A Rich Cultural Tour of Malay and Muslim Communities
Kampong Glam, Chinatown, and Little India. What do they have in common?
They are unique attractions in Singapore, which you could have read about it in travel brochures. But hey, they are not just another ‘tourist attraction’ for sightseeing and shopping. It’s more than that!
Just like how early Chinese and Indian immigrants settled in Chinatown and Little India respectively in the early days, the Malay and Arab immigrants settle in Kampong Glam! Hundreds of years have passed, but what have changed in this community of full of Malay and Muslim heritage?
Follow us and we bring you on a cultural tour!
The Kampong Glam Tour, unlike our Chinatown or Little India tour, is less of sightseeing, but more of activities and experiential learning. You might not be going to many places, but you will spend more time in a few.
Let’s start our tour now!
One of the must visit places at Kampong Glam is the Sultan Mosque. Built almost two centuries ago, it is now a national heritage. Then you may wonder, what’s so great about the Sultan Mosque, given that there are over 80 mosques in Singapore?
For the answer to that question, I will leave it to you to find out, when you are on a guided tour by the friendly mosque tour guide. We stepped our foot in to discover this historic mosque, and learn about the Muslim religion.
Don’t worry if you’re a non-Muslim. We are too. And that’s the reason why we are here to learn and understand more about their religion.
If you have questions such as “Why do Muslims fast?”, “Why do Muslim women wear a headdress?”, “When does a Muslim pray?”… then you should be here!
On a side note, the Sultan Mosque is visited by visitors all over the world everyday, and it was revealed to me by the mosque tour guide that it is popularly visited by tourists from Japan, South Korea, and the Arabic countries!
A tour of Sultan Mosque will take about an hour. Find out more about the Sultan Mosque here!
Malay Heritage Centre
Just beside the Sultan Mosque, is the Malay Heritage Centre! Its grand architecture painted with royalty yellow will capture your first attention. Before it’s converted into a museum, do you know what it is?
From the 1800s to 1900s, it is the former Malay Palace, resided by generations of Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor. Their family have since resettled, and the building took 8 years of refurbishment to what it looks today.
What’s inside the Malay Heritage Centre?
As the name suggests, it showcases all that you can find out about our Malay community and heritage, and their contribution to Singapore in her early days.
Plus, discover some unique equipments the Malay use to make delicious delicacies, and that you’ll never find elsewhere. Find out how to use it at the Malay Heritage Centre!
A tour of the Malay Heritage Centre will take about an hour or so. Find out more about Malay Heritage Centre here!
Shop & Dine@Arab Street, Bali Lane, Haji Lane
A tour of Kampong Glam will not be completed without exploring the narrow streets and lanes between shophouses and buildings. These lanes along shophouses are less common in Singapore today, which are surrounded by tall towers and skyscrapers.
Arab Street, Haji Lane and Bali Lane are the popular shopping and dining areas here. Let’s uncover them!
Arab street is famous for the rows of conserved shophouses. These houses have been here since those early days, but have been refurbished to breathe new life into the area. These shophouses sell things related to the Arab or Malay community…
There are really many shops selling carpets at Kampong Glam, all kinds of them. Some at huge discounts too!
Textiles and tailoring services galore at Arab street too. If you have any special occasion, you can consider tailoring a dress right here.
Yes, even foreigners love to a tailored Malay dress!
Once you had your dress, choose a scarf! It is an important piece of a Malay woman’s dress.
Among the shophouses are some eateries which serve some of the best Malay, Indian, Arabian, Turkish, and other Middle East cuisines.
Walking over to Haji Lane, you may thought you ended up at a wrong end of your tour! It doesn’t look like it is one with Arab or Malay heritage!
Yes! Haji Lane is more like an art lane. The shophouses here have tenants such as design and IT firms, art galleries, art & crafts, photography studio, or fashion boutiques.
But that’s only the day. Haji Lane and Bali Lane are the two places that light up after the sun has set. This is one pub that caught our attention with its amazing graffiti design. You can’t find many of these in Singapore, as we have strict laws that govern street art.
What Haji Lane and Bali Lane is famous for at night, other than just wine and drinks, is the one of the best places for shish in Singapore. This info is for adults only please!
Costs of smoking shish varies between $15 to $18 a session, depending how long you intend to smoke. Don’t smoke too much, but it’s a good way to socialize though!
Drinking at night along Bali Lane is also recommended as they are not as crowded as other night spots like Clarke Quay. You can chill out after a busy day, with little distraction.
That’s our tour of Kampong Glam for you! Of course, the best tour is to be uncovered, by you!
How to get to Kampong Glam?
Start your tour at Sultan Mosque!
You can reach the Sultan Mosque with a short 10-minute walk from the nearest MRT station: Bugis.
For specific directions to Masjid Sultan from where you’re at, click here.
Yay or Nay?
Why you might love Kampong Glam:
- A rich cultural trip to Arab and Malay quarters of Singapore
- Visits to the grand Sultan Mosque and Malay Heritage Centre
- Artistic lanes with graffiti which you can hardly find around Singapore
- Affordable Middle East and Malay cuisines at their restaurants
- Drinking along the the tranquil Haji and Bali lane at night Shisha (adults only!)
Why you might not love Kampong Glam:
- Not a shopping haven
- Middle East and Malay cuisines not suitable for you
- Too touristy for your liking.
What Say You?
What we love about Kampong Glam is the rich Arabic and Malay culture that it has preserved after years of modernization. Unlike Little India and Chinatown, we find that it is less crowded here, and you have more time to stroll around, without having to squeeze in crowds.
How about you? Share with us your tour in Kampong Glam!
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