Hop Between Histories at Singapore's Cultural Precincts

sHARE TO facebook twitter mail
expdetail

Chinatown street, Singapore. Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board, used with permission.

As a bustling metropolis, Singapore is as diverse and multicultural as it gets. Enclaves for its major ethnic communities -- namely, Chinese, Indian, Malay, and Peranakan -- were integral in the Jackson Plan, an urban plan of the city that dates back to 1882.

You can book a guided tour of each enclave at their respective visitors' centres. Here's a thumbnail sketch of what to expect at each stop.

Quaint and eclectic, Singapore’s Chinatown has one foot each in heritage and the hip. It has chic hotels, trendy boutiques, the most happening restaurants, and kooky drinking holes sitting right next to its museums, temples, and historical attractions. Take a leisurely stroll to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple; from there, Hindu temple Sri Mariamman and Jamae Mosque are close by.

Little India is its own bright riot of color across Chinatown. Known as Tekkai in the Tamil community, the enclave is a must-visit for the tourist looking to tuck into tasty Indian cuisine. Singapore’s largest indoor wet market, Tekka Centre, hawks rare and exotic ingredients.

Shopaholics can get great bargains on saris, jewelry, souvenirs, and scores of ethnic goods at Little India shophouses and at the Mustafa Centre, Singapore's first 24-hour mall.

The Malay enclave, Kampong Glam, has a teeming shopping scene to boast of too. Located at the mouth of Rochor River, this former fishing village is now one of Singapore’s lifestyle hotspots.

Haji Lane is a trendy shopping and dining street for the more eclectic in taste; artful graffiti and murals adorn the quaint bistros, bars, and boutiques along the lane. Sultan Mosque stands proud at the epicentre of it all, a focal point where Singapore’s Muslim community comes together.

Finally, there’s Katong, a multicultural neighborhood home to the country’s Peranakans. Albeit largely suburban, the enclave reels in its share of tourists with distinct pre-war Chinese and colonial architecture. The two-story shophouses and eateries along Joo Chiat Road retain this look to this day.

A major avenue within the district, Joo Chiat is the place to visit for Peranakan souvenirs, handicrafts, fashion, and cuisine. Try the kueh chang, or Peranakan dumplings, or a bowl of Peranakan laksa, a spicy noodle soup flavored with coconut milk and dry shrimp. For a bit of history, drop by Katong Antique House, a restored Peranakan home decked with antiques and heirlooms.


Jalan Haji, Kampong Glam, Singapore. Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board, used with permission.


Shopping for sarees in Little India, Singapore. Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board, used with permission.


Street near Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam, Singapore. Image courtesy of the Singapore Tourism Board, used with permission.

Similar Southeast Asia Experiences
Southeast Asia's major cities let you peek into the local culture without needing to travel far. Try visiting Brunei's Bandar Seri Begawan; Cambodia's Phnom Penh; Indonesia's Jakarta; Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia; Thailand's Bangkok; and Vietnam's Hanoi.


TOUR packages

View All
A Tale of Two Cities
tour packages

Time travel in Southeast Asia by visiting two of its most notable ancient cities. Begin in Manila, capital of the Philippines...

VIEW DETAILS
Borneo's Cultural Highlights
tour packages

Your tour begins late in the day, sampling Brunei's unique flavours at a restaurant in Bandar Seri Begawan. The lights il...

VIEW DETAILS
Waterways & Train Tracks through Thailand & Cambodia
tour packages

Tour takes you down river currents and train tracks to Thailand and Cambodia's most authentic destinations both on and of...

VIEW DETAILS

MASTERCARD'S PRICELESS EXPERIENCES

View All
Feast on local fare and enjoy a private Balinese dance performance
tour packages

Traditional Balinese Feast in a Private Villa. Indulge in a roasted suckling pig or fresh seafood barbeque prepared on the gr...

VIEW DETAILS
Pangulasian Island Resort, El Nido
tour packages

Rate includes 2-way transfer (El Nido Airport - LIO), daily breakfast, WiFi access,complimentary use of kayak, snorkeling and...

VIEW DETAILS
Accor Hotels
tour packages

Enjoy every moment of your stay with Accor Hotels in Asia Pacific

VIEW DETAILS

AIR AND CAR BOOKINGS

View All
The Best Way To See Asean
tour packages

Go on an epic Asean journey with AirAsia Asean Pass, a travel pass that allows you to book our base fares at least 14 days or...

VIEW DETAILS
Hertz Car Rental Deals
tour packages

Rent a car for 2 days or more at participating locations in Asia and enjoy up to 15% off

VIEW DETAILS

HOTEL DEALS

View All
Luxent Hotel
tour packages

Recharge and enjoy in refined, world-class accommodations and facilities of Luxent Hotel. Immerse in the feeling of home in e...

VIEW DETAILS
Four Points by Sheraton Riverview
tour packages

Nestled along the historic Singapore River opposite the quaint Robertson Quay, Four Points by Sheraton Singapore, Riverview i...

VIEW DETAILS
Novotel Melaka
tour packages

Novotel Melaka offers 351 well-appointed rooms that boast magnificent views of the straits of Melaka and the city. Ranging fr...

VIEW DETAILS