Little India is quite a small district, but it is full of life! All along Serangoon Road and its neighbouring streets, you’ll find gorgeous alleys, colorful buildings, delicious food, temples, giant elephants made out of flowers, and incredible shopping arcades… It’s kind of how I imagine India, but cleaner and more modern (you are in Singapore after all !).
Petain Road: Instagram Heaven
Start your visit from the top of Serangoon Road, at the Farrer Park MRT station.
Close to the station you’ll find Petain Road, you can’t miss it! It’s a stunning row of preserved Chinese Baroque-style shophouses. It’s Chinese because Little India used to be the home of Chinese business men. There are few villas and shophouses left from this time; this is one of them. The walls are made of gorgeous floral ceramic tiles in pastel colors. You’ll also see beautiful plasterwork representing Chinese symbols like the crane on some of the columns and below windows. It’s a wonderful sight and makes for lovely pictures.
What I found out later while researching information for this article is that the back alley of Petain Road is actually an active legalized sex district… It would have been quite awkward to bump into an old dude coming out of an “appointment” haha!
Worship Vishnu at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
This stunning temple is devoted to Lord Sri Srinivasa Perumal, one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu. It’s one of the oldest temples in Singapore. What’s really impressive is its Gopuram (the tower on top of the entrance). It shows the different incarnations of Lord Vishnu, empowering the good and fighting evil. It’s simply exquisite, decorated with detailed sculptures and carvings, all in shades of blue. Apparently, Vishnu is always represented with blue skin, to symbolize that like the sky he is formless and infinite.
Now I’m not a religious person at all, but I find religions fascinating. So if you want to learn more about Hinduism, you should definitely visit the different temples in Little India, starting with this one. Unfortunately it was closed for renovations when we went, but we got to see the Gopuram and that’s enough for me.
Shop Til’ You Drop at Mustafa Centre
This is neither a beautiful place, nor a cultural place, but it is amazing nonetheless! Mustafa Centre (or as I called it several times, Mufasa Centre) is a shopping centre that sells just about everything. Electronics, cosmetics, clothes, food, kitchen utensils, textiles, you name it. Plus it is open 24 hours a day, every day. Basically heaven.
I guarantee that you will come out of this place with at least one bag full of stuff, even though you “just wanted to have a look”. It is enormous. Like you would probably need a whole day if you wanted to look at every single row of products. If you don’t like people, then avoid Mustafa Centre, because this place is packed. It is quite cheap, so of course Lucas loves it! He’s the type of person to buy something because the label says “3 for the price of 2” even though he doesn’t need it at all haha.
Residence of Tan Teng Niah: a Psychedelic House
Head to Kerbau Road to see this fun and unique colorful villa.
It was built in the 1900s by Tan Teng Niah, a Chinese business man settled in Little India, for his wife. It is now the last surviving Chinese villa in the district. Thankfully for us tourists, it was preserved and restored by the locals.
Tekka Centre For Lunch
This market is separated into 3 levels. First is the fresh produce market, with vegetables, fish, meat, spices, and things that I cannot identify. Next is the food court, which is amazing. You won’t find tourists here, or just a handful. Locals and informed expats share tables and enjoy delicious local food. The last level is dedicated to Indian clothes. Enter a mountain of Saris and marvel at the colors and designs.
Little India Arcade and Bugis Street: Souvenir Shopping
The arcades opposite of Tekka Market are lined with stalls selling anything that is Indian. Scarves, handicrafts, spices, perfume, Bollywood movies, cute garlands made of colorful stuffed elephants… You can also get a henna tattoo if you like.
Next up is Bugis Street. This isn’t actually part of Little India, it’s right below. This place kind of reminds me of nightlife streets in Thailand to be honest. You can buy souvenirs, accessories, clothes, cosmetics and small useless trinkets like keychains. It’s not exactly high end, but who doesn’t like cheap useless stuff? If you didn’t eat at Tekka Market, you’ll also find food stalls here selling fried snacks, satays, and fresh juice.
Spiral Staircases of My Dreams
Right before you enter Bugis Street, or after that’s fine just turn back around, go check out the small parallel alley on the left of the entrance. You’ll find several outdoor spiral staircases painted in bright colors, so cool! I can’t find any pictures of this on my camera (even though I’m sure I took some) so I’m just going to use a pic found on Google Images and hope that the photographer doesn’t sue me…
That’s it for Little India! If you’re lucky enough to be in Singapore during Deepavali, you really won’t want to miss this vibrant district and all its joyous celebrations.
Also, if you still have energy after this walk, you can continue on to the Muslim Quarter which is very close to Little India.