If I visited Singapore as a tourist, the first place I would go to is Arab Street. Where the Middle East culture thickens the air. It is a terrific place to spend a vacation day.
I would ride the train to the city, get down at Bugis or Nicole Highways station and take a five minute walk from there. I would know I have reached when I see the Sultan mosque, the landmark of Arab Street.
There are more than enough shops, bars and restaurants around Arab Street for almost anything I would want as a tourist. Basically, everything to keep me happy.I would start my day with shopping at Haji Lane, the fashion “district” of Arab Street.
First stop would be Dulcetfig (41 Haji Ln).
A green colored shop that sells vintage fashion thingy, jewelries, knick-knacks and stationary. They also have three adorable triplets cats named Jack, Estee and Ampang as pets. Vintage and cats; now you know why Dulcetfig is my favorite. I wouldn’t mind going to Arab Street just to visit this one shop.
Dulcetfig collections are incredible, and they have many with cat theme, which are my favorites. The only thing about shopping here is that I find their price to be a little steep. They say it is hand made, it is one of a kind, it is from overseas, but those things wouldn’t matter to me. They are still above my accessories price range. Still, every now and then, I would treat myself with something adorable (after weeks of thinking and vision myself with it), and never regretted those purchases. Makes me joyous wearing it also has been Instagram-approved material, worth saving up for.
My second stop would be Green Poppies (11 Haji Lane). I got to know about this store when I bought a Groupon shopping voucher and redeemed a yellow top for there. Since then we have become business buddies. By business, I mean they sell, and I buy, things.
Green Poppies sells stationery, bags, stickers and cute rubber stamps. Also, unique things like detailed hand painted pendants and bunny hair clips. BUNNY clips! Come on, we must have it, to add into our adorableness.. No? Okay, just me then.I once got Cruciani bracelet from Green Poppies. SCORE !! I have been wanting this awesome bracelet since I saw Paris Hilton Dita Von Teese’s supporting a red that matches her lipstick. Ayayayay.. It soon turned into obsession when I saw it on Psy’s hand! And now I got it. Here in Asia !
At Haji Lane, there is also what’s called Alternative Store, where they sell yoga gear and yogi clothes. I have stepped inside there once. Cool place but too “alternative” for me except for their dream catcher collections, those things have the right amount of coolness.
There is another store called Shop Wonderland (53 Haji Lane). They sell candles, cooking or gardening tools, you know, Domestic Diva’s stuff. I haven’t been inside. Every time I passed it by, I would look at it fondly because they used to be my favorite cupcake joint, Fat Lady. Oh Fat Lady where did you go? I miss you so.
A few more steps and I would stop at Spoilmarket. They sell all things quirky from vintage phones, mailboxes and journals; the things we don’t need. Except for a bell that says: Ring If You Need Love/Kiss/Beer. Hell yeah we each need those bells. It is one of the best human inventions.
I was done with shopping. Time to buy souvenirs for people at home.
Carpets? I saw many carpets sellers there, but I rather use the same amount of money to buy a plane ticket to the Middle East and get myself a flying one from there.
I would buy perfumes. In case you forgot Geography lessons (or is it World Economy?), other than camels and deserts, The Middle East is well known for its’ perfumes. There are a few stores that sell oil based no alcohol perfumes in fancy bottles. Imagine putting one of those “I am a
desperate housewife of Orange County an Arabian chick” bottles on your dressing table at home. It also makes a fabulous gift.
If I felt chi-chi, I would go to Sifr Aromatics (42 Arab St). It is a perfumery owned by a cool looking guy who studied perfume somewhere fancy before. He creates the perfume he sells in the shop and he can create a perfume tailored to your taste. A perfume custom made for me ?!! Hello, celebrity lifestyle !
All those shopping would make me hungry. There are many Middle Eastern restaurants around. Some are quite decent like Cairo, Amirah Grill and some are just plain. Since I am not a big fan of Middle Eastern cuisine; I would go to the Malay restaurants instead.
They have a few there and my favorite one would be Dapur Jen’s (28 Kandahar St), a family operated Indonesian restaurant. I had Chicken Soto there once, and I was hooked ever since. It was so delicious, I always end up ordering two plates of rice.
“How about dessert?” you asked. *Silent*.
Okay, even if you didn’t ask, I am still going to tell you where to get the best Chocolate Mousse in town, at Dong Po Colonial Cafe (56 Kandahar St). A pastry shop with vintage decors and old records playing in the background. They sell many kind of pretty looking pastries. I could never stop with having only one. The best choice for afternoon dessert in Arab Street.
Now that, I was done with shopping and eating, I would like to chill. I would go to Nabins for Sisha and Arabic tea; Blue Jazz for cocktails or Witbeer Cafe (32 Kandahar St) for beer. The latter would be my favorite place to hang out after a long day. They have a wide collection of beers, pop songs playing on the TV and interesting finger snacks. Drinking beer in front of TV? Sign me in.
For cocktails lovers, you ought to try Bar Stories. Located on the second floor of a shop-house at 57A Haji Lane. It is a vintage furniture shop by day and a tiny cozy bar by night, filled with young and interesting crowds. The best thing about Bar Stories is their customized drink. The bartender mixologist will ask your flavour preference (sweet, spicy, fruity, salty or savory to begin with) and what kind of liquor you enjoy. He then will create a drink based on your preferences. I must say though the drink’s pricey, S$25 a glass, it was absolute delish. My favorite one would be a type of cocktail with big chunks of cut mango in it. Yummy !! Another small detail worth to check out is their cool outdoorsy indoor bathroom.
Empty wallet, buzzed head and a full stomach.Time to sleep and get adjusted with Singapore time. We wouldn’t want the jet lag to spoil our holiday, would we?
There are a few choices for a nightcap around Arab Street.
My first choice would be a backpacker hostel called
Sleepy Sam Sleepy Kiwi (55 Bussorah St). I never stayed there before (going to in September, I promise to write a full on review about it) but I have been there many times for an afternoon coffee or an evening cider. Neat place where hippies backpackers hang out. If it’s fully booked, how about Shophouse, The Social Hostel (48 Arab St)? I took a peek last time I passed by. It looked like they serve decent breakfast. I would say that’s a good enough reason to consider staying there.
The last one would be for us, who are not the backpacking type, but the luggage strolling ones. The Ardennes Hotel (11 Jalan Kelapa). It’s a boutique hotel with themed rooms. I stayed in their Aqua Room before facing a swell swimming pool. It’s a decent hotel with a decent price.
When you visit Arab Street next time, keep a look out for me. In the afternoon, I will be in Sleepy Kiwi. If it is a hot afternoon, I will be in Blue Jazz (11 Bali Lane). At night time you can find me at Witbeer. So come and say “Hi” to me.
Lastly, I hope you enjoy Arab Street as much as I do.