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9 Things You Need To See & Do In SG’s Famous Kampong Gelam & Little India (With Halal Food Nearby!)

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Shasha Dania  •  Jan 06, 2021

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Singapore is famous for its spectacular skyline and skyscrapers, and we know you’re already dreaming of your next trip there once it’s safe to travel. Kampong Gelam and Little India are two heritage neighbourhoods in Singapore which you might already be familiar with, but for your next trip, why not take the opportunity to rediscover both neighbourhoods? As Kampong Gelam and Little India are historically where Arab and Indian merchants and traders set up shop, the area is a stunning blend of the old and new. Located about 10 minutes apart by foot, we’ve rounded up everything you need to know to plan ahead and conquer both neighbourhoods in one day when the borders are open again!
During your future visit to Singapore, make sure you follow these essential hygiene and safety tips before you head out: 
  • Pre-book tickets at attractions or reservations at eateries if possible. As attractions and eateries are operating with limited capacity during this period, you may require a reservation to enter or to ensure you won’t need to wait for your turn. This is also similar to the protocol for most eateries in Malaysia. 
  •  Look out for attractions, eateries, and accommodations that have been granted the SG Clean mark. The mark certifies that they have met the requirements for safety and hygiene set by the Singapore government, including increased cleaning frequency, enforcement of safe distancing measures, and use of contactless entry methods.
  • Travel in small groups and maintain 1 metre distance from other groups while out and about. From 28 Dec 2020, groups of up to 8 may congregate in public but do check for the latest updates as this may change.
  • Scan and check-in the SafeEntry QR codes at attractions, eateries, and MRT stations to enable contact tracing. Compared to the tracing app in Malaysia there’s one extra step - you’ll need to check-out when you leave!
  • Download and activate the TraceTogether app when you’re out and about. Switch it on when you leave your accommodation so that you won’t forget. This will help with contact tracing if you come into contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case. The app is similar to the tracing app in Malaysia - you can just leave it on in the background of your phone! Download the TraceTogether app on the Google Play store and iOS App Store.
  •  Keep your mask on and cover your mouth and nose at all times when you’re in public including in attractions, eateries, and private-hire transport. The mask may be removed when eating or drinking but do remember to put it back on immediately afterwards. 
  • If you’re travelling with kids, children under 6 years of age are not required to wear a mask. Children 12 years and below are allowed to wear a face shield in place of a mask if they have difficulty keeping a face mask on for prolonged periods of time.
Kampong Gelam
This chic neighbourhood was originally the epicenter of Muslim life in Singapore and is still a popular spot for local Muslims as it houses the gorgeous Masjid Sultan and dozens of halal eateries. Street names like Arab Street, Haji Lane, and Kandahar Street reflect the lingering influence of the Arabs who set up shop in this area - though nowadays you can find all kinds of chic clothing stores, accessory shops, and cafes! You might be familiar with the area but a lot has changed since your last visit so be sure to read on so you can plan for your next trip.
1. Visit and pray at Masjid Sultan
Masjid Sultan is probably the  most famous mosque in Singapore  and is an attraction in the neighbourhood that you can’t miss! Whether it’s your first or repeated visit to Masjid Sultan, you might learn something new about it. For your future visit to Masjid Sultan, be sure to give its beautiful golden onion-shaped domes and towering minarets a second look. Did you know that the base of the dome is made up of glass bottles donated by Muslims back in the day? Try to see if you can spot them! You might not have noticed it before but the next time you’re here, take a moment to admire the beautiful Islamic calligraphy and motifs which decorate the interior. Whenever the azan (call to prayer) is broadcasted, the neighbourhood seems to quieten to bask in the beautiful sound. Don’t you just miss that captivating moment? If you’re planning to pray at Masjid Sultan on your future trip, here are the essential steps you need to remember:
  1. For non-congregational prayers, worshippers will need to check into the mosque using the TraceTogether app only.
  2.  You are required to bring your own prayer mat and prayer garments in order to enter the mosque. Your face mask must also be worn throughout your prayers, although you can remove it to take wudhu (ablution). Do put it back on once you have finished taking ablution.
  3. Maintain at least a 1 metre distance from other worshippers while praying. Follow the markings on the floor of the prayer hall, and be mindful of the space around you at all times.
  4. We recommend bringing your own hand sanitizer for use after prayer.
Address: 3 Muscat Street, Singapore 198833
2. Have a budget-friendly Indian Muslim food feast
Located opposite the back of Masjid Sultan are 3 popular Indian Muslim eateries that are famous for one thing - murtabak! Zam Zam Restaurant, Victory Restaurant and Al-Tasneem each have their own loyal fans who swear that their respective favourite’s murtabak is the best. If you’ve tried the famous Zam Zam during your last trip, why not give Victory and Al-Tasneem a try during your next trip? But murtabak isn’t the only thing on the menu at these 3 eateries. Next time, savour other dishes like biryani, mee goreng, and roti prata too! You can get a full meal including a drink at any of these restaurants for less than $10, so it’s also a good way to stick to your budget while exploring the area.  Zam Zam Restaurant  Halal status: Muslim-owned Average price: SGD9 Opening hours: Open daily; 7AM-11PM Address: 697-699 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198675 Reservations: Call +65 62986320 Victory Restaurant Halal status: Muslim-owned Average price: SGD9 Opening hours: Open daily; 7AM - 11PM Address: 701 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198677 Reservations: Call +65 62986955 Al-Tasneem Halal status: Muslim-owned Average price: SGD9 Opening hours: Open daily; 8AM - 11PM Address: 709 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198681 Reservations: Call +65 62910709 #HHWT Tip: These 3 eateries are pretty popular throughout the day so do call ahead and make reservations! As eateries are operating under limited capacity during this period, we recommend making a reservation to ensure you get a seat. Halal status guide Muslim-owned: An establishment with a Muslim owner Halal-certified: An establishment with halal certification from MUIS
3. Feast on local and international fare
 Apart from the local Indian Muslim eateries, Kampong Gelam is home to all kinds of international halal cuisines. Many halal restaurants have also opened up in the past few months, so keep your eyes peeled as you walk around the area. And of course, make sure you keep your tummy empty! From Swedish to Italian to Chinese, you’re just around the corner from a yummy halal restaurant to dine at.  A popular cuisine that you won’t want to miss on your next trip is authentic nasi padang. Eateries including Hjh Maimunah, Rumah Makan Minang, and Warong Nasi Pariaman are located a stone’s throw away from each other so you can choose which one you’d like to dine at! These eateries have been around for decades and they serve some of the best beef rendang, sambal goreng, ayam balado and more. You’re probably already dreaming about eating them right now. If possible, call the eatery ahead of time to reserve a table. Groups of up to 8 may dine at the same table together but make sure to keep updated as this may change. If you’re seated at separate tables, do note that intermingling between tables is not allowed. Hjh Maimunah Halal status: Halal-certified Average price: SGD7 Opening hours: Mon-Sat; 7AM-8PM (Closed Sun) Address: 11 & 15 Jalan Pisang, Singapore 199078 Reservations: Call +65 62974294 Rumah Makan Minang Halal status: Muslim-owned Average price: SGD7 Opening hours: Mon-Fri; 8.30AM-7.30PM, Sat-Sun; 8.30AM-5PM Address: 18 & 18A Kandahar Street, Singapore 198884 Reservations: Call +65 69777064 Warong Nasi Pariaman Halal status: Muslim-owned  Average price: SGD7 Opening hours: Tues-Thurs; 7.30AM-3PM or until sold out (Closed Wed) Address: 736/738 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198704 Reservations: Call +65 62922374 If you’ve already tried the traditional cuisines, it’s time to give the international cuisines a go. You’ll still be spoilt for choice with the wide range of options. Feast on scrumptious handmade pasta at Tipo, or treat yourself to a hearty bowl of rich Hokkaido-style ramen at Ichikokudo. The Dim Sum Place serves up Cantonese-style dim sum that’s perfect for a midday snack or full meal, and of course indulge in a mouth-watering burger at Fat Papas. Tipo Halal status: Halal-certified Average price: SGD16 Opening hours: Open daily; 12PM - 10PM Address: 785 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198753 Reservations: Book online or call +65 87680785 Ichikokudo Halal status: Halal-certified Average price: SGD13 Opening hours: Sun-Thurs; 11AM-11PM, Fri-Sat; 11AM-12AM Address: 45 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199463 Reservations: Book online The Dim Sum Place Halal status: Halal-certified Average price: SGD11 Opening hours: Mon-Thurs; 11AM-3PM, 5.30PM-11PM, Fri & PH Eve; 11AM-3PM, 5.30PM-2AM, Sat; 11AM-2AM, Sun; 11AM-11PM Address: 791 North Bridge Road, Singapore 198759 Reservations: Book online or call +65 66558787 or Whatsapp +65 96667420 Fat Papas Halal status:  Halal-certified  Average price: SGD15 Opening hours: Mon-Thurs; 12PM-9.30PM, Fri-Sun; 11AM-9.30PM Address: 17 Bali Lane, Singapore 189853 Reservations: Call +65 62918028 or email [email protected] (Until 6pm daily) Halal status guide Muslim-owned: An establishment with a Muslim owner Halal-certified: An establishment with halal certification from MUIS
4. Shop for a whole new wardrobe and more at Haji Lane and Arab Street
One thing Haji Lane and Arab Street are known for are the hipster-style shophouses that sell everything from fashion-forward apparel to homemade jewellery and all kinds of uniquely Singaporean knick-knacks! For those of you who love shopping for unique items, a whole new shopping experience awaits you at both streets for your next trip. Don’t forget to head over to the neighbouring streets of North Bridge Road and Bussorah Street for more amazing shops! 
Nothing spells national pride more than seeing a Malaysian brand in Singapore! You’ll be pleasantly surprised to see the dUCk Store at Haji Lane. What’s more,  it is the only outlet in Singapore, so it’s definitely something that you’ve got to tell your friends back home. Whether it’s their signature graphic print scarves, home and living products, stationery, cosmetics, and more, it’s nice to see a piece of home in Singapore! Not to mention that they sell products that are exclusive to Singapore too.  If you’re already planning where to get souvenirs or apparel for your next trip, Craft Assembly is a store where you can pick up handmade knick-knacks and vintage clothing. This pop-up gathers the best of Singapore’s indie designers, selling everything from clay earrings to Singapore-themed washi tape! dUCk Store Opening hours: Open daily; 10AM-9PM Address: 71 Haji Lane, Singapore 189264 Craft Assembly Opening hours: 61 Haji Lane, Singapore 189254 Address: Mon-Fri; 12PM-8PM, Sat-Sun; 11.30AM-8.30PM
Planning to shop for more modest fashion to add to your wardrobe? Add Zaryluq to your list as it is the latest modest fashion boutique that you need to check out. Specialising in curated high fashion looks, they even have plus size options so there’s something for everyone! And don’t forget to stop by Hygge to pick up some cute stationery and lifestyle goods. This minimalist store is full of handmade trinkets and you can even personalise a gift to bring back home as a souvenir. Looks like there’s a lot of planning to be done for your next trip!  Hygge Opening hours: Mon-Sat; 12PM-6.30PM, Sun; 12PM-4.30PM Address: 37 Haji Lane, Singapore 189230 Zaryluq Opening hours: Mon-Thu; 11AM-8PM, Fri-Sun; 11AM-9PM Address:  731 North Bridge Road #02-01, Tialoc Centre, Singapore 198699 
If there’s one store you’ve always got to visit when you’re in Kampong Gelam, it has to be the iconic Wardah Books at Bussorah Street! This bookstore specialises in books about Sufism but you can find tomes on Islamic history and philosophy, modern critical theory, and Singapore literature. They even have a wide selection of children’s books about Islam! Wardah Books Opening hours: Sun-Fri; 10AM-6PM, Sat; 10AM-9PM Address: 58 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199474
5. Refuel with yummy coffee and pastries at a cafe
After shopping till you drop, pop by one of the cafes in the area to recharge with a cup of joe! Kampong Gelam has a wide selection of halal cafes and bakeries you can bookmark on your list for your next trip, including the popular Mother Dough Bakery . Located along North Bridge Road, this bakery cafe is most well-known for their croissants. Their Almond Croissant is definitely a must-try, but they also have Brownie slices, Peanut Butter & Jelly Bear Claws, and savoury options like Quiche! Order a cup of mocha to go with it, and you’ve got your midday tea settled. You might not be able to travel to Singapore yet but you know these mouth-watering options are waiting for you on your next trip!  P.S. Mother Dough is not open for dine-in and is currently takeaway-only. While you can stand outside the store to nibble on your goodies, do keep at least a 1 metre distance from other groups at all times and remember to put your mask back on once you’ve finished eating. Mother Dough Halal status: Muslim-owned Average price: SGD9 Opening hours: Wed-Sun; 11AM-5PM (Closed Mon, Tues) Address: 749 North Bridge Road #01-01, Singapore 198717 Preorders: Whatsapp +65 87257110 (Wed-Sun only) Halal status guide Muslim-owned: An establishment with a Muslim owner Halal-certified: An establishment with halal certification from MUIS
6. Snap IG-worthy photos with bright murals and street art in the neighbourhood
Are you already dreaming taking your #OOTD (outfit of the day) pictures for your future trip? Before you leave Kampong Gelam, make sure to snap Instagrammable shots at Gelam Gallery opposite Masjid Sultan! Located along the back alleys in front of the mosque, Singapore’s first permanent outdoor gallery showcases a variety of artworks by 30 local and international artists. As this stretch of street art just opened in 2019, you might have missed it during your last trip, so remember to add this to your itinerary!
 If you still haven’t had enough of street art from your previous trips, you can also find street art scattered around the neighbourhood. So, spend some time wandering around and looking for a piece that catches your eye. If you’re looking for something bright and quirky we recommend the mural located at Piedra Negra along the Beach Road side of Haji Lane! 
Little India
Besides the exciting spots in Kampong Gelam, Little India is another neighbourhood to save for your future trip! Continue your journey through Singapore’s rich and tapestried heritage at this vibrant spot! Indian traders and workers would originally settle in this neighbourhood and it’s still a popular destination for Indians in Singapore on all days of the week. Take a stroll amongst the historic shophouses and prepare yourself for an unforgettable experience!
7. Feast on Indian Muslim fare on a budget at Tekka Market
We recommend planning your day at Little India and arrive in the morning so you can grab breakfast at Tekka Market. The hawker stalls here are full of must-try Indian food and are sold at affordable prices too! Some of the most popular stalls are Allauddin’s Biryani, Prata Saga Sambal Berlada, Yakader, and The Royal Dum Biryani. Prices start from $2 for dishes like Roti Prata, but you can even get a generous serving of mouth-watering Biryani below $10. Your visit to Little India won’t be complete without feasting on these delicious dishes so make a list and bookmark these eateries! When eating at hawker centres during your future trip, do remember to keep at least a 1-metre distance from others especially when queuing for your food. Do note that the maximum number of people allowed at a table is 8.  Halal status: The stalls we mentioned above are Muslim-owned. Average price: SGD7 Opening hours: Typically open from 8AM onwards (Individual stalls may vary, but we recommend visiting in the morning as they may sell out by 10AM before lunchtime) Address: Buffalo Rd, Singapore 210665 Getting there: Travel to Little India MRT station and take Exit B. Tekka Market is next to the MRT station. Halal status guide Muslim-owned: An establishment with a Muslim owner Halal-certified: An establishment with halal certification from MUIS
8. Admire amazing street art and historic monuments
Never had the chance to explore the street art and historic buildings in Little India? Make it a point to visit them on your future trip! 
 For a pop of colour in your photos, the House of Tan Teng Niah is a good place to start! Built by businessman Tan Teng Niah in 1900, the House of Tan Teng Niah is the last surviving Chinese villa in Little India and still manages to stand out today amongst the shophouses for its brightly-coloured rainbow walls. Its architecture has a mix of Southeast Asian and European influences too - like the Malay-inspired roof fixtures, and contemporary Western-style long shutter windows. Be sure to plan your outfit to go along with the stunning backdrop!  Address: 37 Kerbau Road, Singapore 219168 Getting there: Take Exit E of Little India MRT station, and walk down Kerbau Road.
Another historic monument in the area that has withstood the test of time is Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temples and an important landmark for the local Hindu and Indian communities. For your next trip to Little India, don’t just stop at the street art and delectable treats but learn more about the local Indian and Hindu heritage too. Fun fact: The temple and its diety statues have survived through World War II! #HHWT Tip: Plan your day wisely for your next trip so you can observe the daily Pooja devotional sessions at 8AM, 12.15PM, 6.30PM (6PM on Fri and Sun) or 9.15PM.  P.S. The temple is open to visitors but do remember to check-in using both TraceTogether and SafeEntry when visiting. When inside the temple, maintain at least a 1 metre distance from other groups for safe distancing. Do note that you’ll have to dress modestly before entering the temple - your shoulders and knees need to be covered. Do avoid wearing any clothes that are too tight or too short. You’ll also need to remove your footwear outside the temple.  Opening hours: Open daily; 5.30AM-12.15PM, 4PM-9.15PM Address: 141 Serangoon Rd, Singapore 218042 Getting there: Travel to Little India MRT station and take Exit D to Race Course Road. Walk down Race Course Road until you reach Kerbau Road. Turn right onto Kerbau Road and Chander Road, and keep walking until you see Belilios Road on the right. The temple is located at the junction of Serangoon Road and Belilios Road.
9. Shop at Mustafa Centre - Singapore’s only 24-hour shopping complex
 Who doesn’t love shopping while on vacation? If you’ve missed shopping at Mustafa Centre before, then make sure you end your future trip with a visit to Little India’s most famous shopping complex! This budget-friendly mall is Singapore’s only 24-hour shopping centre making it a reliable place where you can get essentials, clothing, and even souvenirs no matter the time. 
If you’ve bought their Singapore-themed souvenirs previously, now’s the time to purchase some Singapore-themed tea and a variety of popular gifts like Reese’s chocolates, halal fragrances and more. It will be the perfect treat for your friends and family back home! Time to keep a list of everything you want to buy at Mustafa Centre for your next trip! Opening hours: Open 24 hours daily Address: 145 Syed Alwi Road, Singapore 207704 Getting there: Travel to Farrer Park MRT station and take Exit A to Rangoon Road. Turn right onto Serangoon Road, then turn right again and walk down Serangoon Road. Syed Alwi Road will be on your right.  You might not be able to travel yet but you can definitely dream about your next trip to Singapore. With this handy guide of Kampong Gelam and Little India, you’ll be able to plan ahead and try out new experiences or savour amazing halal food. Get ready to explore and rediscover a whole new side of Singapore at these iconic and historic neighbourhoods when the borders re-open!  This article is brought to you by the Singapore Tourism Board.