Arab Street and Haji Lane - Singapore

Arab Street is NOT a street, but a neighborhood in Singapore. It is located in Kampong Glam, Singapore downtown. This place offers a very different ambiance from the rest of the country, as it has retained most of its Muslim traditions and heritage.
Arab Street - Not a street, but a neighborhood comprising at least a dozen streets
Haji Lane is yet another popular street, located INSIDE the Arab Street neighborhood. Recently, it has gained a lot of tourist attraction for its "Sheesha Bars" aka "Hookah Cafes". Visiting Arab Street and Haji Lane is one of the top 10 things to do in Singapore.

You can watch the video below, or read on!

 What to do when you get to Arab street? You can learn at the heritage center, smoke Sheesha (Hookah), shop for authentic Arab accessories, pick your favorite middle-eastern or modern cuisine, drink on the street bars and the list goes on! Let us look at some highlights.
The Dome of Sultan Mosque, painted with golden color 
Masjid Sultan: Masjid Sultan which means Sultan Mosque in Malay, is a very popular place of worship.  Sometimes they don't allow tourists inside, so keep your fingers crossed. Even if you can't go inside, it is great to watch the golden dome  and the Mosque's exterior from outside . While the Mosque we see has been in place since 1928, it is only a replacement for the original Mosque that was constructed in 1824. The original was built by Sultan of Johor, who formally ruled Singapore.
An old carriage in Malay Heritage Center
Malay Heritage Center: This is a museum that showcases the history and culture of Malay Singaporeans and is located right next to the Mosque. It used to be the palace of Sultan of Singapore and is about 2 acres wide. If you are a history buff, you will be amazed at the Malay heritage shown here.  Tickets cost $4 for an adult and $3 for kids. Outside this building is a traditional two-masted sailing ship called "Perahu Bugis". Inside the heritage center, you can see plenty of artifacts, exhibits, pictures and video displays.
Hookah, popularly known as Sheesha in Singapore is the highlight of Haji Lane
Sheesha Bars aka Hookah Cafes: Haji Lane is the place for Sheesha bars. The street has at least a dozen places equipped with hookah instruments. The price ranges from 15 to 20 Singapore dollars. You will be charged for a big block of tobacco and they don't care how many friends you share it with. If you are a clean freak, you can buy your own mouth piece (2 dollars), so won't taste other's saliva. Shisha tobacco comes in different flavors like strawberry, apple, chocolate, vanilla and a combination of fruits.  Don't forget to take your ID, as you have to be over 18 to smoke here.
Mannequins in Arab Street are adorned with traditional hijabs
Shopping: Arab Street will provide a unique shopping experience, even if you are a Singaporean. Some of the shops here are a century old and are run by traditional Muslim families. The reason for such long lasting shops is because they are actually "shophouses". A Shophouse is a building where the ground floor is used for mercantile activity and the residence is at the floor above. You can get Hijabs, Arabic books, incense sticks, knickknacks and traditional footwear.

Oil Based Perfumes: Oil based perfumes are very important in Malay culture. Islam prohibits alcohol, therefore Muslims do not use modern day perfume. These traditional perfumes are made from flowers, leaves, fruits and herbs. Their fragrance lasts longer because it does not contain alcohol and does not evaporate. Perfume was an ancient invention which began in Egypt, but Arabs played a key role in improving the field. You can find plenty of oil based perfumes in Arab street at a bargain price.
Traditional Muslims use oil based perfumes, as modern day perfumes contain alcohol 
Restaurants: There are many different varieties of middle eastern and modern restaurants available here. The traditional Arab food can be tasted at the Egyptian, Turkish and Iranian restaurants. There are also a lot of modern restaurants like ZamZam (Singaporean), Bumbu (Indonesian-Thai), Livingreens (Vegan) and Yamagawa (Japanese). If you are a tourist, it is a great idea to try some of the local Singaporean cuisine.
Which one are you going to try? Singapore Sling or Tiger Beer?
Bars On the Street: There are plenty of bars which have seating areas outside. This is true practically everywhere in the Arab Street neighborhood. You can sit outside with a beer, smoke and order food and snacks while enjoying the ambiance. While you are in Singapore, try the "Singapore Sling" a mixture of dry gin, lemon juice and cherry brandy. Also, don't forget to taste Singapore's locally brewed "Tiger Beer".

Before visiting Arab Street, please take a look at Little India and Chinatown as well. These three neighborhoods provide an extraordinary vision into the history and heritage of Singapore.


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