Arab Street runs through Kampong Glam in an area where Arab traders settled early in Singapore’s history. In the early 20th century, real estate prices soared, and the original inhabitants moved on. What remains is a highly commercial district with countless shops, restaurants and lively bazaars. In many ways, this is the epicenter of modern Singapore, and it attracts expatriates and tourists. One of the only remnants of the Arab community is the UAE Embassy.
Arab Street and Bugis Street have been tied up in Singapore history for nearly 150 years. Pirates from the nearby straits were based here until the British took over administration. During WWII, this was a thriving Japanese community. Today, it’s a booming shopping district popular with Singaporean families as well as tourists. There are far more shopping plazas than hotels in the Bugis and Arab Street area, so hotels tend to be busy year round.
Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple is one of the main sightseeing attractions in this area. It’s a lively Chinese temple that teems with daily devotees. Non-Buddhists are welcome to have their fortune told or to light joss sticks. Interestingly, the Hindu temple next-door is a popular follow-up temple for Buddhists looking to make as much merit as possible.
Accommodation in Bugis / Arab Street is found mainly on Victoria Street, which follows North Bridge Road through the heart of the district. There is also a luxury hotel toward the marina, near The Plaza, The Concourse and the Furniture Mall.