Tour of Kampong Glam – A Colourful Malay district in Singapore

Singapores Kampong Glam Arab Quarter famous for shopscafes and restaurants.
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Travel Guide: Kampong Glam, Singapore

It’s almost lunchtime when we left Little India to visit another historic district in Singapore called Kampong Glam. One of the best things about having a walking tour in Singapore is that you will get to discover it’s peoples culture and their multi-racial background.

Istana Kampong Glam
Istana Kampong Glam

Just like Filipinos, Singaporeans are English speaking people and they are also tourist-friendly. As a tourist myself, I find it easy to tour around Singapore not only because of the well-organized transportation system but also because there’s no language barrier – easy to ask for directions Lah!.

One of the most outstanding things that you will come across is the interesting culture that is a mixture of 3 ethnic groups: the Malays, the Chinese and the Indians.

Malaysian Palace Replica
Malaysian Palace Replica
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After a few minutes, our tourist bus finally reached Kampong Glam. Situated in the northern part of Singapore River, Kampong Glam got its name from a Malay word which means “Settlement of Gelam” – a variety of eucalyptus trees (Melaleuca leucadendra) that is abundant in the area.

Boat used by Malay settlers
Boat used by Malay settlers

We visited the Malay Heritage Centre where the Istana Kampong Gelam is located. Istana Kampong Glam is the Malay word for “Kampong Glam Palace” where the original Malay palace was erected. Istana Kampong Gelam palace and the entire compound were refurbished into the Malay Heritage Centre in 2004.

Early Malay settlers also use Melaleuca leucadendra (gelam tree) barks to build boats while cajuput oil was also extracted from its leaves and used to treat different health-related problems such as arthritis and some respiratory problems.

Sultan's Mosque
Sultan’s Mosque

Inside the compound, I saw a replica of a boat used by Malay settlers which were all made from the bark of Gelam tree. After visiting the compound, we went to the famous Sultan’s Mosque which is adjacent to Istana Kampong Glam.

Bussorah Street
Bussorah Street

Today, Kampong Glam remains to be the ultimate rendezvous for Malays because of the existence of the Sultan’s Mosque and the place is surrounded by restaurants that offer Halal food. The Sultan’s Mosque was rebuilt in 1928 after a major fund-raising project. One of the interesting features of the mosque is its huge dome made up entirely of soft drink glass bottles.

Singapore's largest Mosque
Singapore’s largest Mosque

Fronting the Sultan’s Mosque is Bussorah Street where shophouses were converted into souvenir shops and restaurants. Of all the shophouses that I have seen in SG, I think the one here in Bussorah street is the most colorful.

Singapores Kampong Glam Arab Quarter famous for shopscafes and restaurants.
Singapores Kampong Glam Arab Quarter famous for shopscafes and restaurants.
Tepak Sireh Malaysian Restaurant
Tepak Sireh Malaysian Restaurant

If you are looking for Batik products, then this is the place that you need to visit. We were still busy window shopping when Wilson got an SMS from Ben of  STB that we can now proceed to Tepak Sireh Restaurant for our most awaited lunch haha!  Checkout Pinoy Food Cravings for the food review:)

How to get there

It’s easy to reach Kampong Glam via MRT, just make sure to take the East-West Line of Singapore MRT. You can also take the bus or if you are in a group of 3 better take a cab. Don’t worry Taxi drivers in Singapore are polite and they all speak English:)

Singapore Tour Packages

Searching for the best hotels and affordable flights? Check out our complete list of affordable hotels and resorts via Agoda or you may also see available Airbnb properties in the city.

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