A Cosmopolitan Evening at Kampong Glam | Home Tourist Photo Essay 16

Kampong Glam, Singapore
A Cosmopolitanan Evening at Kampong Glam

Singapore’s Kampong Glam is nowadays not just Malay heritage, or hipster bars and shops, it’s also a slice of West Asia in Singapore.

In the early 2000s, I made a quick visit to Haji Lane while on the hunt for affordable new office space.

I wasn’t impressed by what I saw, to be honest. While the unit itself was decent, my staff and I were appalled by how narrow the alley was. “How are clients going to drive into here?” My assistant cried. “The whole road feels so boxed in!” To which I heatedly agreed.

A few years later, right after I picked up photography, I spent a Saturday afternoon exploring the entire Kampong Glam Conservation Area. I did manage to take some good (practice) shots at Arab Street and the Malay Heritage Centre. but overall, I thought the area was rather sedated and dull.

Well, that was the previous me, with no eye whatsoever for the unusual and the different. The restoration works in recent years also mean I ought to have “revisited” Kampong Glam a long time ago.

I seriously should have. Because while the area retains its traditional character, so much more has been added. Right before the majestic Sultan Mosque, it felt almost as if a slice of Mediterranean Turkey has been installed in Singapore.

Haji Lane

For quite a while now, the alley that previously appalled me has been celebrated by travel bloggers worldwide as one of the new “must-visit” destinations of Singapore. In some cases, ranked even higher than Gardens by the Bay and MBS.

It’s seriously different now. While Haji Lane is still unusually narrow, the colourful lifestyle establishments flanking it give the entire stretch fresh character. Needless to say, the famed murals nearer to the Beach Road entrance are vivid splashes of cosmopolitan identity too.

Haji Lane Mural
The awesome Aztec mural right before the Beach Road entrance. (Beside Piedra Negra) This has been showcased thousands of times on Instagram.
Haji Lane Aztec Art
More magnificent Aztec art by Colombian artist JabaOne within Haji Lane itself. Piedra Negra really embellished the alley with new character using these vivid paintings. (As well as spoke to the mythology and Civilization fan in me)
Haji Lane Bars.
Haji Lane itself. Much better informed about such things nowadays, I appreciate how the dense architecture provides for awesome, high focal length shots.
Haji Lane Shophouses
Vibrantly decorated shophouses and shopfronts throughout. But note the bottom-right. The traditional is not entirely gone.

After snapping over 20 shots, I decided to have a quick, sweet break.

Shalaby Sweets, Singapore
Two Middle Eastern pastries bought Shalaby Sweets. These were a little pricey and possibly too sweet for some folks, but I still enjoyed the rich nutty taste of both. They went well with the tea I bought elsewhere too.

Moving on to Arab Street and Bussorah Street, the Heart of Kampong Glam

The cosmopolitan feel fades away the moment I entered Arab Street. Replaced by a distinctively Middle Eastern, or should I say West Asian character.


I didn’t know so many Lebanese and Turkish restaurants have opened in Kampong Glam, with so many of them intricately decorated with blue tiles and all too. While standing before Sultan Mosque, I had a strong Western Mediterranean moment.

Arab Street Shophouses
Beautifully restored Singaporean shophouses at the Beach Road end of Arab Street.
Mesmerising Arabic lamps on sale.
Kampong Glam Conservation Area
The pedestrian-only walkway leading to Sultan Mosque. Some storm clouds were rolling in while I shot this. Fortunately, they went away without any rain.
Kampong Glam Turkish Products
Turkish collectibles on sale. All for five Singaporean dollars only!
Islamic-themed decorations are available too, naturally.
Kampong Glam Shops
The entire area feels even more exotic after lights are switched on.

Lebanese Dinner at Nasrin

Setting aside photo-taking for the moment, and after much indecision because there were so many choices, I opted to have dinner at Nasrin Restaurant.

This restaurant is a sheer delight to relax at. Service was prompt and friendly. The tiled alcoves facing Baghdad Street are spectacular too.

And the Lamb Kofta that I ordered! I was still stuffed from the sweet pastries I had earlier. But one sniff of the meaty aroma and I was instantly hungry again.

Nasrin Restaurant at Baghdad Street, Singapore
Pretty, isn’t it? It feels Turkish, but the choice of wall colours and motifs also reflects a Southeast Asian touch.
Nasrin Restaurant Lamb Kofta
Lebanese-style Lamb Kofta. The mutton was a mild blend of many flavours, really wonderful to indulge in. The tangy side dishes were a refreshing contrast too.

Sunset at Sultan Mosque

Sunset was near after I finished dinner. Whipping out my camera, I hastened back to Sultan Mosque for some blue hour shots.

Sultan Mosque,Singapore
Singapore’s most majestic mosque is truly a photographic joy, ain’t it?
Sultan Mosque Evening Shot
Sultan Mosque is equally atmospheric when paired with nearby skyscrapers.
Kampong Glam Evening
Fairy lights add an enchanting romanticism to the modernized, pedestrian-only walkway before Sultan Mosque.
Singapore Visitor Centre, Kampong Glam
The gorgeous, restored façade of the Singapore Visitor Centre, Kampong Glam Branch. I love this shade of blue!
I missed this earlier. There’s a Whole New World awaiting you in one of these lamps!
Sanobar Singapore, Baghdad Street
Lastly, the attractive façade of Sanobar and the famous Sushi Airways, the latter featured on so many SG food blogs. This is one of the most visually striking buildings in the whole conserved area.

Back to Haji Lane

Haji Lane Pubs
Happy hour while surrounded by vibrant art.
Haji Lane Evening
Don’t you agree that a stroll down this colourful alley, after a long day of work, is a most therapeutic way to rejuvenate with?

Read my other Home Tourist photo essays.

A Cosmopolitan Evening at Kampong Glam | Home Tourist Photo Essay 16
Article Name
A Cosmopolitan Evening at Kampong Glam | Home Tourist Photo Essay 16
More than 10 years since my last visit, I was astonished by how much the Kampong Glam Conservation Area has changed.

Thanks for commenting!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.