One of the coolest neighbourhoods we visited in Singapore was Little Arabia. I think I loved it so much as it was something a little more unique, having visited many a Chinatown and several Indian neighbourhoods (and India!) before. With a huge mosque as its focal point, the area (known as ‘Kampong Glam’) had rows of streets lined with shophouses, with evocative street names like Kandahar, Muscat and Baghdad.
Similar to Singapore’s Chinatown, some streets seemed a little more ‘local’, like those lined with fabric stores, while others had a bit more of a contrived, touristy feel with ubiquitous souvenirs. Mostly though, the area was charming, particularly as the sun went down, the mosque was lit up, and we dined on delicious Muslim fare (at Sultan’s Cafe Corner) outdoors under palm trees and twinkling lights.
A highlight of the area was hip Haji Lane – aome to cute and highly unique clothing stores, Middle Eastern eateries, pokey stairways leading up to treasure troves of vintage goods, and pavements lined with mats and shisha pipes.
The lane seemed to attract photographers, black-clad arty looking guys, and even teens dressed like Harajuku girls – this was a Singapore a world away from its often conservative image.
The trip definitely opened my eyes to a side of Singapore some people don’t realise is there – one that’s not all about endless shopping malls and skyscrapers, but instead, unique and colourful neighbourhoods with pockets of quirky, cool places, like the Arab Quarter’s Haji Lane and Ann Siang Road in Chinatown. Overall – a great place for a weekend or mini-break!