Arab Street, also known as Kampong Glam, forms the heart of Singapore's Muslim community. In particular, this was where Arab traders came in the early days of the colony. These days, you're just as likely to see tourists here. As one of them, enjoy delicious Arabic cuisine, sensuous perfumes and enchanting Middle Eastern architecture.
Sir Stamford Raffles designated Arab Street in Singapore's Town Plan of 1822. Today, it is still inhabited by many from that region, but also possesses an international vibe. If possible, visit Arab Street during the day – this is when the district throngs with merchants and visitors. Even if you're not planning to buy anything, it's well worth window shopping for countless carpets, perfumes and foodstuffs. If you do find something you want, don't be afraid to barter – it's all part of the fun.
Arab Street's defining landmark is the Sultan Mosque, or Masjid Sultan. It's hard to miss, owing to its grand golden dome. Built in the 19th century, the mosque has changed little since, and is in constant use by the community. It makes a superb photo opportunity, especially aglow in the mid-morning sun. Istana Kampong Glam, the former Malay palace, should also be on your itinerary.
Arab Street is packed with high-quality eateries, making it one of Singapore's finest foodie districts. The choice is wide and varied, and in no way limited to Middle Eastern. Choose from Moroccan tagines, Chinese noodles, Lebanese mezze, Japanese sushi and much more.
While in the Arab Street district, also make sure that you visit some of the surrounding streets, including Bussorah Street, Muscat Street and Baghdad Street.
The Arab Street district is close to the downtown centre of Singapore. If your accommodation is in this area, it's easy to get here by foot. If using public transport, take the East-West MRT line.