With a whole day to myself and not feeling like spending a small fortune down on Orchard Rd or Raffles Place (and it was Saturday, Orchard Rd on a Saturday is crazy busy!) I opted for something more on the cultural side by visiting Little India, Little Arab Town and Chinatown. All have their own MRT stations so no reason not to visit all the little towns! Unless you had too much of a big night at club Zouk, which is exactly what happened to me last time…
Little India was a short 2 block walk from my hotel in Dhoby Ghaut, so to see the sights and also get breakfast I skipped using the train since I would probably get in trouble if I ate on the train.
As you approach and get further into Little India there is definitely a unique smell in the air of spices.
At the heart of Little India is the main “attraction” Little India Arcade with an Indian Heritage centre next to it. Unfortunately, I came here a tad too early and the Heritage Centre wasn’t open yet, too eager of a tourist. Additionally, there is the large Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (What a mouthful)
The whole area is very colourful and vibrant with its street art and multi-coloured buildings
If you a fan of Indian food and want to hit up some Briyani this is the place to do it at good prices (probably the best prices you will find).
As much of the flea shops are the same (just in a different colour) and markets selling the same fresh produce unless you are eating you don’t have to spend more than 1-2 hours here. Even 2 hours would be pushing it unless you are from Masterchef and really love looking at fresh produce.
A train ride to Little Arab Town from Little India is only about 10-15min. Whilst Little Arab Town doesn’t have its own named station you are after the Bugis MRT station and then it’s a ~2 block walk. Once you arrive you will straight away notice the massive mosque.
The area around the mosque is dotted with various restaurants of middle eastern cuisines. Apart from the mosque the area is rather small, hence, its other name Arab Street would be more fitting as it’s much smaller than Little India and Chinatown.
Good for a wander, lots of trendy hipster cafes and shops (I found a cat café for all you feline lovers out there) and especially if fabrics and Persian rugs are your thing but since I don’t really take an active interest in…rugs I ducked into the mosque for my first time ever going inside one. Entry is free but you will need to leave your shoes outside, clothing is provided if they need you to cover up a bit more.
And back to the MRT for a train to Chinatown! The MRT in Singapore is seriously an impressive piece of engineering. The convenience it offers is just amazing.
The exit of the MRT is smack bang in Chinatown. This is the largest of the towns and busiest, with long streets of market stalls, shops, restaurant, an indoor market building and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
Whilst cheaper than retail stalls, it’s still Singapore and the markets I found the items can be had cheaper on eBay or at K-Mart but look hard enough you can find some odd unique trinkets that are hard to come by anywhere else. Shout out to the Tin Tin shop here, I was a massive fan as a child and if you were into the comics and cartoons a visit to this shop is a must.
Just when you thought you had seen all the markets in the streets, there is a multi-level complex filled with even more market stalls, however, its more or less more the same, “Same same but diff.” If you are short on time you can give this a miss, you also have to pay to use the toilet as well inside this complex.
The temple here is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple which also doubles as a museum. Definitely worth a look, with locals doing temple things on the ground floor, meditation areas in the upper levels, a museum and a rooftop garden it’s actually quite a lot to see.
If you are hungry here there is a street dedicated to street feed with plenty of seating available in the street with prices you will find cheaper than Melbourne for the same food. Not bad for one of the most expensive cities in the world!
See what I did next here!
Price: It depends on what you buy, but otherwise, it’s just free sightseeing
Getting there: Train
- Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is open 5:30am – 9:30pm daily.
- Sultan Mosque is open Friday 2:30pm-4pm and every day at 10am-12pm and again at 2pm-4pm.
- Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is open 7am-7pm daily.