Following its founding in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles, Singapore soon became a magnet for traders, migrant settlers and laborers from the Far East, attracted by the promise of better opportunities. Each community brought with them their unique colorful cultures, customs, lifestyles and traditions – creating the birth of present-day multi-cultural Singapore, which has come to inherit the rich cultural heritage and traditions of its forefathers. Singapore is ripe for exploring on foot, its hidden alleys and side streets harbor many ethnic enclaves, bursting with color and history.
Walking through Kampong Glam guests can admire the quiet majesty of the Sultan’s Mosque with its unmistakable golden dome, explore colorful street-side restaurants, and browse through old-fashioned shops selling batiks, carpets, rattan basket-ware and exotic perfumes. Kampong Glam is a pleasant assault on the senses that intrigues with every turn.
Traveling into the heart of Chinatown, we then experience the contrasting old and the new, tradition meets modernity in the rows of streets and shophouses, each lovingly restored into tempting eateries, teahouses and shops selling Oriental arts as traditional Chinese medicinal herbs. A stop at Thian Hock Keng Temple (one of Singapore’s oldest Chinese temples) or the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple provides insight into colorful temple architecture and traditional Chinese prayer customs.
Little India completes the cultural kaleidoscope with its bustling streets showcasing aromatic and exotic spices, colorful flower-garland shops, vegetable vendors, snack shops and busy curry houses. Beautiful sarees and Punjabi outfits can also be found in all their glory here. Each of these ethnic heritage districts are home to a well-curated heritage center that delves into the history and cultural elements of their respective ethnic groups.