When it comes to Singapore’s Malay community, there’s no other place quite like Kampong Glam and the famed Haji Lane. Historically named after the gelam tree that used to grow prevalently throughout the area, its name has evolved throughout the years to the more apt ‘Kampong Glam’ (short for ‘glamorous’), a title that embodies its reputation as being one of Singapore’s most stylish quarters.
If you are planning to visit, heed our advice and devote at least half, if not a full day to explore everything this district has to offer! Tick the tourist boxes by heading to the historic Sultan Mosque (3 Muscat Street) and marvel at the grandeur of its large golden domes. Constructed in 1824, this heritage site is highly regarded as one of the most important places of worship on the island.
Then, wrap your head around more of Singapore’s rich Malay history at the Malay Heritage Centre (85 Sultan Gate), the former palace of Sultan Hussein. Before you break for lunch, be sure to check out the Children Little Museum (42 Bussorah Street) too. This nostalgic place is filled with vintage toys and other antique treasures, tucked away in a two-storey shop-house and guarded by a quirky, man-sized robot at its entrance!
When the hunger pangs reach an audible growl, we guarantee there will be something to satisfy even the fussiest of eaters! If you have a voracious appetite, head to I Am… cafe (674 North Bridge Road), a casual Halal eatery serving up generous plates of pizzas, sandwiches and burgers. They’re famous for their chargrilled Chicken Satay Burger, so be sure to give it a try!
If you find yourself in the area on a weekend, opt for Symmetry Cafe (9 Jalan Kubor) for what is highly regarded as one of Singapore’s best brunch spots. Tuck into classics like their Eggs Benedict or consider something more innovative like their Truffle Mushroom Carbonara! Aim to be there early or be prepared to stand in line as the competition for tables is fierce! If you’re simply looking for a snack, curb the appetite by paying a visit to 26 Tapas Bar (26 Kandahar Street) and order a range of sharing plates like their famous three-flavoured chicken drumlets or split their “Ugly Duckling Pizza”, to fuel you through the afternoon.
To get a real taste of the ‘glam’ in this quarter, don’t leave without exploring the seemingly endless lines of boutique stores that occupy the classic shop-houses along Haji Lane. Ladies, make a beeline for the Salad Shop (25 Haji Lane), an elegant and cleverly designed black and white shop space selling minimalist fashion pieces and home accessories. For timeless vintage wear, keep on the lookout for Dulcetfig (41 Haji Lane), but if modern fashion is more your style, browse the rails and shelves of Modparade (68 Haji Lane) or Mondays Off (76 Haji Lane), for cutting edge
designs that are sure to catch people’s attention. There’s plenty in terms of sustainable shopping too, from the home decor pieces at Gaia Living to the organic, unisex bamboo clothing at Zhai (82 Haji Lane).
Gents, restock your wardrobes on the second floor of Maison Ikkoku (20 Kandahar Street), which houses a café on its first floor and a bar on the third, so don’t be surprised if you find it difficult to leave! Those with a slightly more punk-rock, hipster edge, check our SUP Clothing (34 Haji Lane), carrying top name brands like Herschel, OBEY and P.A.P.
In the late afternoon, the surrounding streets really start to come alive in prep for the night ahead. If your energy is flagging, grab a cup of coffee or tea and perhaps a dessert at one of the quirky, vibrant cafes that are sure to get you a few likes on your Instagram account! Get a bit of an ‘Alice In Wonderland’ experience in The Pantry in Shop Wonderland, with its popular flavoured sodas in traditional medicine bottles and its range of fluffy and sweet treats displayed in traditional bell jars. If the kids are in tow, consider EatPlayLove Craft Cafe (28 Aliwal Street, #01-07 Aliwal Arts Centre) where an arts and crafts corner is sure to keep them occupied while you relax.
To see Kampong Glam in its absolute prime, plan a night of bar hopping between some of Singapore’s hippest night spots. Start at KOI Bangers + Izakaya (9 Haji Lane), a rebellious venue with plenty of bar bites, powerful drinks and eclectic music! If you fancy an evening of cocktail tasting, there’s no place quite like Bar Stories (57A Haji Lane). They don’t exactly have a menu but that’s where the fun lies! Simply describe what kind of flavours you feel like and let them work their magic to create some of the tastiest drinks in town. If beer is more your tipple, consider.
Working Title (48 Arab Street) for a chill vibe and a great selection of craft beers. The newest opening is Long Play (33 Arab Street), a must for audiophiles and vinyl enthusiasts. The whole interior of this sleek modern space is inspired by vinyl (even the address) with the owner’s impressive collection of hits from the 50’s onwards forming the soundtrack. Bring your own records on Wednesdays and get to play DJ!
When the buzz really gets going, head to local nightlife institution, Blu Jaz Cafe (11 Bali Lane) for great live music acts (every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) and stand up comedy nights by Talk Cock Comedy (every Wednesday). Last but not least, what could beat an evening listening to live music in the city’s most authentic jazz club, SingJazz Club in The Sultan Hotel (101 Jalan Sultan)? Paying this swanky joint a visit is an absolute must on any visit. Order yourself a cocktail or browse their impressive whisky selection and tune in to some of the best regional and international live acts that take the stage every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday!