Lose Yourself in Little India
Probably the most vibrant neighbourhood on the island, Little India is home to the sights and sounds of the subcontinent. Bollywood music can be heard blaring from the shops, while whiffs of myriad spices beckon, enticing you into the stores. After a day of meetings, a stroll through this bustling enclave in Singapore is a feast to reawaken the senses.
Indian Heritage Centre
Find out all about the history of the Indian and South Asian communities in the five permanent galleries here. There are year-round exhibitions, programmes and activities on Indian heritage, arts and culture, so one visit will not be enough. The building itself is unique and blends both traditional Indian and modern architectural elements; its façade’s geometric pattern is inspired by the baoli (Indian stairwell) and has colour-changing LED lights.
Address: 5 Campbell Lane Singapore 209924
Opening hours: Tue–Thu, 10am–7pm; Fri–Sat, 10am–8pm;
Sun and public holiday: 10am–4pm; Closed on Mon
Tel: (65) 6291 1601
The largest wet market in the country sees customers of all ethnicities flock from all over Singapore, weaving through its warren of stalls to shop for a wide array of the freshest fruits, vegetables, meats and spices. There is a food centre located on the ground floor where shoppers can satisfy their cravings for authentic local Indian, Malay and Chinese food.
Address: 665 Buffalo Road, Singapore 210665
Opening hours: Mon–Sun, 6.30am–9pm
Visit a Hindu temple
You can't walk around Little India and not visit one of its temples. Both the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple have towering façades of intricately crafted statues. They date back to the colonial era and still attract a lot of worshippers today.
Do note that temple etiquette requires appropriate dressing (shoulders must be covered and trousers or skirts must end below the knee) although they provide shawls and wraps. Also, do remember to remove your footwear before entering.
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
Address: 397 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218123
Tel: (65) 6298 5771
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
Address: 141 Serangoon Road, Singapore 218042
Tel: (65) 6295 4538 / (65) 6293 4634
This lovely, rustic French restaurant is located at the ground level of Wanderlust hotel in the heart of Little India. A champion of convivial communal dining, it serves comforting plates inspired by the hearty meals of the French countryside, where family and friends are invited to the table. Favourites include mussels in fennel cream and poulet roti (roast chicken). The weekend brunch trolley of seasonal foods is worth a try too.
Address: 2 Dickson Road, Singapore 209494
Tel: (65) 6298 1188
Opening hours: Breakfast: Mon–Sun, 7.30am–10.30am; Lunch: Mon–Fri, 11.30am–2.30pm; Brunch: Sat–Sun, 11am–3pm; Dinner: Mon–Thu, 6pm–10.30pm; Fri–Sun, 6pm–10.30pm; Closed on Tue
A casual offshoot of Michelin-starred The Song of India, this restaurant serves modern Indian dishes. Their curries and biryani (Basmati rice cooked with Indian spices) are all full of flavour and sure to invigorate your taste buds. The restaurant uses authentic herbs, spices and the finest ingredients, so what you enjoy is fresh food that will keep you coming back for more.
Address: 38 Race Course Road, Singapore 218555
Tel: (65) 6341 7429
Opening hours: Mon–Sun, 12pm–11pm
A household name, Komala Vilas is perfect for a no-frills vegetarian meal. Established since 1947, it has consistently served authentic Indian vegetarian meals such as dosai (pancake made from lentil, rice and flour) with a variety of fillings, all at reasonable prices. Don't forget to end your meal with a comforting cup of aromatic Masala (spiced) tea.
Address: 76-78 Serangoon Road, Singapore 217981
Tel: (65) 6293 6980
Opening hours: Mon–Sun, 7am–10.30pm
The Banana Leaf Apolo
Have an authentic dining experience with your meal served the traditional way – on a banana leaf – at The Banana Leaf Apolo. Their speciality is fish head curry, and there are many other delicious items on their extensive menu, including chicken biryani (Basmati rice cooked with Indian spices) and naan (Indian flatbread). A must-visit for lovers of spicy food, this restaurant serves both north and south Indian dishes.
Address: 54 Race Course Road, Singapore 218564
Tel: (65) 6293 8682
Opening hours: Mon–Sun, 10.30am–10.30pm
The numerous stacks of colourful textiles are bound to catch your eye, even before you walk into this shop. From its humble beginnings with a small shopfront in the early '60s, it has since grown to be an established retailer that remains an important pit stop for sari (Indian traditional dress for ladies) shopping. The fabrics range in price so you'll definitely find something to suit your taste and budget.
Address: 104-120 Dunlop Street, Singapore 209439
Tel: (65) 6333 4749
Opening hours: Mon–Sun, 10.30am–10pm
Singapore's most famous 24-hour shopping centre is worth a visit, even if you don't have anything on your shopping list. It's where you can visit at any time of the day or night to buy almost everything – clothes, toys, food, toiletries, jewellery, shoes, cosmetics, crockery, electronic gadgets... the list goes on. In fact, there are over 300,000 items for sale across two linked buildings. It also offers foreign exchange services at very competitive rates.
Address: 145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207704
Tel: (65) 6295 5855
Fax: (65) 6295 5866
Opening hours: 24 hours
Spices and curry powder
You can't escape the smell of spices as you stroll down Little India. Take some home by buying freshly ground versions from any of the provision shops in the area; Indian spices and groceries are available at all of them. Or if you prefer pre-packed versions, Tekka Market and Mustafa Centre are good places to find them.
This ancient Indian hair-removal technique uses a length of thread that's expertly manoeuvred by a beautician to remove hairs precisely to give your eyebrows a nicely shaped arch. Try Rupini’s (24/26 Buffalo Road) or Selvi's at Little India Arcade (#01-23), or wander around and you're bound to find one among the plethora of beauty shops here.
Get a henna tattoo
This plant-based dye is ideal for anyone who wants a tattoo but not permanently. The henna used produces an orange/maroon stain. This form of traditional temporary body art is used mainly during festive occasions such as weddings, religious events and traditional ceremonies. Sported by both males and females, henna tattoos are becoming increasingly fashionable and there are lots of shops in the area offering the service, especially at the Little India Arcade (48 Serangoon Road) and along Buffalo Road. Some shops also sell henna dye if you want to buy them as souvenirs.
Join the Gems of Little India tour
Organised by Ruby Dot Trails, this tour is an excellent way to get a taste of the colourful precinct. Dubbed a “feast of the senses”, the tour takes travellers to different corners of the district, including Campbell Lane and Tekka market. You can sample some tasty Indian snacks in the shops along the way but keep some space for a meal after, as the tour ends at lunchtime. Your guide can point you to where you can get the best Indian meal.
When: Thu, 9.30am
Where: Little India MRT station
Cost: SGD 39 per person
One Farrer Hotel & Spa
The five-star One Farrer Hotel & Spa, which opened in 2014, is not one but four “hotels” in one building. There is Urban Hotel, with its deluxe rooms; Loft Apartments, offering duplex suites; Skyline Hotel whose rooms come with a view of the Singapore skyline; and six Sky Villas, each with its own living and dining room and a private courtyard. The hotel complex also has a spa, restaurants and a state-of-the-art conference centre.
Address: 1 Farrer Park Station Road
This boutique hotel has 29 unique rooms that showcase whimsy at its best. Rooms on the Eccentricity Level, for example, are decorated in a single striking Pantone shade such as hot pink or bright orange. The nine loft rooms on the top floor, nicknamed Creature Comforts, each has its own theme – there’s a Treehouse, a Typewriter room, a glitzy Bling room, as well as a Grey Spaceship and a Red Spaceship room – that will make for a unique stay.
Address: 2 Dickson Road