Experience History at Kampong Glam

Kampong Glam is Singapore’s oldest urban quarter and bears a history that can be traced to Singapore’s early days. Its name can be traced to its Malay roots, with kampong translating to “village” and “gelam” referring to the Paperback tree – a tree that was used locally for making boats, medicine and as flavouring in dishes.

Past and present-day Kampong Glam

Prior to our Singapore’s colonisation by the British in 1819, Kampong Glam was home to the Malay aristocracy of Singapore, which explains its Malay heritage. In the 1820s, Sir Stamford Raffles designated Kampong Glam for use by the Muslim community after he signed a treaty ceding Singapore to the East India Company.

Today, the district retains its rich heritage and is one of Singapore’s most recognisable areas. There’s lots to see and do in Kampong Glam – so whether you’re looking to savour a taste of history, or spend an enjoyable afternoon with your kids, there’s definitely enough here for a fulfilling time.

1. Marvel at the Masjid Sultan (Sultan Mosque)

Kampong Glam is where you’ll find our nation’s largest mosque, the Masjid Sultan (also known as Sultan Mosque). The mosque was built in 1824 for the first sultan of Singapore, Sultan Hussein Shah. Since then, it has been restored and even rebuilt in 1932. When visiting Kampong Glam, you can learn more about this fascinating locale (and its surrounding area) through a series of visual boards and art pieces that are located around the mosque.

Location: 3 Muscat Street

Visiting Hours: Saturday to Thursday (10am to 12pm, 2pm to 4pm); Friday (2.30pm to 4pm)

2. Tickle your artistic senses by checking out street art

Artists will absolutely love Kampong Glam for its amazing collection of colourful and creative street art. Along these walls, you’ll find artwork that’s a mix of realism and inspired fantasy. Everything from paintings of that showcase Singapore’s good ol’ days – like the famous Satay Club – to illustrations that are a mixture of pop culture, movies, graffiti and other eye-catching works of art. If you like surprises, you’ll have a lot of fun peeking around every corner as you explore the sights and sounds of Kampong Glam – there are some incredible works of art scattered around the area. Or you can visit these streets to check out some of our favourite spots for admiring art.

Locations: Aliwal Street, Arab Street, Baghdad Street, Beach Road, Bussorah Street, Haji Lane, Muscat Street, Sultan Arts Village, Sultan Gate, Victoria Street

3. Visit the Malay Heritage Centre

Ever wanted to step into a palace? Now, you (sort of) can. The Malay Heritage Centre can be found inside Istana Kampong Glam, which was the palace of a former sultan. The 2-storey centre features ten galleries that tell stories about Singapore Malays during the years of our country’s growth and rise towards becoming a first-world nation. In addition to seeing these stories in print, you’ll also be treated to multimedia presentations that highlight how Malays have played an important role in Singapore becoming a successful multi-cultural and multi-religious community.

Location: 85 Sultan Gate

Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday (10am to 6pm). Closed on Mondays

4. Shop for fabrics

Did you know that fabrics are one of the oldest traded goods in Singapore? If you’re looking for fine fabrics at good prices, Arab Street should be your destination-of-choice. Lining the street are stores that specialise in traditional Asian fabrics such as silk, linen and cotton – available in a vast array of colours, quality and quantities. The uniquely Middle Eastern and South Asian-inspired designs are intricately beautiful and will surely captivate discerning buyers, artists and craftspeople.

Location: Arab Street

Opening Hours: Dependent on each individual store

5. Check out My First Skool at Jalan Sultan 

Kampong Glam is also home to a My First Skool centre, an innovative early education provider in Singapore. Taking cues from its rich surroundings, My First Skool empowers children to explore an interesting facet of Malay culture through batik painting.

Highlights and learnings from these lessons include:

  • Discovering how batik designs are used to create traditional sarongs
  • Exploring the different ways a sarong can be worn
  • Learning about the various motifs used in batik designs
  • Experiment with these elements to create artwork (for example, by mixing colours, outlining shapes, and tracing a batik cloth’s designs)

Children discover the intricacies of batik by outlining batik designs using markers and transparent plastic sheets.

By tracing the designs, children are able to identify individual elements in batik – flowers, curved lines, birds and butterflies.

One of the most prominent features of batik is its use of colourful dyes. These fabric paints are very different from regular acrylic paints, as they have a watery texture and can form an eye-catching mix of colours. Through painting on fabrics, children learn about painting on different materials and textures - while discovering new painting techniques.

Location: My First Skool @ 19 Jalan Sultan Road

Principal:  My First Skool @ 19 Jalan Sultan Road is headed by Principal Shanti Muthukrishnan. You can read her profile here.

Other MFS locations: Find us in other parts of Singapore by visiting https://www.myfirstskool.com/locations.