Looking up the street at Masjid Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam, Singapore

Kampong Glam

Kampong Glam is a little glimpse of the Singapore that used to be, with generations-old convenience stores, scruffy cafés selling butter coffee and old men hanging out at barber shops.

This Malay-Muslim enclave grew up around the golden-domed Sultan Mosque, shaped by the Malay, Arab and Indonesian Bugis migrants who settled here back in the early 19th century. Today, its roots are still visible in its Islamic architecture, hajj travel companies and Persian carpet sellers — not to mention smellable and taste-able in its curry buns, halal fried chicken and Lebanese kebab platters.

Kampong Glam still has that “kampong (village) spirit” — but it’s also one of the trendiest spots in the city. This is where you’ll find Haji Lane, famous for its kaleidoscopic colors and buildings splashed with street art, and the much-loved indie store Supermama, where you can buy beautiful, Singapore-inspired contemporary ceramics (or even design your own). It’s where the locals come to hang out and do their grocery shopping, but it’s also where the hipsters come to dip in and out of trendy boutiques and cafés in candy-colored shophouses.

Start at the Malay Heritage Center to get an insight into this old port’s pre-Raffles history in the former Sultan’s Palace, then just head out and wander — sampling amazing dishes from nasi goreng to sushi, and from chunky chocolate cookies to halal Mexican food. Kampong Glam is a feast for every sense.