong Islamic commerce and culture in the area, Sultan Mosque is the center piece of Kampong Glam with its Instaworthy minarets and balustrades.

3 Muscat St, Singapore 198833

The Gem Museum

Learn how gemstones are formed, mined, extracted and cut into valuable trades and industries in this exquisite showroom where rocks and minerals are collected from around the world.

26 Kandahar St, Level 2, Singapore 198888

Hjh Maimunah Restaurant and Catering

Listed in Michelin Bib Gourmand, check out this sumptuous nasi padang restaurant with its mini-buffet selections of tahu telor, beef rendang and Sundanese grilled chicken!

11 Jln Pisang, Singapore 199078

Vintage Camera’s Museum

Going inside the lens-shaped entrance, you will be enthralled with its comprehensive display of 1,000 cameras, including some of the world’s biggest cameras and the fancy 11 gram camera.

8D Jln Kledek, Singapore 199263

Masjid Malabar

Known for its characteristic golden onion dome and a big octagonal minaret, this is also Singapore’s only Malabar Muslim mosque since 1963. Malabar Muslims migrated to Singapore from the Indian state of Kerala circa early 1900s. They are also known for running provision “kaka” shops.

471 Victoria St, Singapore 198370

Singapore Chinese Opera Museum

Founded in 2010, trace the long history of Chinese operas from its century-old roots, including various sub-types such as Cantonese, Chaozhou, Beijing, Qiong, Fujian and Yue.

100 Jln Sultan, Singapore 199001

Aliwal Street

Known for its creative spaces, art lovers should drop by Cuturi Gallery for its unconventionally next-generation contemporary art and design showcase. Also drop by Aliwal Arts Centre in case there are traditional and contemporary performance arts playing!

Aliwal Street, Singapore

Gedung Kuning

This historical Malay mansion is hard to miss for its striking yellow color and pitched hipped roof. Constructed mainly of wood and brick, this mansion was once the private residence of Haji Yusoff bin Haji Mohamed Noor, a Malayo-Javanese merchant famed for producing songkok headwear and belt with small pouch popular among pilgrims!

73 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198497

Malay Heritage Centre, Kampong Glam, Rochor, Singapore

[Image Credit: William Cho]

Malay Heritage Centre

Wrap up with a history, culture and heritage of the Malay community in Singapore, housed in the Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor’s former royal palace within a compound with attap roofs. The palace was gazetted as a national monument in 2015.

85 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198501

Maison Ikkoku

Experience award-winning bespoke modern cocktail, pairable with tasty Japanese food, championed by star bartender Ethan Leslie Leong at the excellent rooftop while overlooking at the vibrant streets down below.

20 Kandahar St, #02- 01, Singapore 198885

Hajjah Fatimah Mosque

Blending Islamic and European architectural styles, this 1846 mosque is named after a female Malay aristocrat. There are five bays in its façade, with the largest one flanked by miniature minarets near the entrance to the onion-domed prayer hall.

4001 Beach Rd, Singapore 199584

The Projector

Have an extra time? Catch an indie or retro foreign movies with snacks at this creative cineplex. After the movie, a short 5-minute walk will bring you to Nicoll Highway MRT where you can catch your train to your accommodation.

6001 Beach Rd, #05-00 Golden Mile Tower, Singapore 199589

What are your favorite ethnic enclaves in Singapore and around the world?

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