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
12-Day Indochina Discovery
tour packages

Tour through the culture, history and natural wonders of Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia

VIEW DETAILS
Skyscrapers and Temples Tour
tour packages

Tour works its way from hyper-modern Singapore to charmingly laid-back Cambodia – with all these contrasts, you'll ...

VIEW DETAILS
Palawan's Nature-Based Grandeur
tour packages

Most of the trip is centered around the Philippines' paradisiacal island of Palawan. You'll start your first day at t...

VIEW DETAILS

MASTERCARD'S PRICELESS EXPERIENCES

View All
Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa
tour packages

Island Holiday & Dining at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa.

VIEW DETAILS
Oasia Hotel Novena
tour packages

The Oasia Hotel Novena, Singapore is still a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of city life

VIEW DETAILS
Romance scenes straight out of a Hollywood movie
tour packages

Romantic night for two. Bali’s stunning honeymoon villas provide the perfect setting for couples wanting a romantic nig...

VIEW DETAILS

AIR AND CAR BOOKINGS

View All
Hertz Car Rental Deals
tour packages

Explore more of Asia on wheels with our Hertz Asia Driving Guide. Download your free copy for our driving tips, popular self-...

VIEW DETAILS
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

HOTEL DEALS

View All
Golden Phoenix Hotel
tour packages

Hotel location: Manila

VIEW DETAILS
MICROTEL BY Wyndham
tour packages

Hotel Location: Philippines

VIEW DETAILS
Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers
tour packages

Rate for 2017:    US 99++ Room Type:       Deluxe River View Room Book pe...

VIEW DETAILS