Singapore is a hodgepodge of culture—a melting pot of Chinese, Malays, Indians, Arabs and Brits. To experience authentic Singapore, it’s a must to cover different bases of these ethnicities like the Chinatown, Arab Street, and Bugis (getting bumped from our original flight schedule made us skip the last one).
Before the cultural walking tour, we made a side trip to Orchard Road first. We usually turn to night markets and bazaars for cheap finds but we would also like to give upscale shopping a chance once in a while hence, Orchard Road. The whole avenue is lined with malls, restaurants, hotels, and mid- to high-end shops (Gucci, LV, Hermes, you name it!). There’s actually not much to do here except obviously, shopping.
We decided to grab lunch at ION Orchard where there’s a food hall there that serves a wide variety of regional cuisines such as Indian, Singaporean, Persian, Japanese, etc. Overall, we spent a little over 2 hours exploring Orchard road, lunch counted. And can I just mention that in ION, there’s a store called Nippon-Ya–a Japanese snack haven that made me flip out the moment I saw it! I got 2 boxes of daifuku (chocolate filled mochi) for Mccoy’s sister and mine. A bit pricey, but absolutely delish! I knew they’d love it!
From Orchard Road, we took the MRT to ChiTown. We got there in less than 30 minutes, with only one transfer—super convenient. We decided that we include this in our tour not for anything else but for Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore’s oldest Hindu Temple and Buddha Tooth Relic Museum, a Buddhist temple and museum complex in one.
There was a festivity when we visited Sri Mariamman so we weren’t able to come close to the temple.
Buddha Tooth Relic Museum is free for all—no admission fees, though clothing restrictions strictly apply. It’s a temple, not a mall or a park so no shorts, mini skirts or other revealing outfit, also no slippers or flip flops. Photography is permitted but not in the hall where the tooth relic is.
Next stops are Haji Lane and Kampong Glam.
Aside from great fashion finds and artsy stuff from a number of shophouses and cafes owned by aspiring local designers, artists, and entrepreneurs, Haji Lane also has an impressive façade that is worth stopping by at looking at.
We particularly liked Kampong Glam because it’s just so beautiful and relaxing, especially in early evening when it’s not yet too crowded because people have just started dining in. Restaurants sit on both sides of the street decked with awnings and tables for customers. Palm trees and shrubs are lined neatly, from end to end of the street, beautifully framing Masjid Sultan. The colorful backdrop, chitchatting diners and great food all added to up to the unparalleled dining experience we had here in Singapore. To us, no five-star or fine dining resto in SG will ever beat that.