Singapore’s Muslim Quarter, also known as Kampong Glam, used to be the home of Malay aristocrats. “Kampong” is actually the Malay word for village. Today, this ethnic quarter, while having preserved its heritage, is transforming into a hip place, with street art, coffee shops and small boutiques.
The Majestic Masjid Sultan Mosque
Muscat Street is the principal lane in the Muslim Quarter. It has many restaurants, most serving delicious Middle Eastern cuisine. In the middle of all these Turkish and Lebanese restaurants, you’ll also find a small artisanal bakery that serves yummy sweet homemade treats.
But the highlight of this street is the grand Masjid Sultan Mosque and its huge shiny golden dome. Built in the early 1800’s for Sultan Hussein Shah, ex-ruler of Singapore, it is now the national mosque of Singapore, and you can certainly see why. It is, simply put, majestic! The architecture is simple but very well executed, it just stands out in the middle of the small surrounding lanes.
The Sultan also built himself a palace, which is now the Malay Heritage Centre, where you can learn about Malay history and culture.
Arab Street, a Rug Lover’s Paradise
Parallel to Muscat Street is Arab Street. This road is lined with merchants selling gorgeous traditional Persian rugs and bright fabrics. You’ll also come across shops selling tea or handmade perfume. It kind of resembles Moroccan souks. Or at least that’s what I imagine markets in Morocco look like, because we’ve never been (yet!). Unfortunately we didn’t have enough room in our suitcases to bring back a rug, maybe next time we’ll try to have one delivered?
Haji Lane, an Explosion of Colour
Haji Lane for me was truly the greatest part of the Muslim Quarter, although it doesn’t have anything to do with Muslim culture…
It is a small street with colourful pastel houses transformed into quirky vintage boutiques selling cute accessories, lovely clothes that are too expensive for me and decoration objects for your flat. There are also a lot of trendy coffee shops, burger joints and Mexican taquerias. Basically, heaven on earth for me, as cliché and unoriginal as that sounds. There’s even a cat café! You know the places where you can drink a cup of coffee and eat cake while cute cats play around you and sit on your lap? Amazing right?!
What’s insane in Haji Lane is also the numerous street art paintings you’ll find on the walls. I don’t even know how many photos I took… Every café and shop has it’s painting, and they cover up whole walls! It’s truly beautiful. I will just let the pictures speak for themselves.
We finished our walk around Muslim Quarter by having a foot reflexology massage just around the corner from Haji Lane. It was so nice after a day of walking around town.
Although it is one of the smallest neighbourhoods in Singapore, I think it’s my favourite, and that’s saying something because I love all of Singapore!
Written by Lea