Take a look around Kampong Glam this weekend with the kids! Here’s what to do in this culturally rich enclave
Kampong Glam, also known as The Arab Quarter, is a fab Singapore neighbourhood with a ton going on — packed with indie businesses, it’s buzzing with creative spirit and is a world away from the slick and shiny CBD or the crowds of Orchard Road. There might not be playgrounds or baby superstores, but there’s tons to discover. So grab the kiddos and let’s eat and shop our way around Arab Street and Haji Lane!
Approaching Kampong Glam, it would be hard to miss the golden dome of Sultan Mosque (also commonly referred to as Masjid Sultan by the Malay community). This mosque has a long history that goes back to 1824, in the era of Sir Stamford Raffles! The mosque has a breathtaking exterior and interior structure, with a large prayer hall that can accommodate up to 5,000 people in mass prayer. You’re free to snap photos from outside the mosque, and during certain hours they also accept visitors. During Ramadan, there’s a special Food Bazaar that’s set up right in front of the mosque, and is well worth a wander through for some delicious food!
*Visitor information for Sultan Mosque is available here. However, due to Covid-19, the mosque is closed for tour visits until further notice.
Malay Heritage Centre
The Malay Heritage Centre at 85 Sultan Gate is home to a number of permanent galleries, which cover elements of trade and Malay/Muslim culture. From its location in the heart of Kampong Glam, the Malay Heritage Centre provides a range of cultural exposure and learning opportunities for visitors of all ages and backgrounds. From batik workshops to traditional music and puppetry performances, there’s plenty of hands-on fun for kiddos.
Kampong Glam is teeming with funky street artwork at every corner. Start your walk at the famous Haji Lane, where you’ll find street art near some cool restaurants. At the junction of Haji Lane and Beach Road is a restaurant called Piedra Negra, which is a veritable burst of colours. Make sure you check out the interesting art along the exterior of this restaurant, too! At 29 Sultan Gate is a mural titled “Coffee Story” by artist Yip Yew Chong. The mural was commissioned by A.R.C., a coffeeshop which no longer exists there. However, the mural itself is a timeless depiction of the old-school ways by which kopi used to be (and still is) made and enjoyed with the local breakfast of kaya toast.
If you’ve got older kids and are looking for some fun, try an escape room experience in the heart of Kampong Glam! Amazing Chambers has turned one of the Arab Quarter’s historical buildings into a home for escape rooms, all of which are themed with Singapore’s rich ancient history and culture. Amazing Chambers admits kids 12 and above, so this would be a great activity to try with your teens!
Behind Sultan Gate you’ll find a lovely open space with some shade and a couple of old swings which make for a nice spot to sit down for photo ops!
Kampong Glam has a mixture of cool cafes, bars, ice cream joints and laid-back eateries on every corner. It’ll be hard just picking a place to eat! But a good place to start would be the Central section of our Halal Restaurants Guide, where you’ll find many cafes and restaurants along Bussorah Street, Haji Lane, Arab Street and Beach Road – all located in the Kampong Glam area. Other top picks:
Limaa – Nutritious, healthy food, whether you’re looking for a hearty breakfast or thirst-quenching smoothies.
51 Haji Lane, Singapore 189244
Twenty Grammes – Delicious waffles and ice cream you can smell even while passing by.
753 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 198721
Lickety – Quirky ice cream flavours served on egglet waffles. Sure to be a kids’ fave!
34 Bussorah St, Singapore 199452
Konditori – Sweet and savoury artisanal bakes, from pastries to decadant breads.
33 Bussorah St, Singapore 199451
You may have heard of Haji Lane, but make sure you also check out what Arab Street has to offer! We’ve come across a number of great stores here offering beautiful home textiles like cushion covers and runners (Dilip Textiles and Sarvan’s Carpets are just a couple of the stores we frequent), and there’s no shortage of fabric shops to make yourself some beautiful custom baju kurungs.
So that’s a local’s guide to Kampong Glam, mama! If you have any favourite spots to shoutout, send them my way at [email protected] and we’ll add it to this list!