Singapore has been rightfully called a melting pot of races, religions, cultures and people for years. Let’s face it, where else in the world is it so common to find a temple, mosque and church lined up side-by-side?
Take a trip down to the famous “cultural quarters” of Singapore with us. It may give you the feeling of being a tourist in your very own country, and even a little bit “rojak,” but then again isn’t that the most charming part of being quintessentially Singaporean? And who knows, you might just pick up something fantastic to do with the kids!
In Chinatown, simply wandering through the colourful streets is especially fascinating for the kids, as they lay their eyes on the stores with shelves lined with jars and bottles of mysterious herbs and other unnamed substances. Watching the preparation of Traditional Chinese Medicines (TCM) can also be quite a cultural experience. Stay till the evening and watch the place come alive with the night market, test your bargaining skills and seek a few great deals. If you have the time, the leisural trisha ride through the little roads will be quite the experience for your mini-cultural connoisseurs.
Little India is a feast for the senses, with its intriguing spicy scents down every street, colourful ropes of flowers adorning shop entrances, and music blaring out from the multitudes of music and movie stores. After discovering the treasure trove of shops selling vibrant bales of cloth, intricate gold jewellery, and every ingredient one would need, scout out some of the best eateries that the area has to offer along the streets. Sink your teeth into a good lunch with spicy things to eat in the countless restaurants and cafes.
This is a must-see, in the unlikely case that you have not already experienced it, Mustafa centre, is the only 24-hour shopping centre in Singapore. You will be able to find virtually everything in the vast complex, including clothing, electronics, office needs, as well as a large range of services including money converters and travel agencies. Be careful not to lose the kids though – the 6-storey building spanning across two blocks are the perfect playground for a dream game of hide-and-seek!
Besides the quaint shops selling endless reams of cloth, clothing and consumables, this is a particularly perfect time to make a trip down to Geylang. Bask in the dazzling light displayed along the main street, and let your purse do some bargaining at the bazaars.
(Tip: hit the food stalls, the endless rows of delectable smells and fun things to eat is, to say the least, a kid’s paradise!)
It may be within the vicinity of Geylang Serai, but the beauty of Singapore lies in that Joo Chiat, the embodiment of a completely different culture. The main section of the Peranakan quarter, Joo Chiat has the disarming charm of an array of cultures collapsing into each other. The whimsical buildings, with colonial-type elements mixed with Chinese-style architecture, and Malay-influenced designs in pastel shades will definitely be a sight to see for the kids.
(Warning – this area is also known as the red-light district, and the only place in Singapore where prostitution is legal. Don’t wander off too far, and keep a close eye on the children!)
Stroll on the little streets and let the kids peer into the quaint and tiny shops selling everything from exquisite blown-glass perfume bottles, bits and beads, to dried silkworm cocoons. Visit the museums along the walks and learn about the rich cultural heritage of the early Malay royalty in Singapore. And if you get tired, take a break to sample the Lebanese and Moroccan inspired cuisine in one of the many restaurants in the area. We personally reccomend having tea at the Kampung Glam cafe – the cream puffs are divine, and there is a large range of traditional and non-traditional desserts to cater to your little one’s sweet tooth. Point to note, though, the cafe is extremely popular so it’s best to get there early before all the snacks are sold out!
Few may consider this one of the cultural sectors of the Singapore skyline, but witness the colonial legacy in the distinct architectural styles of the Old Supreme Court and St. Andrew’s Cathedral, among many of the other buildings dotting the area. Let the little ones take a look at the little plaques and monuments along the trail and explain to them some of Singapore’s history and colonial past.
This may not have much to do with Singapore’s cultural heritage, but while you’re in the area, it’s a fun idea to bring the children to pay a visit to the Mint Museum of Toys.