December 7, 2023

Exploring Singapore’s Chinatown, Little India, and Arab Street

  • September 26, 2023
Exploring Singapore’s Chinatown, Little India, and Arab Street

Skyscrapers and Marina Bay Sands are perhaps the first things that come to mind when Singapore is mentioned as a tourism destination. Although Singapore is regarded as a global city, there is a wealth of Singapore cultural neighbourhoods and history to be found there. This country is fortunate to have its people live together in harmony and freely celebrate the cultural diversity in Singapore and festivals due to its unique population, which comprises three primary ethnic groups: Chinese, Malays, and Indians. Plan a day trip for exploring Singapore’s ethnic enclaves, get a glimpse of Singapore’s more traditional and colourful side and discover a new aspect of the city-state.


Chinatown, the historic neighbourhood where early Chinese immigrants lived and assembled, is a great place to start the day. 

What to do in Chinatown, Singapore?

  • Have a classic Singaporean breakfast at Nanyang Old Coffee. The combination of home-brewed coffee, delectable Kaya (coconut jam), butter, soft, fluffy toast, and half-boiled eggs with a splash of soy sauce will get your day started. Visit the shop’s miniature coffee museum to see some of the tools used to make traditional coffee.
  • After breakfast, proceed downstairs to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, a majestic building with outstanding design and a two-meter-tall, 420-kg gold stupa in the Sacred Light Hall on the top floor. Visitors are welcome to enter the temple for free and watch the rites, held twice daily from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and again from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Walking the streets of Chinatown and discovering odd-looking plants and dried food items sold by Chinese medicine stores is part of the experience. Many handicrafts and souvenirs can be found along the street markets, which are again renowned Chinatown attractions.

Little India 

After Chinatown, proceed to Little India in Singapore for some authentic Indian cuisine for lunch. On whatever budget, you’ll never lack culinary options here. Even if you do not want spicy food, many options are available, such as Roti Prata, marinated Chicken Tikka, and exquisite Palek Paneer that go well with a slice of aromatic garlic naan. 

What to do in Little India?

  • Find the Bismillah Biryani Restaurant at Dunlop Street for some tasty dum Biryani; the Michelin Guide Singapore gave the restaurant a Bib Gourmand award.
  • After a delectable lunch, a walkabout to check out the nearby temples is an intriguing activity. The Sri Veeramakaliamman temple is possibly one of the most recognisable temples in the region. The Indian temple, one of the oldest in Singapore, was constructed in 1881 and is dedicated to Sri Veeramakaliamman, a strong deity and remover of evil. If you’re lucky, you might even catch certain ceremonies and a mass if you remove your shoes before entering the temple. Remember to be respectful and refrain from taking photos within the temple because it is a place of worship. As long as you maintain a low profile and do not interfere with any ceremonies that are taking place, devotees are generally receptive to visitors.
  • When you explore the rows of stores that line Little India’s significant streets, your senses will be awakened by everything from spices to the perfume of flowers, sparkling gold shops, and vibrant paintings that are perfect for photos.
  • Visit Mustafa Centre, a sizable mall with a distinctive shopping experience. You may buy everything from fancy goods to technology, low-cost groceries, and spices. Because the mall is open around the clock, if your jet lag is keeping you up at night, you can always go back.

The Kampong Glam

In the early days of Singapore, the Arab and Bugis tradesmen were given Kampong Glam as their own neighbourhood. It is only a short 5-minute walk from the Bugis MRT station.

What to do in Kampong glam?

  •  Visit the Sultan Mosque, Singapore’s largest mosque, the neighbourhood’s focal point. The Sultan Mosque’s beauty, with its beautiful gold dome and ambience lighting, is best appreciated at dusk when the sun has set.
  • Enjoy the Kampong Glam neighbourhood, which is far calmer and less touristy than the previous two cultural hotspots. 
  • Rush to Haji Lane. You may find a variety of locally produced designer goods, hipster cafes, and stores offering everything vintage lining Haji Lane. Haji Lane is a relatively little, unassuming street tucked away in a Bugis Street corner. The location makes it simple to overlook visiting this exciting place. It is a vibrant street with shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants lining both sides. The best thing is that they are adorned with vivid painted murals. Decorations of stores sell exquisite fabrics, handmade perfumes, and Persian carpets along the famous Arab Street.
  • Although the government has outlawed shisha pipes, you can still find many restaurants and eateries that specialise in Middle Eastern cuisine. Spend the evening at one of the trendy pubs for a drink or two while enjoying some live music and a fun atmosphere.

Arab Street 

As Siloso Beach is Singapore’s hippie beach, Arab Street in Singapore is one of the happening streets. It has elegant boutiques and charming cafes. There are entertaining activities available nearby as well.

What to do at Arab Street?

  • You cannot avoid shopping in Singapore even if your travel budget is limited. Therefore, the best action is to browse the neighbourhood street markets and get the most significant goods for meagre costs. Your best option for saving money while delighting in shopping in Singapore is to shop on a budget. 
  • Investigate the Little Indian Arcade, Bugis Market, So Galem Market, and Chinatown Street Market to get the most excellent products at the lowest prices.
  • The best eateries will be found serving delicious local and inventive fare. Unique gifts, accessories, the newest apparel styles, shoes, bags, and purses are all available at the stores. This location is a joy for the eyes and will make your heart sing with its stylish and hip atmosphere. 

The city-state of Singapore is home to numerous famous buildings and tall ones. But even this side of the country is considerably more vibrant and unique. Take a day or two off from your trip to see and experience Singapore’s other side. You should put these unusual activities in Singapore on your bucket list the next time you visit here.

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