If you’re seeking a respite from the extreme cleanliness and modernity of Singapore during a visit to the city-state, the so-called Arab Quarter (originally home to Singapore’s Malay royalty in the 1800s) can be just what the doctor ordered.
Also known as Kampong Glam, the Arab Quarter is one of the few neighborhoods in Singapore that features buildings and structures that are crumbling (admittedly, in a sort of majestic way). The only really imposing bit of architecture is the shining golden dome of the Sultan Mosque, which has been servicing the resident Muslim community since the late 1920s.
One excellent way to explore the area is via one of the many guided walking tours on offer. Whether you choose a group tour or a private one, you’re likely to get much more out of your visit to this historic district with a little help from a knowledgeable local.
Shopping is another activity that comes highly recommended for anyone looking to take home goods that can be purchased at a bargain. Quality rugs, jewelry, clothing and knickknacks are all for sale at cut-rate prices. You’ll have to pay to ship the stuff home, but when you’re paying as little as $20 for a carpet that would set you back quite a bit in the US, it can be well worth the bother (and it’ll double as a souvenir).
Lastly: come hungry. The hummus, olives, baba ghanoush, pita, baklava and Turkish coffee for sale in the neighborhood are not to be missed.