Some say Kampong Gelam really is glam (a local term meaning glamorous). The area has an eclectic blend of history, culture and a super-trendy lifestyle scene.
See if this is true on your Kampong Gelam journey. Start from the landmark Sultan Mosque, and explore the many side streets of this culturally vibrant district.
A Malay enclave
Kampong Gelam has its origins as a thriving port town and is Singapore's oldest urban quarter. In Malay, the word kampong means "compound", while glam is often attributed to the gelam (long-leaved paperbark tree), which was found and used locally for boat-making, medicine and even as a seasoning for food.
In 1822, Sir Stamford Raffles allocated the area to the Malay, Arab and Bugis communities. The area subsequently became one of the seats of Malay royalty in Singapore.
Today, the grounds of the Istana (palace) is home to the Malay Heritage Centre, where you’ll get many insights into Malay history and culture.
You’ll love the culinary delights here, from local delicacies such as nasi padang (steamed rice served with various dishes) and Malay kueh (bite-sized desserts) to Middle Eastern, Japanese, Swedish and even Mexican fare.
Shopaholics, head to colourful Haji Lane—a row of multi-label stores, quirky boutiques as well as hip bars and cafes. Or pick up traditional wares such as Persian carpets, kebaya (traditional nonya dress) dresses and handmade perfumes from Arab Street and Bussorah Street.
Kampong Gelam truly comes alive during Ramadan (Muslim fasting month) leading up to Hari Raya Aidilfitri. Join in the iftar (breaking of fast) in the evenings, or stroll through the bustling night markets.