Kampong Glam is a vibrant neighbourhood that overflows with rich culture, fantastic food and exquisite art, which present themselves in a multitude of forms. The area which spans from Ophir Road, Victoria Street, Jalan Sultan to Beach Road, brims with excitement and life, coming a long way from its origins as a fishing village. It was once home to many Malay aristocratic families and the former Sultan’s palace, Istana Kampung Gelam, also resides in the area. Find yourself mesmerised at every turn as you breathe in the aroma of delicacies and snap pictures of the colourful aesthetics of Kampong Glam.
Haji Lane sits prettily at the corner of Kampong Glam and plays host to rows of shop houses which have been conserved from the past. These shop houses still proudly mirror what the area used to be like before the modernisation of Singapore. The unique architecture of the area showcases the seamless fusion of Singapore’s old and new. Haji Lane boasts loud and quirky street art by local and international names such as Didier Jaba Mathieu, Oak and other artists who inject the 200-metre stretch with flavour and colour. The murals were once almost removed by Singapore’s Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) for the artworks’ non-adherence to the pastel-coloured theme of the shop houses. Thankfully, the URA reconsidered their decision following an online petition by a group of Singaporean youths.
A haven for foodies, Kampong Glam is lined with food from all cuisines, ranging from Lebanese to Swedish food. The area is famous for its Nasi Padang, an Indonesian dish that comes with meats, vegetables, spicy sambals accompanied by plain white rice. Tucked further down Beach Road lies a cosy Vietnamese restaurant, Mrs Pho. This restaurant is extremely popular with tourists and locals alike, where it serves up delectable rice noodles and authentic Vietnamese drip coffee. You’ll get more bang for your buck when dining at Mrs Pho.
A new addition to Kampong Glam is DUO, a new development in Ophir-Rochor, which will also bring new artworks into the area. DUO is part of a historic collaboration between both the Singapore and Malaysia governments, and the artworks installed at DUO are designed by both Malaysian and Singaporean artists. These five artists from both countries came together to produce a series of five works, titled “Poetics of Convergence”, which represent the close bilateral ties between Singapore and Malaysia. The artworks also highlight the fusion of heritage and modernity in Kampong Glam. Three of these art installations have been featured during Singapore Art Week 2017. These artworks are located at the outdoor areas of DUO and are accessible to public.
Another prominent arts space in Kampong Glam is none other than Aliwal Arts Centre, a multidisciplinary arts centre which supports the development of traditional and contemporary art groups in Singapore. Aliwal Arts Centre is fittingly situated in Kampong Glam, the hub of all things art. The centre organises various events for the public, such as the annual Art Crawl, which brings a multitude of performances such as storytelling and music acts to the public for free. The performances aim to not only promote the artists that the centre grooms, but also to pay tribute to the cultural heritage of Kampong Glam.
A trip down Kampong Glam will immerse you in the history of Singapore and the energy of this artistic and cultural district.