In cutting-edge Singapore, Kampong Glam feels like a blast from the past. Many of the ethnic enclave’s most prominent landmarks—the soaring Sultan Mosque and the Malay Heritage Centre (formerly the Sultan’s palace) among them—have been around since the 19th century, when the Sultan of Johor still called this neighborhood home.
Shoppers can still find quality Persian carpets, batiks, and oil-based perfumes in Kampong Glam’s ancient shophouses, hawked by third-generation descendants of the original merchants. Cozy restaurants serve up a spicy smorgasbord of Muslim-friendly fare that ranges from teh tarik (pulled tea) to Turkish coffee to mutton biryani to murtabak.
One corner of Kampong Glam is the exception that proves the rule. Haji Lane and Bali Lane at the southwest end of Kampong Glam curate a younger, more modern and vibrant dining and retail scene, to go by the stores’ chic interiors and graffiti-emblazoned walls.