Culture, food and art – enjoying Kampong Glam in four hours
Soak in Malay culture, enjoy art and architecture, and feast on great food: Here’s why you should visit Kampong Glam if you’ve just four hours to spare in Singapore. With historic links to royalty, being initially set aside as land for Sultan Hussein Mohamed Shah – the last Sultan of the Johor-Riau-Lingga empire – and his family, Kampong Glam has since evolved to blend its Malay-Muslim heritage with modernity, with boutique shops and local cafes with heritage sites and businesses. Here are a few places to check out:
Spend an hour learning about the history of Singapore’s Malay Community
Kick off your trip to Kampong Glam at the Malay Heritage Centre. Located within the grounds of the Istana Kampong Glam, a former Malay palace that was gazetted as a national monument in 2015, the centre showcases a variety of exhibits that will give you a deeper insight into the history of Singapore’s second largest ethnic group.
Address: 85 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198501
Opening hours: 10am to 6pm (Tuesday to Sunday), closed on Monday
Take a 45-minute tour of the Masjid Sultan Mosque
Unmistakable with its two magnificent golden domes, the Masjid Sultan Mosque is one of the biggest religious buildings in Singapore. One of its most distinct features can be found at the base of each dome, which is adorned with glass bottles that were collected and donated by the poor during its construction – to allow all Muslims a chance to contribute to the building.
Address: 3 Muscat Street, Singapore 198833
Opening hours: 10am to 12pm & 2pm to 4pm (Saturday to Thursday), 2.30pm to 4pm (Friday)
Spice up your day savouring authentic Malay cuisine (45min)
Originating from West Sumatra, Indonesia, nasi padang (steamed rice with mixed dishes) is a favourite among locals, and can usually be found in eating places all over Singapore. One of the stalwarts is Warong Nasi Pariaman, which has been around since 1948. Try their famous Beef Rendang (beef cooked in thick, spicy aromatic paste), begedil (fried potato cutlet with spices), and Ayam Bakar (charcoal-grilled chicken).
Address: 738 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198706
Opening hours: 7.30am to 8pm daily
For authentic Indian-Muslim cuisine, head to long-standing restaurant Zam Zam. Usually packed during lunch and dinner hours, the unassuming eatery, which opened more than a century ago in 1908, boasts an extensive, reasonably-priced menu.
Address: 697-699 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198675
Opening hours: 7am to 11pm daily
Shop at fascinating boutique shops along Haji Lane and Bussorah Street for an hour
Dotted with indie boutiques and stores, Kampong Glam is the best place to get unique souvenirs for friends and family. Head to Craft Assembly for handmade products, many of which are designed with a Singaporean twist to it. For a blast from the past, step into Trippies. Their vintage toys, clothes and assortment of knick-knacks will give you an idea of what Singapore was like decades ago.
Alternatively, further immerse yourself in Malay-Middle Eastern culture by checking out the different parfumeries and fabric shops – a hallmark of the Kampong Glam area. Such shops include Molkan Fabrics, a favourite with local dressmakers, as well as old-school parfumerie Jamal Kazura Aromatics.
Address: 61 Haji Lane, Singapore 189254
Opening hours: 12pm to 8pm (Monday to Friday), 11.30am to 8.30pm (Saturday & Sunday)
Address: 42 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199460
Opening hours: 10.30am to 10pm daily
Address: 72 Arab Street, Singapore 199769
Opening hours: 10.30am to 7.30pm daily
Jamal Kazura Aromatics
Address: 728 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198696
Opening hours: 9am to 6pm (Monday to Friday), 9am to 6.30pm (Saturday & Sunday)