Travel to Little India, Chinatown and Kampong Glam, Singapour
People usually use Singapore as a meeting place for their trips to Asia, but some areas are definitely worth a visit. That is exactly what we have done and we do not regret it at all.
Located two hours from Ho Chi Minh City, and accessible thanks to different airlines such as Scoot, JetStar, VietJetAir or Hahn Air, you do not need any Visa process, so to travel for a weekend, Singapore is a great solution!
Little India : a multicultural place
Little India (originally Serangoon road) is also called Tek kah by the Chinese population (a short version of Tek Kia Kah), which refers to bamboo growing along the Rochor Canal. The first settlers of this district were for the most part convicts of work necessary for the development of the city. Many of them have chosen to stay after serving their sentences. To meet the growing need for labour in the 1880s, many Indian workers came to the city and chose to stay after their contracts ended.
What to see there?
The Tan Teng Niah House is one of the most emblematic sites as it is the last remaining Chinese villa in the area and it is a particularly colourful building. Tan Teng Niah began building it for his wife in 1900, incorporating elements of European and southern Chinese architecture.
Street Art, while the Little India district is famous for its fabric shops, spicy Indian curries and 24-hour Mustafa Mall that sells more than you can imagine, is also a surprising street art hub. There are many murals by internationally renowned artists. The emergence of Art Walk Little India, an annual art festival that incorporates artwork into the little-frequented alleyways of this colourful neighborhood.
The Sri Mariamman temple was built in 1881 and dedicated to the destroyer of evil, Kali, which has always been popular in Bengal. It is built in a South Indian style like many Tamil temples rather than in the style of Kali temples from northeastern India to Bengal. During the Japanese air attacks of World War II, legend has it that the temple played a protective role for many people, who were kept safe from bombing.
Little India Arcade is located in the middle of Serangoon Road, a number of restored shops will allow you to find saris, crockery, clothing, crafts, souvenirs, incense and spices. It is very nice to walk in the alleys.
Where to eat?
Tekka Centre/Market offers an amazing display of Sri Lankan, South Indian, North Indian, Malaysian, Chinese food... The place is filled with happy people who love food. You can also find a wet market and a fresh produce market in the center. Upstairs, you have souvenirs, clothes, fabric, flowers and beautiful sashes.
Khansama Tandoori Restaurant is a good restaurant in the Little India area, we suggest you order the tandori chicken!
China Town : one of the older ward
To immerse yourself in the Chinese atmosphere of the Asian city, you will have to discover Chinatown, located in the southwest of the city. Although this district has lost some of its authenticity to more modern tourist establishments, some typical small crafts are still represented there: public writers, sculptors, rickshaw drivers. It is always a great pleasure to walk and eat there at a small price.
What to see there?
Thian Hock Keng Temple is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Singapore, built in 1840 by the Hokkians of Fuzhou province. You just can’t miss it!
Keong Saik Road is a pretty street with bright colors, even if after seeing the Arab quarter you will be a little disappointed. At the end of this street you will find many small itinerant shops, useful to buy all your souvenirs for less than in the shops of Marina Bay!
What to eat?
The Hawker Centers are the best places to experience the authentic flavor of Singapore as the locals do, and the Maxwell Road Hawker Centre is one of the most popular with Singaporeans and tourists alike.
The Chinatown Complex is home to more than 260 second-floor food stalls, offering a wide variety of Singaporean street food, from rice to traditional Hainanese chicken and Char Kway Teow, to craft beer at the tap and even a few Michelin-Starred stands, most at very cheap prices.
Kampong Glam: Singapore’s Malay heritage
Kampong Glam, also known as Arab Street, is our favorite neighborhood in Singapore for all its buildings and history. In Mala, Kampong means village and Glam is a tree that was used by sailors and fishermen. The fruit of the tree is used as spice and the dried leaf is used to make vegetable oil.
What to see there?
Masjid Sultan is a must-see monument with its massive golden domes and huge prayer hall. Masjid Sultan is an important mosque in Singapore and one of the most impressive religious buildings in the country. The mosque was built in 1824 for Sultan Hussein Shah, the first sultan of Singapore. Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, donated US$3,000 to build a one-storey building with a two-storey roof. One hundred years later, the old mosque was in desperate need of repair. The current mosque, as you see it today, was designed by Denis Santry de Swan and Maclaren, Singapore’s oldest architectural firm, and rebuilt in 1932.
Walking through the streets of this small neighborhood is a good tip to enjoy all your time in Singapore!
Where to eat?
The nasi padang (Indonesian dishes flavored with spices and served with rice) in Hjh Maimunah is famous among the local population, and the establishment was included in the Bib Gourmand Michelin Guide in 2016.
Finally, getting lost in one of its three neighbourhoods will allow you to see what each street has to offer: wall paintings, colorful houses, a smile on the corner of a less crowded street.... All the charm of Singapore!