Photo by SDI Productions from Getty Images Singapore
1. Kampung Gelam
If you have searched up places to visit in Singapore, popular places such as Haji Lane and Arab Street have definitely popped up before. Both of these places are situated in the Kampung Gelam area.
This spot is a renowned hub for colourful fabrics, textiles, hand-knotted Persian rugs, aromatic Arab teas, rich culture, food and entertainment. Even though, the street is often referred to as Singapore’s Muslim Quarter, many people of all walks of life and ethnicities gather here to experience its special attractions. Once you step into Arab Street, you will realise that this place is full of surprises that will make you go “WOW”! This place retains its identity through its street art and wall graffiti, dotted along the whole area for you to discover. The Masjid Sultan Mosque is located at the heart of Kampong Gelam, with a history of 200 years. It is a great place to learn more about the Muslim-Malay community. Take some time to admire the architecture and rich history of the mosque too.
Starving after a long day of shopping and exploring? This is a sign for you to drop by All Things Delicious’s flagship store located along Arab Street! This bustling cafe serves a wide variety of freshly-baked cakes, brownies, cookies, scones, and wholesome foods. There’s definitely something for everyone!
Photo by Prasongarsa from Getty Images (Masjid Sultan Mosque)
A funky lane known for its stunning murals, eclectic clothing shops and hidden “hole-in-the-wall” cafes. This well-known road is situated in the Kampong Gelam area. Do you know where Haji Lane got its name from? Back in the 1800s till the 1960s, Haji Lane was where Muslim pilgrims from the region (eg: Rhiau Islands in Indonesia) would stopover and lodge before their long sea journey to Mecca. Singapore brokers and merchants would provide lodging as well as Hajj paraphernalia for pilgrims to bring on their voyage. While the pilgrims have long gone, the shophouses and buildings remain. As you discover Haji Lane, which has become a bustling, hipster enclave, try to imagine a very different hum it had from way back then. In 2021, Time Out named Haji Lane as one of the world’s top ten coolest streets in the world1.
Photo by FilippoBacci from Getty Images Singapore (Haji Lane)
2. Pulau Ubin
Thinking of travelling overseas with your family but the National Day holiday is too short? Satisfy this craving by heading over to Pulau Ubin also formerly known as Pulau Batu Jubin. This is a haven for nature lovers as they get to explore a tranquil and peaceful side of Singapore. There’s so much this boomerang shaped island has to offer such as the abundance of wildlife species and lush greenery. Going on a trip to Pulau Ubin is like travelling back in time as one of the remaining kampung villages can still be found there.
Chek Jawa Wetlands is one of the main attractions on this island that you shouldn’t miss out on. This place is home to the rich ecosystem. There are so many more activities that you and your family can engage in such as bird-watching, cycling, hiking or even camping. If you have ever wondered what life in Singapore was like in the past, speak to the locals staying there to understand more about the history. Climb up to one of the highest peaks on Pulau Ubin, Pukka Hill to get a bird’s eye view of the whole place.
Photo by DorSteffen from Getty Images (Pukka Hill)
3. National Museum of Singapore
The National Museum of Singapore is one of the oldest architectural landmarks in the country as its history stretches back to 1849 when it was first established. This is the perfect place to learn about Singapore’s past. The museum showcases 700 years of Singapore’s history and culture through its incredible galleries. Its vast collection consists of more than 1700 artefacts. The architectural structure of this building is remarkable, especially the Rotunda Dome and it incorporates neo-classical features with modern style patterns of glass and metal. A myriad of restaurants and souvenir gift shops can be found within the museum so you can easily plan a whole day here.
The museum organises a wide range of programmes and events throughout the year which consist of performances, tours, films screenings, family oriented activities and many of them are FREE! To commemorate Singapore’s 57th birthday, the museum is offering free admission (for Singapore Citizens and permanent residents) from 6 to 9 August. Catch the National Day light up where the museum’s facade will come to life from 15 July to 10 August from 7.30pm to 12 midnight daily at the Museum Front Lawn.
Photo by Audrey Khrobostov (National Museum of Singapore)
Photo by Audrey Khrobostov (Rotunda Dome of National Museum of Singapore)
4. Little India in Serangoon
Little India is a gem-of-a-place to visit to gain a deeper understanding of the Indian population in Singapore. Together with Kampung Gelam and Chinatown, this cultural precinct is also one of the most visited places by tourists and for good reason! Back in the mid 1800s, the cattle trading industry in Little India started to blossom due to its proximity to the Serangoon River. The cattle industry attracted more Indian migrants such as herdsmen from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other Indian settlers soon brought their cattle-related trade and began their lives in Singapore’s Serangoon. Quite a number of road names in Little India today, like Buffalo Road and Kerbau Road (kerbau is Malay for “buffalo”), reflect the area’s history. By the end of the 19th century, other Indian immigrants arrived in the district. As the Indian community continued to grow, the demand for goods and services that cater to their specific needs rose, including places of worship. In 1855, the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple was established. By the 20th century, the cattle industry had begun to die out. Despite its developments, Little India has manage to retain its authenticity and its unique heritage.
Peppered with brightly painted shop houses selling everything from intricate gold jewellery, colourful saris to fresh produce, spices and incense. There are also money lenders, electronics stores and countless restaurants representing the many different cuisines of the Indian subcontinent (think Punjabi, Malayali, Chettinad, Tamil, etc).
You might also want to consider visiting Tekka Market. This is where you will be able to witness the colourful and energetic wet market scene. It is a great place to get fresh cuts of meat, seafood, vegetables, herbs and specific ingredients that are needed to whip up an Indian feast and more.
Lastly, get lost exploring the fascinating Mustafa department store. This historical store, being the massive “anchor tenant” on Syed Alwi Road, sells around 300,000 items, all reasonably-priced, ranging from the most bizarre (read: I didn’t know I needed that but now I do) to the most basic essentials, all spread out across a massive 400,000 sq ft.
Photo by 7ing from Getty Images Pro (Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple)
5. Fort Canning Park
Did you know that several historical milestones of Singapore took place in this iconic and beautiful park? The British made the decision to surrender Singapore to the Japanese on this very hill/park.
Fort Canning Park is the combination of 9 historical gardens and is an ideal spot to get familiarised with the history of Singapore. It is slightly hilly (but I wouldn’t call it a hike, more of a trail really), so wear suitable shoes and prepare to sweat it out in humid Singapore. Going to its landmarks such as the Battle Box, Raffles House, James Brooke Napier Memorial, Sally Port, Keramat Iskandar Shah and Sang Nila Utama Garden will definitely give you insights of Singapore’s past. This place has now become a hot spot for recreational activities and cultural art events. Nature enthusiasts will marvel at the rich flora and fauna there. Even if you are just looking to spend time alone for a walk or enjoy a picnic with your family and friends, the park will be able to cater to your needs as well. Before you leave, remember to snap some killer IG shots at the Fort Gate and spiral staircase!
Photo by EOSdude from Getty Images (Gothic Gates, Fort Canning Green)
Photo by Tawatchaiprakobkit from Getty Images (spiral staircase)
We hope this list of places to visit has given you the urge to explore Singapore. So which places are you thinking of visiting? Looking for more fun activities to do during National Day? Check out 6 Fun Things to Do This National Day 2022. Don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram and Facebook for fun updates and moments!