A guide to explore Haji Lane, Singapore
Haji Lane is perhaps synonymous as one of the hip and uber cool hotspots you can visit while exploring the cityscape of Singapore. With is colourful wall art, vibrant shopping boutiques and street front cafes, it surely is one of the must see places you should visit once at Singapore.
Haji Lane is situated in the downtown area of Singapore, placed among the jutting skyscrapers that add rather than contrast to the atmosphere. With Singapore's unique architectural influences all around, it creates a stunning backdrop to take that perfect travel picture or take in the sights and sounds while absorbing in all the color and character of the narrow streets.
If you are taking the MRT to haji Lane, the nearest station is bugis Station : from there it's merely about 500 meters to where the lane starts.
It's fairly easy to take a bus or taxi : depending where you are the bus you need to take can differ. We were staying at the nearby big boss hotel, so it was just a hop skip and a jump away for us.
What is Haji Lane?
Haji Lane is situated in the Kampong Galam neighbourhood in Singapore. It is home to ethnic malay Muslims, tamils, Chinese and Arab descendents that make up its vibrant heritage neighbourhood. With all these different cultural influences intermixing, you find it reflected today in the bustling shop houses that line the narrow streets.
Haji Lane can be identified as actually a few streets that make up this neighbourhood - each with its own charm and aura.
How long will it take to cover haji Lane?
If you are on a tight schedule or plan to cover most of Singapore in your travel itinerary, it doesn't take more than 2 or 3 hours to cover most of what haji Lane has to offer. The best times to visit are early morning (if you want to beat the crowds) and late afternoon or evenings (if you want to spend a few hours to explore and grab dinner or savor some great food)
What to do in haji Lane.
Explore the stunning Wall art that is all over the lanes. There are colorful street art and wall murals almost everywhere along haji Lane - especially along the Arab lane. It provides a stunning backdrop for that perfect picture, incorporating both hip and modernism with the heritage city houses in a single take. One of the best places to see these vibrant works of art is at ophir Road. Here you can see some of the awesome artwork by Didier Jaba Mathieu. There is also a huge Aztec piece done by him on Junction of Haji Lane and Beach Road that is quite nearby. And walking along haji Lane will make you come across countless other works by different artists encompassing different styles and themes : all are vibrant and beautiful to behold.
Visit one of the many colorful and hip restaurants.
There are many great restaurants in around haji Lane, ranging from European style eateries to Arabic restaurants. The restaurants are eager for customers so they will greet you politely inviting you to try out their food. Our personal preference was the Lebanese and Turkish restaurants just close to the masjid Sultan (next to the junction of Baghdad Street and muscat Street) . They had the ambiance to go along with their great dishes. There are many restaurants such as these along Arab street, Baghdad Street, muscat Street (all similar Arabic named streets in the vicinity) but the further from the musjid they are, the more crowded they become. Apart from that there are many places to choose :ranging from Thai, Malay to coffee houses to beer houses to Turkish tea houses, are all over the area, so you get a wide range to choices. The best time should be late evenings to evenings as you can be at ease beating out the heat of the tropical sun. But if you are a photoholic :early mornings upto noon is the best time to visit.
Explore the by lanes and discover great photo locations
There are many by streets running along the Kampong Galam so you will have ample time to explore. We visited haji Lane thrice (because it was so close to our hotel) so on the first day we explored the streets early morning. Brightly colored doorways and narrow streets, occasionally harbouring flocks of pigeons is a bonus and a great treat to photograph. Here and there you also get to see the lives of the residents, adding to the experience.
Visit the colorful House shops along North Bridge Road
There are a row of colorful House shops along the North Bridge road just close by the Sultan musjid that have been retrofitted into many shops and businesses, that run all the way to ways the bugis centre. Walking along this road is a must if you want to take in these delightful sights - although not as the same as China Town or Little india (but very very close) these provide the perfect backdrop for those candid City portraits. It's best to avoid walking here around noon as it can get pretty hot and humid.
Listen to the street performers while taking a stroll in the evening. In the evenings and at night the streets come alive with lights and amazing street performers who add their voice and talent to spice up the atmosphere. Since most restaurants along the Arabic streets have open air seating, this is perhaps one of the best places to see the performances.
Shop at the many boutique showrooms that line the street.
There are many exclusive and chic shops and boutiques all throughout the haji Lane area so be on the lookout. If you are like us and do mostly window shopping, or a shopaholic there are many gorgeous shops to visit : their decor and styling providing gorgeous contrast and color to the streets.
We hope this simple guide gives you insight when you visit Singapore - don't miss out a chance to go for a stroll along haji Lane. It is one of the best places to visit and should be a go to place in your itinerary. Always research and plan ahead before you go and never forget to experience Singapore in all it's vibrance.