We love to explore Singapore’s cultural enclaves. Whilst Singapore is home to many cultural areas, the most well-known are bustling Chinatown, colourful Little India and the Malay Quarter aka ‘Kampong Glam’. This name stems from two Malay words; kampong means ‘little village’ and ‘glam’, a type of tree that grew in the area. Nowadays it’s a funky place filled with culture, shopping and food.
How long should I spend in Kampong Glam?
This really depends on your itinerary. If you’re visiting the Malay Heritage Centre, you may want to allow 2-3 hours to soak up both the museum, exploring the quarter and a bite to eat. Last entry to the Malay Heritage Centre is 5.30pm.
My favourite time of day to visit Kampong Glam is late afternoon/early evening. The area comes alive at night with the open-air cafes around Haji Lane and Bussorah Street. The majority of the boutiques open from 12 to 8pm. I also love to see the beautiful Masjid Sultan mosque lit up.
Fun Activities in Kampong Glam
- Walk the streets. The beauty of Kampong Glam is it’s not that big, which means that your kids can’t complain about a lengthy walk! Download the Kampong Glam Heritage Trail for an easy to follow map and information of the area. There are also signposts dotted around, sharing information on historic sites.
- Go on a Scavenger Hunt! Leap & Hop do a lovely range of kids travel books. The Singapore title includes a scavenger hunt around the Malay Quarter which was a fun way for my kids to explore.
- Learn the history of the area by visiting the Malay Heritage Centre. The building was once the residence of Malay royalty. I had anticipated the Centre to be quite dry but actually there are some fun interactive exhibits.
- Admire the Masjid Sultan, ‘Sultan ‘Mosque’. Built in 1824 by the first sultan of Singapore, Sultan Hussein Shah, this magnificent mosque is the biggest in Singapore.
- Visit a traditional perfume shop. Jetlag & Mayhem loved looking at the colourful bottles and smelling all the scents. The bottles make great gifts!
- Browse traditional Middles Eastern wares and fabrics in the stores that line Arab Street. You may find yourself bargaining for a Persian rug you didn’t know you wanted.
- Haji Lane is lined with funky boutiques, ranging from hat stores to boutiques showcasing local Singapore brands. It is one of my favourite places to shop for clothes in Singapore.
- Scout the street art for Instagram-worthy shots. There are some beautiful murals along Haji Lane and Baghdad Street.
- If you’re a feline lover, spend some time at the Meomi Cat Cafe. Cats roam free and admission includes an hour’s play and a choice of juice or tea. Needless to say Miss Jetlag was overjoyed when we spent the afternoon here for her birthday.
- Grab a snack, there are so many delicious options in Kampong Glam. We love ice-cream from Lickety and chendol soft-serve from Overrun.
Dining options are plentiful although I must admit that I don’t come to the Arab Quarter for Arabic food (I’ve had a few disappointing meals from the colourful Turkish style cafes). Instead I make a bee-line for The Flying Monkey for amazing Indian tapas or Sushi Airways, for fresh sushi in an airplane setting (yes really). For authentic, low-priced Malay food, pull up a pew at the Kampong Glam Cafe. The nasi goreng is delicious!