Discover the Malay cultural precinct of Kampong Glam and have an enjoyable tour around the gazetted conservation area. Once the historic seat of Malay royalty in Singapore, Kampong Glam is a golden ethnic enclave is worth exploring for its depth in architecture, exotic ornaments and palatable pleasures.
An area rich in heritage and culture, the best time to visit is during the fasting month of Ramadhan. This time of the year, you’ll feel a joyous festive air as the surrounding the precinct will be filled with food and street bazaars, as well as cultural performances.
Begin your walking trail of Kampong Glam at the Malay Heritage Centre (also known as Taman Warisan Melayu) at 85 Sultan Gate, which was once the Istana Kampong Glam, or the Sultan’s palace. The Malay Heritage Foundation embarked on a restoration project completed in 2005 and includes the Malay Heritage Museum, a museum which aims to preserve and showcase the culture and heritage of the Singaporean Malays through artefacts and diorama displays. Within the grounds of the Malay Heritage Centre, you will be able to see Gelam trees (also known as malaleuca trees), whose bark was used to construct boats in the past.
While on the trail, you won’t miss the magnificent golden dome of the Sultan Mosque, which sits on a ringed structure made entirely of the bottoms of glass bottles. Located at Muscat Street, the Sultan Mosque is the most prominent landmark in Kampong Glam, and was gazetted a national monument in 1975.
As you exit the mosque after your visit, you’ll step into the Bussorah Street pedestrian mall with its strong Arabic influences. Most of the trades here used to cater to the religious needs of the Muslim community, and in the old days, the street was known for sandal-making, copper craft and brassware. Now, the street is a mix of old and new shops selling scarves, keychains and paper fans, along with miniature replicas of Malay artefacts such as the popular toy, gasing, a spinning top. From Muscat Street (in front of the mosque), turn into Arab Street and explore perfume shops, unique eateries and traditional textile shops.
Finally, round off your trail at Haji Lane, a lane of shophouses given a new lease of life by local designers and young entrepreneurs who have set up their quaint boutiques here proffering fashionable wear.
Download Waalkz, the self-guided walking tour iPhone app and explore the Arab Quarters at your own pace. Designed by the National Heritage Board. »