Visit Chinatown Or Kampong Gelam?

Kampong Gelam and Chinatown offer fascinating experiences in Singapore's rich heritage, culture, and history. The bustling atmosphere and lively scenes do justice in melding the traditional and contemporary parts that make up modern-day Singapore. 

Kampong Gelam, image credit:

Kampong Gelam, image credit:


While Chinatown is a great place to learn more about Singapore's Chinese heritage, Kampong Gelam is where you can get a sense of the country's Malay roots. Chinatown and Kampong Gelam are two must-visit places when in Singapore!

So which should you visit first? Here's a quick guide to help you decide!


What Is Kampong Gelam Known For?

Kampong Glam is known for being the heart of Malay culture and heritage in Singapore. The neighbourhood is home to several mosques, heritage sites, and traditional shops and eateries. Tourists and locals appreciate the scenic settings and picture-perfect locations that offer a unique perspective on Singapore.


Kampong Glam is also known for its vibrant nightlife, with many bars and clubs in the neighbourhood. Regardless of age, Kampong Gelam has something to offer everyone!


Kampong Gelam, outdoor art gallery, image credit:

Kampong Gelam, outdoor art gallery, image credit:


How To Get To Kampong Gelam?

Getting to Kampong Glam from Chinatown Singapore takes about 10 minutes by car or taxi and about 25 minutes by train. To take the train, take the Chinatown MRT to Bugis MRT. The trip will only cost SGD2. 


Those who prefer to take a bus can find a ride at the Chinatown Station Exit C that lets off at Opp Plaza Parkroyal. From there, it's a four-minute walk to Kampong Glam.


7 Things To Do In Kampong Gelam Singapore

Kampong Gelam is where the old Malay heritage and traditions are kept alive. The neighbourhood is also home to several mosques, making it an ideal place to learn more about the Muslim community in Singapore.


Some must-see attractions in Kampong Gelam include the Masjid Sultan, and the Malay Heritage Centre. There are also several heritage shops and eateries that are worth checking out.


Masjid Sultan in Kampong Gelam, image credit:

Masjid Sultan in Kampong Gelam, image credit:


Aside from these historic sites, Kampong Glam is also a wonderful place to explore with engaging activities and tours to partake in. Each activity gives a glimpse into the rich history of Singapore and how it became the cultural melting pot it is today.


City Highlights Tour

In the 1800s, Kampong Glam was a Muslim quarter and home to the Sultan of Johore. Back then, it was also home to a community of Javanese, Bugis, Arab, and Boyanese. Nowadays, the Kampong Glam history has made way for various vibrant and heritage-rich cafes, shops, restaurants, and art galleries for tourists to explore. 


Taking the City Highlights Tour in Kampong Glam is a great way to hear exciting stories about the area from a tour guide and get an overview of all the must-see places quickly. Even so, the tour that takes only half a day is packed with information and activities!


Fascinating Walking Tour

The walking tour is a great way to explore Kampong Glam at your own pace. It is also an excellent opportunity to learn more about the area from a local guide. The walking tour covers all the major attractions in Kampong Glam and some of the lesser-known hidden gems. One of the highlights of the walking tour is a visit to Bussorah Street. The street is known for its beautiful shophouses and is a great place to get souvenirs and local arts and crafts. Make sure to add this place to your list of photo stops.

The walking tour also covers Haji Lane, a popular street among locals and tourists. The tour selected street is full of hip cafes, bars, and vintage stores. Join a walking tour to get an in-depth look into the history and culture of Kampong Glam and to see some of the best places to eat, drink, and shop in the area!


Kampong Gelam Bazaar

Immersing yourself in local life is impossible without visiting the Kampong Glam Bazaar. The market is a great place to buy local produce, spices, and snacks. The Kampong Glam Bazaar is also a good place to try local food such as nasi padang, satay, and roti prata. It is also a great place to people-watch and takes in the market's vibrant atmosphere.


Kampong Gelam Bazaar

Kampong Gelam Bazaar, image credit:


Cafes In Kampong Gelam

With so much to explore in Kampong Glam, taking a quick break at a cafe is a great way to recharge before heading out to explore more places in the area. Luckily, there are handfuls of popular cafes in the area, perfect for hanging out. These places are the ideal setting to create memories with whomever you are!


Fika Sweedish Cafe and Bistro

Fika Sweedish Cafe and Bistro, image credit: FIka Swedish Cafe


One of the more frequented cafes, Symmetry makes it to the list of city highlights with its cosy atmosphere and unique coffee blends. Visitors can also enjoy a hearty meal or a quick snack to regain energy. 


Another popular cafe in the area is the Meomi Cat Cafe, perfect for cat lovers who can't resist these feline friends. Here, you can enjoy a cup of coffee while bonding with the cats and kittens roaming the cafe.


Meomi Cat Cafe

Meomi Cat Cafe, image credit: Meomi Cat Cafe


Explore Arab Street

Arab Street is another popular street in Kampong Glam. The street gets its name from the many Arab traders who used to do business there. Nowadays, the street is known for fabric shops selling a variety of fabrics from all over the world. If you're into handicrafts, you'll be able to find plenty of supplies on Arab Street, such as beads, embroidery thread, and fabric paints.


Discover Haji Lane

Haji Lane is one of the most popular streets in Kampong Glam, and for a good reason! The street is lined with colourful buildings and murals, making it a great place to take photos. There are also plenty of boutique stores and cafes to check out. If you're looking for souvenirs to bring back home, Haji Lane is the place to go. You'll be able to find unique items that you won't find anywhere else. 


Walking at Haji Lane and Arab Street

Walking at Haji Lane and Arab Street


The Final Verdict

Singapore is home to a variety of cultures. Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam are the best places to experience the heritage and culture of real Singapore today. While each location has unique attractions and ambience, exploring all the places that make Singapore a cultural melting pot is a great way to get an authentic city experience.

So, whether you're looking to explore Singapore's Chinatown or Kampong Glam, both places offer a wealth of history, culture, and activities to enjoy. Reserving a culture-guided tour with a knowledgeable tour guide is also a fascinating way to hear interesting stories about the rich history behind each location.


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