Fancy having one of the world's coolest neighbourhoods in your backyard? Lucky for us, edging out big names like London's Soho and Kabuto-cho in Tokyo, is our very own Bugis. But it’s likely Bugis wouldn’t have made the list without its cultural heartbeat: Kampong Gelam.
Named after the gelam tree commonly found in the area, Kampong Gelam is steeped in Singapore's history, dating back to colonial days. With deep roots in Malay and Arab communities , this precinct has now expanded into a hip enclave, bursting with life and still maintaining its heritage. Food and drinks aside, here are our five picks for spots in Kampong Gelam that will up your Insta feed game.
Lined with palm trees and Mediterranean-themed Middle Eastern eateries, Bussorah Street's red-brick pavement leads to Sultan Mosque, forming the perfect angle. The combination of the white-gold Sultan Mosque and primarily-white shophouses is complementary to the brownish-red pavement, especially under a glistening blue sky. . It offers simpler colours than the rest of Kampong Gelam, but the contrasting hues in this spot make for a postcard photo.
Pro tip: Don't fret if it's a rainy or cloudy day. Experiment with rain puddles (or make your own) and capture the reflection for another interesting angle! Personally, the best spot to capture Sultan Mosque along this street would be where the 7-Eleven is on Bussorah Street.
An indie alcove on the eclectic Haji Lane, Going Om is a cafe that offers a breather from the bustle of the precinct. . Inspired by the serenity of the Himalayas, this cafe sports a rustic vibe complete with dainty vegetation on the sills and whimsical lighting on the inside. The decor forms a great background for your gram and is definitely easier to capture in the day. If you're up for the challenge, capture the night scene with a steady hand and longer exposure. Grab a drink and some of their dishes while you're at it!
Pro tip: For the best pictures, make a reservation and request for a couch seat. The antique window in the background makes for a great solo shot. The cafe also opens tables outside at night - perfect for a shot with the shophouses of Haji Lane as your background.
Going Om is located on 63 Haji Lane, Singapore 189256, p. +65 6396 3592. Open Tue-Sun from 12pm-11pm. Closed on Mon.
Go round the corner of the fabulous Cuturi Gallery to find a magnificent mural painted by Didier "Jaba" Mathieu. Fresh from this year's Singapore Art Week, it's a masterpiece that took Jaba two weeks to finish. Spot his trademark futuristic style intertwining with Kampong Gelam's history, when gelam trees were used for shipbuilding during Beach Road's glory trading days. Go a little further and find depictions of wildlife and lush greenery tucked away in a corner, juxtaposed with flying ships.
Pro tip: A great background for pictures would probably be at the intersection of the mural, where both greenery and flying ships can be seen. Alternatively, mix and match the vibe to suit your outfit.
Cuturi Gallery is located at 61 Aliwal Street, Singapore 199937, p. +65 8182 0214. Open Tue-Sat 12pm-7pm, Sun 12pm-6pm. Closed on Mon.
Switching up from the vibrant colours elsewhere in this street art haven, Jalan Klapa offers something for the monochrome minimalist. The main attraction here would be the two kids in a supermarket trolley that has been sawn into half. The AMC Asia building on this street boasts a new eye-catching mural ever since its revamp in 2020, but go round another corner for something different. At the back alley is a grey and white exclamation mark, with a kid's legs sticking out the bottom.
Pro tip: For the perfect monochrome feed, go for a monochromatic outfit to photograph with this background as well. Go wide-angle on this, as the mural is rather large.
SUPERMAMA is more than a porcelain store. Its flagship store along Beach Road sports a pristine aesthetic, and its porcelain products reflect the same vibe. Minimalist yet meticulously designed, they are daintily showcased on wooden and glass shelves, as well as on white table tops. While copping yourself a few locally-crafted souvenirs, get a few candid pictures in this store as well.
Pro tip: Midday till afternoon is probably the best time to snap a picture here, while the store is well-lit by natural light to complement its clean decor.
SUPERMAMA is located on 265 Beach Rd, Singapore 199544, p. +65 9615 7473. Open daily from 11am-6pm.
Aliwal Arts Centre
For a magnificent burst of colour on your 'gram, look no further than Aliwal Arts Centre. Home to graffiti collective RSCLS and several performing arts groups, it is also home to impressive collaborative murals that bleed Singaporean blood. The adjacent wall houses AlphaBatik by artist SlacSatu, and is a colourful rendition of traditional Indonesian Batik patterns. Venture into the side alley and discover an array of other murals by local artists, each with its own unique aesthetic.
Pro tip: The murals on the side wall of Aliwal Arts Centre change regularly. Sometimes, you may catch the artists in action too.
Aliwal Arts Centre is located at 28 Aliwal Street, Singapore 199918, p. +65 6435 0131. Open Mon-Fri from 9am-6.30pm.
Top Image: Aliwal Arts Centre